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Tasmania’s Stories

Brewers descend on Bushy Park

Edition 193_Hops

The world’s boutique brewers descended on the small village of Bushy Park for the annual hop harvest as the thirst for craft beer continues to explode.

Brewers from all corners of the globe made the pilgrimage to this sleepy corner of Tasmania, lured by the promise of niche hops that are prized for their unique flavours and aromas.

The five-week 2018 hop harvest wrapped up in early April.

Hops have long been intertwined with the history of Tasmania.

They are one of the state’s oldest crops with the first batch planted back in 1864 by Ebenezer Shoobridge at Bushy Park in the fertile soils of the Derwent Valley.

Fast forward, and the industry that Ebenezer pioneered is booming in Tasmania’s undisputed hops capital.

Australia’s largest hops producer, Hop Products Australia (HPA), has just wrapped up its 153rd harvest at Bushy Park, and is inundated with demand from overseas buyers eager to get their hands on hops for boutique beers.

HPA has 230 hectares under cultivation and marketing manager, Owen Johnston, recently told The Mercury: “Today we have brewers from Poland visiting to look at our hops and tomorrow a brewer from Germany.”

In fact 60% of HPA’s Bushy Park crop will be exported to more than 26 countries just to meet the thirst for craft beers. The USA is the biggest destination.

Everyone it seems wants one thing - Tasmania’s new aromatic hops.

These hops are like herbs in cooking: they add subtle flavours and notes that give each beer its own individual characteristic.

“Galaxy is our single biggest variety and accounts for half of our production,” Mr Johnston said.

“Every international visitor wants to see Galaxy because it’s easy to identify in beer. Brewers love it.”

While Galaxy may be the star of the show, it is just one of the aromatic hops that Tasmanian producers have been developing over the past decade.

During this time they have moved away from supplying commodity crops for large breweries, instead turning their attention to premium niche products for boutique operations – and with great success.

A measure of that success, according to Mr Johnston, is that Tasmanian hops now flavour beers in almost every European country.

“This is a prime example of Tasmania playing to its agricultural strengths,” he said.

One of the state’s craft beer pioneers shares the excitement generated around these innovative new hop varieties.

Willie Simpson opened his Seven Sheds Brewery 10 years ago and said the importance of aromatic hops to boutique brewers cannot be overemphasised.

“In recent years seven very exciting new varieties of aromatic hops have been grown in Tasmania,” he said.

“The development of these new hops on our doorstep is one of the main reasons that Tasmania’s craft beer industry has been able to expand at such a rapid rate.”

When Seven Sheds Brewery opened its doors in the bucolic countryside near Railton, in Tasmania’s north-west, there were just a handful of craft breweries.

Today, according to Mr Simpson, “there are 25 and counting".

“This is a turbo-charged industry and the number of boutique breweries operating in Tasmania has increased six-fold since we opened our doors.

“This accelerated growth has been especially rapid over the past three to four years.”

Mr Simpson points out that Tasmania has a historic beer culture and Seven Sheds taps into that by producing full flavoured ‘character’ brews, crafted using traditional methods, such as shallow open fermenters.

Seven Sheds Brewery currently offers enthusiasts 12 different beers on tap, including its flagship – Kentish Ale.

It also offers a great tourism experience.

As Mr Simpson said: “We have a cellar door that attracts 5,000 to 6,000 visitors every year, all keen to sample that special taste of Tasmania.”

And if you would like to explore all that Tasmania’s craft breweries have on offer – including meeting the passionate makers behind our boutique beers – why not take a journey and follow The Tasmanian Beer Trail? For more information visit Tasmanian Beer Trail.

Image courtesy of The Mercury

11 April 2018, Edition 193

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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

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