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Tasmania’s Stories

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Edition 196_Zane

Zane Robnik is an amazing young adventurer who is smashing records on Tasmania’s highest and wildest peaks.

It’s taken two-and-a-half years and 158 Mountains.

But, 26-year-old Zane has become the fastest and youngest person to climb all of the Abels. This is the name given to the group of mountains in Tasmania higher than 1,100 metres, and with a vertical drop of at least 150 meters. There are 158 Abels in total.

On June 10, Zane stood at the summit of Stacks Bluff, on the southern end of the Ben Lomond Plateau in the state’s north, having officially bagged his final Abel.

“I was over the moon,” Zane recounts.

“I ran to the summit and broke down in tears. I really think the whole thing is starting to dawn on me now. I was accompanied by a group of 12 close family and friends who were able to share the moment with me.”

The quest to conquer Tasmania’s Abels is something of a holy grail amongst the bushwalking fraternity.

The Abels were classified in 1994, and Zane is listed as the 15th person who has climbed them all. The fastest time recorded to conquer all 158 mountains was 17 years and 10 months; that is, until Zane blew it out of the water. He took just two years, six months and 11 days.

However, for Zane this is more – much more – than just smashing records.

“My primary goal is to inspire people to get out and experience Tasmania’s incredible wilderness, which is unrivalled in its natural beauty,” Zane explained.

“This is an amazing island. It is one of the most unique places you can go in the world and I wanted to share that with others.

“I was blogging during my Abel adventure and I have been blown away by the response, especially from people who are now inspired to climb the Abels themselves.”

A passionate bushwalker – from a family of passionate bushwalkers – Zane’s determination to conquer the Abels dates back to a childhood spent poring over books about our highest peaks.

Zane was working as a hiking guide based out of Launceston when he decided it was time to dive head-first into his own Abel adventure.

So, Zane quit his job and on November 26, 2015, set out to climb his first Abel.

“Most families would say, don’t be so ridiculous, you can’t leave your job and go off and do something like this. Mine said, that’s great, do it,” Zane recounts.

With the aim of tackling three mountains a week, Zane initially set himself the ambitious target of conquering all the Abels in 18 months. However, it was a lot tougher than even a seasoned hiker, such as himself, could ever have imagined.

While he often tackled a number of the Abels in one day, such as “the trip which took 10 days and where I climbed 14 of the mountains,” he finally ended up averaging one peak every six days.

Pushing himself to his limits, Zane said it was “physically tough, and I remember one day when I had to walk for 13 and a half hours through dense scrub with a heavy backpack". On other days the vegetation was so thick “it would take an hour just to walk 300 or 400 metres.”

One of the toughest peaks was The Spires, Abel number 13, which sits at the top of Lake Gordon and is so remote it took a 7-day trek just to tick off that one mountain.

Another, Black Bluff, in the north west, Abel number 71, took three attempts because of bad weather, including a ferocious snow-storm.

A favourite was the very challenging Federation Peak, Abel number 21, in the south-west wilderness, because it is “so uniquely Tasmanian and such an iconic Australian bushwalking destination”.

However, it is Abel number one, Mt Arthur, that is without doubt Zane’s sentimental favourite.

This mountain looms large over his childhood which was spent on a bush-block near Lilydale, in Tasmania’s north-east, under the shadow of its peak.

“It was fitting that I start with Mount Arthur,” Zane explained.

“This was the very first mountain I ever climbed, and apparently I went up it with my family when I was just two and a half years old.

“It was virtually in our backyard, and I used to climb up Mt Arthur almost every week while I was growing up.”

Zane’s Abels challenge may be ticked off but for this young adventurer, that’s just the start. A year-long bike ride across Asia, Africa and Europe is next on the list.

In the meantime, Zane is busy inspiring others about the amazing wilderness on his doorstep, or as he says in his blog: “Thank you all for following me on my adventures in the Tasmanian mountains. We are truly blessed to be able to call such an incredible, unique and beautiful place home.”

Image courtesy of Gordon Robnik

11 July 2018, Edition 196

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Facts about Tasmania

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.

Tasmania

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.

Geography

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.

Geography

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.

Geography

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.

Climate

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.

Climate

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.

Population

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.

Flora

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.

Flora

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.

Fauna

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.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

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.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

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.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

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.

Economy

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.

Economy

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.

Economy

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.

Economy

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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