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Tasmania’s Stories

Antique royalty lands in Hobart

Edition 201_MarkLeslie

Perth ‘antique royalty’ – Leslie Lauder and Mark Howard – packed up their thriving business, which was four decades in the making, and moved across the country to Tasmania.

Drawn by our rich heritage, they relocated to the other side of Australia, and have since re-opened Lauder and Howard Antiques and Fine Art in downtown Hobart.

It was an enormous step.

“We arrived with eight, 40-foot containers. It was huge,” Leslie Lauder recounts.

“Logistically it was a bit like the landing of Normandy in 1944. We said, ‘where’s the deep end’, and jumped right in.”

Lauder and Howard first opened their doors in 1979, in Perth’s seaside suburb of Fremantle, eventually becoming Western Australia’s pre-eminent purveyor of high-quality antiques and fine art. The local press even dubbed them ‘antique royalty’.

So, why the move to Tasmania?

The pair had both been visiting Tasmania for many years, after falling in love with the island’s beautiful collection of Georgian architecture.

“Tasmania is very alluring,” Mark Howard explains.

“We have always been very passionate about Hobart and Tasmania, there is something different and quite special about the place that sets it apart.

“What drew us here initially in the 1970s was seeing the marvellous collection of heritage buildings and the wonderful ambiance that the city had.”

But the move was also driven by the fact that while the antiques business is booming in Tasmania, it is on the wane in the rest of the country.

Leslie Lauder points out that during the “golden days of antiques in 1980s and 90s there were 20 or 30 dealers in Queen Street, Woollahra in Sydney,” which was Australia’s antique epicentre. Today just “one, maybe two are left.”

In contrast, antiques are thriving in Tasmania as heritage tourism takes hold, and Lauder estimates there are about 50 quality dealers operating on the island.

Or, as he says, that’s more per head of population than anywhere else in Australia.

“Antiques and fine art are a natural fit for Tasmania adding to its whole seductive allure,” Lauder explains.

“They are another part of this medley of drawcards for the island.”

Lauder and Howard, who opened their Hobart treasure trove in March, fit perfectly into this narrative.

“I think ultimately cultural nodes work off each other. This means that the arts, and antiques and so on, all re-enforce each other,” Howard explains.

“And, I feel that because there is a critical mass of antique dealers in Tasmania, it will actually draw people to the island. Visitors can come and see a dozen different opportunities in a single day.”

Lauder and Howard are already replicating their previous success in their new home.

They say their gallery – which covers 600 square metres in a large renovated building in Campbell Street on Hobart’s CBD fringe – is already one of the biggest antique businesses in Tasmania.

“No-one else here has the diversity that we do,” Lauder says.

“One of our strengths has been having things from all kinds of periods and origins. We have ancient things, right through to art deco, to interesting modernist things that are 30 or 40 years old.

“Our focus is on buying things that are unusual, beautiful, and rare and that people can afford.”

Do they like their new life on the other side of Australia?

“Absolutely delighted,” Lauder continues.

“What I find particularly inspiring is the warmth of the people here. It’s almost like being accepted into a new family – which I find very heart-warming.

“And that’s just wonderful.”

Footnote: Lauder and Howard Antiques and Fine Art are currently presenting an exhibition of ‘Modern Renaissance’ oil paintings, featuring portraits and still life by internationally acclaimed artist, Andrea J. Smith. It will run until January 20 at 185 Campbell Street, Hobart.

Image courtesy of Lauder and Howard Antiques and Fine Art

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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