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Tasmania’s Stories

‘Tasting’ a whisky world record

Edition 201_SteveKons

A treat is on the way for connoisseurs of the golden tipple, with the world’s largest whisky tasting room planned for Tasmania’s north west.

A collection of at least 1,500 whiskies from across the globe – all available for sampling – will be the centrepiece of The Tasmanian Ikon Distillery, an exciting new tourism venture being developed in one of Burnie’s landmark Art Deco buildings.

It’s the brainchild of Burnie Mayor, Steve Kons.

He points out that Burnie will then claim the Guinness Book of World Records, currently being held by the Hotel Skansen in Sweden, who have 1,179 whiskies on offer.

“We will definitely be smashing that record,” Kons says.

“I have had a few comments with people saying they have been to Scotland and went to a place where they had 3,000 whiskies.

“And, I tell them the big difference is that, with ours, you will actually be able to sample our 1,500 whiskies, they are not just on the shelf.”

The Tasmanian Ikon Distillery – which aims to open in January 2020– is being installed in the former Associated Pulp and Paper Mill [APPM] Service Building.

And, along with its world-record whisky offering, it will also be showcasing the finest from our island, with a special ‘Tasmania Room’ featuring the most extensive collection of local artisan spirits.

Tasmanian gins and vodkas will sit alongside our whiskies, and Kons estimates the room would encompass up to 1,000 lines of product for sale.

This $3 million development will also have a working distillery where visitors are treated to a bird's eye view of the production process via a walkway suspended above the distillery. A craft beer brewery is planned for a later stage.

“Our plan is you have to walk straight through the middle of this facility, and when you reach the stills there will be things happening all around you – underneath you on your left and on your right,” Kons explains.

“It’s like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, you walk through a door and there is something unexpected happening.

“It’s an exceptional product, in a place you would never expect it to be.”

Kons bought the old APPM service building – which housed the company dentist, gym, canteen and ballroom – four years ago.

It dates back to 1944, and Kons is excited that his plan provides for “a great reuse of a building full of history”.

This is also another sign of a resurgent Burnie, as the city continues to re-invent itself after the closure in 2010 of APPM, which was the heart and soul of this north west community.

“The paper mill used to provide everything for everyone. We are in the process now of people having to do things for themselves rather than rely on a larger employer,” Kons says.

As Burnie looks to the future, tourism is becoming one of the key economic drivers for this region that is situated on a beautiful stretch of the Bass Strait coastline.

And, Kons has no doubt that his Tasmanian Ikon Distillery will become one on the biggest attractions in Tasmania’s north west.

Another reason for visitors stepping off the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport, to “turn right”.

“The fact we have the other distillery in town [Hellyers] creates enough interest for people to overnight in Burnie,” Kons explains.

Kons is well equipped for the task and has a wealth of experience dating back to 1989, with his purchase of the local Farmers supermarket.

Kons is now one of the city’s largest commercial developers, specialising in the renovation of large-scale heritage buildings such as his popular Ikon Hotel.

He is also a community leader, who has represented Braddon in Tasmania’s House of Assembly and is currently serving his third stint as Burnie Mayor.

But it is this latest project that excites him the most, as he enthusiastically tells us: “The Tasmanian Ikon Distillery is a magnificent proposal."

Image courtesy of Grant Wells Photo

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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