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Tasmania’s Stories

Festive fun begins with birthday bash

Edition 201_TasteOfTas

Tasmania is gearing up for a summer of festivities, spear-headed by an iconic event which is ready to celebrate a milestone birthday – with a new look.

The fun kicks off as the first Sydney to Hobart yacht sails into Hobart.

But waterfront festivities switch into overdrive when the doors of nearby Princes Wharf open for the Taste of Tasmania, which this year turns 30.

“It’s huge; it’s such an epic achievement for any festival to get to 30 years of age,” festival Director, Brooke Webb says.

“The Taste of Tasmania is the oldest and biggest food and wine festival, not just in Tasmania, but in Australia.”

The first Taste of Tasmania was held in 1989, and now the seven-day event, which gets underway on December 28, attracts more than 200,000 people.

However, not surprisingly, after three decades it’s time for a little facelift, and that’s where Webb comes in.

The experienced festival operator moved to Hobart from Sydney just over a year ago, with a brief to inject new life into the long-running event.

“As a brand it has been malnourished,” Webb explains.

“A festival is a living, breathing being, and my job is to breathe life back into the Taste of Tasmania; inject some heart and give it a personality again.

“It’s about creating joy, about bringing the magic back.

“And, I feel really great about what we are doing this year, because we are overhauling everything with this festival.”

Webb’s main goal is to make the 2019 event “a real taste of Tasmania” showcasing the amazing artisan produce from the island state.

Towards this aim, 112 festival stallholders have been heavily curated for the upcoming festival. Webb says this was made possible due to a long waiting list of over 200 stallholders.

“This has meant we have really been able to raise the bar this year,” she explains.

“We will have some of the old favourites but being able to diversify, we are introducing new menu offerings.”

Webb is also excited about the Culinary Kitchen program, where chefs, farmers, distillers, and producers present a masterclass to an intimate audience.

Presenters range from well-known figures, such as Nick Haddow from Bruny Island Cheese, to “the little lady from the Huon who makes amazing dumplings in her garden".

Emerging producers are also a big part of this year’s festival, and will be promoted on the lawn at Parliament House

“It’s so exciting to be able to create a platform for our community, and to get to know all these people who are making this state amazing,” Webb says.

“It’s all here, and it’s all proudly Tasmanian.”

One man who has been at the Taste of Tasmania from the very beginning is stallholder, John Caire.

Caire fronted up for the first Taste of Tasmania in 1989 and will be part of it again in a few days, selling his hugely popular tempura mushrooms from the Festival Mushrooms stall.

He has watched with great interest as this “pioneering concept” has grown from humble beginnings and reminisces about the early years when just a handful of stall holders rattled around in the cavernous Princes Wharf shed.

“Back then we were just a collection of opportunistic food vendors, who only filled up about one third of that large building,” Caire recounts.

“It was totally different to what it is today. We weren’t promoting Tasmania, we were just a group of people with food stalls who sold a bit of everything, including hot dogs.

“Our stall, for example, sold mushroom done half a dozen different ways including pasta, risotto and of course tempura, but we also sold burgers and a few other things.”

Three decades on, the Taste of Tasmania is firmly entrenched as a festive season institution.

Now, the once hotchpotch collection of food vendors has been replaced by specialist stall holders offering tastes of premium Tasmanian fare – such as Caire’s famous tempura mushrooms.

Today’s festival is a wonderful representation of Tasmania, and completely different to those early days.

So, on this very special birthday year the Taste of Tasmania is celebrating with a new look, and a new lease of life.

“It is THE Tasmanian great event,” Caire concludes.

The Taste of Tasmania runs from December 28 to January 3, at Hobart’s Princes Wharf, but it’s just the start of the summer fun with Tasmania chock-a-block with festivities:

Image courtesy of Taste of Tasmania

11 December 2018, Edition 201

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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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