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Tasmania’s Stories

Bigger, cleaner ships for TT-Line

Edition 190_TT-Line

TT-Line is set to order two new, bigger and cleaner ships to boost capacity and heighten customer appeal on its Bass Strait service.

In November, the Government approved the company’s business case to have two dual-fuel (diesel and compressed natural gas) monohulls constructed in Europe and sailing the Bass Strait route by 2021.

Premier Will Hodgman said the investment in the two ships was the single biggest tourism and infrastructure development in Tasmania’s history.

The announcement has been enthusiastically welcomed across all sectors in Tasmania. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers CEO Peter Skillern said: “As an island state we are totally reliant upon north and south bound sailings to underpin our economic prosperity.

“This announcement clearly supports the Tasmanian agricultural sector and economic growth into the future.”

Tourism Industry Council chief Luke Martin described the announcement as historic.

“Today is the most significant day for Tasmanian tourism since the opening of MONA,” he said.

Premier Hodgman said. “Visitors arriving on the Spirit stay an average of nine days longer, spend $1,200 more and visit more places than those flying into the state.”

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said: “There are no Australian shipyards with the capacity to build the new Spirits, but wherever possible the vessels will feature the best of Tasmania’s products in their fitout.”

TT Line Chairman Mr Michael Grainger said: “The company has carefully assessed various ship types and fleet configurations over the past 18 months to determine the most appropriate vessels to operate daily Bass Strait crossings.

“We looked at capacity, customer expectations, operating speed, sea-keeping properties for Bass Strait, capital and operating costs and operational efficiency.”

A number of shipbuilders have been shortlisted following capacity assessments and on-site negotiations by TT-Line’s Managing Director, Bernard Dwyer.

While the final selection is yet to be made and a contract finalised, the new ferries are expected to be 212 metres long, compared with the 194-metre Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2.

Along with a wider beam and slightly increased draft, this will give the ships capacity to carry 2,000 passengers, against the present 1,400.

There will be 284 cabins compared with 220 at present and public areas will be extended by nearly half.

Vehicle capacity will increase by more than 40 per cent.

TT-Line Pty Ltd, a State Owned Company, has been operating a Bass Strait ferry service since 1993.

Before that time, services were provided by the Australian National Line and, for an 8-year period, by Tasmania's Department of Transport.

The TT-Line's first ship was the $150 million German-built Spirit of Tasmania.

When Spirit of Tasmania was dry-docked after four years of service in 1997, the company chartered an 85m multi-hull ferry, Incat 045, from Incat Tasmania and dubbed her Tascat for a two-week experimental service.

TT-Line then chartered a series of similar vessels from Incat Tasmania for operations over three summers from George Town to Port Welshpool, Victoria, as Devil Cat.

The service backed up Spirit of Tasmania sailings, but was dogged by media focus on incidents of seasickness.

In 2002, Devil Cat and Spirit of Tasmania were replaced by two Finnish-built monohull ferries which were renamed Spirit of Tasmania I and 2.

In early 2004, TT-Line began operating a third ship, Spirit of Tasmania III, from Devonport to Sydney, the first such service since 1976.

The Sydney service was discontinued in August 2006 and the extra ship was sold.

Following a $31.5 million refurbishment of its two remaining vessels in 2015, TT-Line has enjoyed its most prosperous operating period.

It posted a record after-tax profit of $25.1 million for the year ended 30 June 2017 and Chairman Michael Grainger (also Chairman of the Brand Tasmania Council) said its performance compared to the previous year had improved "in virtually every metric".

The two Spirit of Tasmania ferries were valued at 65 million euros each (about A$153 million in total) at 30 June 2017 – unchanged from the previous year.

The company had been charged by the Tasmanian Government to work towards replacing the two Spirits and a special Public Account was set up by the Government in 2016 to accrue funds for the replacement ships.

Now containing $100 million, the account is protected through legislation that prevents present or future governments from accessing it for other purposes.

Mr Grainger, who has been at TT-Line’s helm since 2010, said: “Bernard Dwyer and his team have done an outstanding job on the implementation of this project.

“We are now set to take an enormous step into the future.

“These are exciting times for our company, for the State’s tourism and agriculture sectors and for the Tasmanian brand.”

Image courtesy of TT-Line

4 December 2017, Edition 190

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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 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.


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

Brand Tasmania

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