With place names like Doo Town and Paradise and 40% of the landmass designated as World Heritage Area, Tasmania is like no other island on Earth. Its majestic beauty, clean air and water and exotic flora and fauna, have marvelled explorers and adventurers for hundreds of years. These features still capture the world’s imagination today, as does our island’s reputation as a centre of excellence for both food and the arts.
Situated between latitudes 40 and 44 degrees South, the island is constantly purified by the wild winds known as the Roaring 40’s, which travel untouched from South Africa, resulting in Tasmania’s having the world’s cleanest air on record. Tasmania’s isolation from mainland Australia has ensured the survival of many plants and animals that are rare, or even extinct, elsewhere in the country, including the leatherwood tree, Eucryphialucida, from which Tasmania’s famous and rare leatherwood honey is made. Tasmanians have always been passionate about protecting the environment, and the world’s first green political party was formed here in 1972.
Tasmania abounds in artistic inspiration; we have a disproportionate number of artists and writers for our population. A special relationship between island communities and the arts seems to affect painters, sculptors, poets, musicians, dancers, writers, actors and singers. Tasmania is an island on the edge of the world and with the world at its feet.
Tasmania’s historic past is no dead and dusty creature – it’s a living, breathing spirit that reaches out from its place in time, everywhere you tread. The fascinating convict heritage lives on, not just in the penal settlements and convict-built towns, but in the communities of descendants that continue to live on the island.
Thousands of years before Europeans first came ashore, Tasmanian Aborigines were the state’s sole inhabitants. A number of significant historic Aboriginal sites are visible today, predominantly in the north-east of the island. From its position on the edge of the great Southern Ocean Tasmania has rich maritime heritage with colourful wharves, bustling fishing towns, and a strong marine science community working to manage this extraordinary resource. The city and port of Hobart is of international importance as a departure point for Antarctic exploration.
Tasmania is the smallest state in the Commonwealth of Australia. It has a population of just over 500,000 people, spread throughout the state’s four cities – Hobart (capital), Launceston, Devonport and Burnie and its regional communities. The island lays 250km south of mainland Australia and can be reached by daily flights out of Melbourne and Sydney, or by overnight ferry from Melbourne. Among the many famous people who have called the island home are:
- Field Marshall Montgomery
- Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
- Errol Flynn, Hollywood actor
- David Boon, cricketer
- Ricky Ponting, cricketer
Here’s what others have had to say about Tasmania:
Victoria Mather, Tatler magazine (April 2002):“There is a God. He created Tasmania. It is a land of cream and honey – thick King Island dairy cream and honey from the leatherwood trees. The crayfish are as big as cats, the mountain streams so pure that the women come to collect the water like modern-day Rebeccas at the well.”
AA Gill, The Sunday Times, “The End of the World’ (8 April 2007):“Tasmania has a rainforest that has an elemental, speechless beauty. Rainforests around the rest of the world are smelly, soggy, dank and deeply disappointing. Tasmania’s cool, temperate forest is a great buttressed and hammer-beamed cathedral to the green gods…. The canopy is made of huge, slow-growing eucalyptus, blue, red, grey, yellow, white. Some of the tallest trees in the world are here… This is some of the oldest living landscape in existence.”
John Humphreys, United Kingdom radio presenter and columnist with The Sunday Times(January 1999):‘If there is a more wonderful and magical place on earth, I have yet to see it… I breathed the cleanest air and swam in the purest waters with dolphins playing alongside. If paradise exists on earth, it is in the wilderness that is the southwest corner of Tasmania.’
David Davies, the Guardian ‘Natural Selections’ (24 November 2001): ‘Tasmania is absolutely crammed full of good things: the food is fantastic, the wine wonderful, the scenery superb – and that’s probably enough alliteration for the time being, too.’‘It is fair to say that no area in Australia has more scenic beauty, more pastoral pleasure packed into it than the place they call the Natural State.’
Tony Perrottet, The Sunday Times:‘I could taste the isolation in the air. The Tasmanian wind, having drifted thousands of miles across the Indian Ocean, is the purest on the planet. Alpine lakes glittered like dark pearls in the sun, their waters a translucent Rembrandt brown from vegetative tannin. Mountain ridges, razor-sharp in the brilliant light, continued into the horizon, row after row, ad infinitum.’
P.F. Kluge - National Geographic Traveler (October 2004):“Tasmania is the size of West Virginia, and there the resemblance ends. West Virginia is surrounded; it is middle America. Tasmania sits almost 1,537 miles north of the Antarctic. And yet, far off as it is, Tasmania seems as if bits from all the globe have been assembled in one place – and you can sample that world in a day’s drive. Headed northwest from Hobart along the Derwent River, I’m in wine country that could be Tuscany, then in hops-growing beer land that could pass for Bavaria. And this is only the beginning.”