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Tasmania’s Stories

Bach in barns

Edition 199_Clarendon

It’s an intoxicating mix. Classical music, heritage buildings, food, wine and craft gin, and all set amongst Tasmania’s bucolic rolling hills.

No wonder new kid on the music block – the Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival – has really captured imaginations.

2017 was the inaugural Festival, and its second outing, which takes place in the Northern Midlands over the last weekend in October, has been an instant sell-out success.

Based around the Georgian village of Evandale, classical music lovers will be treated to Bach in old barns, and Handel by candle-light. There is also a string quartet and afternoon tea at the world heritage listed Woolmers Estate, not to mention dinner at Tasmania’s grandest Georgian mansion – Clarendon House.

All this while enjoying music of international standard, and performed by some of Australia’s top classical musicians, including the Tinalley String Quartet who are back for a second year.

Established in 2003, they play at events across the globe, but Tinalley violinist, Lerida Delbridge, says there is something special about this new Tasmanian celebration of chamber music.

“When I got home from last year’s festival I rang my parents, who live in Melbourne, straight away and told them you have to come down to next year’s festival,” Delbridge explains.

“And they are. They are coming down.

“You really can’t get a higher recommendation than that.”

Delbridge, who picked up her first violin at the age of three and has a ‘day job’ as Assistant Concertmaster with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, calls the Tinalley String Quartet “her passion project – the thing that keeps me going to work".

She is also very clear about what it is that sets this festival, just one year old, apart from the rest.

“It’s the amazing venues,” Lerida explains.

“Last year we did the first concert in a wonderful old barn and that was really just a magical space. It had really lovely acoustics, and the audience was very close and intimate. The whole thing was like you were stepping back in time.

“I had heard about Evandale from so many people, but it was even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

“Tasmania holds such a special place in so many people’s hearts in the mainland, and I think people love going to Tassie and it is so different down there. It really is a special part of the world.”

However, Delbridge is also impressed that the festival embraces the region's food, wine and craft gin.

She uses the example of last year’s opening concert, which kicked-off with a gin tasting from a local distiller, and set the tone for the event ahead.

To create all that in your first festival is really impressive,” Delbridge adds.

So, what is in store this year?

Delbridge is excited that the Tinalley String Quartet will be joined by good friend and renowned Italian cellist, Umberto Clerici, for a concert that includes one of her favourite pieces of music.

“We will be performing the Schubert Quintet which is amongst the most beloved pieces of chamber music ever written,” Delbridge says.

“Schubert wrote it just before he died, and so it has incredible depth and weight.”

Other highlights include Handel by candlelight in Longford’s historic Christ Church performed by Erin Helyard (harpsichord), Jacqueline Porter (soprano) and Emma McGrath (violin).

Slava and Leonard Grigoryan, widely regarded as Australia’s finest guitar duo, will fill Evandale’s Uniting Church with works by Tchaikovsky and De Falla.

And. for the final day, a smorgasbord of classical music will rotate amongst barns on three historic properties.

The Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival is the brainchild of high-profile arts identity, Allanah Dopson, best known as the proprietor of the Handmark Galleries at Salamanca Place and Evandale.

What is not so well known is that Dopson is also thoroughly versed in the ways of music, having formally trained as both a classical musician and opera singer.

“There is real demand for a festival like this,” Dopson, also Deputy Chair of the Brand Tasmania Council, explains.

“Last year we had 120 festival packages and this year we increased that number to 170 and they sold out immediately. There is even a waiting list.

“The first festival was held in venues around Evandale, but this year we had to expand it out to Longford, to cater for the increase in numbers.

“The Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival has really captured people’s imaginations. It is the combination of beautiful music in the most glorious settings mixed with wonderful food and wine and gin.”

Image courtesy of Mel de Ruyter Photography


14 October 2018, Edition 199

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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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