It was always going to be contentious, but Tourism Tasmania’s cheeky campaign to encourage Tasmanians to get their ‘mainland’ friends and relatives to Tasmania (and be saved!) has exceeded all expectations.

An ‘out there’ competition with great prizes, the fun is not over yet … although sadly Tasmanian locals revert to just being ambassadors from tomorrow 22 June. Mainlanders have an advantage (did we really say that?) – prizes for ‘their part’ of the promotion do not come up for draw until 8 August, with entries closing 3 August.

And great prizes they are! Imagine being able to perhaps ‘park the kids’ or align perfect ‘us time’ and head off on a Tasmanian Escape – with flights, the best of accommodation, car hire, some included meals and a selection of activities. The prizes are all ‘targeted’ at identified Mainland personalities.
While the portrayals may be comedic, we have the utmost admiration for those facing life as ‘A Tragic Hipster’, ‘A Burnt-Out Corporate’, ‘A Culture Vulture’, ‘A Fanatical Foodie’ or the ‘A Try-Hard Extremist’ in the big cities, towns and rural areas of the big island, and we knew from intense consultation with locals here that we have the best set of rescue packs available for each.

Sydney Radio Mix106.5 listeners will, for a week beginning 2 July, be able to hear Rosso talking ‘Tasmanian’ with a show element ‘Don’t Leave Me Hanging’ – with great Tasmanian prizes … all designed to save more mainlanders from the grip of their normal lives.

So visit the site now and save yourself from your Mainlanderness.
The Tragic Hipster

The Culture Vulture

The Fanatical Foodie

The Try-Hard Extremist

The Burnt-Out Corporate

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If you can remember the 60s then you weren't really there, or so they say, but you can still enjoy a night of good music from this era at Cliff Joins the Beatles.

You might not get to see any of the original members at this particular performance, however you will swing to the groove of hits like All You Need Is Love and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band during the two-hour show.

Aussie music great Marty Rhone and the world-famous Beatle Boys will be on hand to take you on an unforgettable journey through the decade that shaped a generation, all the while adding a little of their own creative flair to timeless rock n' roll classics.

For those who are true Beatles tragics,  this one-night only gig is a must-see visual and musical spectacle that will have you feeling as if you are living in the 60s.

The hip-swinging, foot-tapping, thigh-slapping musical numbers will have you crooning along to the lyrics in your seat and walking out on an absolute high.

And anyone who may have been too young to see the original band or listen to their lesser-known songs will have the chance to taste a piece of the action.

With the show suitable for people of all ages, it is highly likely that you will find yourself enjoying the evening with a diverse group of fans.

Cliff Joins the Beatles is on for one night this June 22 at the Country Casino Club in Prospect, Launceston.

To reserve your tickets to listen to the music of one of the world's greatest bands, you will need to book early.

Prices start at $69 for an adult and $59 for concessions. Doors will open from 19.30 on the night for an 20.00 start.

Practise for the Band

Appearance on Australian TV Morning Show

Ovation after a Show in the UK

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Classical music lovers get ready to put this one in your diary, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra's The Gentle Sax opens to audiences on June 21.

The one-night-only event is a must for anyone with a passion for music and an interest in this very talented performer.

With Baldur Brönnimann as conductor and multi-award-winning saxophonist Amy Dickson playing, it is sure to be a show-stopping performance.

The former Young Australian Artist of the Year will weave her way through a concerto written for her by Ross Edwards and will be accompanied on stage by the best of the TSO.

And while those in the industry will already be well aware of Brönnimann's reputation as a truly exceptional maestro, the performance presents a rare opportunity for those who are new to classical music to learn more about the genre.

In addition to Edward's Full Moon Dances, highlights of the program will include Gyorgy Ligeti's Concert Romanesc and Symphony No 9 by Dmitri Shostakovich.

The Gentle Sax will open at the Princess Theatre in Launceston on June 21 and doors open from 7.00 pm for 7.30pm start. The Hobart performance is at the Federation Concert Hall on 23 June. Put it in your diary.

For more information on ticket prices, seating and availability, contact the TSO or visit their website.

The Gentle Sax - Amy Dickinson

Theatres and Times - The Gentle Sax

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Dipping fresh strawberries into a pot of melting chocolate is one of life's sweeter moments.

But if you think it sounds indulgent, you will want to brace yourself for Tasmania's finger-licking, wickedly delicious chocolate festival.

Nestled alongside the winding rivers that have come to define the island state's northern regions is the bustling cultural centre of Latrobe – which is just a 10 minute drive from the port city of Devonport.

Latrobe is also home to the region's annual Chocolate Winterfest that takes place on July 8, with the first eating session beginning at 10:30 and finishing around 16:00.

So much more than an escape from the winter blues, the celebration of cocoa is also a food extravaganza that is fit for a king.

It is best to get in early if you plan on sampling the various desserts, sweets and treats that are on menu this year.

For those who are keen to make the most of their chocolate experience, you can feel free to talk to one of the many cocoa experts that will be on hand to answer any questions and share their insights into making the perfect chocolate’y snack.

Chocolate Winterfest Latrobe - Image Credit:  About Australia

Chocolate Scrapbook Entry Image Credit Karen: Hansson (Scrappin Sanity)

No More to Say Really - Chocolate Winterfest 2012 -  Image Credit: EventsSearch

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Chilly nights and icy mornings may be one of the reasons why so many Australians are busy spending the cooler months planning winter getaways.

But rather than dream of summer, it might be better to put your thinking hat on and start planning the ultimate cold-weather holiday.

Australia is blessed with a largely temperate climate, which means that even though it might be a bit nippy outside, you can still embrace the winter sun, and, compared with other places winters here are not as challenging as one might first think – winter is to be celebrated.

Hiking during winter is a great way to get your heart-rate pumping and clear the lungs as you breathe in fresh mountain air. It is also the time to capture awe-inspiring vistas which have no erqual.

For some of the best big scale bushwalking experiences in Tasmania, you can't go past world-renowned Cradle Mountain for its trails and Overland Track.

However, Tassie’s Parks & Wildlife has more than 60 well-established Short Walks on offer right across the state that you can also choose from.

They range from inland adventures at Tall Trees Reserve at Mt Field through to the raw beauty of the sea cliffs that have come to define walks at Cape Raoul.

An added advantage of walking is that it helps you build a healthy appetite as you journey.

And what better way to finish off a hike of any length than to sit down with friends for a hearty feast of thick winter soups, chunky stews and crusty breads.

Indulging in artisan foods is something that Tasmanians do well and you will be sure to find a variety of cafes and restaurants that specialise in locally produced meat, vegetable and dairy products in many of the state's smaller towns.

You might also be tempted to try some of the regions best cheeses and fortified wines, which best are served indoors alongside a log fire.

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Rolling rivers, wild seas and mountains capped in snow are just some of the sights that you will be likely to see next time you are in Tasmania.

And with scenery that has the power to stir memories and evoke the senses, it is little wonder that so many people keep coming back to the island state after their first visit.

Among some of the attractions to look out for on your trip to the island state this month is Tastings at the Top, Jazz at Mona, as well as a number of weekly markets which allow you to get down and local.

For those who are keen to break up an action packed schedule with moments of solitude, or just a little peace and quiet by design, you can also lose yourself to nature in the Tasmania’s many national parks.

Best of all, the easy driving distances around Tasmania make it easy to see as many or few sights as you like depending on your own personal schedule. We suggest you never rush – that is not what a holiday is about.

If you are looking to travel in a group, you may want to go online to find different tour companies that may still have winter deals available.

However, wise travellers will try to book as early as possible to make sure they get the best value for money.

Deviot Market Produce Image Credit - LittleJennyWren Flickr

Deviot Market - Image Credit: About Australia

Local Produce at Deviot Market - Image Credit: Deviot Community Assn

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The Queen's diamond jubilee year has been a cause of celebration for those in and outside of Buckingham Palace, as top performers, regular concertgoers and an honour roll of quiet achievers all bask in the glow of her majesty’s 60th year.

Among the Australians recognised for their outstanding professional achievements during the official birthday observance here was high profile Tasmanian choreographer Graeme Murphy.

Almost 30 years after he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia, the former artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company (SDC) has now been named as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Murphy's national and international contribution to the performing arts, especially in the area of ballet and contemporary dance, were cited as the reason for this latest appointment.

"This award is for the fine, creative people I work with. It helps the arts in Australia, lifting its profile," he said.

Always the consummate performer Murphy was quick to point out the important role those who love to watch the best in dance play in promoting this industry, as well as its key talents.

"And I'm grateful that audiences still want to see my work. My success is dependent on people wanting to see my work," he enthused.

During his time at the SDC Murphy oversaw more than 50 productions and collaborated with the Australian Ballet on The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake – the  latter is currently on its way to New York and ready to wow US audiences.

When asked about the future of dance in Australia the 61-year-old made it clear that part of the success of local productions was due to the country's contemporary vision and willingness to try new things. Tasmania too has paid its part in redefining Australia’s artistic vision with the opening two years ago of MONA in Hobart.

Murphy joined the Australian ballet as a dancer and choreographer from the age of 18 after an upbringing in Launceston.

Graeme Murphy - Image Credit: Brand Tasmania

Graeme Murphy and Janet Vernon - Image Credit: ABC

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Film festivals start out modestly. When Tourism Tasmania partnered with The Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival organisers to hold its Short Film Competition ‘Essence of Tasmania’, it was mindful that Tropfest had attracted around 9 entries in its inaugural year.

Opening just before Christmas 2011 entries poured in and when the competition closed in April 2012, film makers from across the nation and internationally had submitted over 20 entries!

How would ‘The Essence of Tasmania’ be expressed? The judging panel faced a formidable task in identifying the winners and commended entries as they sat through the judging process in early May.

Tourism Tasmania’s aim was to attract a selection of 3 minute shorts from innovative film makers which could be shown and adapted for promotion of the destination. The Film Festival wanted to load its catalogue for the upcoming year and to curate them as a set of short films for the festival in November 2012.

All the entries exceeded expectations. There was scenery, poetry, documentary, whimsy, persuasive declaration and a common thread of unique expression about Australia’s island state.

The joint winners announced on 13th June by Minister for Tourism Scott Bacon MP were:
The Grim Experience – Andrew Quaile
Best Kept Secret – David Pyefinch
Nick Stranger: A Portrait of Tasmanian Surfing – Simon Treweek

Commended Films were:
Mr Thomkins’ Pies – David Broadfield
My Tasmania – Saige Dingemanse
The Tigers – Tristan Klein
Heaven of Spirituality Home of Peace – Shung Yiu Wong

The competition was aided by generous sponsorship from Audio Network Australia, which provided free use of Audio Network music for entrants into the competition.

Scene from 'Best Kept Secret' a joint winner in Essence of Tasmania Competition 2012

Wave Power from 'Nick Stranger: A Portrait of Tasmanian Surfing' a joint winner in Essence of Tasmania Competition 2012

Scene from 'The Grim Experience' a joint winner in Essence of Tasmania Competition 2012

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So many people who journey through Tasmania fall in love with its natural beauty, great eating experiences and friendly locals.

And while there are a number of activities that cater to people of all ages, it is hard to leave the island state without meeting some of its most famous residents.

If you are keen to learn more about the Tasmanian devil, hug koalas or hop along side one of the regions many kangaroos and wallabies, then you might want to make your way to one of the state's many wildlife parks and reserves.

But one of the main highlights of the winter calendar would have to be whale watching – with the season officially starting in July. (This year however they have already been seen running in June!).

These magnificent creatures take over seas on their migration north during this time of year and are helping to cement Tasmania as something of a whale-watching mecca.

For Humpback and Southern Right whale spotting, it is best to head to Great Oyster Bay and the Mercury Passage near Freycinet.

Southern right whales have been know to stay in this area for extended periods of time, but humpbacks are said to move on fairly quickly depending on water temperatures and migration patterns.

Another popular destination for this activity is Adventure Bay, Bruny Island where cruises operating during the winter take in this spectacle.

Whale sightings in these areas occur on a regular basis and are usually more frequent than other parts of Tasmania.

In some cases, whales have been known to stay in local waters for one to five weeks while calving – which is something that will no doubt have animal enthusiasts' agog with interest.

With so many sights to choose from, it is important to book ahead to make sure that you get in as many whale watching hours as possible.

Whale Surfacing on the  East Coast - Image Credit: The Mercury Hobart (2011)

Wineglass Bay East Coast Tasmania - site of large scale whaling in the 1800's

Coles Bay Kayaking - Image Credit: There's Nothing Like Australia

Whale Sculpture at Dover, Tasmania's Far South

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If you are looking for a fun night out that isn't going to break the budget, you might want to head on over to Star Bar's Trivia Night.

With questions ranging from the obvious through to the more obscure – and at times even ridiculous – there is never a dull moment at this iconic Tasmania institution.

For those who are keen trivia players, you will want to arrive just before the 7pm start time in order to get a good seat and make sure that there is room at the table for you and all your friends.

It is also a great chance for people who may be new to Launceston, visiting on a holiday or simply in the area to meet with locals and gain a better insight into the region in a relaxing setting.

All you need to do is put your best smile and thinking cap on and join one of the teams that are short of a player on the night.

You may find that there are slightly more foodies than trivia players in the room though, with many people lining up to try one of Star Bar's classic pizzas or hearty steaks.

Star Bar is located on Charles Street in Launceston and trivia is held every Tuesday night.

Star Bar interior - Image Credit: Menulog

Star Bar in Launceston: Image Credit Menulog

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