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Tasmania’s Stories

Weather can't dampen parties

Edition 191_Ritchie

Tasmania's annual party season witnessed some weird weather to complement its on-stage oddities.

There was torrential rain, lightning strikes and hailstorms – right in the middle of summer.

While thousands were heading for a mini-Mofo festival and a Beerfest in Launceston, southern parts of the State and the highlands were being lashed with wild weather that saw roads blanketed with snow and ice and the sky shimmering with lightning.

On the east coast, beaches turned white under a blanket of hailstones.

The Bureau Of Meteorology described the mid-summer outburst as "very unusual" but a bit of weather couldn't stop the partying.

When Mofo's first northern event was over, a sandwich board outside a CBD charity shop read: “Dear David, Thanks for sharing Mona Foma. Kind regards, Launceston.”

It was referring, of course, to MONA owner David Walsh.

Brigid Delaney wrote for The Guardian website: "As evidenced by Sunday afternoon’s Block Party, there’s an enthusiastic audience of local people who are quick to get into both the spirit of the event and into fluorescent onesies."

The 2018 mini-festival was held in Launceston before the main event in Hobart and served as a warm-up for a complete – and possibly permanent – move north in 2019.

The first-night signs were positive when queues for a Gotye concert snaked around a CBD corner and out of cover into spitting rain.

Gotye performed with New York's Ondioline Orchestra.

Rob Schwimmer played the theremin – an early electronic instrument like a stringless harp. When Schwimmer held his fingers above the theremin, a beautiful sound emerged, as if from the ether.

Delaney wrote: "The concert is charming and magical, and the music nostalgic, space age and, at times, silly – it makes me think of the Jetsons.

"But Gotye pulls back before the sound effects get too over the top and uses the ondioline to great effect in ballads such as Dandelion Wine."

Contemporary dance, mixed media and live music at a range of venues led up to the free Sunday Block Party featuring a 1,000-onesie giveaway and a Violent Femmes performance (in onesies).

The Mayor of Launceston, Albert van Zetten, said: “Launceston has truly embraced Mona Foma with open arms and that's something we all should be very proud of.”

MONA spokesman Mark Wilsdon said the Mofo team was confident the State Government would offer a multiple-year funding commitment to help spread the MONA Effect across the State.

In summing up, Delaney thought Mofo would do well by making a permanent home in Launceston.

In the midst of mini-Mofo, a Saturday Beerfest attracted about 7,000 people to Royal Park.

Organiser James Harding said early rain had been “challenging”, but overall feedback from patrons at the one-day event had been positive and Tasmania Police had praised attendees' behaviour.

“The stallholders all reported great turnover and it was just great to see so many families, people of all ages young and old having a dance, some up at the main stage,” he said.

When the Mofo team headed south again for the three days of its last planned festival in Hobart, thousands of art and music lovers from Tasmania and many other places converged on Berriedale.

In near-perfect summer weather they were able to soak up multicultural music from Iraqi violinist and oude players, Rahim AlHaj and Karim Wasfi, Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi, Argentinian folk hip-hop trio Femina and many others.

A pianist performed inside a “green jungle” and a fashion parade of sorts was held on the tennis court.

Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano performed a solo set that a critic described as "moving".

Enigmatic duo, Jeffrey Blake and Duck Pond, operated a MONA Complaints Department that drew many curious patrons.

But the duo responded to approaches in accordance with a sign that said: “We aren’t listening”.

Jlin, Mayhem, The Hobart Liberation Orchestra and local bands, including Drunk Elk, Philomath and The Soda Creamers (who played under a "Hobart + Music = Yeah!" banner), added to the entertainment.

The tour de force was a world premiere of a collaboration between acoustic punk rockers Violent Femmes and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in a sold-out Federation Concert Hall.

Curator Ritchie deemed it all to be thrilling.

South of the capital, the 36th annual Cygnet Folk Festival had been a sell-out.

Performers from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Sicily, England, Ireland, Serbia, Japan and New Zealand, as well as Australia, entertained 5,000 patrons,

Artistic Director Erin Collins, said: "Cygnet was really humming.”

The School of Business and Economics at UTAS had a research team working to quantify the social, economic and environmental impact of the festival on the region.

The party season had kicked off in late December with a rejuvenated Taste Festival.

Online commentator Winsor Dobbin wrote: "For several years now, Hobart's once ground-breaking Taste of Tasmania ... has been limping along on the waterfront as the Sydney-Hobart fleet glides into town ...

"A gamble by Hobart City Council in bringing in new festival director Brooke Webb has paid off big time – with a better ambience, more interesting choices and far more room to move.

Dobbin said the main hall was lighter and brighter with more fresh air and far less crush.

"More chairs and seats have been added, the lawns have been opened up to live entertainment (Launceston singer-songwriter Eve Gowen was most impressive) and the popular smaller-sized tasting plates were back."

The Big Bessie Amy Winehouse sundae of vanilla soft-serve with chocolate sauce, bourbon caramel, brownie, peanuts and sherbet was named best overall dish.

Vineyard Seafood Restaurant, new to the Taste this year, also won an award for its tasting plate of grilled scallops in the half shell with hazelnut and coriander butter.

Best alcoholic beverage prizes went to Captain Bligh’s Wee Heavy Strong Scotch Ale, Clover Hill Tasmanian Cuvée Rosé and Spreyton Cider's Cidermaker’s Select.

Tasmanian Eel Exporters of Bagdad, a first-time stallholder, sold more than a tonne of eel.

Company spokesperson Brad Finlayson said: “We offered our short-finned eel barbecued, smoked, pickled and as a pâté. People who tried it for the first time loved it.

The family business exports eels to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Taste Festival Director, Brooke Webb, told The Mercury: “We are not going to please everyone but those who have come have loved it."

New Year's Eve saw lots of respectable action around the State, as well as a sprinkling of nuisance acts.

Website Grazia sent a journalist to the Falls Festival at Marions Bay and reported that Tasmania was winning the Falls War against its more publicised sister festivals at Lorne and Byron Bay.

"It's one you most definitely need to experience," according to Grazia.

Launceston's annual celebration of food, drink and music, Festivale, drew 22,254 patrons over three days in February and the other big annual northern event, Party in the Paddock, was a sellout.

Meanwhile, Spiegeltent will set up shop on the Hobart waterfront next month for the fifth straight year, hosting an imposing line-up of musicians and comedians.

Established favourites, ARIA Award-winning group, All Our Exes Live In Texas, and scientist/magician Kevin Quantum will be back.

Indigenous dance troupe Djuki Mala and Scottish folk band Breabach will also be featured, while last year’s sold-out circus/cabaret extravaganza, LIMBO, will present a new show LIMBO: Unhinged.

The Spiegeltent season kicks off at PW1 on 8 March and runs until 1 April.

By then winter will be looming, bringing with it Dark Mofo and the Festival of Voices (FoV).

Dark and Dangerous Thoughts (DDT), a curated showcase of literature, film and ideas, will be a new Dark Mofo experience in 2018.

Dark Mofo Director, Leigh Carmichael, said: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of DDT Program Director Laura Kroetsch.

“We’ll be asking her to draw on her wealth of experience as we program some of the more challenging and dangerous ideas being discussed in the 21st century.

"We’ll be looking at a broad range of issues, but it’s unlikely we’ll stray too far from the core themes of [sexual activity] and killing.”

Dark Mofo will run from 15-24 June, before FoV from 28 June until 18 July.

FoV will feature a workshop by Englishman David Lawrence on Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem and another by American Deke Sharon on Contemporary A Cappela.

Image courtesy of the ABC

8 February 2018, Edition 191

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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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