Feb
05
2014
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Another one of Tasmania's lesser-known wilderness areas, Rocky Cape National Park, is a fantastic, untouched paradise to explore.

Found in the north west of the island, the relatively small park offers up more than its fair share of natural beauty.

Here are some of the reasons why this park is such a special place.

Awe-inspiring views

The views you get from Rocky Cape National Park are phenomenal. You can see across the turbulent waters of the Bass Strait, out to plains covered in wildflowers and craggy coastal areas.

The park itself is between Wynyard and Stanley, so certain parts of the area provide great views of these towns, too.

Quite spectacular here is the landscape's sheer range of geological features, such as sea caves, rock pools and pebbled shores, not to mention a whole number of fascinating stone formations that have to be seen to be believed.

The variety of flora and fauna the park is home to is also impressive. Because the area receives plenty of salt spray from the sea, the plants are strong and robust. The spring and summer in particular are beautiful times to visit if you love plant life, because this is when some of the bright flowers of the region are in bloom. Be sure to look out for the Xanthorrhoea plant too, which has a tall spike that makes it very distinctive. 

Aboriginal history and heritage

Traces of human civilisation date back thousands of years throughout the park, which is also known as Tang Dim Mer to the Aboriginal people.

Remnants of the original inhabitants of the land include cave middens, rock shelters and various other artefacts such as tools, which are up to 10,000 years old. 

From these ruins, it's clear that the Aboriginal people relied on seals, scale fish and shellfish for sustenance, and when it comes to embracing the taste of seafood, not much has changed in Tasmania!

These days, the Aboriginal community is still present in the Rocky Cape area, and is an active part of its management. It's still frequented for cultural, spiritual and recreational reasons.

What you can do

One of the best ways to explore this stunning region is by foot. There are a number of short walks that can introduce you to the park's highlights, while there are also full-day treks to enjoy.

Sights you'll come across include fascinating sea caves, pristine and hidden beaches and gorgeous rock pools full of colourful seaweed and starfish.

If you have access to a boat, this is another great way to travel along the shores of park. Whether you'd like to take a leisurely cruise around the waters and perhaps moor at a serene bay or two, or you'd like to try your hand at fishing, Rocky Cape National Park is a perfect place to relax or cast your rod.

For those who are brave enough to take the plunge, some of the beaches and shorelines are great places to swim, with water clear enough to see into the depths. There is certainly great snorkeling.
All swimming is best done in company however for safety in numbers.

There's so much to see that you could spend multiple days in the area, but be aware that you can't camp in the park itself. Instead, you can camp at the nearby Rocky Cape township, or at Crayfish Creek or the Peggs Beach Conservation Area.

Head to Rocky Cape National Park and see what you can find for yourself. With its array of stunning natural features and historical significance, it's a truly fascinating place to spend some time.

Walking trails in the Rocky Cape National Park - image credit: eaglesrisetasmania-dot-com-dot-au

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Feb
03
2014
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Tasmania is jam-packed full of great scenery and parks. Some are famous the world over, such as the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, but there are some lesser-known gems out there, too.

Savage River National Park is one such place. It's located in the north west of Tasmania, and one of its biggest drawcards is that it's home to the largest contiguous area of cool temperate rainforest in Australia.

That means a huge amount of significant flora and fauna, not to mention stunning landscapes.

For the wannabe geologists there's an amazing basalt plateau to explore, as well as a river gorge system and plenty of hills and valleys.

The vast majority of the region is near-untouched, so it offers an authentic wilderness experience that is extremely rare to come across. Most of the park is inaccessible by normal means, however there are some 4WD tracks that provide limited access, and a few areas can be reached by standard vehicle. It's lucky for us too, as that means there are ways to get an insight into this lush area.

Aboriginal and European heritage

The region is also home to many sites of Aboriginal significance. At the time of European contact, the Big River and North tribes frequented the area, and had established travelling routes throughout the landscape.

Europeans arrived in the area in the 1800s, surveying some of the land and discovering iron ore deposits. However, due to the difficult terrain, mining exploration and operations did not succeed in the region, so the pristine natural environment has been maintained.

If you are eager to explore this wilderness area, you can follow some of the basic tracks where self-reliant bushwalking is permitted. However, hikers must be well-equipped and knowledgeable of the conditions as there are no facilities throughout much of the area.

Savage River

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Feb
01
2014
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For some people, a journey to Tasmania is all about discovering stories, remnants and ruins from the past, often relating to colonial life on the island, as well as its history of convict settlement.

The most famous convict site in Tasmania is Port Arthur, however there are some other sites that can offer further insight into this seminal part of Tasmania's, and Australia's, history.
Here are some of the places you can visit to experience it yourself.

The Darlington Probation Station

The Darlington Probation Station was once home to 492 convicts and is located on Maria Island. It operated initially from 1825 until 1832 as a penal settlement, then as a station in the 1840s.

What can you expect to see when you visit? 13 buildings from the time are still standing in various states of repair. Prisoners made use of yard space, a chapel, barracks and dormitories, while some ill-behaved inmates were sent into solitary punishment cells. There were also superintendent quarters and even a barn.

Away from the mainland, it was an ideal location to keep people imprisoned, as to escape, prisoners would have had to swim long distances.

Cascades Female Factory

Often when retelling stories about Tasmania's convict history, people leave out tales of female prisoners. Today, the remains of the Cascades Female Factory stand to tell their stories.

Built in Hobart in 1828, women who had committed crimes worked at the facility until its closure in 1856. Away from male prisoners, its purpose was to remove the women from further bad influence.

A huge number of women passed through this facility. After all, 25,000 female convicts were transported to Australia, making up about 15 – 17 per cent of the overall convict cohort.

Visit the compound today and explore the yards, matron's quarters and other remains. Explore the facility by yourself, take a tour or see stories brought to life through commentary and live theatre.

Coal Mines Historic Site

This was Tasmania's first operational mine, and is easily visited in tandem with Port Arthur as it's just a 25 minute drive away.

The baddest convicts of the bunch were sent to work on this project and were subject to extremely harsh conditions. During the mine's operation, around 600 prisoners were sent to work here.

Today, a number of paths and trails wind around the site, so you can get an insight into how it operated back in its heyday. While you can't get underground, there's still plenty to see and explore.

As an added bonus, there are plenty of beautiful views on offer from this vantage point, so be sure to include it in your travels.

Farms and estates

For a look into farms and estates that operated with the use of convict workers, head to Brickendon Farm Village or Woolmers Estate.

The former is an old farming property that had the second-largest number of convict workers in Australia, and descendants of the original owners still live on this property today. There are beautiful gardens, convict-constructed buildings and stunning views, making for a great day out.

Woolmers Estate is another pioneer farm, including buildings such as workers' cottages, a chapel, blacksmith, stables, bakehouse and more. Its National Rose Garden is particularly striking, containing over 5,000 roses.

As you can see, Tasmania's convict history is far-reaching and goes way beyond one heritage site alone. Echoes of this bygone era are evident in aspects of Tasmania today, as plenty of Australians come here to search for links to their past and to see how some of their forebears may have lived.

Louisa's Walk - bringing the site and its history alive - Image Credit: publicityship-com-au

Iron Collar used as restraint and punishment device - Female Factory Prison Hobart - Image Credit: livehistoryhobart-dot-com-au

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Jan
30
2014
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The Tasman Peninsula is home to a number of great attractions well worth including in your holiday itinerary.

Most notably, this part of the island is where you will find the Port Arthur Historic Site, the hugely significant former convict colony that is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Convict Sites – there are eleven in Australia and Tasmania has five of them.

However, there's more than Port Arthur to enjoy while you are travelling the Tasman Peninsula. Read on for some of the other highlights of the region that you should visit while you're making plans for your journey around Tasmania.

Getting to know the Tasman Peninsula

Make your way from Hobart to the Tasman Peninsula. The best way to do this is to hire a car so that you have complete freedom to travel at your own pace and stop wherever you like.

As you drive the just over one-hour journey you'll be treated to the sight of dramatic coastlines, complete with sheer cliffs and collapsed caves, vast beaches and quaint villages. Make sure you stop off at Pirates Bay lookout for an unbeatable view.

Descending from the Pirates Bay lookout, you will find yourself at Eaglehawk Neck. This thin strip of land is the gateway to the peninsula proper. It's only 400 long long and at one point it's less than 30 metres wide, but for somewhere so small, it has a fascinating history. It was once guarded by chained dogs to deter convicts escaping from Port Arthur. Many prisoners did try to face these fearsome canines, but few succeeded. Today, a sculpture marks the site where the dogs once stood guard. You can see today what a masterstroke it was to let nature reinforce their incarceration.

To add to the eerie history of the area, there are also shipwrecks in the surrounding waters.

When you arrive at Eaglehawk Neck, you'll also want to explore the beautiful natural scenery. There are striking rock formations including the unique Tessellated Pavement, Tasman's Arch, Blowhole and Devil's Kitchen, so it's worth setting aside some time to wander around. This area is popular with hikers, rock climbers, divers, kayakers and surfers.

If you are keen to explore the local shipwrecks, local tour operators offer guided diving expeditions. There are also cruises of the local waters that can give a more up-close and in-depth view of the rock formations such as the famous Totem Pole, and from the boat you might even spot seals and dolphins frolicking in the water.

Tasman National Park

Once you've passed through Eaglehawk Neck, you will be in Tasman National Park territory. This park encompasses some of Tasmania's natural splendour including Cape Surville (the track in is actually closer to Murdunna), Waterfall and Fortescue Bays, Cape Raoul, plenty of other small bays and beaches, including a few offshore islands.

In particular, this National Park will appeal to those who love exploring natural coastlines. It has stunning sea cliffs, fascinating rock formations and plenty of rare marine animals and plants.

While out walking or exploring a beach you might come across creatures such as dolphins, whales, penguins and seals, all of which call waters off here home.

Birds such as gannets, terns and fairy-wrens frequent the area, while underwater there are huge forests of kelp.

When it comes to how to fill your days exploring the Tasman Peninsula and National Park, it's up to you. Bush walkers will be occupied for days on end, while adventurous rock climbers will love the challenge of climbing the Totem Pole. (Note this is for experts only!) Then of course there's plenty to keep boaties and kayakers occupied, so there's certainly never a lack of things to do.

Tessellated pavement on the Tasman Peninsula - Image Credit: @jackalynstorm via @Tasmania on IG

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Jan
29
2014

Tasmania's bustling city of Hobart offers plenty of things to see and do. But if you feel like a change of scene, there are many great experiences waiting to be discovered just outside of the city limits.

Here are two great towns that provide plenty of activities for you, only a short distance from Hobart.

Sorell

Sorell is a small town and a perfect place to while away an afternoon. It's only a half hour drive east of Hobart and the scenery on the way is well-worth a look, so it definitely rates well for convenience.

But what really makes the town so special is its heritage. It's one of Tasmania's oldest towns so there are plenty of historic sights and buildings. The town was first explored in 1805 and has experienced its fair share of excitement. For example, in 1925, bushranger Matthew Brady held up the town jail and freed its prisoners!

In addition, it's a thriving mecca for fruit lovers,  who can sample everything from strawberries to tayberries. At the Sorell Fruit Farm you can pick your own fruits to take home, offering the freshest produce you can get your hands on. Head to the area in September or October, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom making the farm even more delightful. It's the perfect time to relax at the cafe with a delicious cup of coffee and enjoy the stunning scenery.

Be sure to stroll the historic streets, visiting the old Roman Catholic, Scot's Uniting and St George's churches.  There are also some great barracks, antique stores and pubs, so there's more than enough to fill your day in this quaint town.

Huonville

There are few places in the world as peaceful as the Huon River, and Huonville is where you can explore the best of it. Not only that, it's only a 40 minute drive from Hobart so it's another easy daytrip.

It's another great destination for foodies, as more than half of Tasmania's apples are produced in the town. Try some while you're at an orchard – but you won't just be limited to this crunchy delight. Cherries, plums, pears, apricots and mushrooms are also grown in the region.

One of the best times to experience all the flavours this town has to offer is during March, when the annual Taste of the Huon festival is in full swing celebrating the harvest.

In between tastings, why not take a thrilling jet boat ride on the Huon River to get that adrenalin pumping? Or for those keen on a more serene experience, kayaking, fishing or gliding along in a paddleboat are extremely memorable too.

Of course, one of the highlights of Huonville is the fact that it is taking a new turn with the burgeoning ‘ciderscape’ emerging in Tasmania. The former Apple Museum at Grove has been transformed by producer Willie Smith into a great stop to sip, dine and explore the history of the family which has an enormous number of descendants in the region. They lived and breathed orcharding here through its many phases.

Remember, enjoy Hobart, but don't forget there are some amazing experiences to be had just a stone's throw away.

Sorell Fruit Farm - Image Credit: The Mercury

Willie Smith's Cider and Apple Museum near Huonville - Image Credit: Craig Clark

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Jan
28
2014

Tasmania's Hastings Caves are a magical place to visit thanks to their beauty and fascinating features.

But that's not all. Check out these three compelling reasons to visit the Hastings Caves, located about a 90 minute drive from Hobart.

The Newdegate Cave

This cave is rare due to the fact it's formed from dolomite rather than limestone. It's big, too – there are over 240 stairs! You can take a guided tour of this fascinating place and see the rock beautifully lit up around you.

See if you can spot some of the underworld creatures that dwell here. To survive in the conditions, they usually have long antennae to make up for their lack of vision. These cave-dwelling critters are so attuned to life underground here that they wouldn't be able to survive on the surface. In addition, some crawling species are found here and nowhere else.

Awe-inspiring formations

Head into the underground world of the Hasting Caves and you'll be greeted by vast open caverns, elegant flowstone and impressive stalactites and stalagmites. It's a great look into the natural world of the past, as these caves started forming around 40 million years ago and were only discovered in 1917.

The thermal pool

There are more than simply caves to enjoy in the Hastings area! Take a relaxing dip in the thermal pool, where you'll be surrounded by lush forest. There's a paddling area specifically for kids as well.
The temperature is kept at around 28 degrees Celsius year-round, and when it's cold you might notice it steaming.

Be sure to take a walk along the Hot Springs Track. Here, you'll find two converging streams – dip your hand in and you'll be able to feel both a cool and warm current meeting up. Oh, and pack BBQ supplies as you can cook up!

http://blog.discovertasmania.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/hastings-caves-thermal-pool-550x357.jpg

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Jan
25
2014

The combination of great music and fantastic weather has to be one of the best you'll ever come across. So get prepared to enjoy some rock'n'roll this summer, with the Red Hot Summer Tour about to grace Tasmania's shores.

This legendary tour is travelling across Australia, and is coming to Launceston on February 2. What does it involve? Rock royalty Suzi Quatro, The Black Sorrows, Shannon Noll and Russell Morris performing to adoring crowds all across the country. Such an impressive line-up is rare, so make the most of the opportunity to rock out to these musicians.

The event is strictly R18, so your best bet is to find a babysitter and head along to the Country Club Lawns where you'll find all the action. Gates open at 1 pm, and Russell Morris will take the stage an hour later. Shannon Noll is set to perform at 3.10 pm, the Black Sorrows at 4.20 pm and Suzi Quatro at approximately 5.45 pm.

The concert will go on no matter the weather, so come prepared with a rain jacket and warm clothing if it looks like it could get dicey.

You can bring a picnic rug and folding camp chair, camera and sealed bottles of water to the grounds. However, alcohol, glass, umbrellas, shade structures, professional cameras and video recorders won't be allowed onsite, and there are bag checks to make sure there are no prohibited items.

Take the chance to see rock royalty in the flesh and make the most of the amazing opportunity. You're sure to make some amazing memories and will always look back fondly on the fact that you got to witness some of the most significant national and international rock acts out there.

Red Hot Summer Tour - Headlined by Suzi Quatro

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Jan
23
2014

Tasmania is jam-packed with areas deemed 'World Heritage&#039 by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

If an area gains World Heritage status, it means it's of particular value to humanity, and its natural and cultural environments need to be identified, protected and preserved.

The sheer scope of Tasmania's World Heritage Area is impressive. There are over 1.4 million hectares that come under this label – that's around one fifth of the total island.

Reserves like the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Hartz Mountains National Park – and many others – are included in the overall label.

The areas set aside are significant for a multitude of reasons, including natural splendour, historic Aboriginal significance, and much more. Many of the areas are also home to precious animals and wildlife, such as Tasmanian devils and native plants.

Why not design your own adventure to visit some of these extremely important – and stunning – World Heritage sights? Hiring a car and driving around Tasmania, spending as much or as little time as you like at each spot, is one of the most fulfilling and effective ways of seeing the island! Touch the World Heritage on a cruise on Tasmania’s West Coast. It is not called a World Heritage Cruise for nothing.

Some of our World Heritage is easy to access by vehicle, others demand planning and ‘going bush’. Best enjoyed with a partner, a well-planned trek will put you into the heart of some of the most treasured places on earth.

If you want to include more than just natural magnificence on your list, why not visit another aspect of our World Heritage collection? Best known of the World Heritage Convict Sites, Port Arthur is a former penal colony which is extremely fascinating, with remnants of prison cells and living quarters ready for exploration. Guided tours are available during the day, and at night there is a Ghost Tour sure to stir your imagination.

Whether you get the chance to visit just one, two, three or all of Tasmania's sublime World Heritage offerings, you're sure to leave with a renewed appreciation of nature, culture and history – not to mention a new found love for Tasmania.

Gordon River Cruise viewing the World Heritage Area from Strahan - Image Credit:  Fig & Walnut (Lani Kingston) Blog

Sweeping View of Mason Cove at Port Arthur - Image Credit Fotopedia and Graeme Tipping

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Jan
22
2014

If you want to cycle up a storm on holiday, Tasmania is the perfect location. Whether you want to tackle hilly terrain or are happier on flat ground, there's a section of the island to suit. Let’s face it, once you are on your bike you will just go where the whim or the road takes you.

Here are some of the top spots for hopping on your bike and heading out on a leisurely ride. Just don't forget your helmet! Experienced cyclists will know that if you are touring carrying basic spares will make the journey easier if you get a flat.

Hobart

Even though it's Tasmania's largest city, it's still compact and that makes it a great place for cycling. The roads are mostly well paved and there are some cycle lanes, and around the harbour makes it a perfect spot for beginner cyclists. Did you know there are even free bikes? ‘Art Bikes‘ are available to explore the sights and galleries.

Bike through central streets such as those around Salamanca, head up to Battery Point to explore the heritage homes or even tackle the steep slopes of the 1,270 metre-high Mount Wellington looming over the city.

Alternatively, stick to the flat and cycle out all the way to MONA – you’ll be glad you did … it is one of the best rides we know.

Rural towns

Get out of the big smoke and explore some of Tasmania's rural towns, such as Burnie or Devonport and the trails from Ulverstone past Turners Beach has great cycling.

Rural settlements often have great historic sites such as heritage homes, welcoming pubs, estates and old churches. Exploring as a cyclist brings a whole new experience to the speed and detail that you can take in. Pity the motorist who flies past all these opportunities.

Blooming gardens, a laid-back way of life and a welcome dose of tranquility are just some of the other features of rural Tasmania.

Cycle the seaside

Tasmania's seaside towns offer up great views, best experienced on the back of a bike.

Head east and get rolling through coastal towns such as Swansea, Bicheno and St Helens.
You can also cycle on the nearby Maria Island for some great wildlife spotting, but that is another story.

Art Bikes - Image Credit: Hobart City Council

On the Summit of Mt Wellington - Image Credit: Mt Wellington Descent

Rural Areas Tasmania Cycling - Image Credit: 101 Things To Do

Rural Areas Tasmania Cycling – Image Credit: 101 Things To Do

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Jan
21
2014

If you're a fan of jazz music, head to the Clarence Jazz Festival in Tasmania. This annual musical event will take place between February 16 and 23 in a beautiful riverside setting just across the harbour from downtown of Hobart.

Both local Tasmanian jazz talent, as well as musicians from mainland Australia, will flock to the island to perform in parks, gardens and even the 200 year-old Rosny Barn, entertaining audiences of all ages.

Rosny Barn is also known as the Jazz Lounge, and has been refurbished into an indoor/outdoor bar, cafe and music venue with a truly special atmosphere. Performances here have long been crowd-pleasing events thanks to the unique setting and warm and inviting vibe.

The Bellerive Boardwalk will be home to performances from February 21 to 23, and is a spectacular location in particular due to its views of the Kangaroo Bay marina. Events here are enhanced by fresh food stalls where the food is prepped and cooked on-site, not to mention the bar that serves mouth-watering local beers and Tasmanian wines. At the weekend there are free activities for the kids to partake in, so you can focus on enjoying the music and catching up with friends.

One of the great things about this festival is that all the outdoor concerts are free! Some of the events that take place in the Jazz Lounge/Rosny Barn are ticketed, but otherwise you can enjoy the fruits of this festival at no cost.

Take a moment to look at this year's line-up, which is particularly impressive and features different styles of jazz spanning the decades. From classic and traditional to surprising and contemporary, there will be just the concert for you at this much-loved festival.

Great players and vocalists at the Clarence Jazz Festival - Image Credit: Festival facebook page

Music is all go at the Clarence Jazz Festival on the Bellerive Boardwalk

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