Jul
31
2013

Screen enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that the Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival – affectionately known as BOFA – is back this year and it's set to sizzle with an amazing lineup of talent.

This year from November 7-10 2013 in Launceston and Hobart, media lovers will be able to enjoy this festival. Films chosen to be shown at BOFA tend to explore issues from a different perspective and tell original stories in creative ways – hopefully coming together to stimulate positive change.

Not only does BOFA celebrate the treasures of cinema, it also acknowledges television, internet, gaming and more – all with an aspirational and inspirational twist.

This year's lineup is incredibly exciting, with 30 wonderful films and documentaries, question and answer sessions, industry workshops, forums, debates, wining and dining and more.

One special event taking place this year is Tasmanian Action day on November 8. This will put films from around the world that relate to issues affecting Tassie on centre stage. After each film screening, there will be question and answer opportunities, speakers, audience participation and a chance to explore different audience reactions, views and perspectives. Perhaps you'll even stumble across the perfect solution to a given issue if you take part.

Collage from BOFA - last year's debate and nearby fine wine on show

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Jul
30
2013

American Jazz legend George Benson will land on Aussie shores in August to play one magnificent show with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO)!

This is one event that jazz-lovers simply can't miss out on, with the ten-time Grammy award-winning musician to play tracks from his new album, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole.

Released a month ago, Benson's tribute to Nat King Cole includes classic tunes such as Unforgettable, Smile, Nature Boy and Walkin' My Baby Back Home.

USA Today gave Inspiration a favourable rating of four stars (out of four) with reviewer Steve Jones commenting that Benson finds "plenty of magic" in Cole's classics, bringing on board the talents of the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra and featuring guests such as Idina Menzel and Wynton Marsalis.

"His smooth vocals make this homage unforgettable," Jones writes.

This will be one night to remember, with Benson's smooth silky jazz tones to be paired with the talents of the TSO on August 20 at the Wrest Point Entertainment Centre.

You can purchase your tickets now from the Tix Tas website, with accommodation and dinner offers also available as add-ons to your night of jazz.

George Benson's latest recording to be played live with the TSO in Hobart - Image Credit: GeorgeBenson-dot-com

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Jul
29
2013

For those who love to head underground and wonder at all things subterranean, Hastings Caves is the perfect Tasmanian adventure.

The caves started to form around 40 million years ago, and were discovered only in 1917 when some timber workers stumbled upon an entrance. These caves have gone on to provide a wonderful attraction for locals and tourists alike.

Head down below the surface for a look into the series of caves. The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service takes tours through Newdegate's stunning cavern, which includes flowstone, stalactites, columns, straws, stalagmites and shawls. It's also home to what will excite a number of caving enthusiasts – helictites. These are tendrils of calcite that grow in all directions in tiny filaments – truly a marvel of nature.

Claustrophobics need not panic – Newdegate Cave is spacious – though you will have to do a wee bit of stair climbing, with 240 in total to climb, but these are approached in small sections. After you have worn yourself out exploring, you can take a dip in a thermal pool surrounded by beautiful forest. This warm spring water is a favourite with tourists, where there is access to modern changing facilities, great BBQ spots.
Local Hint: When you buy your tickets at the building near the hot springs be sure to leave enough time for the journey to the caves which is another 3 kms up a metal surfaced road.

Hastings Caves featured in 100 Things You Have Never Heard Of - Image Credit: (and article) Australian Traveller

Hastings Caves Thermal Pool - Image Credit: Smugglers Rest Accommodation

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Jul
28
2013

Tasmania is haven to lots of native Australian wildlife, with animals such as wombats, platypus, Bennetts wallabies and – of course – Tasmanian devils all calling this island home.

If you're organising a wildlife trip around Tasmania, then Port Sorell should be one of your first ports of call.

The quiet seaside town of Port Sorell is located 117km north of Launceston and is a location noted for its prime wildlife viewing opportunities.

Make sure to pack your best hiking boots and a camera for your trip to Narawntapu National Park (formerly known as Asbestos Range National Park).

The story behind its strange former name was linked to small quantities of asbestos, as well as other minerals, once being mined in areas beyond the Asbestos Range, but never actually in the range itself!

One good reason to opt for the original and far more interesting Aborginal name Narawntapu instead.

You'll be sure to get your animal-spotting fix here with Forester kangaroos, wombats, Bennetts wallabies and common wombats some of the wildlife going about their daily life in the park. If you're lucky enough, you may even spot a Tassie devil although their usual haunts call for far more cover!

Some other animals you may spot include spotted-tail and eastern quolls, brown and eastern barred bandicoots, potoroos, Tasmanian pademelons, mountain dragons, tiger snakes (in warmer months – and with care), as well as numerous species of bird.

Apart from the wildlife exploration, you can also head on bush walks, picnic or camp at Narawntapu.

During the day make sure to stop into the visitor centre, with interpretive displays, full picnic and toilet facilities found at Springlawn, the main park entrance.

There are also picnic facilities found at Badger Head and Bakers Point.

You can embark on a number of short walks (under two hours) such as the Bird Hide Walk, Fire Trail Walks, Archers Knob and Springlawn Lagoon Circuit Walk.

The lagoons and wide open spaces of the park - image credit: exploreaustralia

Wombat spotted from Archers Knob lookout

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Jul
27
2013

Port Arthur has long been one of Tasmania's favourite tourist destinations. A former convict settlement, Port Arthur is a famous historic area and serves as a fascinating open air museum.

Now students will be in for a special experience at the site, with a new 'Making a better world? The evolution of a convict settlement' exhibition available for them to visit. This takes students through the settlement's chronological life, from its beginnings as a timber-getting station in 1830, through to its purpose as a secondary punishment station, and its closing in 1877.

As such a historically significant World Heritage site, it can provide students with a high level of knowledge and understanding about Australia's history, as well as issues surrounding forced migration.

"During the new tour, the history of Port Arthur is discussed in the context of world history during this period," said Port Arthur’s education officer Gemma Davie.

"We explore the context of Port Arthur at that moment in history, including the events and movements which influenced the transportation of convicts to Australia."

Port Arthur is fascinating for both children and adults alike, so get yourself to this illuminating destination as soon as possible.

The site today - Image Credit: ABC Australia

Historic photo Port Arthur - Image Credit: University of Tasmania

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Jul
26
2013

There is always something spectacular to be found hiding away in beautiful Tasmania. The Bridestowe Estate Lavender Farm is the perfect example of this and it's ready to enchant and delight you.

Who knew that beautiful, vast fields of lavender could be awaiting you in Australia's southernmost state?

If you head to the lavender farm during summer you're sure to be greeted by the most spectacular sight – a sea of soft purple lavender stalks as far as the eye can see. However, even in the winter the area is still magnificent, with the green garden space still a spectacular view.

Self-guided tours are available all year round, with guided tours available by appointment. There is also an audio visual presentation that provides guests with an insight into the history of the estate, as well as the harvesting and distillation process. Self-guided tour information is available in Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese.

Along with the audio visual presentation, the Visitor Centre showcases a range of lavender products, including oil and dried flowers, as well as locally made crafts.

There's also a cafe where you can have a rest and grab a coffee or tea – and even have a taste of flower honey, jams, relish, biscuits and other treats.

In the winter months, Bridestowe Estate is open from 10:00 until 16:00 from Monday to Friday, and in the weekends by appointment.

This could be the perfect location to spend a special occasion with a loved one or your family – but it is also a great place for the kids to roam around and explore. Go on, make the most of this natural beauty.

Lavender Closeup - you can almost smell the aroma

Bridestowe Lavender Farm Tasmania is on the North East Tasmania cycle trail

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Jul
25
2013

Tasmania's latest claim to fame is that one of its walks has been listed in National Geographic Magazine as one of the World's 20 Best Hikes.

Found in one of Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage areas, the Overland Track is one of the state's long distance bushwalks.

The walk stretches for 65km through the beautiful terrain of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

It's no surprise that this walk has been named one of the world's best. It starts at Ronny Creek beside Cradle Mountain, and for six days hikers walk the trail with stunning and varied scenery.

Valleys carved from glaciers, eucalypt forests, buttongrass moorlands, ancient rainforests and alpine meadows are just some examples of the kinds of views and surroundings hikers are greeted with.

There are also a number of enthralling side-trails that energetic and enthusiastic walkers can head on, such as a climb up Mt Ossa, which is Tassie's highest peak.

While six days is the average time spent on the track, many people customise their walk and go at it at their own pace, taking time to soak in the area's splendour.

You can self-walk with a National Parks pass or their are commercial operators who do all the hard work leaving you to enjoy the comforts of great overnights and wondrous days.

Cradle Mountain hike with Barn Bluff - Image Credit: Cradle Mountain-dot-com

Stunning scenery - Image Credit: Australian Traveller, in an article '100 Things To Do Before You Die'

Cradle Mountain Hike Tasmania - Image Credit: SMH in an article 'Mud, sweat and cheers'

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Jul
24
2013

Packing up a picnic and heading out on a scenic drive can be an extremely fulfilling holiday activity. And where better to do it than Tasmania, which offers up amazing views, fine food and wine, great roads and a good time. It’s also a great way to get local.

If you take a look at a Tasmanian map, you'll see roads given the letters A, B and C. It's good to remember that A roads are major, sealed highways, B roads are secondary sealed roads, and C roads may be unsealed.

Before you set off, plan for the roads you will be on; ensure you set aside time to do what you plan. If you're planning a long drive, make sure you fill up your fuel tank too, as off the main routes you may not even see another car, let alone a fuel station!

The island packs in a lot of varied scenery considering its size – and that's why it can be such an adventure. It has a network of highways which can help you to loop your way around Tasmania with short distances between major attractions and sights. Because the population is relatively small, you won't find much competition on the roads – apart from some local wildlife attempting a crossing.

While the idea of coming across a stray wallaby, wombat or perhaps even an echidna on the road might sound novel and fun, it's always a good idea to stay alert while driving to make sure that you don't get a fright if one of these creatures appears. Be especially aware when driving at early morning or dusk, when these animals are at their most active.

Once you find a picturesque location for your picnic, make sure you do take a little bit of time to explore the area on foot. You might find yourself getting more up close and personal with the local wildlife or heading out on a stunning walk – there is no shortage of beautiful views lush greenery, and an enormous number of waterfalls here.

On a smaller scale, rather than heading far afield, hiring or using one of the free bike schemes allows you to slow the pace and explore cycleways … a picnic being the ultimate reward for your exertion.

Tasmanian Food Trails picnic - image credit: Tasmania for Everyone

Bike and have a picnic - image credit: The Ride-ons blog

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Jul
23
2013

For those who enjoy a beautiful, tranquil beach, you can't get much better than Wineglass Bay. Often rated among the top ten beaches in the world, this stunning bay is worth more than just a quick visit.

So what's so great about this destination?

It's more than just some beautiful white sand and clear water – although it certainly ticks both those boxes.

Just over two and half hours drive from Hobart, the surrounding scenery is breathtaking, with a walk up a hill providing a picture-perfect vista and a fantastic photo opportunity. Don't think you'll make it up and down this hill in five minutes, though – it's a good 45 minutes uphill! But it's absolutely worth the feeling you get when you make it to the summit, walk down to the lookout and survey in awe of what's around you.

As well as this, you'll get a view of the amazing 'Hazards'. These are a unique natural formation of pink granite peaks that are sure to make a lasting impression.

For those who want to do more than simply laze on the beach or look at the views from the summit, activities such as abseiling, rock climbing, scuba diving, mountain biking and bird watching may appeal.

Wildlife you might be able to catch a peek of include quolls, wallabies, wombats and Tasmanian devils.

There's also the opportunity to cruise into Wineglass bay on a Freycinet Cruise vessel – maybe you'll spot dolphins or some migrating whales!

Wineglass Bay will impress not only the 'beach-y keen' but even those who squirm at the thought of spending a day in squeaky pure white sand, with all the other beautiful views and activities there are to do.

Wineglass Bay Beach - Image Credit: Erin Micheletti (On-our-way-home blog)

Wineglass Bay Cruises with The Hazards in the background

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Jul
22
2013

If you want to find a good spot to take in Tasmania's wonderful views, make time to head to Mount Wellington. Its original Aboriginal names were Unghbanyahletta and Poorawetter, however it is now known as Kunanyi.

One of the most noteworthy features of this mountain is first and foremost its height. At 1,270 metres – or 4,000 feet – its elevation means you're going to see spectacular views.

It's also very close to Hobart's centre – a 20 minute drive will get you to the top. The base of the mountain is lush rainforest, but as you drive up heading towards the summit you'll notice the landscape change to sub-alpine flora and glacial rock formations.

Once you're at the top there are beautiful vistas in every direction. You'll see greater Hobart, Bruny Island, South Arm, the Iron Pot and the Tasman Peninsula. You'll also see springs dotted around the area, which supply much of Hobart's drinking water.

There is shelter at the summit so you won't be blown away by the strong winds, and there are plenty of perfect viewing platform locations so that you can get the best view possible. On the way up there are also barbecues and picnic facilities, so pack some treats and have a feast – all of the locations offer a meal with a view.

If you're game, head out on one of the mountain's bushwalks. There are paths suitable for families and children, as well as all fitness levels – so choose the one that best suits your ability.

For the slightly more adventurous, there are also trail biking routes, as well as abseiling locations. There is also a commercial bike tour which descends the mountain, including a cooling stop at the Cascade Brewery in true Aussie style.

Mount Wellington Shelter - Image Credit: Hobart City Council

Mt Wellington one of the viewing platforms - Image Credit: Australian Traveller

Mt Wellington from Hobart's Eastern Shore Rose Bay College webcam

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