If you would count yourself as a nature lover, then there's no better place in Tasmania to experience its wild beauty than in the west!

Lace up your hiking boots, fill up your hydration packs and water bottles, and let out your inner explorer to discover the wealth of amazing short walks available in the island's 'Western Wilderness'. A national parks pass will be required before you set out.

Echo Point

Let your eyes wander around the spectacular view offered by a ferry cruise on Lake St Clair – the deepest lake in Australia – with the "the beauty of the highlands of Tasmania" enveloping the location.

There is a choice of 3 short walks waiting to be enjoyed. The shortest of these trails is just 2.4 km return, however, the walking distance can easily be extended by combining this with the other walks – something than many visitors choose to do.

In total, the 3 combined walks form a loose figure of eight that is just a fraction under 5km in length. All of the Lake St Clair walks are rated Level 2, which means that they are an easy walk suitable for most levels of fitness. Level 2 tracks generally have occasional steps and a formed gravel or hardened surface.

You should make sure that you have suitable footwear and clothing, including sun hat, sun block, sunglasses along with a jersey or jacket. The weather can be exceptionally changeable with wind, rain and snow occurring in any month of the year. This is highland Tasmania!

Allow up to 1.5 hours if intending to complete the figure eight circuit. The shortest of the walks completed by itself will take approximately 40-minutes.

To reach the lake. Turn off the Lyell Highway (A10) onto the C193 on the Queenstown side of the Derwent Bridge. It is approximately a 6km drive to the car park and facilities at the start of the track system.

A more strenuous walk – a short 5-7 hours (16.5km) length, it will take you through ancient cool temperate rainforest, open woodland, buttongrass plains and thick pockets of tea-tree. This track is the southern most section of the famous Overland Track and you will need to interact with the ferry operator to arrange getting out there and for pick-up. This walk takes some planning, compared with the shorter ones.

Donaghys Lookout

Make sure to pack your best camera for this journey, where you will enjoy sweeping views of mountain tops and the Franklin River.

The track will see you climb a small hill at an easy grade which will see you arrive at a "perched and protected" rocky lookout point.

Donaghys Lookout offers a "spectacular window into the wilderness" of the popular Wild Rivers National Park.

Donaghys lookout toward Huonville - image credit: travelpod member Whvanderpost

The deep and beautiful lake

A map of the area at Lake St Clair - image credit: LakeSt Clair Lodge and Ferry Serice

Lake St Clair Ferry

Donaghys Lookout - image credit: tasmaniansleepervans

Amazing other view at the lookout - image credit: flickr user pojic

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The first three months of the year are a great time for foodie fans to visit Tasmania, with a number of fantastic food and wine festivals taking place over summer and autumn.

It's almost time for the Huon Valley's food event to take centre stage in March, celebrating the 21st year of 'A Taste of the Huon', a celebration of the region's fine food, wine, entertainment, arts and crafts.

Visitors to the island's capital of Hobart can also get in on the festivities, with the event taking place at Ranelagh Showgrounds, which is only a 30 minute drive away.

Over 20,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event on Sunday March 10 and Monday March 11, with Tasmania renowned for produce such as apples, cherries, mushrooms, berries, truffles, salmon and cool-climate wines!

More than 90 stallholders will be present at the festival with William Smith Cider, Silver Hill Fisch, Taste of Persia, Bag Bakery, Tassie Taste Buds and Coffee for a Cause some of the exhibitors who will be offering savoury treats, ingenious crafts and cool beverages at the event.

So bring along a blanket and an empty stomach to take delight in all the food, wine and entertainment at A Taste of the Huon.

The Taste of Huon from 2012

Great Country Setting for the Huon Taste - Image Credit: Flickr User Roger_T_Wong

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The last Australian days of summer see a fabulous range of flowers come into peak season, including a number of Tasmania's native gems – the vibrant Tasmanian native orchid, the dainty pink and white Tasmanian alpine flowers and the gorgeous crisp Tasmanian leatherwood flower.

Visit the wonderful gardens in which these native flowers bloom, by heading out on a Blooming Tasmania adventure!

Allendale Gardens

Located on Tasmania's stunning north west coast, along the edge of the famous Tarkine is Allendale Gardens.

Allendale is paradise for any flower enthusiast, with six acres of landscaped gardens and another 65 acres of rainforest!

You will want to make a visit before the last Saturday of April as from that date the gardens will be closed until spring comes around again.

The Allendale Gardens are also a favoured wedding location, providing a beautiful floral backdrop to the big day's events.

"From roses to a rainforest", Allendale Gardens has it all. Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00, you can be sure to get your fix of all that is bright and beautiful about gardens in the summer.

Crawleighwood Nursery and Garden

Witness the brilliant colours of summer and autumn at the Crawleighwood Nursery and Garden in the picturesque hills at Nicholls Rivulet, nestled in Tasmania's stunning Huon Valley.

The gorgeous two-hectare garden features lush rhododendron woodland and magnificent deciduous trees such as maples.

Entry is $5 for adults, with the garden open from 10:00 to 15:30 from Thursday to Saturday.

Keep an eye out for the new nursery opening this year!

Kaydale Lodge Gardens

Discover this glorious two-hectare cool-climate garden in Tasmania's north west, created by a family of dedicated gardeners.

Featuring a fritillaria meadow, waterfalls, ponds, rare bulbs, woodland and other unique sights, you will be sure to enjoy your time at Nietta's Kaydale Lodge Gardens.

You can also opt to stay at the lodge which offers "warm, comfortable country in-house accommodation" featuring the Wattle and Cypress rooms and a honeymoon suite!

Near Hobart, and an easy day trip to combine with any journey to the Huon Valley, Margate, Snug or Kingston is Inverawe Native Gardens near The Margate Train. This garden with its enormous collection of Australian native plants that sweep down to the shoreline of North West Bay will overwhelm you with colour, texture and subtle scents.

Crawleighwood at Nicholl's Rivulet - Image Credit TheRadish.com

Inverawe Native Gardens - Image Credit PleaseTakeMeTo

Kaydale Lodge - Image Credit: HomeLife.com

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For the last week, one of Tasmania's most popular music events has been entertaining locals and visitors in Hobart with brilliant jazz performances, stunning locations and great vibes.

The Clarence Jazz Festival will be wrapping up this weekend, with a fabulous lineup of talent to finish the summer with a bang!

The jazz festival is in its 16th year, featuring performances in several beautiful locations including Cremorne Beach, Simmons Park, Rosny Farm and Bellerive Boardwalk.

"Where else in the world would you rather play than here, in the sunshine by the water?" Festival ambassador and saxophonist Paul Williamson told The Mercury.

This weekend there will be a number of free activities and crafts for the kids to enjoy, with all outdoor concerts free.

Beginning the day's events on Saturday is legendary UK singer Dennis Lotis, who has performed with the likes of Judy Garland, Petula Clarke and Vera Lynn.

Lotis will perform at Bellerive Boardwalk from 14:00 to 16:00, followed by fellow talented musicians Steve Young Sextet, Hobart Jazz Octet, Deluxe and Australian Army Band – Tasmania.

Sunday's events return to Bellerive Boardwalk for an afternoon jam-packed with entertainment from James Maddock Swing 4, Gadje – Gypsy Jazz, Cake Walking Babies and a festival finale from Paul Williamson Festival Allstars.

Spend the last days of summer in the sunshine at Tasmania's Clarence Jazz Festival!

Headline Acts at Clarence Jazz

Jazz Lounge Performers

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Looking for the perfect place to spend a honeymoon getaway, with amazing scenic views of the bay? Then you can't go wrong by booking a stay with Tasmania's Rocky Hills Retreat, nestled in acres of bush in Swansea.

The retreat was recently announced as a gold winner of the Unique Accommodation award at the 2012 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, and it's not hard to see why with the intimate hideaway sitting up on a hill that overlooks the spectacular Great Oyster Bay and Maria Island on Tasmania's immaculate east coast.

Indulge in a touch of luxury amongst the sprawling wild nature of the island, watching the sun rise from the morning deck as you tuck into King Island yogurt, fresh fruit and muesli for breakfast.

If the night is warm and balmy, take advantage of the gorgeous Huon Pine bath tub located out on the evening deck!

Pour yourself a glass of Tasmania's signature cool-climate wine and climb into the welcoming warm presence of the outdoor bathtub – and did we mention you can get optimal sea views from here too?

Other indulgences of the retreat include seclusion and privacy among 250 acres of Tasmanian bush, a fully equipped Art Studio located only a few seconds away, a bathroom equipped with a skylight so you can look up to the treetops while you shower, a luxurious king size bed, gourmet provedore and mini bar, and much more!

The Rocky Hills Retreat offers an amazing experience of Tasmania that any visitor must treat themselves to, capturing all that makes the island great.

You can also visit some of Tasmania's other treasures, such as Kate's Berry Farm located nearby, offering outstanding cool-climate berries and supplying a number of creations including jams, chutneys, jellies, sauces, marmalades and special handcrafted chocolates.

Pop in for a bite at Kate's Just Desserts Cafe to treat yourself to hot crisp Belgian waffles served with poached berries, freshly baked hot scones with Kate's signature jams and freshly whipped pure cream and fabulous fruit pies with fresh local fruit.

Award Winning Rocky Hills Retreat

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Enjoy two fun-filled nights of music and camping at Burns Creek's independent music and arts festival, Party in the Paddock!

If you haven't got your tickets to the event yet, you better get in quick, with the festival kicking off on Friday (February 22) and running through to Saturday.

The rolling hills of Burns Creek – located near the northern Tasmanian town of Launceston – shows off the island's famous natural scenic beauty.

Featuring a lineup of some of Australia's best emerging independent artists, you can enjoy a weekend of good tunes, with a cool beverage in hand under the open summer sky.

Some of the artists attending the festival include Sticky Fingers, Lovers Jump Creek, Sid O'Neil, The Mornings, Younger Dryas, Ben Wells and the Middle Names, Guthrie, Christopher Coleman Collective and more!

Gates open on Friday from 13:00 to 21:00 and Saturday from 09:00 to 21:00, with the event BYO alcohol. Underage attendees are advised to be in the company of a parent or guardian.

Festival tickets also include two nights of camping and can be purchased online or from Mojo Music Launceston, Red Hot Music Devonport and Ruff Cut Records Hobart.

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Talented butchers from all over Australia descended on Perth on the weekend of February 9 to crown this year's crop of Sausage Kings, with one of Tasmania's own taking out a prize.

The National Sausage King competition is held annually, with competitors picked from each state to compete in six categories.

These categories include Traditional Australian (sausages must not contain additional ingredients), Pork, Poultry, Australian Lamb/Open Class, Continental (such as bratwurst, Italian traditional) and Gourmet/Open Class.

Winners were selected in a cook-off at Fraser's Restaurant with their sausages judged on a range of criteria including aroma, texture, flavour and visual appearance.

Tasmanian butcher, Shane Mundy of West Hobart Gourmet Meats, won over the judges with his Worcestershire and cracked pepper sausages to be crowned 2013's Gourmet Sausage King. Mr Mundy told ABC that waiting for the competition results made for a nerve wracking night.

"My mouth was dry, my legs were shaking, and they said 'It's going to Tasmania'.

"Wow! Poor CEO of the Australian Meat Industry Council. I ran up, grabbed him, bear hugged him and swung him around about three times."

If you're visiting Tasmania, make sure to pop by West Hobart Gourmet Meats to sample this award-winning sausage yourself! The humble snag, is not so humble in Tasmania after all!

'Sausage King' segment on National TV

You now know who he is - Shane Mundy

The shop in West Hobart

Well earned bragging rights

Taking prized sausages to a competition - with care and individual attention

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Furry Tasmanian Devil ears were out in full force at the 2012 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards in Hobart, as the host state scooped up a record-breaking eleven accolades – the most ever awarded to a state.

Tasmanian tour operators donned a set of their native marsupial's ears to show support for the Save the Tasmanian Devil initiative, with the locals taking home an impressive haul of five gold, one silver and five bronze awards.

Bringing in the gold was Pennicott Wilderness Journeys for the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism, Bruny Island Cruises for the Tourist Attractions and Ecotourism categories, The Maria Island Walk for Adventure Tourism and Rocky Hills Retreat for Unique Accommodation.

Touching silver was Saffire Freycinet for Luxury Accommodation, and biting into bronze was Sheoaks On Freycinet for Hosted Accommodation, The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel for Business Tourism, The Maria Island Walk for Tour and/or Transport Operators, Austrips for Specialised Tourism Services and finally Pure Tasmania for Tourism Marketing.

Tasmanian tourism entrepreneur Simon Currant was the recipient of the 2012 Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual, with the developer, operator, consultant and tourism visionary playing an "integral role" in shaping the island's tourism industry.

Mr Currant has been instrumental in the development of some of the nature state's most celebrated tourism experiences including Cradle Mountain Lodge, Peppermint Bay and Hobart Cruises, Strahan Village and Franklin Manor.

Tourism Tasmania chief executive John Fitzgerald said that right now, Tasmania is "capturing the imagination" of Australians and international visitors, enhancing its reputation as a "diverse, must-see quality destination".

"Whether it’s to reconnect with nature or awaken the senses with a cultural twist or a luxury escape, I’m confident our visitors will return home after their Tasmanian holiday feeling revitalised and inspired," Mr Fitzgerald said.

National Tourism Awards 2012 Tasmania gets Largest Haul

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Looking for a unique tour of Australia's nature state? Then Segway Tasmania could be the key to adventure that you're looking for!

Speed along the grass in the Fort Chimo tour, exploring rural property near Oyster Cove, only a 45 minute drive from Hobart.

You'll glide along the well-groomed farm tracks along the coast, with spectacular views to Bruny Island. Keep an eye out for Angus cattle you'll pass in the lush paddocks along the way!

A number of new, city-based tours will become available this month, with Segway Tasmania given the official nod to use segways in public areas.

The tour operator has worked for two years to achieve this milestone and are excited for what's to come with Wrest Point, MONA and Tamar Valley Resort segway tours in the works.

Kicking off on Saturday 16 February is the Hobart waterfront tour, which will run around Constitution Dock and Salamanca, seven days a week.

The Mercury stated on February 15 that Segway Tasmania owner Mike O'Halloran hopes to run tours in other locations such as Nutgrove Beach, the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Queens Domain, the South Hobart Rivulet Track and Bellerive/Montagu Bay foreshore.

If you haven’t tried one of these amazing vehicles, there is no better place to try them out than in scenic Tasmania.

Segway at MONA

Vineyard Segway !

Segway Tasmania Logo

Blatting along the lawns of Wrest Point Casino in Hobart

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Take advantage of the last few weeks of summer by getting your friends or family together for a surf trip to Tasmania!

The island is home to some of the "fattest waves" where you can be sure to find your own slice of the beach to enjoy, without having to battle through busy crowds.

Heading out on a surfing tour of Tasmania is also a great way to discover the many wonders and attractions of the nature state, with a number of top beaches scattered across the island.

A favourite surfing spot is Clifton Beach – located just 25km outside of Hobart – and is popular with visiting surf fanatics and locals alike.

If you don't manage to catch some waves at Clifton Beach during the summer, keep some surf time free in Autumn as this is the "favoured time of year" for waves at this beach.

Other notable spots to visit are Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula, Bruny Island's Cloudy Bay – which offers some "really big breaks" – South Cape Bay, the many beaches along Bass Straits north coast, and Greens Beach (Marrawah) on the west coast which is fantastic also for wind and kite surfing.

You can also opt to hop on board a guided surf tour around parts of Tasmania with Coastrider.

The Tassie surf tour operators have a number of set tours available any time of the year, where you can be sure to score some good waves and capture amazing scenic views.

Some Coastrider experiences include the two to three day Bay of Fires/Freycinet tour, with surfers catching waves in the stunning Freycinet Peninsula and then travelling through Bicheno and Scamander to test the crystal clear waters of the Bay of Fires.

For the adventurers, there's the convicts and locals surf tour which heads out to beaches on the South Arm Peninsula, famous for its quality waves.

Visitors may also get to pop by the island's popular Port Arthur Historic Site attraction to delve into life in the 1800’s and justly famous convict heritage and ruins.

Group photo surfing lessons - Image Credit: Coastrider Academy

Coastrider tour vehicle
Learn to Surf with individual attention on uncrowded beaches and some of the best surf in Australia. Image Credit: Surfrider Academy

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