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Tasmania’s Stories

Acclaim for Flinders food fest

Edition 194_Crayfish

Enormous crayfish plucked from Bass Strait and smoked over an open fire were the star attraction at a new food festival on Flinders Island which is generating widespread interest.

This all took place as Tasmania prepared to showcase its premium produce at one of the world’s biggest trade shows.

The inaugural Flinders Island Food and Crayfish Festival, held over an April weekend, has been exciting foodies across the country, especially the long-table lunch of local produce created by five of Australia’s top chefs.

Perhaps most impressively, the chefs all descended on this beautifully rugged island five days before the event so they could spend time foraging for ingredients.

Star chef David Moyle, who started Hobart’s award-winning Franklin restaurant and is now at Longsong in Melbourne, led the pack.

He told The Examiner: “From my very first visit to Flinders I was hooked.”

“It is such a great treat as a chef to be able to cook dishes directly from the location and connected to the land you are standing on.

“It just tastes so right.”

Jo Youl, one of the festival organisers who has lived on Flinders for the past seven years, agrees.

She told us the festival is all about promoting the island’s wonderful produce: salt-grass lamb, abalone, wallaby, wasabi, fruit and vegetables, and most importantly – Flinders' famous crayfish.

As we chatted over the phone her husband Tom returned from a dive with freshly-caught abalone and crayfish for that night’s dinner.

“Flinders Island is famous for its really large crayfish – southern rock lobster – which can grow up to four or five kilos,” she explained as Tom headed for the kitchen.

“You won’t taste better crayfish anywhere.

“There used to be about eight commercial cray fishermen on the island, now there is only one; so, this festival is about re-booting the local crayfish industry as well.”

But the festival is also about connecting with nature, and in that spirit all the food for the long-table lunch was cooked by the star chefs over large outdoor fires.

“The crayfish eaten at the lunch was blanched, then smoked over an open fire, and served up in its shell,” Ms Youl added.

Other dishes included lamb cooked over a bed of kelp and hay and steamed abalone sautéed with coastal herbs and wallaby tail sauce.

Not surprisingly, the long-table lunch – which was held in a shearing shed – was a sell-out success attracting “people from everywhere” according to Ms Youl.

“Out of the 165 guests, 110 were ‘off-islanders’ who came from Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and mainland Tasmania and had all flown in especially for the lunch.

“We were blown away by the response and are already excited about next year.”

Meantime, as Flinders Island was basking in the ‘foodie spotlight’, a delegation of the state’s top niche producers was preparing to sell Tasmania to the world.

Those flying the flag included producers of honey, sea salt, cheese, mussels, salmon, preserves, truffles, apples, gourmet potatoes and juices.

All showcased their premium offerings at the Food and Hotel Asia trade show in Singapore which attracted 80,000 delegates from more than 70 countries.

It was the first time in six years that Tasmania had been part of Asia’s biggest food trade event, and much has happened in those intervening years.

“Across Asia we already sell some $127 million worth of Tasmanian food and beverages a year, up 41 per cent since the last time we attended Food and Hotel Asia in 2012,” Primary Industries Minister Sarah Courtney said.

“As Tasmania’s reputation for clean high-quality produce grows around the world we have to make sure we continue to take our offerings to where major buyers go to make their decisions, which in turn boosts our economy and creates job, many in regional Tasmania.”

Acclaimed Michelin Star chef and Brand Tasmania ambassador, Tetsuya Wakada, was also on site in Singapore proudly promoting the premium produce of his ‘adopted home’.

Photo Courtesy of Adam Gibson Photographer

8 May 2018, Edition 194

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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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