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Tasmania’s Stories

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Edition 198_PrinceOfWales

Momentum is building to have Prince of Wales Bay officially recognised as a defence precinct, reflecting Tasmania’s growing reputation as a leading sector supplier.

Prince of Wales Bay, which covers just over 100 hectares in Hobart’s north, has long been the Tasmanian hub of maritime and advanced manufacturing.

Long recognised as the home of global success story Incat Catamarans, in recent years Prince of Wales Bay has also been garnering a reputation as a leading defence hub, and the pressure is on to make that official.

The Tasmania Maritime Network (TMN) – the peak maritime industry lobby group – is leading the push to have the area officially named as a defence precinct.

“The importance of having this precinct officially recognised as the Prince of Wales Bay Maritime Defence Precinct is that it underpins the positive image and profile of Tasmania’s defence capability,” TMN Chairman, Rob Miley, explains.

“Most other states and territories have similar focused hubs of activity, and it is important that we have that kind of recognition as well.”

Tasmania’s defence industry is big business, and rapidly getting bigger.

The sector now injects $340 million into the state economy each year, as well as providing 2,000 direct jobs.

Thirty key Tasmanian companies currently supply defence contracts. Of these, one third are based at Prince of Wales Bay.

“I think it [Prince of Wales Bay] is unique. There are not many places in Australia with that level of commitment and diversity in the defence industry in one area,” Miley adds.

“Prince of Wales Bay Maritime Defence Precinct is an outstanding hub of export, innovation and advanced manufacturing, not only in Tasmania, but representing the nation.

“Furthermore, the potential here is huge – really huge. We are really only just coming of age now with our nine key companies here out of 30, but they are getting really good opportunities and contracts and I think it is important that we realise it is export dollars that they are generating.”

The roll call of companies involved with defence at Prince of Wales Bay is impressive.

To mention just three: Incat has supplied military use catamarans for both the Commonwealth and overseas; CBG equips naval vessels with fire barriers; and Taylor Bros fit out naval ships.

Another is Liferaft Systems Australia (LSA), one of the earliest Tasmanian companies to move into the lucrative defence sphere.

Since 2004, LSA have been supplying their marine evacuation systems, including 100-person life-rafts, to the US, UK, New Zealand and Dutch navies.

The company also scored a $10 million contract to supply marine evacuation systems for Australia’s newest battleships: nine Hunter Class global combat ships under a supply agreement with British manufacturer BAE Systems.

“I think there is a lot of potential in terms of niche manufacturing products that the navy can’t necessarily source from other states in Australia, and we tend to do the specialist manufacturing in defence very very well in this state,” LSA Managing Director, and Brand Tasmania Chairman, Michael Grainger said.

“A lot of development is going on within companies in the Tasmania Maritime Network, and these companies – like ourselves – who have been dealing with defence for some time now, are continuing to evolve and become more defence savvy and ready to supply our defence forces.”

Meantime, it seems another name – PFG – could soon be added to the list of defence suppliers at Prince of Wales Bay.

In the Oceania region, PFG is the biggest manufacturer of industrial grade plastic boats, which includes its rugged workhorse, the Aquatruck, affectionately known as the ‘Hi-lux of the seas’.

With 40 years' experience under its belt, PFG has been in talks with the Australian Navy about its Aquatrucks and believes a contract may not be far away.

“I wouldn’t say imminent, but certainly in the short-term we are absolutely confident we will land a defence contract,” PFG Chief Executive Officer, Michael Sylvester says.

“We are currently actively promoting ourselves in that sector.”

Aquatrucks are so tough that the first one built back in 1994 has not yet reached end of life, and remains in full commercial survey.

PFG believes these fast response vessels – which have already proven themselves in law enforcement with boats sold to the Tasmanian and Queensland police forces – are an ideal fit for the Navy.

“The best attributes of Aquatruck are stability, rideability, durability and low impact to its operators.

“I think they are a great vessel for ship to shore transfer, and long transfer of navy personal through high seas,” Sylvester adds.

Meantime as the Commonwealth embarks on its $195 billion defence spend – touted as Australia’s largest ever economic stimulus – Tasmania is perfectly poised to carve out a lucrative slice of this pie.

With a large portion of that slice coming from the Prince of Wales Maritime Defence Precinct.

“There is nothing we can’t do here in this state. As an island nation we have proven our innovation and our willingness to come up with a solution and that’s what defence is looking for,” Rob Miley explains.

“We have got to still continue to push that hard through Canberra and other areas to make sure we get the right product out there for defence in the future.”

Image courtesy of The Mercury

Watch the video below to take a tour of Hobart’s Prince of Wales Bay Maritime Defence Precinct and meet some of the local defence suppliers:

screen shot - prince of wales bay
Watch video on YouTube

11 September 2018, Edition 198

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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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