Sydney singer-songwriter and ARIA award winner Sarah Blasko will bring her latest album to life in a performance with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO) on February 4.

The enchanting singer has invited an orchestra from each capital city to join in performing her fourth studio album, I Awake, released on October 26.

Blasko's latest effort has been praised by Rolling Stone as "…a defining, unsettling masterpiece" and Triple J Mag added that it is "…a purer, darker and more learned side to the Sydney songstress… This is unpolluted and sincere".

Most of the album was recorded in Sweden with Lasse Marten, engineer and mixer from her previous album released in 2009 ‘As Day Follows Nigh’t, with further recording taking place in Bulgaria with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra.

Her Bulgarian ancestry on her father's side is what she says "attracted" her to the idea of recording there.

Sarah Blasko will embark on a six-date national tour in February, bringing her captivating show to Tasmania on February 4 at the Wrest Point Entertainment Centre in Hobart.

Tickets for the show are on sale now from the TSO website, with silver tickets from $66 and gold tickets from $75.

Sarah Blasko's cover from the Album - I Awake

Screen shot from the TSO web site for Sarah Blasko

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The island of Tasmania is gearing up for the November film festival which celebrates 'fresh perspectives and innovative approaches', with movies that inspire positive change.

The Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival is sweeping into Launceston and Hobart from Thursday November 8 to Sunday November 11.

The event is Australia's first major festival to acknowledge and celebrate storytelling on 'all screens' including TV, internet, gaming and more.

The BOFA festival is Tasmania's only major film event, with the artistic director of Junction Regional Arts Festival Ian Pidd saying that BOFA is a "great addition" to not just screen culture in Tasmania but also to culture generally.

"Great bunch of films, a good mix of obscure and more mainstream. The add-ons were particularly well done – lectures, debates, meet the filmmakers and the terrific club. All strength to the arm of the BOFA team. It needs (and deserves) to become an annual fixture for Launnie and Tasmania."

Tasmania is a fantastic setting to host such a festival, with its rich cultural heritage where it is the home of great food, art, music and wine.

The festival allows filmmakers, artists, musicians, original thinkers and all those alike to interact and connect through sharing their stories on screen.

Films that will be screening at the festival include Woody Allen's To Rome with Love, Cannes Film Festival Caméra d'Or winner Beasts of the Southern Wild and the premiere of American film Two Days in New York.

Director Michael Rymer, renowned for films such as Queen of the Damned and In Too Deep, also complimented the sights of Tasmania during his visit to last year's festival.

"We loved our visit to Launceston and really enjoyed the drives around the Tamar Valley and the highland lakes – it's a beautiful part of the world."

You can get your tickets for films screening in Launceston from the BOFA website, with tickets for Hobart screenings available from the venue.

A World Class Film Festival in Tasmania

The very full program for the BOFA festival 2012 .. click for PDF

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Sample the finest brews in the country at Australia's largest beer festival, the Tasmanian International Beerfest!

Hobart's waterfront will be transformed into a 'universe of boutique and craft beer' on Saturday November 24 and Sunday November 25.

There's so much to enjoy during this action-packed weekend, with not only beers on offer but also local Tassie food, live music and a 150 metre waterfront beer garden to enjoy your brews in the sun.

You will also have the opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade from some of Australia's best brewers and cider makers, with free master classes being held at the festival.

Last year's event attracted over 12,000 people showcasing more than 300 beers and ciders from around the world including Corona, Rekorderlig Ciders, Matilda Bay Brewing Company, Mercury Cider and Carlsberg.

The festival has built quite the reputation in the industry, winning an award in 2011 for the Best Beer Event in Oz and NZ from the Beer and Brewer Magazine.

There's also a fine lineup of talent to entertain beer lovers during the weekend with ARIA award winner and Tasmania's very own Monique Brumby performing at the festival.

Joining Brumby will be other class acts including ACUMEN, Ben Wells and the Middle Names, Pete Cornelius & the DeVilles, Sam Cole and the Mornings, The Christopher Coleman Collective and a number of other local talent.

Tickets for the festival can be pre-purchased online from the Tasmanian International Beerfest website or you can opt to buy tickets at the main gate during festival hours.

Tickets are $30 per person, with a single ticket allowing one person entry for one day of the event. Each ticket also comes with ten free tasting tokens and a Beerfest tasting glass.

More tasting tokens are available at the festival at the cost of $10 for ten tokens.

If you make one of the first 500 pre sale purchases you will get a free one issue subscription to Beer & Brewer magazine – so get in quick for tickets!

Tasmanian International Beer Fest logo_banner

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Travel to Tasmania's north west coast to discover the beauty that lies offshore, waiting to be discovered.

King Island is the perfect getaway for couples wanting to escape the fast life of the city, providing a relaxing setting to take in breathtaking landscapes and breathe fresh, clean air.

The island is located 80 kilometres north-east of mainland Tasmania and was first sighted in 1797. Named after governor King of New South Wales, the island is accessible by plane and cargo vessels, and is well known for its superb fishing and dairy produce.

A great time to visit the island is around the holiday season of December and January, with the King Island Horse Racing Carnival taking place in these months, consisting of seven official TAB meetings.

The first event to take place is Opening Day on December 1 with the first meeting of the summer carnival, followed by Ladies Day on December 15, known as the official 'Fashions on the Field' day for fashion, champagne and fun!

The next event is on December 26 for the Boxing Day Meeting, then the King Island Cup Day on January 1, the King Island Dairy Day on January 12, Maritime Day on January 19 and lastly the Fly-In Family Day on January 26, especially for visitors to King Island, with racing, novelty events and entertainment throughout the day.

King Island offers a number of exciting activities, where if you love getting out in the water you can get net and rod out for a spot of fishing or have an amazing diving experience discovering the more than 100 shipwrecks that lie under the waters.

Make sure to also pay a visit to King Island Dairy to sample their quality cheeses which include the gold winning King Island Dairy Black Label Black Wax Cheddar and King Island Dairy Endeavour.

There are also yoghurts, creams and even desserts on offer – so make sure to pick some up to take home with you!

King Island's most recognisable product

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The summer holidays are just around the corner, so start planning your activities for the break ahead with a trip with Gourmania Food Tours!

The ultimate journey for any food-lover, Gourmania Food Tours takes you on a trip through Tasmania's capital city of Hobart to discover fabulous local eateries and taste the island's culinary delights.

Gourmania Food Tours Tasmania is fairly new to the tour circuit, established in 2011 by Tasmanian pastry chef Mary McNeill, who has worked in kitchens in America and most recently in Hobart restaurant Smolt.

Mary found that food tours are a 'fantastic way to engage with a city and its culture' deciding to bring her 'love of food and discovery' back to Hobart, the city in which she was born and raised.

The tours run in small, intimate groups from a minimum of one to up to eight people, with those taking the trip advised to have a light breakfast to make room for the array of taste experiences they will have on their trip!

There are three fantastic tours that foodies can embark on including The City Tour, Tea to Tapas and Farm Gate to the Plate.

The City Tour will be a morning to remember with four hours of discovering and tasting Tasmania's produce including cool-climate wines, fresh seafood, cow and goat milk cheeses, charcuterie, pastries and more!

If you're keen to head out on this tour be prepared to be 'very well fed' as you get to explore Hobart and Salamanca Place, finishing the tour with a refreshing beverage.

The Tea to Tapas Tour is an afternoon trip introducing you to the 'newest hot spots' that include espresso bar Yellow bernard and converted stable restaurant Ethos Eat Drink.

Indulge in local produce such as Bruny Island oysters and Pigeon Hole artisanal bread in this delightful three-hour afternoon tour.

The Farm Gate to the Plate tour is one experience that big time foodies should try, where you will pick fresh ingredients at Hobart's Farm Gate Market and take part in a cooking class!

You will be able to taste your creations in a three-course shared table lunch, with wine provided from local producers and also recipes and aprons to take home!

Gourmania Tours Collage and Signage 2

Places and Plate settings to tempt the taste buds

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BACKPACKER (USA) is known for the most rigorous, authoritative gear tests in the business. Have you ever wondered what really goes on during staff testing trips? After travelling 30 hours across the world, their crew is headed to the Tasmanian outback and over the next week 29 October – 3 November (AEST) will put a huge crop of gear for the ‘Spring 2013 Gear Guide’ through its final paces. They’ll be climbing peaks, haul 50 pound packs, camp in the bush, and likely get hit with some challenging weather in Tasmania’s outback. Some gear will make it to the top of the list, others will sink to the bottom, and some will incite rousing debates about what deserves their coveted Editors’ Choice Awards.

Each day the team, equipped with DeLorme inReach satellite communicators, will post play-by-play commentary on how they test, what they love, what they hate, what they see (Tasmanian Devils?), and what they learn along the way. Hopefully the difference between a Tassie Devil and a Wombat! LOL

(Note: Because of the global satellites they will be limited to 160-character text messages, so posts will be succinct.)

Follow them on their journey and ask questions by going to Jon’s MapShare page:

From there – expand the Users List and select Kristin or Jon then press the Message button to send your questions. Responses will be made as quickly as they can in real time. It’s not quite as good as being there with them, but it’s the next best thing!

Follow on Twitter too: @BackpackerMag

The BackpackerMag crew are not joking about trekking and testing in the 'wilds' of Tasmania

backpacker magazine logo strip

Cover Shots of Previous Gear Guides from BackPacker Magazines

Nancy (L) and Kristin (R) atop Mt Jerusalem in Tasmania's Central Highlands

The whole team from Tasmanian Expeditions and BackPacker Magazine USA atop King David's Peak in Tasmania's Central Highlands

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Experience the beauty of Tasmania in a unique ride around lush green rainforests and mountains and over rivers in a journey with West Coast Wilderness Railway.

Note: This service has halted operations whilst major track work and maintenance is done, and a new operator takes over operations. It is expected to return in late 2013 for the season 2013/14.

These steam trains will take passengers back in time, where instead of carrying copper from mines, visitors are now the cargo!

West Coast pioneers built the original railway in 1896 stretching over 22 miles of wilderness and holding around 42 bridges.

Visitors today can marvel at the wonders from the past, taking a 35 kilometre journey, stopping at stations such as Lower Landing, Dubbil Barril and Rinadeena, where guides will share stories about the history of each significant stop.

The five hour journey will have you taking in spectacular snap-worthy sights, where you will also be able to leave the train at stops and wander along forest paths and visit creeks and the wild Tasmanian rainforest.

In your stop at Lower Landing you will be treated to a tasting of Tasmania's leatherwood honey, made from the hives of the Tasmanian Honey Company that are kept throughout the rainforest.

You can also enjoy 'Fettlers' lunches and afternoon teas on the train if you're feeling a little peckish, or choose to take your journey in the Premier Class carriage to indulge in pastries and local cheeses.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway operates all year – excluding Christmas Day – so make sure to include this journey in your trip to Tasmania!

If you want to stay among the lush rainforests and surrounds, book yourself accommodation in Strahan Village.

This beautiful 'west coast fishing village' is a great escape from the busy city life, allowing you to explore the Tasmania's vast wilderness.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway leaves from Strahan Village, making it a prime spot to plan your stay.

You can choose from a variety of stay options, whether you're wanting a cottage room on the esplanade or a balcony room with spectacular views, you can be sure to find something that you're looking for.

Steaming through the wilderness

Historic Interior of the carriage - Image Credit: Girl in Melbourne (blog)

West Coast Wilderness Railway inches along the track above the river

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A huge yachting event in Australia's calendar, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, will have competitors sail the waters once again from December 26.

In its 68th year, the event has become an "icon of Australia's summer sport" as yachties travel through the waters of Sydney Harbour, the Tasman Sea, Storm Bay and the Derwent River.

The course is often described as the "most gruelling long ocean race in the world" with those taking part, sailing across 628 nautical miles.

Known internationally, the Rolex Sydney Hobart is considered one of the world's great offshore races, beginning in 1945 and sponsored by Rolex for the last decade.

The race kicks off in Sydney Harbour, moving out to the Tasman Sea, travelling down the south-east coast of Australia, crossing the Bass Strait and then heading down Tasmania's east coast.

The yachts will then move into Storm Bay, sailing in the homestretch up the Derwent River to Tasmania's capital city Hobart.

Interest in the race has already started to build up with the entry of Bob 'Robbo' Robertson's yacht Lunchtime Legend bringing in the 50th entry, with the fleet growing to 60 just hours later.

Robertson says this is his crew's year to take the glory, after coming off with a win in the Magnetic Island Race Week series and taking second place in the Hamilton Island regatta and Airlie Beach Race Week.

Lunchtime Legend is expected to be 'leaner and meaner' in this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart with a younger crew who are 'fired up' with Australian successes at the 2012 Olympics.

Applications for entry close on November 1 at 17:00, with entries to the race wrapping up on November 30 also at 17:00.

If you are interested in competing, visit the Rolex Sydney Hobart website to submit your application for entry.

Jockeying for position after the start on Sydney Harbour - Image Credit Tourism Australia

Logo for the Rolex 2012 Race

Waiting crowds for the winners

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Tasmania is a prime spot for good Australian wine and beer, and is home to a number of award winning brews!

US Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich is a fan of Tasmania's award-winning whisky and said he would get some bottles for President Obama – who the ambassador says likes the beverage – on his visit to Hobart recently.

"I've already promised I'm going to bring back some Tasmanian whisky with me," Ambassador Bleich said, reported local papers on October 24.

The ambassador said he was enjoying the Hellyers Road Distillery's products, with the "vanilla-y, biscuity" taste.

"I think it's a very good thing that I'm in Canberra and can't live here in Hobart because I love Tasmanian whisky a little too much,'' he said.

The Hellyers Road Distillery is located in Burnie and is the nation's largest distiller of Australian single malt whisky that is "proudly Tasmanian".

The Distillery has also been recognised as a significant Burnie Tourist Attraction and received a 'Highly Commended' award at the Tasmanian Tourism Awards 2011.

There is also a visitor centre for guests at the distillery offering tastings of Southern Lights Vodka, the Hellyers Road Single Malt range and the Whisky Cream range.

You can also dine in at the fully licenced restaurant, eating delicious foods off the extensive menu such as grilled ocean trout and chicken quiche and taking in beautiful views of the picturesque Emu Valley.

If you are wanting a more in depth view of the distillery, then why not head out on the whisky walk?

The fully guided tour will let you explore the working distillery, where you can smell the latest batch of whisky distilling, touch and feel the ingredients and view the environment in which award winning beverages are made.

You will also get to pour and wax seal your very own bottle of Hellyers Road, completed with a signed Certificate of Authenticity.

So during your visit to Tasmania, make a stop to Hellyers Road Distillery and pick up a beverage to take home!

Footnote – The American Ambassador actually took a vintage Single Malt Whisky (from Lark Distillery) back for President Obama.

The whiskies sampled by Ambassador Bleitch at Hellyers

Hellyers Road Distillery Interior and tasting facilities

Ample Parking for Visitors at the Distillery

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Keep the March long weekend free on your calendar for one of the biggest music events in Tasmania, the Breath of Life festival!

Returning for its second year on Sunday March 10, the music festival boasts a huge lineup, with British rapper Dizzee Rascal headlining the bill.

Joining Dizzee for the one-day festival are ARIA award winning hip hop group Bliss N Eso, Melburnian rapper 360, New York-based DJ A-Trak, alternative rock band Birds of Tokyo and more talented international and local acts.

The festival will be held at Launceston's Inveresk Park from 11:00 to 23:00, with 12 hours of music across three stages that include a Ministry of Sound Clubbers Guide Stage – a must-see for dance fans!

All festival goers will be partying for a good cause, with money raised from the event going towards lung health initiatives that include education, research and support for those with lung disease.

ARIA award winning artist Diesel and the Lizotte family established the Breath of Life Festival with the Australian Lung Foundation, in the hopes of creating an event which would catch the attention of Australian's nationwide and generate awareness about lung health.

The first festival took place earlier this year, setting a new benchmark and "delivering one of the largest music festivals ever held in Tasmania".

Over 16,000 people attended Breath of Life to watch performances by huge international act Skrillex, Australian music icons Icehouse and other class local acts including Eskimo Joe, Grinspoon, Sneaky Sound System, Potbelleez, The Living End and Hilltop Hoods.

The event raised almost $70,000 for research into chronic lung disease, with exposure of the festival's success drawing another $500,000 in donations toward the cause.

The first release of tickets went on sale October 24 from the Breath of Life website, Oz Tix outlets and Red Herring stores statewide.

Breath of Life Festival Logo

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