It has been a little over a year since the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) first opened its doors to the public, and this particular cultural centre continues to attract thousands of art enthusiasts from all over the world.

The multi-million dollar dream of its owner, entrepreneur and philanthropist David Walsh, the museum showcases works by artists with a reputation for being subversive.

There are paintings by Sir Sydney Nolan and the UK’s Damien Hirst, as well as galleries dedicated to water motifs – the water-covered floor design is the brain child of Julius Popp dubbed bit.fall – and the truly macabre.

Walsh says that while the displays may be avant-garde, his intention is to inspire creativity among museum visitors.

As Australia’s largest private museum, the space is often referred to as “a subversive adult wonderland” and it is clear to all who visit MONA that the mostly underground establishment is a sensory exploration of history in a cutting-edge setting.

Eating at MONA is another not-to-be-missed experience, with wine tastings available at the cellar door daily and beer tours held every Friday.

Located on Main Road in Berriedale, MONA is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm six days per week, closed Tuesdays. Entry is free for Tasmaniansand under 18’s, and just $20 for others.

Award-winning travel website Black Tomato has released its pick of the best alternative Australian icons advancing the theory that we should ‘forget’ Uluru and the Sydney Opera House, as there are some lesser-known but brilliant icons that Australia should be embracing instead. Seems they are and not just Australians. Many bucket lists have been updated with a trip to Tasmania because of MONA.

Getting there? Most prefer to use the fast catamaran service from Brooke Street Pier in Hobart, but there is on-site parking for those who want to travel by car.

Lunch with a view at MONA

Wim Delvoye exhibition at MONA

The famous tennis court (on top of the roof) and entrance

MONA signage

An emotive view of the museum building

MONA and its nearby suburb

MONA interior and stairwells

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The Maria Island Walk is often described as four days of spectacular scenery, where you can experience the contrast between rugged mountains and tranquil white, sandy beaches.

Maria Island was declared a National Park back in 1972 and has since become a sanctuary for native plants and wildlife.

This former penal colony is a popular attraction on the island state – particularly for those who love spending time in the great outdoors.

If it is your first visit to Maria Island, you’ll find the local coastal guides are keen to show you around the area, pointing out some of their favourite locations and helping you to have a truly unforgettable experience.

You may have the chance to see Forester kangaroos and Bennetts wallabies, or even the area’s wombats, brush-tailed and ring-tailed possums.

Don’t forget to pack your binoculars though, as they may come in handy when you attempt to spot a rare species of bird such as the spotted pardalote.

Of course, elements of Maria Island’s convict past are never too far away either, which means that this is the perfect holiday destination for nature lovers and history buffs alike.

You might choose to explore the island with a series of short day-hikes – Fossil Cliffs and Painted Cliffs are two popular routes to consider – or you may instead prefer to explore the island with a longer guided walk.

The walk itself is relatively easy, with the longest day stretching to a comfortable 13 kilometres. This makes exploring Maria Island an activity that can easily be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.

Once night falls you can indulge your taste buds, eating a delicious meal with other walkers and then fall asleep under a canopy of stars – a uniquely Tasmanian experience that will make your long hike all the more worthwhile.

On the final day of the tour expect to be treated to a warm shower, large farewell dinner and a celebratory pat on the back, as well as the knowledge that you have made a new group of new friends.

The Maria Island Walk has won various eco tourism prizes and four awards from ‘Gourmet Traveller‘, a publication dedicated to finding the best places to eat and holiday in around the world. It also took out Australia’s Best Adventure Activity at the recently concluded 2011 National Tourism Awards; the second time it has achieved this national honour.

Bishop and Clerk trail Maria Island

Painted Cliffs Maria Island

Maria Island Shoal Bay


Maria Island vista from Summit

Isthmus on Maria

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It is known as one of the largest keel boat regattas in Tasmania, with a long tradition of attracting sailing enthusiasts from across the country to its fold.

And this year the Gygnet Regatta 2012 social weekend is expected to be bigger and better than ever – which means there will be 90 or more boats featuring in the lead-up races.

The boating event takes place over the March long weekend from 9 to 11 March and is described by organisers as three days of “great racing”,” great prizes” and “great food”.

Day one starts with lead up races from Hobart to Kettering, which is organised by the Port Cygnet Sailing Club and Derwent Sailing Squadron.

This is then followed by another round of lead-up races on Saturday (10 March) from Kettering to Cynget, with the Kettering Yatch Club getting involved for this part of the journey.

On Sunday (March 11) the Cygnet Regatta takes to the water and participants are encouraged to check their starting divisions before setting sail.

Rules for the sailing contest are similar to most events of this kind, with all yachts required to pay an entry fee and needing to complete their registrations well ahead of time.

Organisers will also make sure that participants receive regular updates about the races, as well as notice of any last minute changes.

Depending on weather conditions a decision will be made to shorten the sailing course or keep to the official route, but this will be decided on the day.

Boats that are still on the water from midnight will be deemed to have retired.

Along with meeting like-minded people and spending your day breathing in the fresh sea breeze, participants also have the chance to dine with their competitors and enjoy some of the state’s finest produce.

The Cygnet Regatta is free to watch, making it a great day out for the whole family and visitors to the island state.

Scene from Cygnet Regatta 2010

Sailing Club at Cygnet

Sailing Cygnet

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Located just a 10-minute drive outside of Hobart, Kangaroo Bluff Historic Site is an unmissable destination for people who have a genuine love of history.

The gun emplacement and fort at Bellerive were built by the Public Works Department in 1800 for a cost of about $16,300 in today’s money.

It was designed to protect Hobart Town from enemy vessels and shelling, as well as support the Queens Battery and the site at the aptly named Battery Point.

And while it still unclear why locals were keen to build this defence base, it is widely thought that Russian warships sighted in the River Derwent in 1873 were a motivating factor.

In 1884 the first gun shot was fired and since then the site has undergo a number of transformations.

The artillery site was manned up until the 1920s, and in the 1930s the Commonwealth took over the land and turned Kangaroo Bluff into a public park.

But it wasn’t until the 1970s that the military support base was recognised as a Historic Site.

Visitors to the site are welcome to explore the gun emplacement and walk alongside the nearby moat for a true taste of Tasmania’s early military history. The view across to the city and Mt Wellington is one which locals know well … now you know too! With other vistas straight down the harbour toward the Iron pot, and across to Mt Nelson it is a great ‘first part of the day’ excursion out of town on the way to the village of Bellerive, or even Richmond.

Adjacent is another piece of history – The Rosny Barn, dating from around 1818, when Richard Morgan, an ex Norfolk Island convict farmed on what is now part of the Public Golf Course. The farm house is now a small museum with the barn used as a performance space and Market area for the community.

Kangaroo Bluff Historic Site Hobart

Princes Wharf for the Bluff Fort November 1882

The emplacement and view across to the city and Mt Wellington

Barn Exterior (detail) and Market

market space and barn exterior

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Tourism in Tasmania was handed a huge but well deserved compliment at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards held in Cairns. In a landmark first for the state, FIVE of Tasmania’s leading tourism operators took home prestigious awards – the most national awards won by Tasmania in a single year.

They are the latest in a series of high profile achievements for Tassie, where other national recognition, and accolades from overseas magazines and travel groups has been given for the quality of our tourism offerings.

The Tasmanian winners of the 2011 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards were:
Maria Island Walk – Best Adventure Tourism Product;
The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel – was winner of the Deluxe Accommodation for the second year in a row;
Pure Tasmania – was awarded Best Tourism Marketing;
Saffire Freycinet – Best Luxury Accommodation in Australia; and
Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – continues its stunning emergence in being named best new tourism development in Australia.

Bonus for the evening was Tourism Tasmania’s chairman Grant Hunt being recognised for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual. That’s six!

The Maria Island Walk

Astonishing Maria Island Walk

Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel 1bedroom

The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel

The incomparable Saffire at Freycinet

Bedroom accommodation with sweeping views to the Hazards, Freycinet Saffire

MONA - spectacular outside view from the River Derwent

Sydney Nolan Installation - The Serpent MONA

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Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or looking to go on a first real ‘adventure holiday’, it is hard to look past the Tasmanian wilderness.

With its remote mountain climbs, hiking, kayaking, canyoning and unique wildlife there is always something challenging and fun to do here.

But among the vast wilderess and World Heritage Areas there are a number which are more special to discover.

One of those is the Tarkine named for the local Tarkiner Aborigines, who once called these rugged and beautiful surrounds home.

The Tarkine is a popular travel destination with tourists from all over the world and for good reason.

It is home to the largest temperate rainforest in Australia, which showcases some of the best scenery in the island state. And in December 2009, the region was added to Australia’s National Heritage List. Located in North-West Tasmania, the Tarkine rainforest and wilderness covers an expanse of more than 447,000 hectares, set between the coastline, the Arthur and Pieman  Rivers and the Murchison Highway as the other boundary heading inland.

Holidaymakers will find lots to explore in  these natural surrounds, weaving through tall eucalypts, traversing buttongrass plains and exploring windswept beaches where without stop from the eastern coast of Southern Africa and the Southern Ocean, huge waves finally make landfall. This is a violent stretch of coastline.

Off the beaten track, but on the Western Explorer heading north from  Strahan through Zeehan is Corinna on the Pieman River.

This former historic mining town is a great destination to relax and withdrew from everyday life. A cruise down the Pieman River will give any visitor mirrored reflections and the chance to be utterly alone excpet perhaps catching a glimpse of a rare yellow-tailed black cockatoo.

Tarkine National Park is also one of the few remaining areas in Australian that is believed to have a large number of intact  Aboriginal sites, with some experts suggesting it may have the highest concentrations of sacred places in the country.

Donaldson Walk and buttongrass - Tarkine

Trekking in the rainforrest

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A new tour has opened in Hobart which lets you explore Hobart with a guide who will not only give you an immersive experience during your chosen local itinerary but also let you make the most of your camera. Using the tagline ‘Discover, Experience, Photograph’ Shutterbug Walkabouts founders Roy and Coreena bring their combined passion for photography and travel together in a series of local tours but also with the freedom to personalise an itinerary around Tasmania at a pace that allows for photography pursuits in our many picturesque locations. With in-the-field tuition all levels of photography skill will be enhanced.

We all know that at the end of holiday you end up with lots of pics – they literally capture the memory. Joining Shutterbug Walkabouts will put the emphasis on the art of photography. With 35+ years of experience Roy’s work can be seen on his own photography site. You will be given insights into night photography, close-ups, mastering your camera (wouldn’t we all like to do that?), and those atmospheric moments from ‘dusk to dark’ which every aspiring shutterbug would like to get a handle on.

Be assured that places are limited and you will never be with a group larger than ten people. Often less.
Bookings can be made through their website and they have an excellent FAQ to answer your queries. The emphasis is on individual and personal. Click.

Shutterbug strip- closeup Image Credit - Shutterbug Walkabouts site gallery

Shutterbug strip-scenery Image Credit - Shutterbug Walkabouts site gallery

Shutterbug strip- night Image Credit - Shutterbug Walkabouts site gallery

Shutterbug strip- nature Image Credit - Shutterbug Walkabouts site gallery

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Salamanca Place is something of a cultural landmark in Hobart, with visitors to the island state often travelling long distances to explore its bustling weekend markets.

And with its range of top eateries, boutique pubs, galleries, craft shops and vibrant nightlife, it is easy to see why so many people enjoy getting to know this part of the city.

Another main attraction is Salamanca Market, which takes place every Saturday from 8.00 am to 3.00 pm rain or shine.

Thousands of visitors descend on the market every weekend, weaving their way through the myriad of stalls – which often number in excess of 300 – sampling the best local produce. It remains Australia’s largest outdoor market, and is now in its 40th year.

Organic foodies will quickly discover the enormous range of products on offer that cater to all tastes. 

Along with fresh food, highlights from the markets include local artesian goods, hand-worked glass, woodworks, and bold ceramics – not to mention the latest fashion trends.

The markets are also known as a great place for emerging musicians to test out their vocals on a live audience – and strolling the walkways listening to up-and-coming entertainers is all a part of the experience for visitors.

Historic warehouses and nearby plane trees add to the European flavour of the markets, which are a great place to relax with friends.

Salamanca Market

Salamanca Market Sign

Browsing busy Markets Image Credit - Val in Sydney

EXCELLENT vegetables for sale at the Market

Crusty Loaves Image Credit - Marc Bester

Young performers

Salamanca Market is a very BIG market 1.2km long

People market and trees Image Credit - Marc Bester

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Marko Letonja is already a household name throughout Europe, with a reputation for impressing audiences with his unique take on classical music.

But this year, the Slovenian musical maestro is preparing to call Tasmania home after taking on the role of chief conductor and artistic director of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO).

Letonja will step up to the rostrum for the first time in his new role this Friday (March 3), guiding the TSO through Tchaiovsky's world-famous Piano Concerto No 1 played by Ukrainian-born Australian pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk.

Highlights of the program include pieces from Prokoiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet, as well as Peter Sculthorpe's Kakadu.

To mark the opening of the TSO’s 2012 season, guests will be invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of sparkling wine during interval.

Letonja intends to put his  mark on one of the country's smallest but most successful orchestras.

The appointment will see Latonja succeed Sebastian Lang-Lessing, who was responsible for helping to modernise the organisation with the release of a number of popular CDs and the annual Sydney season.

In an interview with the ABC's LimeLight, the conductor said he was keen to build on his earlier success at the TSO, having led the orchestra on two prior occasions, and attract big names to the group's line up.

"You cannot simply call someone up in Europe and say, 'Come and play a concert!' But there are plenty of artists I'm determined to bring to Hobart," he commented.

On the list of people Letonja would like to see perform in the island state are Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta and Nicolas Alsteadt – a BBC New Generation Artist and winner of multiple awards in Germany – as well as young conductors such as Consantin Caridis, Jakub Hrusa, and Sacha Goetzel.

TSO 2012 season header

Marko Letonja

Federation Concert Hall, home of the TSO

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Australians are known for many things; amongst them is the desire to quench a well-earned thirst with an ice cold beer.

And while in the north of the country they may prefer beer on tap, it is fair to say that the cooler weather brings an element of European sophistication to the island state.

With this in mind, it is little wonder that so many beer drinkers are keen to drop by the Boag's Centre for Beer Lovers.

Located just outside of Launceston in the historic Tamar Hotel is this tribute to the tradition and beer.

There are regular tours of the brewery which allow visitors to taste award winning beers served with equally high-quality local cheeses, and to learn more about beer brewing. Yes, you can enjoy and learn!

Weekday tours are available year round and usually take just over 1.5 hours, while anyone wanting to take part in the Amber Ticket Tasting will need to visit on a Saturday.

Family-friendly activities are also a feature of the Tamar Hotel, which houses a museum which tells the 100-year-old story of the brewery from its initial creation in the 1830s until now.

Historic Boags Brewery Tour Location Launceston

Boags Beer Range and medals - all gold

Boags Brewery Manufacturing Facility Launceston

A trip down beer through the years

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