Visitors to Tasmania looking for a unique experience this summer would do well to consider the dramatic beauty of Bridestowe Lavender Estate at Nabowla, which is widely regarded as one of the state's most spectacular destinations.

During January the 265 acre site is in full bloom, offering you unrivalled views of vast lavender farms in all their glory.

There is no better time of year to witness this remarkable gift of nature and Bridestowe is truly the perfect place to appreciate these wonderful flowers.

Recognised for its immaculately-manicured fields, picturesque gardens and first-class tourist facilities, the farm attracts visitors throughout the year but in summer its popularity is immense.

As you stroll among the delightful fields it is impossible not to become transfixed by the amazing scenery that surrounds you.

You can dine on lavender-inspired cuisine in the lovely cafe or picnic under the old oak trees, as well as learn more about the special flower from the knowledgeable staff.

It is also possible to pick up some fabulous locally-made arts and crafts to take home.

Adult tickets for this majestic experience are just $7, while children under 16 can enter for free.

The estate is currently open daily from 09:00 am to 9:00 pm before closing time goes back to 5:00 pm in February.

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Campbell Town was one of the very first coaching stops on the road between Hobart and Launceston – and today it is still a popular destination for those travelling between Tasmania's two major cities.

Sitting on the banks of the Elizabeth River just over 30 minutes' drive from Launceston, the village is an ideal place today to pull the car over and relax for a time, taking in the local sights and enjoying a delicious meal or cup of coffee.

A self-guided walk will reveal the region's interesting history and you cannot miss the Convict Brick Trail running along High Street. Dedicated to the convicts transported from 1788 onwards, this fascinating path comprises of bricks depicting individual prisoner names, crimes and the punishments they faced.

One of the local highlights is the Heritage Highway Museum, which contains historic Midlands artefacts and is the perfect setting for an afternoon picnic.

You can wander past a number of impressive colonial buildings such as The Grange – designed by a convict architect in the 1840s – and The Foxhunters Return, which is a fine example of a 19th century inn.

St Luke's Church and Red Bridge are also well worth visiting, while for a spot of shopping you might like to head to some of the excellent antique and specialty stores scattered around the town.

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Every January the quiet Tasmanian town of Cygnet comes alive to celebrate the joy of music and invite local, mainland and international acts to play in front of enthusiastic crowds over three wonderful days.

The Cygnet Folk Festival puts a buzz of excitement in the crisp clean air as the streets, pubs, halls, cafes and parks are taken over by quality performers with one objective – showing people a great time.

Anyone who has visited Cygnet at other times of the year will be amazed at the enormous transformation this quaint village undergoes during the festival period.

It is truly the place to be if you want to get the New Year off to a rollicking great start and what's more you will be hard pressed to find a friendlier event in Australia this summer.

People have flocked to Cygnet to dance and be entertained for decades. With the festival celebrating its 30th birthday in 2012 expectations are high that this will be the biggest and best year yet.

All of the venues are within a short walk of each other, ensuring a fantastic atmosphere envelops the entire village and turns it into a paradise for lovers of live music.

Whether you come to reacquaint with old friends, make new ones, support your favourite act or simply revel among the celebratory mood, this is an experience not to be missed.

Save money by staying in the delightful camping ground nearby and dine at the festival's many food stalls or Cygnet's homely pubs and restaurants.

The Cygnet Folk Festival is well worth travelling to Tasmania for alone this summer, but if you happen to be visiting the island state already then you simply cannot afford to skip this genuine highlight of the events calendar.

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Sorell is one of the oldest towns in Tasmania – it was first explored in 1805 and today acts as a valuable centre servicing local farms, industry and surrounding suburbs.

Located about 30 minutes' drive east of Hobart, it is the type of quaint location the region is renowned for and possesses a number of features well worth visiting on your island state stay.

Wandering away from the main street you will discover interesting pieces of history hidden among Sorell's unique laneways, with some of the highlights being the barracks and the impressive St George's Anglican Church in Gordon Street.

There are some other beautiful churches to be found here, but for a definite change of pace you might also wish to stop by for a few beers at some of the great local pubs. A refreshment stop on your way to Port Arthur, or to the East Coast is also a good idea … there are excellent local bakeries and cafes to explore.

At Sorell Antiques you can pick up a number of treasures to take home, reflecting the area's rich history.

Fresh fruit and berry lovers will enjoy picking all sorts of delicious varieties at the nearby Sorell Fruit Farm, which is home to a wonderful choice of classic favourites such as raspberries and strawberries as well as loganberries, silvanberries and tayberries.

Fine sandstone church at Sorrell

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The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is never short of drama or excitement and both were on display yesterday (December 27), with Investec Loyal claiming line honours in spectacular fashion over five-time champion Wild Oats XI before the win was officially protested over an alleged rules breach.

Investec Loyal crossed the line to the backdrop of a stunning Hobart sunset – the scene of many an amazing finish to this annual extravaganza.

With a time of two days, six hours, 14 minutes and 18 seconds the crew of skipper Anthony Bell and a host of celebrities including TV personality Karl Stefanovic, champion wheelchair-racer Kurt Fearnley, and former Wallabies Phil Waugh and Phil Kearns were jubilant over their nail-biting victory.

Wild Oats XI remained in contention right up to the stretch in the Derwent, providing Tasmanian onlookers with a tantalising duel to the line.

Investec XI has now officially won the race despite the allegation that the crew sought outside assistance when it asked an ABC helicopter about the type of sails being carried by closest rival Wild Oats XI.

In a hearing at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania at 10:00 am today, the Race Committee handed down a decision that there was no case to answer as explanations given were accepted.

Investec Loyal wins 2011 s2h

Dockside waiting for arrival

Thousands wait for arrival of first boat

Winner arrives and turns round in Kings Pier berthing area

Anthony Bell celebrates

Investec Loyal skipper Anthony Bell talks to the media

Winner Investec Loyal tied up. Image Credit: Dylan Simpson Google+

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The Summer of Fun (a label adopted by local newspaper ‘The Mercury’) best describes over a month of celebration, sports, relaxation, extreme endeavour, performance and an enormous amount of eating and drinking. It begins with the trio of Yacht Races on Boxing Day – Sydney to Hobart (S2H), Launceston to Hobart (L2H) and Melbourne to Hobart (M2H), continues with Falls Festival, Cygnet Folk Festival and concludes with the incredible MONA FOMA.

After the Rolex Sydney to Hobart blue water classic yacht race, Hobart’s famed Taste of Tasmania is a primary focus down at the waterfront. The 2011 event has spread its wings to Parliament House lawns where there is a large installation and set of ‘supervised’ activities for children.
Nightly outdoor film screenings on the large screen and any number of games, fingerpainting, a few kid-friendly food outlets too means that ‘The Taste’ really caters for all ages.

You can even check on the webcam for the forecourt to see what is going down before heading down.

We took a look and have to agree that the upgraded PW1 location is great. Even took a look at a couple of stalls (how could you not?), and, as well as the winning stall from Tasmania’s North West which features a mini Wagyu beef pie with a trio of fresh North-West oysters – yes, a big yum is in order – we actually quite liked the Cafe de Paris stall (pic below) serving an unlikely but delicious Mexican-style crepe.

See The Taste Festival site for the full program.

Taste - View of half of food court

Taste - Cafe de Paris Menu

Taste - Cafe de Paris

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The Hobart Hurricanes remain unbeaten after two matches in the revamped Big Bash League – Cricket Australia's exciting Twenty20 competition featuring eight teams for the first time this season.

Although the Hurricanes lack some of the big-name stars of other sides, the only Tasmanian team has started the tournament perfectly with a win over the Perth Scorchers last week and another great performance against the Sydney Sixers at their home ground of Bellerive Oval on Tuesday (December 20).

After posting a solid 3 for 169 in their 20 overs – with Phil Jaques making 73 and Travis Birt 65 – the Hurricanes defended superbly to restrict the Sixers to 9 for 127.

In front of an enthusiastic crowd Hobart bowled with precision to ease to a relatively comfortable victory. Import Rana Naved-ul-Hasan was superb with figures 4 for 22, while Jason Krejza snared 2 for 20 and Test recall Ben Hilfenhaus took 1 for 33.

The Hurricanes appear to have the right balance of youth, experience and all-round abilities in their squad, giving them an excellent chance to progress to the finals and upset some of their more fancied pre-tournament rivals.

Tomorrow – December 28, the Hurricanes head to Adelaide to play the Strikers, while their next home match is against Sydney Thunder at Bellerive Oval on New Year's Day.

Hobart Hurricanes Hero Shot

Group shot on Mt Wellington including Ponting Image Credit HH_FB

Group shot on Mt Wellington  Image Credit HH_FB



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For a fun, unique and charitable celebration to ring in 2012 it will be hard to go past the Hobart NYE Nouveau Cirque at Huon Quays Function Centre on the waterfront.

This fabulous fundraising event combines a visual spectacular in the theme of ‘contemporary circus’ with a wonderful selection of food and beverages, along with a variety of entertainment.

The event will raise money for two local charities – Hobart Women’s Shelter and Bethlehem House – which both do highly commendable work in the community and deserve much support.

And while the cost of your attendance provides a worthy contribution to a fantastic cause, you are also set to enjoy one of the best nights of the year in a fresh and exciting way.

Up to 750 guests will revel in the circus atmosphere and pass the evening dancing to the tunes of a great DJ and four-piece band.

There will also be a raffle with a major prize of a seven-night South Pacific cruise.

Festivities kick off at 8.00 pm and go through to the wee small hours around 2.00 am on New Year’s Day, with tickets still available for $165 plus booking fee.

Huon Quays Function Centre overlooking the Derwent Estuary and the Regatta

Huon Quays viewed from the water

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In a remote part of Macquarie Harbour off the beautiful west coast of Tasmania lies Sarah Island, a fascinating destination that will delight history buffs.

This six-hectare island became Tasmania’s first penal station in 1822 and was a place where convicts laboured for hours every day under tough conditions – felling Huon pines in the nearby rainforest in order to build boats.

At this time Macquarie Harbour would have been one of the most windswept and barren locations for the settlement to be established, but crucially it was also the most secure.

Even if a convict attempted to escape Sarah Island by crossing an almost impossible stretch of harbour, he would then need to hack through the impenetrable forest of the west coast to be free of danger.

History shows that 112 convicts managed some form escape, with 62 perishing, nine murdered by peers and the remaining 41 all eventually recaptured.

These days the convict ruins provide visitors with a chilling insight into this cruel past.

You have the unique opportunity to stroll through the important sites and develop an understanding for the harshness experience here.

Gordon River Cruise calling at Sarah Island

Kelly from the Gordon River Cruise calling at Sarah Island

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Christmas Day is almost upon us and we would like to take the opportunity to wish everybody the very best for the season.

Wherever you are in Australia we hope you and your loved ones have a safe and pleasant long weekend filled with happiness, humour, fine food and some exciting gifts.

For those of you spending the holiday season in beautiful Tasmania we trust you will enjoy everything the island state has to offer – from picturesque towns and breathtaking landscapes to wonderful fresh produce and warm hospitality.

If there is a more relaxing and serene place in the country to spend Christmas Day then we have not discovered it.

Whether you choose to barbecue or picnic in the great outdoors, sit down to a traditional lunch, or move from venue to venue visiting family and friends throughout the day, this is a fantastic time of year and every moment should be cherished.

Tasmania is renowned for its superb wines, cheeses, meats, fruit and vegetables – all produced and sold locally – so there is no better way to prepare for your Christmas feast than by stocking up at your nearby delicatessen or market.

Travellers who find themselves away from close friends and family this week will no doubt be welcomed enthusiastically and made to feel right at home by down-to-earth Tasmanians.

Locals love to play host and the island's shopkeepers, publicans, restaurateurs and market stall operators are known for their friendly banter and top-quality service.

If you visited Tasmania this year we sincerely hope you had an unforgettable experience.

For those of you not yet lucky enough to grace our pristine shores we would love to see you in 2012.

Merry Christmas and best wishes to all.

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