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Tasmania’s Stories

What a year!

Edition 201_Arras

It’s been a great year for Tasmania. David Attenborough showcased our stunning island to a global audience of millions, a deal was struck for new Bass Strait ferries, while our whisky and wine shone on the world stage…and that’s just the start.

The summer celebrations were still in full swing when 2018 kicked off on a scientific note.

In January the Hobart City Deal was signed, boosting plans for the University of Tasmania’s $400 million STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) centre, and prompting Prime-Minister Malcolm Turnbull to praise the southern capital as “one of Australia’s premier science cities".

By February, it was the north’s turn. The Launceston City Deal was ratified, promoting a ‘smart city’ with a rapidly developing technological and ICT hub.

As the leaves turned golden in March, Tasmania headed to the polls and the Liberal Government, led by Premier Will Hodgman, was returned for a second term.

The arrival of autumn also turned the spotlight on tourism. Tasmania scooped the pool at the Australian Tourism Awards, with the Tasmanian Walking Company, Maria Island Walk, and Saffire Resort all bagging gold medals.

Tourism’s winning streak continued throughout 2018 with visitors arriving in droves. Annual tourist numbers now top a record 1.2 million, and there was a 36 per cent increase in cruise ship arrivals with 127 docking last season.

March was also accompanied by big news for a rebounding forestry industry, with the Hermal Group announcing plans for Australia’s largest hardwood mill near Burnie at a cost of $190 million. The mining sector strengthened as well, with a 40 per cent increase in exports on the previous year.

In April, Tasmanian whisky continued its global domination. Sullivans Cove Distillery was again named World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt at London’s World Whiskies Awards. Head distiller, Patrick Maguire, was later inducted into the Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame.

2018  also saw gin and vodka move out of whisky’s shadow. An innovative Sheep Whey Vodka from Hartshorn Distillery was named world’s best vodka, while the Poltergeist Unfiltered Gin was awarded double gold at the World Spirits Awards.

May produced Tasmania’s biggest ever infrastructure deal, with a $700 million contract for two new Bass Strait ferries to replace the current Sprits of Tasmania. The twin vessels will operate from 2021 providing an extra 35 per cent capacity.

Tasmania’s wine corks also popped in celebration that month. A report found the industry contributes $115 million to the local economy every year, and influential critic Tyson Seltzer, declared “the greatest sparkling wine on earth, outside of Champagne, comes from Tasmania.”

The wine accolades continued throughout 2018. Stefano Lubiana won world’s best bio-dynamic wine for the third year, and House of Arras winemaker, Ed Carr, was honoured with an international lifetime achievement award in London.

As June’s cold descended, our unique festivals fired-up. In Hobart, Dark MOFO unleashed its subversive celebrations, and we joined in song around a giant bonfire for the Festival of Voices. These festivals are now so popular that winter tourism is starting to rival the summer peak.

June also saw the hauntingly beautiful documentary, David Attenborough’s Tasmania, broadcast to millions of viewers across the world. It showcased the island’s stunning wilderness and wildlife and declared Tasmania to be “a world apart”.

By July, the state’s $442 million Antarctic sector was centre-stage. A Senate Inquiry released a bold vision of Hobart as an international Antarctic gateway, and plans were unveiled for scientific organisations, including CSIRO, to relocate to an Antarctic hub at Hobart’s Macquarie Point.

A win also for advanced manufacturing, with Liferaft Systems Australia awarded a $10 million contract to supply marine evacuation systems for Australia’s newest battleships. Tasmania’s defence sector is growing rapidly and now worth $340 million to the State’s economy.

In August attention turned to art as local identity, Neil Haddon, took out the world’s richest landscape award, the Hadley’s Art Prize, in Hobart. Craftsmen, designers and architects also attracted widespread acclaim in 2018, with one example being the multi-award winning MACq 01 hotel on Hobart’s waterfront.

As spring sprung into action, the focus turned to premium produce.

For the first time in six years, Tasmania had a stand at Fine Food Australia. And, the artisan producers who took part in the September expo in Melbourne attracted crowds with wares ranging from King Island wallaby to leatherwood honey.

Our Brand Tasmania ambassadors led the cheer-squad. Media personality, Ray Martin, hosted a forum which included Rodney Dunn from the Agrarian Kitchen. And, iconic chef, Tetsuya Wakuda, helped prepare a VIP degustation feast showcasing Tasmania’s finest fare.

In October, the Northern Midlands came alive with the sound of music. Historic village buildings, and rustic barns provided a stunning backdrop as Australia’s top musicians performed at the second Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival.

As we headed towards November it was time to celebrate Tasmania’s bounty – from both land and sea.

Super-chef, Brazilian Alex Atala, was seduced by fresh seafood during a visit to Tasmania. And, that bible of travel, the Lonely Planet, declared savouring plump oysters straight from the water at Freycinet to be one of the world’s ultimate dining experiences.

Tasmanian agriculture, watered by new dams, continued to go from strength to strength in 2018. And, history was made when Frances and Peter Bender, the founders of Huon Aquaculture, were named Australian Farmer of the Year – the first time fish farmers have won the prestigious award.

As December draws to a close and the year winds up, it’s safe to say that 2018 has been a corker for Tasmania; and 2019 is shaping up to be just as spectacular.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of Robert Heazlewood

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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