Approximately two hours' drive from Devonport in the far north-west tip of Tasmania you will find Smithton, an ideal base for exploring this wonderful region filled with nature's highlights and quality local food.

Renowned for its forests, wildlife-spotting and glorious long stretches of secluded beach this is a great place to settle down for a few days and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of such a prosperous region.

As the major industrial and administrative centre for Circular Head, Smithton is well equipped to provide you with quality accommodation and plenty of dining options.

Dairy products and Duck River oysters are the specialities of the region and you will not be disappointed by the fine local produce available from friendly vendors.

With the rains of the Roaring Forties working their magic Smithton remains constantly green and lush. Yet the average summer daytime temperature is 24 degrees Celcius, so visitors can enjoy the nearby sites in comfort.

From Smithton you are able to make short journeys to highlights such as Tarkine Forest Adventures at Dismal Swamp – a sunken blackwood forest where you can slide down a tube or take a buggy ride to the bottom.

You might also wish to take a tour of Woolnorth farm to learn about its rich farming history or spot Tasmanian Devils at Kings Run.

Rich Farmland in North West Tasmania near Smithton

Edgcumbe Beach Circular Head Smithton

Comedien Hannah Gadsby Grew Up In Smithton. Image Credit Beat

Squashes On Display at Smithton

Standing on The Edge Smithton

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The splendid Tamar Valley Beer Festival gets under way next Friday (January 20) and once again it promises to be an exciting event tailor made for beer and cider enthusiasts as well as wine and cocktail connoisseurs.

Tasmania's most action-packed two-day festival returns to Launceston after last year's highly successful program and the second round is sure to please locals and visitors alike.

With a great combination of culture, music, food and entertainment on hand – not to mention a variety of Australia's favourite refreshing beverage flowing from the tap – this is a chance to celebrate summer and appreciate the finer things in life.

The event will feature over 100 of the best local, national and international beers and ciders, making it the perfect destination for your next weekend getaway with friends or family.

Whether you are interested in the occasional light tasting session or some more in-depth research, bring along your best stubby holder and enjoy the fantastic range of quality brews on offer as you take in the vibrant atmosphere.

The Tamar Valley Beer Festival takes place January 20 and 21 on Williams Street Launceston, alongside J Boag & Son Brewery.

General admission day passes cost $15, while you can purchase a weekend pass for $20.

The 130 year old Boags Brewery in Launceston

Festival logo and branding

The finest Ales at the Tamar Valley Beer Festival

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The Cygnet Folk Festival was a huge success last weekend (January 6 to 8), with the small town in south-east Tasmania celebrating the annual event in fine style.

Almost 6,000 people were estimated to have attended the festival, turning quaint Cygnet into a hub of music, food and culture that belie its small population and normally quiet streets.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary the event went off without a hitch and the wonderful atmosphere was thoroughly enjoyed by both locals and visitors who came especially to join the festivities.

More than 170 performers helped light up the stages and street corners of this beautiful location, with hospitable local families going out of their way to accommodate those from outside of Cygnet.

Festival president Michael Minchin said that about a quarter of the close-knit community were directly involved in helping the weekend run smoothly.

"The festival has become more and more vibrant over the last few years and is flourishing now, with lots of great acts coming down," Mr Minchin told The Mercury January 8.

"But it's the volunteers who make this event a success – without their work we could never get it happening."

A number of buskers from other parts of Tasmania used the opportunity to gain experience playing live to large audiences.

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If you are travelling to north-west Tasmania this year and consider yourself to be environmentally aware with a love of your surroundings, a wonderful program has been created to help connect your passion with local causes.

The Helping Hands on Holidays program is designed to provide visitors to the island state with a chance to get involved in community-based activities such as penguin counting, beach cleaning, threatened-plant spotting and even hut painting.

Travellers are encouraged to "stay a while, help a mile!" by joining up with volunteer groups in this spectacular corner of the world to help care for the beautiful natural resources that gives both locals and visitors pleasure every single day.

This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in north-west Tasmania's exquisite flora and fauna, while making friends with the region's passionate and friendly residents at the same time.

A huge selection of activities are available ranging from lending your hands for just a few hours, to spending a whole day in the thick of the action as the team makes some great progress on important projects.

No matter what your age or physical capabilities there is a way for you to help out.

Volunteers walk away feeling good about themselves and doing your bit in such a delightful landscape hardly feels like work at all.

Everybody who gets involved with the program shares a common goal – they come for the sense of community spirit and to help achieve something special.

A full list of Helping Hands on Holidays events is available on the Cradle Coast NRM website and this month there is at least one activity arranged for every day between January 14 and 30.

One of the most popular tasks is bound to be the penguin counting in Burnie, where the gorgeous creatures will be tallied as they come to roost from Bass Strait.


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Hobart comes alive every January for the wonderful and unique Mona Foma (MOFO) festival and 2012 will be no exception, as a diverse mix of artists shows its wares to excited audiences right across the capital.

MOFO curator Brian Ritchie has once again gathered an incredible list of musicians, dancers, visual artists, theatrical groups and more, with performances ranging from unknown and eccentric to world famous and mesmerising.

PJ Harvey will headline the event with her thought-provoking songs at Princes Wharf 1, the festival's main hub.

Other featured artists include Dresden Dolls from the US, Germany's The Dad Horse Experience and Melbourne's confrontational dance group BalletLab, while in other parts of town crowds will be entertained by a plethora of local and international acts.

In Salamanca visitors can enjoy great food, market stalls and cooking demonstrations, all to the soundtrack of funky beats and a multicultural line-up of musical talent.

The MOFO Festival takes place from Friday January 13 to Sunday January 22, so if you are in Tasmania around this time it shapes up as a must-see event on your tour of the island state.

Better still you can follow what’s on where, and also get involved in the event Twitterstream on your chosen iPhone or Android.

Mona Foma headline artists

Mona Foma Android App

AND – if you head over to the MOFO Facebook page right now MONA FOMA will let you enter a competition to meet the Dresden Dolls backstage during their sound check, plus tickets.
Details: In 25 words or less tell Mona Foma what you would ask The Dresden Dolls if you met them. The entry with the most LIKES will win four passes to meet the Dresden Dolls at their soundcheck on Thursday 19 Jan as well as four Day Pass 3 tickets to see their live performance.
Go enter and get your friends rallied to LIKE your effort. C’mon they like you don’t they?

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Corinna is a small town in the north-west of Tasmania renowned for its rich mining history and extremely picturesque setting.

Set among rainforest on the banks of the beautiful Pieman River this idyllic location is well worth a visit on your tour of the island state.

The town sits at the southern end of the Tarkine protected area – Australia's largest temperate rainforest and a place to see breathtaking Huon Pine.

For a glimpse back to the ancient continent of Gondwana you can hike into the breathtaking rainforest prevalent in this region.

Corinna's inhabitants are proud of the area's pristine wilderness and work hard to sustain it so that visitors can continue to enjoy delightful walks along iconic routes such as the riverside Huon Pine Walk or the more challenging Savage River Walk.

For those who prefer to take in the views from the comfort of a boat, why not relax for the day on the Pieman River Cruise?

Upon your return you can enjoy the comforts of fine accommodation in one of the wilderness retreats or backpacker hostels.

Corinna is also famous for being home to the largest gold nugget ever found in Tasmania.

Corinna the amazing Pieman River

The Tarkine Hotel at Corinna

Corinna accommmodation cluster

Corinna The barge the Fatman crossing the Pieman

The historic Arcadia II at Corinna

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As many parts of Australia broke records for lower temperatures in 2011, Tasmania bucked the national trend by experiencing overall above-average conditions that were lapped up by locals and enthusiastic visitors alike.

The Bureau of Meteorology released its Annual Australian Climate Statement 2011 this week (January 4), which revealed that across the country there was a notable movement towards colder and wetter days than normal.

Data suggested that it was the third-wettest year on record and included Australia's coldest autumn since at least 1950.

But it was a different case on the island state with the bureau reporting that western Tasmania was one of the few regions to notice below-average rainfall over the course of the year.

Averaged over the whole month it was also the warmest August on record for Tasmania, meaning visitors in the latter part of winter were treated to beautiful sunshine and clear skies ideal for hiking, cycling, camping and adventure activities on the water or in the mountains.

While there was significant flooding in some parts of the island at selected times, generally conditions were ideal for a fun and safe holiday of any kind.

Tasmania's climate can differ quite significantly from other Australian weather zones and its maritime conditions means there are rarely vast extremes of temperature.

Like most destinations you may feel hot or cold from time to time, but as a general rule the weather in Tasmania is more seasonally defined than in mainland states.

Even during a chilly winter Tasmania is a glorious landscape to travel across, with the crisp clean air pleasing hikers and climbers at iconic landmarks such as Mount Wellington and Freycinet National Park.

AND, it is true that Hobart is Australia’s second driest city! The shadow of Mt Wellington causes a rain shadow and a mini-climate – hence those iconic shots of Sullivans Cove and the inner harbour.

colours of the seasons Meander Valley

Overland Track Cradle Mountain - with the right gear IMPORTANT

big wave season late august. Image Credit: The Mercury Hobart

autumn colours

The top of Mt Wellington just 20 mins from downtown hobart - DO NOT assume this was in winter!

weather temp chart tasmania

The stunning southwest always changeable

weather - winter at fabulous cradle mountain

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Tasmanian pubs offer much more than just cold refreshing beers and hearty meals made with local produce – for the intrepid traveller they are also perfect places to spend the evening becoming acquainted with the local way of life and mingling with friendly patrons and staff.

The old-style pubs found throughout the island state are some of the finest in Australia and at these atmospheric drinking holes you are likely to discover a fascinating world away from the hustle and bustle of city venues.

Amazing pub meals are commonplace in this part of the world, so why not treat yourself to a scrumptious T-bone steak or seafood dish for lunch? Many Pubs are beginning to break away from large brewery distribution alliances and are now serving craft beers and ciders on tap for an even better experience!

Hopping between pubs is an inexpensive and interesting way to experience the best Tasmania has to offer.

You can either plan ahead with a list of top recommendations and an exciting itinerary, or hit the open road with nothing but a quality map and sense of adventure.

It doesn't matter if you are in Cygnet, Scottsdale, Beauty Point or any other Tasmanian town, chances are there will a great little pub for you to pop in at and share a beverage or two with the locals.

(Note: In the book quoted, “In Search of The Holy Grail” one of the sample pubs featured is no longer trading. The historic Hope and Anchor is awaiting redevelopment.)

01_Molly Malones Hotel and Irish Bar Devonport

02_Richmond Arms Hotel Richmond

03_Empire Hotel Queenstown One of Australia's oldest hotels

05_St Marys Hotel, East Coast Tasmania

06_Brisbane Hotel Hobart

07_The Republic Bar Hobart - fomer Empire Hotel, originally The Rose ... fine Art Deco

08_Hamers Hotel Queenstown West Coast Tasmania

09_Weldborough Hotel - a great touring by motorcycle or car stop. They have a great beer garden (as in a GARDEN) and they allow camping!

10_New Sydney Hotel Hobart pie and chips

11_Bush Inn New Norfolk Tasmania

12_New Sydney Hotel Lunch Time Crayfish

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The jewel in the crown of Tasmania’s summer sports calendar for women gets under way this week with the Moorilla Hobart International taking place at Domain Tennis Centre between January 6 and 14.

Some highly talented female players will contest the event including world number 23 Yanina Wickmayer and world number 27 Anabel Medina Garrigues.

In all, 24 of the top 60 ranked players will compete in what is shaping up to be an excellent lead-in to the upcoming Australian Open – as well as an exciting event in its own right.

Previous winners of the Moorilla Hobart International include Kim Clijsters, Alicia Molik and Patty Schnyder, indicating that the tournament is seen to provide a genuine springboard for successful seasons ahead.

This year Australia’s number-two ranked female tennis player Jarmila Gajdosova will return to defend her 2011 title.

As Tasmania’s premier international women’s sporting event it is expected to host large and enthusiastic crowds over nine great days of entertainment.

With tickets starting from just $15 this is an amazing opportunity to sit courtside at some truly world-class tennis matches at a fraction of the price you would pay to attend the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

Tennis enthusiasts and people who appreciate great live sport in what, by comparison, is a small and up close (almost personal) venue will not want to miss this chance while in Tasmania.

Moorilla International Tennis Hobart. Image Credit: Tennis Australia

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Whether you have years of experience on the sea or just want to try your hand at something new this summer, the coastlines and waterways of Tasmania are paradises for sailing and yachting adventures to suit all levels.

You can bring your own small craft, hire one from a local company or join an exciting tour to emulate the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race experience of being guided swiftly across Tasmanian waters by your trustworthy skipper.

With more boats per person than any other Australian state, many consider Tasmania to be the nation's nautical capital.

You will discover that this reputation is well earned as you explore the isolated bays and rivers or head out for a grand day on the ocean.

The standard route between the island and mainland Australia is along the east coast, where small villages provide important anchorages to seafarers.

Sitting on the banks of the broad Derwent River is Hobart and here you can dock just a few minutes' walk from Customs and Immigration, as well as a host of great pubs and restaurants.

Sailing from the capital city your first highlight will be unrivalled views of the gorgeous 300-metre cliffs that form part of the Tasman Peninsula.

Alternatively you might choose the route around the west coast, which provides more rugged sailing conditions and depends heavily on westerly winds.

For a more relaxing experience you can make your way to Port Davey in the south-west. This remote and beautiful location gives you the rare chance to explore a relatively untouched Gondwanan landscape.

Bass Strait is renowned by sailors worldwide as one of the most difficult stretches of water to navigate. Its shallow depths and intense westerlies cause high and sometimes chaotic seas, but for experienced boaters it presents a thrilling challenge.

Hobart from the River Derwent a whole other perspective on the city

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