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Learn in Tasmania stories

The following stories relate to studying in Tasmania

Rocks challenge Tasmania’s origin

The striking similarities between the geology of Tasmania, and the USA’s Grand Canyon, has led scientists to challenge theories about how Tasmania was formed. After five years of research, Dr Jack Mulder – a University of Tasmania graduate and now researcher at Monash University – believes Tasmania may have been connected to the west coast of America hundreds of millions of years ago, when the two landmasses were joined as part of the super-continent, Rodinia. After years of examining the rocks around Tasmania’s north west, Dr Mulder found them to be very different to those of a similar age on the mainland. An international search eventually led the research team to the Grand Canyon, where they discovered a perfect geological match. Dr Mulder theorises that when Rodinia started to break up around 700 million years ago, Tasmania travelled from the US to Australia. He told The Advocate: “We think that probably happened when the Pacific Ocean began to open, and Tasmania got plucked off the US.”

9 November 2018, Edition 200

‘Rewilding’ animals reduces fire devastation

Returning large animals to different environments could greatly reduce devastation caused by fires, according to new research from the University of Tasmania. Professor Christopher Johnson found the ‘rewilding of animals’ could reduce the impact of fire globally: “Putting back big animals that are responsible for stabilising ecosystems and sustaining biodiversity lets the animals themselves do the repair work on ecological processes.” Professor Johnson said ‘rewilding’ was popular in Europe and America, and could also be applied as part of Tasmania’s fire management regime: “It’s clear that areas grazed by large animals, such a kangaroos, or maybe even deer in Tasmania, can function as quite effective fire breaks. If you’ve got a certain fraction of landscape treated in that way by animals, it can have a big impact on the probability of a fire that will sweep across the entire landscape.”

9 November 2018, Edition 200

International pilots head to Tassie

Tasmania is proving to be a significant aviation player, with a local company winning a lucrative contract to train overseas pilots. Par-Avion, based at Cambridge aerodrome in Hobart, is Tasmania’s premier flying training organisation. It has just signed a deal with Air Asia for around 75 of its pilots to be trained in Tasmania each year. In the meantime, Par-Avion has indicated it is keen to set up another flight school in the state’s north-west, and is eyeing off both Devonport and Burnie as potential options. Earlier this year, Managing Director Shannon Wells told The Advocate the fact that both airports are under-utilised and had low congestion, makes them ideally suitable for aviation training: “It’s all round a good match for what we’d want to have for our potential international flying school… it would mean jobs and growth for the region.”

14 October 2018, Edition 199

A creative classroom

There are calls from Tasmanian of the Year, Scott Rankin, for a greater focus on creativity and thinking in the classroom. He has joined the push for the education initiative STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) to be expanded to STEAM – by including the arts. Mr Rankin told ABC News: “I love science, I love engineering, I love English, I love maths, I love technology, I love anything that starts with S, T, E and M, but I love the ARTS more. Because that is about mental gymnastics, it’s about the stuff that you need to be innovative and creative, in your life firstly, in your community secondly, and then good in business.” Mr Rankin is a leading arts identity. Twenty-five years ago, the Burnie theatre director and writer set up Big hART, a charity that aims to help bring about social justice through the arts.

13 August 2018, Edition 197

Theatre Royal works

Hobart’s historic Theatre Royal is closing down for six months – but it’s all in the name of progress. Come October, the theatre doors will shut as work ramps up on the adjacent $96 million Hedberg Centre. As well as including a performing arts centre, the Hedberg will also accommodate the University of Tasmania’s Conservatorium of Music. The Theatre Royal itself, which dates back to 1837, is not being forgotten. As part of the these works, it will be upgraded with new facilities including a multi-level foyer and expanded amenities. Also, a purpose-built studio with seating for 285 will replace the very confined – and outdated – Backspace Theatre. State Arts Minister, Elise Archer, praised this project as a “game-changer” for Tasmania’s performing arts scene, resulting in the creation of greatly expanded footprint for Hobart’s theatre hub. The new-look Theatre Royal will re-open in May 2019.

3 July 2018, Edition 196

Devils at home in San Diego

Two Tasmanian devils are winning hearts in San Diego, USA, where they are now happily settled into their new home at the city’s famous zoo. A “laid-back” male – named McLovin – and a “shy” female – named Quirindi (pronounced Kwa-ren-dee) – are now receiving visitors and drawing great interest. The Tasmanian ambassadors are also shining a light on the fight to save our devils. McLovin and Quirindi arrived from Taronga Western Plains Zoo late last year, and recently relocated to San Diego Zoo’s ‘Australian Outback’ exhibit after completing mandatory quarantine. San Diego is currently one of the few zoos in the U.S. with Tasmanian devils. A zoo statement described these newest additions as “extremely significant,” and part of a partnership program between San Diego and Taronga Zoos, designed to, “inspire needed support for Tasmanian devil conservation.” Tasmanian devils face the threat of extinction in the wild due to the deadly facial tumour disease which kills infected animals within six to 12 months: “The disease is incredibly rare and is one of few contagious cancers in the world. The good thing about that is, it attracts a lot of scientific attention. San Diego Zoo supports research that’s being done on the disease, so there’s still a lot of hope for the devils.”

11 April 2018, Edition 193

Handfish find delights IMAS

A new population of red handfish, one of the world's rarest species, has been found in Frederick Henry Bay in south-eastern Tasmania. It was thought the species had dwindled to about 20 individuals in a single location, but a tip-off from a local diver led a group from UTAS's Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) to explore another part of the bay. Two hours into their dive, the group was about to give up when Antonia Collins spotted a tiny fish among some seaweed. "Once we found that initial fish we were able to focus our search area, and quite quickly we discovered another seven fish in close proximity to that first one, so it was very exciting," she said. It is believed that about 20 of the bottom-dwelling fish, that use their fins as hands to crawl along the seabed, are living in an area no bigger than two tennis courts. They grow to just 7cm-9cm long, living and laying eggs at the base of seaweed in shallow water. The species was first discovered near Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula in the 1800s, but the only known surviving populations are in two undisclosed locations on the opposite side of the peninsula. The red handfish is even rarer than the River Derwent's spotted handfish whose endangered status has inspired a successful IMAS captive breeding program.

8 March 2018, Edition 192

Academy honours two locals

Two University of Tasmania scientists have received prestigious career honorific awards from the Australian Academy of Science in recognition of their lifelong achievements. UTAS Professor David Cooke (ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits) won the 2018 Haddon Forrester King Medal and Lecture, while his colleague, Professor Matt King (School of Land and Food), was awarded the 2018 Mawson Medal and Lecture. Professor Cooke's investigations into the geological processes that produce copper-gold deposits, as a result of fluids released from magma deep within the Earth's crust, have transformed geochemical exploration techniques around the world. Professor King's work has helped reveal the dynamic nature of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and how they contribute to sea-level change. Nationally, 18 academics were honoured and most of them will be presented with their awards at the academy’s annual signature science event, Science at the Shine Dome, on 24 May in Canberra. In a further tribute to UTAS, three senior staff have been named in this year's Clarivate Analytics' Highly Cited Researchers list, ranking them in the top 1 per cent in their subject fields globally. They are Professor Reg Watson (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies); Associate Professor Tim Brodribb (Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology) and Professor Sergey Shabala (Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture).

8 February 2018, Edition 191

Living fossils found in WHA

Scientists have discovered rare, living stromatolites among peat-bound karstic wetlands in a remote Tasmanian Valley — the first living stromatolites found in the State. Stromatolites are laminated structures built by micro-organisms which create layers of minerals using elements dissolved in the water in which they live. Fossil stromatolites are the oldest evidence of life on Earth, first appearing 3.7 billion years ago. The West Australian coast boasts some of the world's best-preserved fossil stromatolites, but living examples are especially rare because competing species, like sea snails, have evolved and can consume the micro-organisms that form stromatolites. Unique wetlands in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area contain spring mounds from which highly mineralized water flows, soaking the surrounding peat-rich soil. UTAS researcher Bernadette Proemse said: “This is good for stromatolites ... these Tasmanian ‘living fossils’ are protected by the World Heritage Area and the sheer remoteness of the spring mounds.” Researchers described their discovery in a paper published in the journal, Nature.

8 February 2018, Edition 191

$14.7m boosts UTAS research

UTAS researchers will map the Milky Way, use our convict history to explore the impact of solitary confinement, analyse how best to influence corporate tax strategies and complete other projects, thanks to 27 grants totalling $14.7 million in recent Australian Research Council allocations. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Brigid Heywood, said: “This is an outstanding result for the university, and for Tasmania, in what is a highly competitive process. Our research delivers significant social and economic benefits to the State, but more importantly it creates new knowledge which drives creativity and innovation. The projects funded today highlight the breadth of the University of Tasmania’s expertise and confirm our place as a research-led institution boldly exploring new frontiers.”

8 February 2018, Edition 191

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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