While most people think winter is the perfect time to hibernate, it is also one of the best times of year to see a number of plays.

Along with all the usual suspects that are based on well-known books and older works, you can also find a new crop of films that have been adapted for the stage such as Footloose.

Named after the 1984 film of the same name, Footloose tells the story of rogue teen who leaves the big-smoke and finds himself in a town that has banned dancing due to a tragic car accident involving five local teens.

And while this move is initially something of a struggle for him, it quickly becomes apparent that many of the locals are more accepting that he originally thought.

At the centre of this play is a romance between two young people – one of whom is the Reverend's daughter – who need to overcome the obstacles thrown at them by family and society, as well as learn how to navigate the many moral dilemmas that will face them as adults.

It is also a chance for those in the audience to reflect on the different values that inform our own judgement, as well as see the world from a different point of view.

Launceston College's 2004 production of Footloose was set in 1984. However, this latest version will take place in today's society.

Footloose will be showing from June 27 through to June 30 at the Princess Theatre, Launceston, Tasmania.

Tickets for adults will cost $28, however, children and concession prices are both $18 (this includes children from ages 2 and above).

You can buy advance tickets via phone on 03 6323 3666 or look at the college's website for further information, as well as updates on performance times.

Show Logo - Footloose

Clip of last year’s production ‘Back to The Eighties’ and a Footloose number: -

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Musicians and singers are making plans to descend on Hobart this winter for the Festival of Voices – you may have seen extensive coverage in the June edition of Qantas’ Inflight Magazines.

The must-see event will feature a number of local acts, as well as performers from interstate who are quickly making a name for themselves on the chorale circuit.

Along with an amazing range of solo and ensemble opportunities, you will also be able to enjoy the power of voice alongside a huge warm public bonfire in Salamanca Place – the perfect addition to any winter's night.

Real community spirit will be on show during the Festival Bonfire and Big Sing – two iconic celebrations of the city and its people.

Newcomers to the state's capital will be able to make their way to the action by following the Candlelight Procession.

Winding its way into the heart of Salamanca Place, the flickering lights have an other-worldly feel to them – they will make you feel as if you have stepped into modern-day fairy-tale.

During the day those who have a passion for singing will be able to participate in a number of workshops that help everyone from beginners through to seasoned professionals refine their own musical instrument.

Enthusiastic group singing

Bonfire night in Salamanca during the festival

Sing School 2 and for all ages

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Whether you are keen to plan your next family weekend away or looking to add a little adventure to your weekly routine, you will be sure to find something fun to do in Tasmania.

As a must-see travel destination, the island state offers a range of winter activities that are suitable for people of all ages and ability levels. They are also a great way to enjoy the outdoors and reconnect with nature!

Along with the thrills that come from gliding down Mount Wellington – one of the most popular cycling routes in the harbour city – and daredevil antics that accompany any type of whitewater rafting, you can also spend time discovering the hidden wonders of the area's rich marine life when you go snorkelling; believe it or not once kitted out with wetsuits and gear, the water is not as cold as you might think. Visibility is also excellent.

So, now that you have some idea about the sheer magnitude of sports and recreational activities that are on offer to visitors and locals alike, it is time to start organising your next action-packed holiday.

Some of the best experiences for this winter are based in the state's mountainous areas – which includes the world-famous Cradle Mountain.

Visitors comment on its rugged terrain, alpine air and austere beauty.
It is also home to sweeping valleys, nearby caves and rumbling river beds and canyons that make it the ideal location to start your next adventure.

You can easily organise a group of friends to go horse riding or hiking and the region's continued popularity with visitors means that there is a huge variety of hotels, cabins and apartments available to guests.

For those who are new to the area or do not want to enjoy the outdoors on their own, guided tours are a great way to see Tassie’s famous wildernesss. For those walkers who do want to strike out on their own, ensure that you have made adequate preparations as weather conditions can change very quickly. Make sure you sign in and let someone know your plans.

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As MasterChef toured Tasmania during its episodes in the State it took in two locations which are proof that off the main highway, in a busy schedule, there is much to discover.

First proof is the historic village of Oatlands, 80 kilmeters north of Hobart on the Heritage Highway, which stretches between Hobart and Launceston. It is also known as the Midlands Highway and is the primary route between our two main centres. The direct journey is just over two and half hours.
It is a case of highway or biway and the time taken to explore the latter will reward you plenty.

Oatlands is the site of a heritage flour mill (The Callington Mill) and the largest collection of Georgian sandstone buildings in Australia. It is a place of obvious history. While the modern-day village is compact, its forefathers had great plans for this former garrison town. Mapped out was a settlement with over 80 km of wide streets, parks and recreational amenities. At a time when reaching Oatlands was a milestone along the horse and coach route which meandered its way between centres of population, planners must have thought that the waters of Lake Dulverton and the whole setting for this important oasis of recovery, and stop-over, would prosper to be a very large town. It never got there, but has inherited oodles of charm and a scale which, for the modern traveller, is like a welcome step back in time.

The Mill is certainly a reflection of that. Grinding mills were common place in colonial times and usually placed along rivers and streams where waterflow provided the power needed for the enormous stone wheels. What Oatlands has now is unique in Australia. Better still it is a working unit and has a reputation for producing material for the craft and specialist baking industry in Tasmania. ‘Industry’ is not the right word because the scale is boutique, personal and it keeps alive the lost art of ‘real bread with real ingredients’. All production is organic.

Entrance to the Mill is $12 Adult. Ask about other tours of the town and its military and convict past. Combine tours for great value savings. The Visitor and Information Centre is at the mill. And, you can buy flour to take away!

Insiders tip … so impressed have been executive chefs from many of Australia’s best restaurants, that this flour is escaping the state to find a place in the nation’s kitchens.

Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city but within the bustle that is a normal city pace it is possible to find rest and complete ‘non-city surroundings’ at Cataract Gorge just 15 minutes walk along the fissure that brings the River Tamar to life at the Kings Bridge.

Spilling through a narrow gorge which in times of storm is a raging torrent, the waters and aspect of the gorge and gardens make this a place of peaceful contemplation. The longest single span chairlift in the world, a historic (1905) suspension bridge, lawns and pathways through beautiful gardens make this a must see on your itinerary – if even for the free roaming peacocks!

The Callington Mill: Image Credit - Pam Currey (sourceFB)

Callington Mill products on show

Cataract Gorge and The Basin Launceston

Cataract Gorge Launceston in turmoil


The wide lawn, pool, first basin and the suspension bridge at Cataract Gorge Launceton

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When it comes to the crime fiction, it is hard to go past one of the most famous whodunnit's for nail-biting intrigue.

But this is just what audiences of the world's longest-running stage production – Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap – have grown accustomed to.

For those who may not be aware of the action-packed story, it tells the tale of a group of strangers who get trapped in a guest house after a terrible snow storm.

After a string of murders, the guests grow more and more suspicious of their fellow companions while also fearing for their own lives.

The tension is magnified by the fact that they are all trapped in the guest house under lock and key – which means that the murderer is also among them.

A string of false starts and red herrings will have audiences sitting on the edge of their seat trying to solve the mystery, while the quality of the acting and stage production will make you feel as if you are a part of the story.

This classic tale has been entertaining millions of people around the world for well over 50 years – which says something about the interest people of all ages and backgrounds have in the writing of Agatha Christie.

It is also a ringing endorsement of the attention to detail and storytelling ability of director Ingrid Ganley, who undertakes the task of turning a well-loved classic into a new and exciting production with absolute aplomb.

Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap is currently on show at the Playhouse Theatre in Hobart, until this coming Saturday June 9.

For those who are interested in snapping up last minute tickets while the current production is still on, you can find more information about bookings online at the Centertainment website.

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Most people think that they don't have time to go on an adventure holiday, with the general consensus being that these trips take a lot of planning and can only be enjoyed if you have a few weeks' leave up your sleeve.

But it is possible to have fun on shorter tours that are big on thrills without eating into your weekend too much – you just need to know where to look.

For anyone who is lucky enough to be in Hobart at the moment, you will be pleased to know that there are a number of activities that are bound to get your adrenalin pumping and are conveniently situated near the CBD.

The transition from the city streets to water paradise isn't something that happens often, but when you go on one of Hobart Paddle's off-road tours this is exactly what happens.

For two hours, you will have the best seat in the house while journeying over the city's beautiful harbour.

It is also a great way to clear the mind while breathing in fresh ocean air and catching the last rays of sunlight on a clear winter's day.

Test your seamanship by weaving your way between yachts, working fishing boats, tall ships and many other modern cruisers as you navigate the city's waterways.

Along the way there is also that chance to put your feet down on dry land while you go on guided tours of many of the city's famous landmarks including the historic Battery Point and vibrant Salamanca and the bustling docks.

Your guide will make sure that you don't just get a physical workout on the tour, but learn something new about the story of modern Hobart and its people.

For information on bookings and tour availability with Hobart Paddle, you can visit the company's website.

Hobart Paddle in the inner harbour Image Credit: TripAdvisorUnder wharf fabric near the Wrestpoint Casino

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With foodie focus on Tasmania during the screening of MasterChef Australia’s episodes on TEN this week, mention has been made not only of Tasmania’s marvelous food and produce (Sunday) but also an amazing early Australian Cookbook.

Written by Edward Abbott, ‘The English And Australian Cookery Book’ was a standard (although apparently quirky one) for its time, with illustrations, and unusually … advertising! A copy is held in the collection of the Tasmanian Archive & Heritage Office (TAHO) – at the Allport Library & Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, and as an online scanned copy. It is certainly significant in Australia’s culinary history.

Acknowledged as Australia’s first cookbook, it was written in 1864 by Edward Abbott, a Hobart landowner, newspaper publisher, member of the Tasmanian Parliament and ‘aristologist’. Edward Albert was born in Sydney but moved as a young boy with his father who had taken a posting in Hobart Town in February 1815, when Edward senior took up the post of deputy-judge-advocate. The family prospered and in 1818 young Edward became clerk to his father. He continued to work in the Lieutenant Governor’s Court until 1824, then became a pastoralist, having received land grants of 1100 acres (445 ha) on the Derwent River in 1823. In 1828 he was made a justice of the peace.

Later, he exhausted his fortune in his relentless pursuit of a claim against the government over the ownership of 210 acres (85 ha) of land known as the Launceston swamp. Winning in the end, he was awarded a settlement which was less than he had anticipated. The publication of his landmark publication, The English and Australian Cookery Book. Cookery for the Many, as Well as for the “Upper Ten Thousand” (London, 1864), was probably an attempt to recover his fortunes.
Although published pseudonymously, by ‘an Australian Aristologist’, the book was known to be Abbott’s work. It is a collection of gastronomic miscellany of ‘the modern cookery of the mother country and the colonies’, and of Continental and Hebrew cookery. Recipes included ‘Roast Beef of Old England’, ‘kangaroo steamer’ and ‘slippery bob’ — a dish of battered kangaroo brains fried in emu fat!
In scope and style the book was somewhat idiosyncratic, as in its use of the arcane expression ‘aristology’ (coined by Thomas Walker in London in 1835 to describe the art of dining). It also had (for its time) slightly edgy commentary and anecdotes.

Abbott died on 4 April 1869 at Bellerive and was buried in old St Mark’s Anglican chapel where an impressive monument was erected.

More information? The book was featured in an episode of ABC’s “The Collectors” which is produced in Hobart.

Edward Abbott and a page from "The English and Australian Cookbook" image credit: National Library of Australia (Tasmania)

Information credits: Treloars Auctions, National Library of Australia. Allport Library Collection.

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Surfers will know that there is often nothing better than diving into the ocean as the sun rises in the morning.

From the sting of salt in your eyes through to the comforting feeling that comes from having great water under your board, it is hard to find a better way to start the day.

And while there are a number of great surfing destinations in Tasmania, a trip to the island state is not complete without spending time in the seaside areas close to Marrawah.

Nestled in among breathing-taking ocean views from a great beach, but adjacent to rocky shores, and a headland, wild winds have come to define the far North West of Tasmania as a big wave place which will test your skill.

Greens Beach and the nearby ‘Point’ (which has a great left lift) and Periwinkle are easily on Tasmania’s top locations for anyone wanting to try their hand at different surfing styles including kite and windsurfing. The area was formerly the site for part of the Billabong Blue Water Classic Series attracting surfers from all over the world.

However, it is also a great place to unwind and take in the natural beauty of this seemingly untouched part of the world. Facilities are sparse in the area – it is a favourite

An easy drive from Stanley and Smithton or a full day trek over from Launceston, it is the ultimate weekend destination for anyone wanting to look for the perfect wave.

Surfing at Marrawah - Image Credit: ABC Tasmania

The only way to have your beer in the area (not whilst driving however) Image Credit: ESPN

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Each year painters from across the country put brush to canvas in order to create some truly memorable works of art for the Blake Prize.

The competition may be in its 60th year, it seems that none of the original enthusiasm that made this particular competition so unique has been lost.

Mixing a healthy blend of spirituality and themes that are important to contemporary audiences, the award encourages artists from all over Australia to explore the points where art and society intersect.

Named after the English poet and painter William Blake – whose ability to successfully integrate religion into his works – those who participate in the program are for the most part encouraged to take the same approach to their own work.

However, in the true spirit of William Blake it is also important to include as many different worldviews, belief systems and artistic styles as possible.

The works are also meant to act as a catalyst for public debate and encourage people to open dialogue about issues that may otherwise fail to enter everyday conversation.

For those who are keen to catch a glimpse of the nation's oldest national art prize dedicated to spirituality and cultural diversity, you can visit the touring exhibition at the Rosny Barn and Schoolhouse Gallery – which is across the bridge from the Hobart CBD.

You can easily take a bus or hire car to the exhibition and its easy proximity to the island state's capital means that you can also fit in a visit around other plans.

If you would like more information on the Blake Prize, check it out here. The exhibition will remain open until 17 June 2012.

blake art prize winner 2011 - now touring

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If the thought of log fires, vintage reds and good food in an idyllic mountain setting make you want to book a winter getaway, you may want to make your way to the annual Tastings At The Top.

Now in its eighteenth year, the gourmet extravaganza is on the must-do list of culinary enthusiasts during the June calendar.

Held at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, the festival provides visitors with a chance to escape the pressure of daily life and reconnect with nature, while still enjoy the little luxuries that make each holiday so special.

On the menu this year is everything from degustation dinners to cooking demonstrations and truly decadent spa treatments at the famous Waldheim Alpine Spa.

You may also like to attend a wine tasting session with experts from the field or catch up with friends over a well deserved brunch.

For those who stay for the entire three days, you will also have the opportunity to sample a variety of gourmet produce at the event's won marketplace.

While anyone who is keen to take part in the many activities that are offered in Cradle Mountain such as bush walking or horse riding can easily take an afternoon off to explore the nearby wilderness.

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