Tasmania’s Stories

Winter brings Voices en masse

Edition 184_Pussy_Riot

Winter is here, but there's Dark Mofo, the Festival of Voices and the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival to consider before huddling down by the hearth.

Dark Mofo's big 2017 talking point has been Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch's three-hour performance featuring the splashed-about blood of a freshly slaughtered bull.

But as always with Dark Mofo, there is more. Topping up acts announced earlier, three members of Russia's feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, will attend a screening of the group's documentary Act & Punishment.

'Masha' Alyokhina, who was jailed for 'hooliganism' in 2012, Alexandra Lukyanova and producer Alexander Cheparukhin will answer questions on the way the radical band managed to put feminism and LGBT rights into the spotlight in tightly controlled Russia.

Other late inclusions are a performance from Hiatus Kaiyote frontwoman, Nai Palm, a second Twin Peaks performance from Xiu Xiu, British performers Gaika and Kojey Radical, rapper Le1f, Chloe Alison Escott and Aussie bands Gold Class, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and RVG.

The festival that makes real fun of Tasmania's winter started with a bang on 8 June with a record opening-night roll-up for the Winter Feast, following a 110 per cent jump in overall ticket sales. It will conclude with the customary nude solstice swim in the River Derwent on 21 June.

This year's Festival of Voices will open on the East Coast before heading to Hobart for performances featuring talented vocalists in unprecedented numbers.

Buckland, Bicheno and Coles Bay will seize the limelight initially as FoV Coastal takes world-class performers out of the cities.

The much-loved festival, which attracted 30,000 visitors last year, will open on 30 June and run until 16 July.

New Executive Director, Peter Choraziak, said: “It will be a lot bigger, it will be a lot more inclusive, there will be a lot more singers down here this time.

“The singing community will be bigger and there will be a lot more major concerts.”

Headline performers in the 13th Festival of Voices will include The Umbilical Brothers, Sarah Blasko, Toni Childs and the a capella group The Idea of North.

There will also be a bigger range of choirs, community sing-alongs and pop-up performances.

Popular events such as Voicebox at Hobart’s City Hall and the Big Sing Bonfire at Salamanca will be back.

There will also be a wide range of singing workshops in many genres, including pop, gospel, choral, and a capella.

The Premier, Will Hodgman, said half of the people attending in 2016 were from interstate or overseas.

“Festival of Voices is another great event growing in appeal, attracting more people to Tasmania and invigorating our winter,” he said.

Even before FoV falls silent, the grounds of Willie Smith’s Apple Shed in the Huon Valley will be ringing with music, frivolity and feasting.

Up to 18,000 people are expected to attend the three-day Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival from 14-16 July.

The event draws its inspiration from the valley's apple heritage and claims its Saturday night wassail to be the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere (a wassail is a noisy pre-Christian ceremony designed to frighten evil spirits away from seasonal crops, such as apples).

The wassail will be preceded by a Friday night Resurrection of the Sun, inspired by a traditional Hungarian folk story and culminating in the setting alight of a 10-metre tall "burning man".

In addition, the popular Storytellers' Tent will return, along with singers, Morris dancers, fire, hearty food and a lot of fine cider.

Renowned interstate bands Ramshackle Army and The Scrims will be supported by indigenous artist Frank Yamma and a selected line up of Tasmanian talent.

Event Director, Sam Reid, said: “We want people to know that the valley is a place to visit all year round. We are really proud of the impact the festival has on the Huon Valley and the Tasmanian economy over a traditionally quiet time of the year."

Last year, the festival involved around 50 local businesses and injected more than $1 million into the economy.

Before winter's onset, the mural town of Sheffield enjoyed a spell in the festival spotlight.

Powerful lasers projected an animated, historic story of Tasmania on to the rocky face of Mount Roland in May while spectators watched from packed cars parked on local properties.

An atmospheric soundtrack composed by Dean Stevenson accompanied the dazzling Firelight show, which closed to enthusiastic horn honking from the audience.

Firelight’s debut was a special moment for project manager Des Brown, who spent two years working with a small team to bring the event to life.

“It was a good outcome that we’ve been able to pull it off,” Mr Brown told The Advocate.

He now hopes “the powers that be” will get behind Firelight to help establish it as another iconic, Tasmanian event. The three-day festival drew tourists from across Tasmania and interstate, as well as locals.

Image courtesy of Dark Mofo

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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