A Tasmanian surfing holiday at this time of year is a treat of exquisite waves, uncrowded beaches and an ideal mild summer climate.

One of the best parts of a surfing tour to the island state is that you will always find a great ride, as long as you are prepared to travel.

And since Tasmania is a smorgasbord of natural beauty and fine hospitality, few adventurers would begrudge driving across this remarkable state in search of a great break.

The southern-most beaches in Australia are often largely secluded, providing visitors with the unique opportunity to be alone on the water and take all the best waves.

Park and Clifton Beaches are favourite spots near Hobart, while Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula is a reliable place to find a quality set including the famed Shipsterns Bluff (‘Shippies’ to its friends).

Along the east coast from Orford to Bicheno you are guaranteed to find a worthwhile break, so it could be worth packing your board and heading off for a great daytrip.

Those keen on bigger swells will favour beaches further to the south such as Bruny Island's Coudy Bay or South Cape Bay, which is accessible from Cockle Creek.

There are also some remarkable surf locations along the north coast of the state including Tam O'Shanter to the north-east of Launceston and the impressive Mersey Mouth at Devonport.

Tasmania’s most well known West Coast location, where big waves roll in regularly, is Green Point Beach at Marrawah – its was one of the beaches used for the O’Neill Cold Water Classic series up until mid 2011.

Bass Strait generates excellent waves at a string of northern beaches, making this region a highlight of any surf holiday in Tasmania.

Stunning Marrawah near Greens Point

Surf's running at Marrawah, North West Tasmania

Enormous Waves at Shipsterns Bluff - storm October 2011

Clifton Beach just 20mins from downtown Hobart. Image Credit: Alex Wise

Largest wave surfed in Tasmania - South West, Eddystone Point

An incredible Clifton Beach wrap Image Credit: Alex Zawadzki

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While the Tasmanian summer events calendar is packed with exciting shows, exhibitions and festivals, few spectacles are likely to compare with the 2011 New Year's Eve at The Taste celebration.

This spectacular waterfront party is the perfect way to ring in 2012, with an excellent line-up of musical acts and wide range of quality food and beverages ensuring it will be a night to remember.

Hobart's coolest band Sugartrain will take to the stage, along with a host of other acts including the melodic sounds of The Adam Cousens Band and the acoustic tunes of Wolfe Brothers – voted Tasmanian band of the year.

The Taste Festival will reach its pinnacle when the vibrant fireworks displays light up the skies above Hobart.

There will be a family show at 21:30 and an even more dynamic exhibition of colour on the stroke of midnight.

General entry costs $50, table seats $75 and waterfront seats $85. Tickets are selling fast so if you want to attend this fantastic New Year's Eve party it might be a good idea to book your place now.

The theme of the event is 'paint the town red' and a $500 travel voucher will be awarded to the best dressed person.

If you do happen to miss celebrating New year’s eve at the Taste Festival pop along any other day between Wednesday 28 December – Tuesday 3 January 11am – 11pm where entry is free except for the party which starts at 7pm

The relaxation of seating on the waterside

Taste and New Years - not a better place to be

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Situated to the south-west of Hobart and adjacent to lush green valleys and beautiful national parklands, Geeveston is an important stopover destination for people exploring the region's many natural highlights.

As the administrative heart of south-eastern Tasmania's timber and apple growing industries, the history and culture of the town is strongly linked to the spectacular forests that surround it.

In the town centre you will come across the Geeveston Forest and Heritage Centre, which explains the history of the area and some of its most breathtaking sights.

Geeveston is the gateway to the Arve River forests and Hartz Mountains National Park – two majestic destinations that provide visitors with amazing photography opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime.

West along Arve Road Forest Drive you will reach Tahune Forest Reserve and the unique Tahune Airwalk.

This exciting activity is a must-do on your island state adventure, offering stunning views of the vast canopy and a buzz for adventurous types who choose to walk the swinging bridges that cross the Huon and Picton Rivers.

Some of the tallest trees in the world grow in this region, along with abundant apple orchards where visitors can buy buckets of Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Crofton, Fuji and Granny Smith varieties from roadside stalls in season.

There is some excellent accommodation available in Geeveston ranging from comfortable and modern backpacker hostels (alongside the Airwalk) to affordable bed and breakfasts, making it an ideal place to base yourself for a few days as you explore this area which is so essentially Tasmanian.

You may experience slightly cooler temperatures in Geeveston than other parts of southern Tasmania no matter what time of year it is, so it is wise to have a warm jacket and wet weather gear at all times.

The Airwalk lookout and suspended gantry

Swing bridge across river

Swish shared kitchen at backpackers lodge at Tahune

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If you are still searching for some crucial last-minute Christmas gifts, keep in mind that Tasmania is so much more than just an idyllic holiday destination – it is also a shopping haven filled with a wonderful selection of quality local handcrafts and artwork.

Whether you are interested in fine wood carvings, wilderness photography or wool products, you are bound to find the perfect gift at one of the island state's bustling summer markets or quaint art and craft stores.

Private galleries also house exquisite wooden furniture, paintings, clothing, jewellery and artefacts.

Tasmanian artists often talk admiringly of the diverse landscape in this beautiful corner of the globe and in many cases it is the local nature and wildlife that features as part of their work.

One of the major differences between the collectables you will find in Tasmania compared to most other places is that they are developed by talented people from the region – not imported from a factory.

Many of the souvenirs you will find are genuine memories and expressions of landscape, along with the history of the region and the lifestyle of its inhabitants.

The wool here is also rated as some of the finest in the world, so you may want to buy a hand-and-machine knitted or woven garment to take home to a loved one.

Spacebar Gallery Hobart - typical of craft and design for Christmas Gifts

Spacebar Gallery Hobart - typical of craft and design for Christmas Gifts

Tasmanian woods - always a favourite. Image credit: artifaktgallery, Deloraine - designer: Paul Noordanus

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If you like the kind of adventure where you feel that the towns, villages, coastlines and parklands that you pass through remain relatively untouched, Tasmania's Great Nature Trail is the ideal journey for you.

This route takes you from the abundant wildlife found in Narawntapu National Park to the island's remote and remarkable far north-west coast.

Over four magical days you will experience not only the spectacular sights of this thriving region, but also the hearty hospitality of the down-to-earth locals that is often hard to find in other parts of the world.

Along the way you will discover seal colonies, penguin rookeries, platypuses, caves, canyons, waterfalls and a sunken blackwood forest – this is truly an animal and nature lover's journey of a lifetime.

In the national park you have a great opportunity to see Forester kangaroos among many other wonderful animal species.

From here you travel through Devonport and Burnie – the main towns of the region – which are home to rich history, fascinating culture and fresh local cuisine.

You will also pass smaller seaside villages such as Ulverstone and Penguin, where time can feel like it has stopped still. It stops still even further in the Leven Canyon, where either from a river cruise or an ascent to an astounding lookout, the views will make you appreciate what nature has laid out here. Penguin is also home to one of Australia’s ‘bigs’ – a Big Penguin … what else. But you can also catch the animals themselves along the coastline.

To the west lie lies fertile soil full of thriving vegetation, with commercial flower gardens blooming high above the ocean.

On the border of the Tarkine wilderness visitors reach the Edge of the World at Arthur River. Here you will be able to cruise to the ocean though majestic tall eucalypts and dense rainforest.

The Van Diemen's Land Company set up headquarters at Highfield House near Stanley, where it planned to grow wool for the British textile industry.

But the vast sheep station the pastoralists envisaged never came to fruition (they established it further west on the coast at Woolnorth) due to the rugged surrounding land and impenetrable forest – strongholds of nature that you will discover for yourself.

Burnie overlooks Emu Bay set on the deep waters of Bass Strait

Emu Valley Rhododendrons near Burnie

Big Penguin in Penguin

Very cute penguins from rookeries along this coastline

Exploring bush in the Leven Image Credit: Discover Leven

Amazing Table Cape - site of the world famous Tulip Farm

Historic Highfield House, near Stanley. Image Credit: Panoramio user mor2seik, Google Earth

Arthur River reflections. Image Credit: Arthur River Cruises

Mouth of the Arthur River. Image Credit: Arthur River Cruises

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The town of Richmond in Tasmania's south-east is a shining example of a picture-postcard destination, with its beautiful architecture surrounding the tree-lined banks of the Coal River.

Abundant with Australian colonial history, Richmond is filled with more than 50 Georgian buildings and convict-built structures dating back to the 19th-century.

You can walk across the country's oldest bridge, which was by constructed by convict labour between 1823 and 1825.

For an eerie glimpse into the hardships faced by the early prisoners of Van Diemen's Land you are able to step inside Richmond Gaol, the oldest of its kind in Australia.

There is not better region to learn more about Tasmania's rich heritage, so if you are a history buff a visit to Richmond is a must-do on your holiday itinerary.

Other highlights of your stay will include a step back in time on the lantern-lit ghost tour or a closer look at the state's capital in the 1820s at the Hobart Town Historical Model Village.

After all this sightseeing and culture it might be time for a change of pace, so head down to the banks of the idyllic river for a picnic or test your navigational skills in the Richmond mazes.

Richmond is small enough to wander by foot and this is the best way to get the most out of your time in this remarkable town.

Richmond Gaol Historic Site

Gaol Courtyard

Australia's oldest bridge - designed and built by convict labour


The delights of an old style candy store, Image Credit: Kate Macklin

Town Hall Richmond

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With so much to see and do in Tasmania – and for some visitors, so little time to do it in – there is a lot to be said for creating your itinerary around a specific tour or famous route.

Once you have decided on the type of holiday you want, the planning process can begin and your island state adventure is just around the corner.

For a unique four-day journey that you will never forget, why not wind your way along the Derwent River from Hobart to its source on the fantastic Rivers Run.

You will enter the mountain ranges near Lake St Clair, where the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain comes to an end, enjoying spectacular scenery as you travel.

The route ensures you have plenty of time to slow down and appreciate the ever-changing nature of this majestic river, while spectacular landscape surrounds you at every bend.

Impressive rapids, salmon ponds, historic riverside houses and tall rows of hop frames await you on this idyllic journey.

It can almost begin to feel like you are travelling through charming rural England, until Mount Field National Park and the Central Highlands remind you of Tasmania's unmatched diversity.

In the capital Hobart, the Derwent holds enormous significance as the city's grand and beautiful harbour, where container ships, yachts and fishing vessels all take refuge.

By the time you reach New Norfolk the river has become broad and deep, with exotic trees and historic hotels and churches perched along its lush banks.

Further north-west the Derwent starts to narrow, resulting in mild rapids that are ideal for a fun afternoon of boating and fishing.

At Mount Field, one of Tasmania's first two national parks, you will discover the 40-metre Russell Falls that have been admired for more than a century.

Inland Tasmania thrives on its abundant waterways and on the Rivers Run you are bound to gain an understanding of their importance to the locals.

The River Run Follow The Streams To HobartThe River Run Follow The Streams To Hobart

New Norfolk from Pulpit Rock Lookout

rivershot New Norfolk

Old Farm House Outside Bothwell Image Credit Lonely Planet

Derwent Valley Hop Fields

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Tasmania is home to some truly spectacular scenery and a rich history that can be discovered on walking tours throughout the island.

One of the best aspects of a visit to Australia's southernmost state is the proximity of its major landmarks to each other, making a huge variety of attractions seem like achievable destinations no matter how short your stay.

Once you have driven your hire car or taken public transport to the next stop on your journey, it is time to explore the city, town, village, coastline or national park further.

This is the best way to get an up-close-and-personal insight into some of Tasmania's iconic sites, while the island state's rich colonial past reveals itself around you.

Whether you take a stroll through the beautiful old laneways of Battery Point or the quiet streets of towns such as Ross and Oatlands, you are bound to build an appreciation for the history of the region and marvel at the gorgeous surrounding landscapes.

In major cities Hobart and Launceston you will see fine 19th and 20th century architectural styles such as Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco.

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Ulverstone is a picturesque seaside town on Tasmania's north coast and is especially popular during summer when the parks and beaches become a hub of activity.

Located about 15 minutes' west of Devonport at the mouth of the Leven River it is the ideal destination for families or groups of friends to spend time relaxing and enjoying outdoor activities over the festive season.

With lifesaver patrols on the beach, a waterslide and designated picnic areas Ulverstone is well-equipped for visitors of all ages.

You can stroll along the waterfront enjoying the fresh coastal air or hire a bicycle and weave your way through the beautiful parklands – either way you are likely to become lost in the charming atmosphere of this delightful region.

Along Shopshire Park's footpath you will notice inscriptions that recount Royal Australian Navy history, while the War Memorial clock at Ulverstone's entrance is one of the town's most notable features.

A journey inland reveals the Gunn Plains Caves, where you can take a tour of these fascinating limestone grottos and the underground creek that runs through them.

It is sometimes possible to spot lobsters and other wildlife as you walk.

For a guaranteed up-close-and-personal meeting with a wide range of animals you might also wish to visit Wings Wildlife Park, just a short drive away.

Leven Canyon offers incredible views down a 400-metre gorge, while bushwalkers will be rewarded with the discovery of several spectacular waterfalls.

If all this activity is still not enough to fill your time, why not head down the Bass Highway to see a majestic penguin colony at Lillico Beach. At night you can even witness these fascinating creatures scampering up the beach.

Ulverstone township overview

Leven River Trout

Gunns Plains Tasmania  - beautiful countryside

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Tasmania is a wonderful place to spend the Christmas period, with an array of exciting events taking place all over the island to cater for a wide variety of interests.

Whether you are keen on gourmet dining, a slice of culture, outdoor adventures or a combination of them all, you will undoubtedly find what you're looking for.

And the longer you stay, the more immersed in the laidback nature of this beautiful corner of the world you become.

An example of a typical Tasmanian summer event is Breakfast in the Park at Devonport, which brings people together from around the island and the rest of Australia to relax, feast and socialise.

Held just two days prior to Christmas, this is an ideal opportunity to share stories with friends or fellow travellers in the sun before getting ready for family commitments.

The event is held at Roundhouse Park – on the corner of Formby Road and Oldaker Street in beautiful Devonport on December 23.

Guests are encouraged to bring along food to cook on the barbecues and toasters provided, or completely unwind by ordering a delicious breakfast catered by the Rotary Club of Devonport North.

Find a table or lay a rug down on the grass and enjoy a morning in the sun to recover from or prepare for a hiking adventure in the Tasmanian wilderness.

If you are visiting the island state on your own this is a great chance to meet some new people and get into the festive spirit – especially for those spending time away from home who may be used to being surrounded by family at this time of year.

The annual Breakfast in the Park is always a big success, so keep it in mind if you're heading to Tasmania this month.

Christmas Breakfast in the Park Devonport 2010

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