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Tasmania’s Stories

Derwent transport boost

Edition 195_Bridgewater

Hobart’s much-loved River Derwent is in the spotlight with two major transport projects – a new bridge and commuter ferries – getting the go-ahead.

The southern capital is currently in the midst of an economic boom, and that comes with its own set of challenges including more cars on the roads, a problem being tackled head-on by both these projects.

A new bridge across the River Derwent at Bridgewater was Tasmania’s big ticket item in the May Federal Budget. In what will be one of the state’s biggest infrastructure spends, $461 million has been allocated to replace the 72-year-old crossing.

This bridge is a crucial north-south link, carrying 18,500 vehicles on average every day. It is also the gateway to Hobart connecting the Brooker and Midland highways.

Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities, Paul Fletcher, calls the new bridge “an important project”.

He told ABC News: “Obviously it is an absolutely vital connection just to the north of Hobart and critical if you are travelling on the Midland Highway between Hobart and Launceston.

“An upgrade of the Bridgewater Bridge has been talked about for a long time, the Turnbull Government is now committing funding for that.”

Mr Fletcher said funding would be rolled out over a number of years, with the Federal Government contributing 80 per cent of the money and the State Government topping up the rest.

Tony Foster has been the local Brighton Mayor for 25 years, and during all those years he has been pushing hard for a replacement Bridgewater bridge.

The Mayor welcomed the budget announcement saying “the timing is right for the new bridge. It has a real chance of happening now, as the economy is as strong as it has ever been.”

As well as being critical for traffic flow on the Midland Highway, Mayor Foster also said a new bridge was vital for commuters as the Brighton residential corridor – which now stretches up to Kempton – was one of the fastest growing in the state.

He said more and more people were moving into the area in search of affordable housing, and a new bridge would help open up this area which is “where Hobart’s future growth lies”.

“Bridgewater needs a bridge that will meet Tasmania’s requirements, not just for today, but for the next hundred years.”

Meantime, it is not only a new bridge that is making news, but also new ferries.

When the Tasman bridge was cut in two by the Lake Illawarra in 1975, ferries became Hobart’s life-line.

Now, they are set to ply the River Derwent once more.

The State Government has just actioned a commuter ferry service between Bellerive, on Hobart’s eastern shore, and Sullivans Cove, which is just a short hop from the city centre. Two new ferry terminals will also be built.

Tasmania’s public bus company – Metro – has been earmarked to run this service and legislation has been tabled to get the ball rolling.

As he unveiled this plan, State Infrastructure Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced: “Tasmania’s economy is booming, and with a growing economy comes a need to manage road and infrastructure challenges, such as increased traffic flows.”

One person in total agreement is Hobart Lord Mayor, Ron Christie, who has been an enthusiast ferry champion for years: “This is all good news and welcomed by the city of Hobart,” he said.

“Ferries have been a long-time coming and the sooner that this happens the better, as cutting back on traffic coming into the CBD is a matter of urgency.”

As the Lord Mayor points out, 17,000 cars drive into the city every morning on the daily commute, with 6,000 of those making the journey across the Tasman Bridge.

He has no doubt that a ferry service would reduce those numbers but said it should be expanded to include additional stops. Something it seems, the Government already has on its agenda.

Minister Rockliff said: “Further public ferry infrastructure will be considered at other locations to be determined by passenger demand following the demonstrated success of the Hobart to Bellerive services.”

The only question now is: when?

No date has been set for the commencement of the ferry service. Nevertheless, with $2 million allocated for a scoping study, hopes are high it will be soon.

Image courtesy of ABC News

12 June 2018, Edition 195

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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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