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Working in Tasmania stories

A Chairman reflects

Partner Connections March 2019 Mike Grainger

With a steady hand on the tiller, Michael Grainger has guided Tasmania’s brand through one of its most transformative eras.

As chairman of Brand Tasmania, he has watched our island evolve from a “virtual backwater” to the brand powerhouse that it is today.

Grainger has also been instrumental in transitioning the organisation into its exciting new chapter as a ‘turbo-charged’ statutory authority, which is expected to come into effect tomorrow.

“Fifteen years ago if you were asked where you were from, especially when you were overseas, most people would say ‘I’m Australian’, and then mutter under their breaths that they were from Tasmania,” he reflects.

“However, these days people proudly say they are Tasmanian.

“In fact, we now have the situation where the mainland states are really following what we do, and how we do it.

“And that is something we should all be very proud of.”

After nine years in the top job, Grainger says it is now the perfect time to step down.

He is a strong believer in board renewal, and always planned that a new set of hands should take the reins as the inaugural Brand Tasmania authority Chair.

Entrepreneur, Nick Haddow, the founder and Managing Director of Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Co, will take up the mantle.

“Nick runs a very successful business that is heavily reliant on brand, and heavily reliant on the state of Tasmania, and I think he will bring that experience to the Chairman’s role, and that will be great.”

Grainger is one of Tasmania’s top businessmen.

His company, Liferaft Systems Australia, exports marine evacuation systems across the globe, and he has successfully combined this rapidly expanding business with his role as Brand Tasmania Chairman, which he calls a “privilege” and team effort.

“At the end of the day the chairman conducts the orchestra, he doesn’t play the instruments,” Grainger explains.

“And people need to understand that the level of talent that we had around the board table in terms of the Brand Tasmania Council was unsurpassed.

“We had the leaders of industry in the various sectors giving their time freely to promote the state. And that is almost unheard of in any other board.”

It was a pivotal time in Tasmania’s brand evolution when Grainger stepped into the top job in 2010.

He became Chairman the year before MONA opened, suddenly plunging Tasmania into the international spotlight.

While there is no doubt about the enormity of the so-called MONA effect on Tasmania’s brand recognition, Grainger also point outs many other industries such as: manufacturers; wine and whisky producers; purveyors of artisan food; tourism operators; niche primary producers; and the education sector ranging from pre-tertiary, to TAFE, to University, who were also championing Tasmania with great success.

Our exporters, led by Incat whose revolutionary fast ferries are in demand across the globe, also played a leading role in changing perceptions.

“You roll all that into one, and it just provides an incredibly high level of recognition for the state. We witnessed an amazing transformation over this time,” Grainger reflects.

“When I first joined the Brand Tasmania Council, the state was considered a ‘basket case’ to some extent, and certainly our brand was not highly recognised.

“Today we are known and envied not only across Australia but across the world, and we can all be very proud of the point we have reached now."

This hasn’t happened overnight, and it hasn’t happened in a vacuum.

“A lot of industries and individuals, many of those our brand partners, have spent a lot of time working very hard to not only promote themselves, but indirectly promote the brand of Tasmania at the same time,” Grainger explains.

“However, the kudos for all of this really needs to go to Robert [Heazlewood].

“He has been the driving force behind this whole thing, working very hard behind the scenes to make sure that things happen properly for all the right reasons.”

Reflecting over his time with Brand Tasmania, Grainger says there are many highlights that stand out.

He points to the Ambassador Program where international chef, Tetsuya Wakuda, and media identities Ray Martin and David Brill, became passionate Tasmanian advocates, or the visiting journalists initiative.

“But, I think the fact that we got the Brand Tasmania Council to the stage where we could work with the Government to transform it to a statutory authority is probably the biggest thing that we have ever done.

“This will give Brand Tasmania the funding, and the scope, to be able to take the organisation up to another level.

“And if that happens, we have done our job.”

Grainger may be stepping down as chairman, but he won’t be stepping down as a passionate champion of our unique island home.

“I will continue to promote the Tasmanian brand every day of the week both in Australia and internationally,” Grainger explains.

“So personally, nothing will really change for me, except that I won’t be sitting at the head of the table every two months!”

Image courtesy Alastair Bett

27 March 2019, Partner Connections

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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 Brand Tasmania © 2014–2019

Brand Tasmania

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