Tasmania’s Stories

Tassie restates its AFL case

Edition 184_Hudson

A Tasmanian Football Foundation event at Crown Casino in Melbourne in May generated passionate reporting about the State's football heritage – and its right to have a team of its own in the AFL.

Noted broadcaster Tim Lane wrote afterwards: "The argument on behalf of a Tasmanian AFL team is won.

"Western Bulldogs' president, Peter Gordon, who has seen his club go from pauper to premier, says there's no longer an economic case against it.

"AFL boss, Gillon McLachlan, acknowledges the Island State should have a team.

"The onus is now on the AFL to find a way."

Caroline Wilson of The Age chipped in: "The magnitude of what the AFL lost when it turned its back on Tasmania some two decades ago was not lost on anyone among the 500 who attended Wednesday night's celebration of Tasmanian football.

"In fact, anyone lucky enough to move from Lou Richards' State Funeral earlier in the day to the unique Tasmanian football function at the other end of town ended their day emotionally drenched not so much with sadness but melancholy – nostalgia for a football time that somehow disappeared from within our grasp when we weren't concentrating.

"Chris Fagan, the Queenstown boy who became a Hall of Famer in his home State and is now Brisbane Lions coach ... declared there was a 'higher purpose' facing head office.

"That higher purpose said Fagan was not about marketing or economics.

"I'm talking about heritage and culture and legacy," said Fagan, a panellist at the function alongside fellow Tasmanians Rodney Eade and Brendon Bolton.

"The AFL won't be truly complete until there is a Tasmanian team.

"They [the AFL] would do a magnificent thing if they were to have a Tasmanian team."

Expatriate writer Martin Flanagan wrote: "A video with a soundtrack showed a series of Tasmanian footy grounds in all their abundant greenery, each one criss-crossed with stories that in many cases go back over 100 years."

A montage of ovals was shown from Penguin to Sandy Bay, by rivers and along the coast and nestling into historic buildings.

Several featured empty club rooms.

They were ovals where, the Tasmanian Football Foundation's James Henderson said, football was no longer being played.

That was a message that had to resonate.

Historic grounds lying empty while the Sydney and GWS reserves struggle to find grounds to play on should not have been lost on the game's decision-makers.

One of the sport's greats, Peter Hudson, presented the narrative.

Another, Alastair Lynch, conducted interviews which featured current player Nick Riewoldt and his equally passionate Tasmanian cousin Jack.

There was a keynote speech by Matthew Richardson, who lovingly described a football pathway in north-west Tasmania that he fears is no longer available.

Alongside Tasmania's footballing royalty, the Premier, Will Hodgman, was there to watch his State's case presented with unprecedented intensity.

Flanagan wrote after the event that the Tasmanian football guernsey was one of his favourite works of art.

"The guernsey's colours – originally listed as myrtle, magenta and primrose – are now described as green, yellow and maroon," Flanagan wrote.

"Green as a Smithton paddock after rain. I was at Burnie's West Park when the Smithton Saints won their first premiership.

"On the front of the dark green guernsey, a yellow map of Tassie – a rich yellow like the late afternoon sunlight I saw as a kid come the last quarter at Longford football ground. Longford, a small town of only two or three thousand, were State premiers in 1957.

"They're still talking about it.

"Inside the yellow map of Tassie, a vibrant red T, a colour like the waratahs I saw on the west coast when my family moved there when I was eight."

Speaking to Fairfax Media, Fagan said: "I understand the market place argument for why Tasmania has not had an AFL team … but there is also that cultural side to football, and the four traditional football States being South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.

"It doesn't seem right from a cultural perspective that one of those States hasn't been given an opportunity to have a team in the AFL."

Days earlier, Nick Riewoldt had expressed concern for the game's health in his State of birth.

"There's a big risk of allowing the sport to wither on the vine," he said.

"There are already signs that the game is weakening down south … just last year there was no Tasmanian drafted for the first time since 1986."

The AFL presence in the State – Hawthorn's four games a season in Launceston and North Melbourne's three in Hobart – was not accepted by the presenters as a long-term solution.

Nor was the full relocation of one of those teams to Tasmania widely regarded as a panacea.

Tim Lane wrote: "A relocation is the wrong model and there isn't a 20th team on the horizon.

"Would the AFL consider a 19-team competition, with a built-in bye, and fancy rankings and wildcards over the last month of a 24-week home-and-away season? You never know."

Lane pointed out that the 17th and 18th clubs, Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast, that were chosen for heavily subsidised entry to the AFL ahead of Tasmania, were now struggling to draw crowds and featured only infrequently on free-to-air TV in Victoria.

"The AFL's decision to opt for commercial expansion in preference to a constituency hungry for the game, has recently drawn comment from a couple of significant figures," Lane wrote.

"Powerful voices are at last speaking out. The AFL must find a way. Relocation of an existing team is certainly not it."

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan attended with two other league commissioners, four other AFL executives and the presidents of Hawthorn and North Melbourne.

Mr McLachlan publicly restated his support for a single Tasmanian team and two days later news broke that the AFL had invited North Melbourne and Tasmania to apply jointly for a license in the emergent women's AFL competition.

Wilson wrote in The Age: "The State Government should insist upon naming the club the Tasmanian Kangaroos.

"More preferable, altogether, would be a stand-alone Tasmanian women's team.

"And, as impossible as it seems now, an AFL men's team."

AFL Tasmania has publicly discounted prospects of the women's team bearing the State's name.

Footnote: AFL Tasmania has held discussions with North Melbourne about the possibility of Tasmanian State League players running out for the Kangaroos’ stand-alone VFL side on a temporary basis. North Melbourne will end its relationship with VFL side Werribee next year and enter its own side in the VFL.

Image courtesy of The Mercury

6 June 2017, Edition 184

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Facts about 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Mt 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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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