The Tarkine, located in western Tasmania, offers a wilderness experience like none other, covering an expansive 447,000 hectares with the nation's "greatest concentration" of Aboriginal sites.

The rainforest is said to have survived from the time of the supercontinent Gondwanaland, which was believed to have held Antarctica, South America, Australia, Madagascar, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula together.

One of the world's most "significant remaining tracts of temperate rainforest" is also contained in the Tarkine, with the land named after the Tarkiner Aborigines, who once called the area their home.

If you're looking for a wild adventure, then the Tarkine is the place to be, where you'll encounter unique caves, witness outstanding mountain ranges, trek through the ancient rainforest, spot native wildlife and explore the rugged coastline.

The world's largest freshwater crustacean, the Giant Freshwater Lobster, calls the Tarkine home as well as Australia's largest eagle, the Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagle and the island's iconic marsupial the Tasmanian Devil.

Lace up your best hiking boots and fill up your bottle of water for a journey in the Tasmanian wilderness with Tarkine Trails.

There are a range of adventures you can embark on with Tarkine Trails, where you can get a taste of the rainforest and its history on the three-day Tarkine Getaway or have an in-depth experience of the wilderness and its splendour on the six-day Tarkine Rainforest Track.

The Tarkine Getaway will have guests embarking on a three-day adventure, trekking through the rainforest to explore the Huskisson River, tucking into lunch at Cradle Mountain and witnessing a beautiful sunrise from the Tarkine Longhouse deck.

Make sure to bring along your camera and a pack of batteries to capture the stunning view of the Tarkine and its surrounds.

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Hooroo, the new online accommodation brand from the Qantas Group, recently invited Australians to share their favourite ‘in the know’ travel experiences and destinations with the search uncovering hundreds of hidden gems from across the country – ranging from spectacular waterfalls, hidden beaches and freshwater lagoons to unusual rock formations, off the beaten track accommodation and hidden milk bars.

An expert judging panel consisting of well-respected travel and lifestyle influencers selected the top 40 ‘Secret Spots’ and Tasmania has been awarded 4 Spots in the Top 40!

In no particular order they are –

Ross River Bridge, One of Tasmania’s historic bridges built during the convict era.

Secret Falls, in Hobart. This surprisingly beautiful little waterfall is a small walk up past Cascades and the Female Factory on the lower slopes of Mt Wellington.

Bay of Fires, on Tasmania’s East Coast is one of Tasmania’s best known spots. Along with Wineglass Bay it is rated as one of the best beaches in the world.

Donaldson River, in the Tarkine Forest in Northwest Tasmania.

To get involved and show your support for your favourite Tasmanian ‘Secret Spot’ by voting, simply head to Voting is now open and closes at 5pm (AEDST) on 17 December 2012.

Donaldson River, The Tarkine, NorthWest Tasmania

Hobart's enchanting Secret Falls

Historic Ross River Bridge

Bay of Fires on Tasmania's East Coast

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The northern Tasmanian town of Launceston is home to some of the island's top attractions including the Cataract Gorge, the beautiful City Park, the picturesque Tamar Valley, the lively Tasmania Zoo and Australia's regional museum, the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

There's a variety of activities to engage in during your Launceston stay, ensuring you have enough action and adventure to fill your holiday itinerary with.

All-day tours and sightseeing can be hungry work, so make sure to seek your fill at some of the city's top eateries!

Here's some top Launceston food spots in which to dine.

Stillwater Restaurant

Ranked in TripAdvisor's top three Launceston restaurants, Stillwater offers an elegant eating experience in the historic Ritchie's Mill on the banks of the Tamar River.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can take your fill of gourmet food whenever your tummy starts to rumble.

Dine on eggs en cocotte made with smoked ham hock, eggs, green pea puree, du puy lentils, crispy ham and ciabatta soldiers for breakfast, rosemary and mustard marinated eye fillet for lunch and crispy skin Macquarie Harbour ocean trout with braised baby fennel, beetroot puree, smoked eel crumb, beetroot paper and saffron foam for dinner.

Also, don't forget to compliment your meals with a selection of local cool-climate wines and snacks including tempura honey brown mushrooms and freshly shucked Moulting Bay Lease 65 Oysters.

Burger Got Soul

If you're looking for a quick bite before heading to the Cataract Gorge, pay a visit to Burger Got Soul to get your lunch fix.

These burgers are somethin' special with funky selections on the menu including the Ali G chicken burger with sundried tomatoes and basil pesto, the Groovy Souvy lamb burger with salad, sweet chilli sauce and tzatziki, and the soul baby burger with 100 per cent Tassie lean beef, cheese and tomato sauce for the kids.

You can also indulge in a sweet treat, with a nut sundae or a Soulshake in chocolate, vanilla, banana, coffee, strawberry, lime, caramel or blue heaven flavour!

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Tasmania's reputation for stellar cultural and music events continues to grow with the announcement of a new festival, the Hobart Baroque Festival.

London's prestigious Royal Opera House will also be making its "first and only" Australian performance at the Hobart Baroque.

The event was launched at the Theatre Royal on November 27, with festival director Leo Schofield saying that the festival will be a "knockout".

"It's been a joy to work on a program so tightly focused," Mr Schofield said via The Mercury on November 28.

The week-long event will take place from April 12 to 20 2013, with Australian countertenor and rising international opera star David Hansen performing two recitals.

The Sydney-born countertenor made his European debut at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2004 and will release his debut solo recording for Sony Classical in 2013.

Alex Ross of The New Yorker said Hansen was a "…pure-voiced young Australian who is typical of a new breed of matinee-idol countertenors".

The baroque festival is said to be Hansen's only "Australian concert engagement for 2013", so the April music event is a must-see for audiences wanting to witness this fantastic Aussie talent.

A number of master classes are also scheduled for the festival in partnership with the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music, featuring Hansen himself, the Royal Opera House's artistic director of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme David Gowland, conductor of L'isola disabitata Oliver Gooch and soloist, conductor and music director of Hobart Baroque Erin Helyard.

A host of other events will also be held, including a collaboration with MONA, which will be the venue for some of the festival's shows and activities.

The Hobart Baroque Festival joins a host of new events for the winter months, including the three-month long festival, Dark MOFO in June.

Hobart Baroque Festival 2013

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Escape the busy Christmas period in the city by taking a trip back to nature in Tasmania's Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

The beautiful national park lies in the "heart" of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area that covers over 1.4 million hectares, protecting the state's outstanding natural and cultural heritage.

Tasmania's Parks and Wildlife Service remarks that the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is a "region of dramatic mountain peaks, beautiful rainforest, deep river valleys and spectacular gorges", with the park also notable for its "wild and pristine" rivers.

You can tackle the wild rapids of the river in a thrilling, heart-racing adventure with Franklin River Rafting.

Head out on the amazing ten-day Franklin River Rafting and Frenchmans Cap Expedition, for an epic, personalised experience embarking on forest hikes, camping at beaches and rainforest sites, taking a journey down the Gorge and making various other nature discoveries!

Included in the tour are delicious and fresh-cooked meals, all rafting and safety equipment, video and images of your trip, all Tasmanian and wildlife fees, communal camping equipment and expedition first aid kit, inflatable air mattress, watershed dry bags and coach transfers to the river and from Strahan.

If you prefer a more mellow, relaxing experience of the region then jump on board with Gordon River Cruises.

Gordon River Cruises is an Australian Tourism Award winner, taking visitors on the purpose-built Lady Jane Franklin II through the broad lower reaches of the Gordon River, with spectacular views of the rainforest on display.

Cruisers also have the opportunity to stretch their legs, going ashore to explore the rainforest and view the 2000-year-old Huon pines.

If you want a truly special cruise experience you can opt for seating on the Captain's Premier Upper Deck which comes equipped with exclusive deck space and complimentary wine, fine food and beverages.

Down Down Down - rafting on the Lower Franklin

The  beautiful Gordon River

Classic and hauntingly beautiful riverscape on the Franklin River

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The island's native animal the Tasmanian Devil has received a support boost by Tasmania's largest egg producer, Pure Foods Eggs, who have pitched in their efforts to support the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal.

The Tasmanian devil is now listed as an endangered animal, with the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) threatening the existence of the marsupial, where in some areas 90 per cent of the wild population has been wiped out.

Specially marked 'black packs' of free range eggs have been released by Pure Food Eggs, with 20 cents from every carton sold going toward the Tasmanian Devil Appeal.

Pure Foods Eggs marketing manager Tim Russell-Jarvie said the company was pleased to support the program.

"We feel very strongly about this appeal and the current plight of the Tassie Devil, it’s fighting for survival so if this campaign can raise vital funds to help keep the devil species alive, it’s well worth it," said Mr Russell-Jarvie via Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal.

Managing director of Pure Foods Eggs Danny Jones added that it was a way for the company to 'give back' to Tasmania.

"We have been doing a similar campaign with the McGrath Foundation for a few years now and that has raised thousands for vital cancer research and other program initiatives, so we are confident this devils fundraising campaign can be just as successful," he said.

"Pure Foods Eggs is also donating $8,000 upfront to kick off the statewide campaign, and I urge all egg lovers to go and buy these specially marked cartons for free range eggs, and help save the Tasmanian devil in the process".

Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal manager Rebecca Cuthill thanked Pure Foods Eggs for their support.

"By purchasing the distinctive ‘black packs’ you are directly supporting key research and management programs that will keep the Tasmanian devil alive and functioning in the wild," she said.

The Tasmanian devil appeal egg cartons are available from food outlets in Bellerive, Lenah Valley and Sandy Bay.

The Mark Webber Foundation Contributes to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal by running events such as the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge

Cute Tassie Devils - Image Credit: Zoo Victoria

The Egg Cartons - Image Credit: The Mercury

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There's nothing like breaking some fresh bread in the morning and buttering the crust up with delicious spread – and now you might be able to do this with a loaf from Australia's oldest convict-built wood oven!

Redlands Bakery is believed to be the nation's oldest continually working bread oven, as it pre-dates the historic Port Arthur by about 12 years!

The convict oven was officially launched at the Old Bakehouse at Redlands Estate, with Moonah's Pigeon Whole Bakery and Callington Mill joining the efforts in producing quality artisan bread.

Redland's Estate is a historic farm located just 35 minutes from the capital city Hobart, opening to the public just yesterday (November 28) offering a range of fantastic culinary experiences.

Redlands was one of Australia's largest hop farms from the late 1860s to the 1970s, having its own cobblestone village that included a butcher, bakery, shop and bell tower. An apple orchard, wool farm and dairy was also once operated on the estate.

Visitors to the estate can guided tours of the Redlands Whisky Distillery, explore over three hectares of 'historic pleasure gardens' and sample breads from the Redlands Bakery.

The Redlands Distillery is to be one of only two 'paddock to bottle' single malt whiskey distilleries in the world – with the other residing in Kilchoman, Scotland.

The distillery controls every step in the production of its brews, growing its own barley, retrieving water from the Plenty River water frontage and preparing the product in the circa 1857 granary building.

A range of liqueurs and schnapps will also be produced by Redlands Distillery.

Take part in a complete 'paddock to bottle' experience, starting your tour in a field of barley (seasonal) and ending with the distillery's barrels in the bond room, getting a fascinating insight into how the single malt whisky is crafted.

You can expect to get involved with distillery activities, tasting barley as it's kiln dried, sampling malted barley liquid directly from the mash tun, trying mountain fed water and finally tasting the final product itself.

The astonishingly atttractive Redlands Estate Buildings

So Good on the Eye - Redlands Estate Tasmania

Historic Surrounds to Explore - tennis anyone

Historic Surrounds and Buildings to Explore - before restoration

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Get ready to taste the fresh new fruits of summer with the help of the Tasmanian Fruits Farm Gate Guide, launched on 20 November at the Berry Patch in Turners Beach.

The farm gate guide is perfect for locals and visitors to Tasmania in helping to source some of the freshest fruits in season – whether you're after a punnet of succulent strawberries or juicy red cherries!

There are over 40 great places to visit, with locations in Tasmania's north west, Tamar region, east and central (Scamander, Ross), south east (Sorrell, Richmond, Campania), Peninsula (Nubeena), the Channel region, Huon Valley and Derwent Valley – you can take a huge fruit tour of the whole island.

Some fruits that reach their prime in the summer months of December, January and February include blueberries, cherries, blackberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, raspberries and strawberries.

If you're spending some time in Hobart this summer, make sure to head out to Huon Valley's top fruit guide picks, one of which includes the Lucaston Park Orchards.

Apples are the orchards 'core' product, where they also grow quinces, cherries, raspberries, pears and other delicious fruits.

Make sure to also pick up some bottles of Lucaston Park Orchards brand of apple juice, which contains no added sugar, water or preservatives, and is full of flavour and nutrition.

If you have a great love of cherries, then you will probably want to make a visit to Platinum Ridge in the Huon Valley.

Looking for a gift for a friend this Christmas? Well then you can rent a cherry tree from Platinum Ridge as a unique present!

Those who rent a cherry tree will have approximately 10kg of premium fruit (based on cropping and season variables), a tree cared for by professional orchardists, a personalised rental e-certificate that confirms the tree number and location, notification of the upcoming harvest, priority on the booking date to pick and more!

There are a number of other special gems to discover in Tasmania's fruit growing regions – so make sure to download your copy (PDF) of the Tasmanian Fruits Farm Gate Guide now!

Tasmanian Farm Gate Guide 2012-2013

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National Geographic has named Robert Pennicott – Tasmanian entrepreneur, philanthropist, adventurer and operator of multi-award winning attraction Pennicott Wilderness Journeys – a 2012 Traveler of the Year.

This is the inaugural year for the Travelers of the Year initiative, with honorees for 2012 recognised as "boundary breakers, who explore the world with passion and purpose, inspiring others to expand their horizons, ask big questions and seek new answers".

Ten awardees were scouted around the globe, measured on their achievement in conservation, adventure, humanitarianism and exploration.

Robert Pennicott is a local hero who helped to raise funds for conservation and polio eradication by leading the first circumnavigation of Australia by rubber dinghy.

"I am both thrilled and humbled that National Geographic has named me a Traveler of the
Year," said Robert Pennicott.

"I feel lucky to live on such an amazing island as Tasmania and to have the privilege of doing what I love every day. Living and working in Tassie is the true reward."

Robert is also noted for his other conservation and charity efforts, donating at least a quarter of net annual profits to causes and establishing the Tasmanian Coast Conservation Fund.

Money raised by the fund has been used by the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service to aid in coastal conservation projects, with the first project removing species on Tasman Island that were killing 50,000 breeding seabirds a year.

Tourism Tasmania's acting chief executive officer Adam Sproule said: "Robert has made it his mission to share the splendor of Tasmania’s coastal wilderness through his cruises, while creating a legacy for future generations by preserving the island he loves through various conservation projects.

"Rob is an incredibly genuine, considerate, 'down to earth', resourceful and passionate Tasmanian – an all-round great human being."

Robert will feature in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine, released in Australia on December 5.

Rob Pennicott and his family

Rob Pennicott in a pensive moment on Bruny Island - Photo Credit: Palani Mohan published by NatGEO

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It can be a long wait for Hobart's celebrated MONA FOMA event to roll around each year in January, but festival fans will have something else to look forward to in the coming winter!

Dark MOFO is a new festival coming to Tasmania in June, warming up the winter months with music, markets and other exciting cultural activities.

In January, Hobart's annual MONA FOMA takes place, drawing both local and international visitors to view a variety of performers and discuss collective music tastes – with the festival a stand-out on the Tasmanian event calendar.

A myriad of talent will be heading to next year's event including David Byrne & St. Vincent, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Dirty Projectors, Pretty Lights and more.
The Dark MOFO may come to be the next major winter event, following the success of MONA FOMA, with the festival beginning on June 18.

A "large-scale" fire and light event at Salamanca will kick off Dark MOFO celebrations with a night market also to be present at Princes Wharf 1.

Dark MOFO's creative director Leigh Carmichael spoke to the Mercury about how the festival will shake up winter on the island.

"Hobart has the longest night of any capital city, we're referring to it as the Darkest Night, and it's something unique among Australia's capital cities – something we can own and we hope people might come south for it annually," Mr Carmichael said via the Mercury on November 24.

"The middle of winter, it's dark, but it is from that period that many of the traditions of worshiping the sun gods and worshiping the light have come from, so we're really interested in that moment, and we will use fire and light as a reference point for our festival."

David Walsh at the announcement of Dark MOFO - a new winter festival in Hobart - Image Credit: The Mercury

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