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Tasmania’s Stories

‘Berry’ Christmas

Edition 201_EmmaKate

It promises to be a very ‘berry’ Christmas, as one of Tasmania’s favourite festive treats explodes in popularity.

Our world-class, sweet, juicy, berries are synonymous with a Tasmanian summer, and they are booming.

In fact, Tasmania’s berry industry is expanding so rapidly that it is now the state’s highest value fruit crop, recently leap-frogging over cherries to nab top spot.

The latest Tasmanian Agri-Food Scorecard, released in November, shows the industry is worth $80.3 million. A far cry from 2005, when it was valued at just over $7 million.

However, many are convinced the true worth of our ‘berry boom’ is far greater.

“While latest figures show Tasmania’s berry industry now tops $80 million a year, anecdotally it is probably worth upwards of $150 million when you take farmgate sales into account,” Fruit Growers Tasmania CEO, Stuart Burgess said.

He also pointed out that Tasmania’s berry industry has increased more than tenfold over the past decade.

“Growth has been extremely high, especially during the last five to six years, with another significant increase over this last financial year,” Burgess continued.

None of this is any surprise to Emma Sutherland.

She helps run Burlington Berries, which was established at Cressy by her parents six years ago and is now one of Tasmania’s largest private berry producers.

Since their first harvest, Sutherland says business has “quadrupled”.

In 2012, Burlington Berries produced 280 tonnes of strawberries and 46 tonnes of raspberries. Last season that number jumped to 900 tonnes of strawberries, and 440 tonnes of raspberries.

That first year they also employed 83 seasonal pickers, but this season will need more than 500.

As Sutherland says: “I think we are just starting to see the massive opportunities with berries in Tasmania.”

The Tasmanian berry season runs from early November until late May. Strawberries account for 60 per cent of total production, followed by raspberries and blackberries, then blueberries which are undergoing a period of rapid expansion.

And, while business may be booming, there is still room for growth.

Sutherland looks to the more established British berry industry for inspiration, where consumers can be discerning about quality and provenance.

“You only have to look at the UK to see how far our berry industry can go,” Sutherland explains.

“If you go into a supermarket in the UK, you are able to see that this is a ‘Jubilee Berry’ grown, for instance, by ‘Hugh Lowe Farms in Kent’.

“You can also buy first, second, or third grade berries at different prices. And punnets of mixed berries are offered for sale. We don’t have that here in Australia.

“So, there is still so much more we can do, and that’s what is so exciting.”

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Hillwood Berry Farm is another large producer that is enjoying the fruits of Tasmania’s berry bonanza.

And, according to Simon Dornauf, who helped establish this family business in the Tamar Valley eight years ago, annual turnover is now around $22 million.

“In Tasmania the berry category has exploded,” Dornauf says.

“It has grown exceedingly rapidly, and I would say it has been in the last six years that things have really ramped up.”

Across the world, berries have experienced phenomenal growth as the quest for healthy eating soars.

But there are other factors at play in Tasmania.

The 2010 arrival of Driscolls – the world’s largest berry marketer – significantly increased product demand, and both Hillwood and Burlington are amongst the growers who supply the US-based giant.

On top of that, Tasmanian growers recently boosted productivity by investing heavily in innovative practices such as ‘hydroponic crops’ and ‘polytunnels’.

Hillwood, for example, now grows all its berries up on tables, and safely protected in 350 tunnels.

“Especially for a place like Tasmania where the weather can be quite inconsistent, growing berries in tunnels allow us to have more security about our crops, because they can’t be damaged by rain or hail,” Dornauf explains.

“It also means we have a picking schedule that we can maintain. For instance, it rained quite heavily last night, but we are still out picking again this morning.”

There is no doubt that Tasmanian berries are booming, and summer’s bounty is shaping up as a beauty.

And, as Dornauf says: “While the cold spring might have meant that things have not gotten underway as quickly as anticipated, the crop is looking really promising for good berry supplies for Christmas.”

Image courtesy of Emma Sutherland

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

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