Oct
31
2011
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If you are looking for a unique way to see Tasmania on your next trip, why not travel by ferry to one of its fascinating and unspoiled islands?

Ferry travel by the two companies serving the route is a great way to discover a new place and when you choose to spend the day or stay overnight at Maria Island, you’ll find you are in for a natural treat.

In the summer months, Maria Island is particularly popular with families as a camping destination.

No cars are allowed on the island, but holidaymakers are welcome to bring along their camping gear and bicycles – and trailers are provided by Parks and Wildlife Tasmania to help carry equipment to the bunk-style accommodation at the Old Penitentiary in Darlington or one of the island’s many level campsites.

It is important to book your accommodation in advance – contact the Parks and Wildlife Service to arrange a place to stay.

Maria Island is one of the best places in Tasmania to see a huge range of wildlife in their natural habitat, including the Forester kangaroo, potoroo and wallabies, as well as Cape Barren geese and Flinders Island wombats.

During your visit, it is well worth taking in the incredible Fossil Cliffs walk, where you’ll be able to see a number of fascinating shellfish fossils.

This walk usually takes between 1.5 and two hours to complete.

If you are looking for a longer walk, you may also wish to investigate the Painted Cliffs trail, which takes between two and 2.5 hours, or opt for the half-day Bishop and Clerk hike.

If you prefer not to stay on the island itself, you may instead wish to base yourself at Triabunna near the ferry departure point so you are well-situated to take a day trip.

Maria Island Ferry's vessel
East Coast Cruises fast ferry

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Oct
30
2011
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UK singer-songwriter PJ Harvey is set to make a trip to Tasmania early next year as the featured performer at the 2012 Mona Foma festival in January.

Harvey will take to the stage on January 21 to perform songs from her most recent Mercury Prize-winning album Let England Shake, alongside Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie, as well as longtime Harvey collaborator John Parish, Mick Harvey and Jean-Marc Butty.

This year's win is Harvey's second Mercury Prize – she was also presented with the honour in 2001 for her album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.

Tickets to see Harvey in Hobart are priced at $85 – but there are also a number of other free and low-cost events to take in during the exciting ten-day festival.

From street parties and boat cruises to dance performances, exhibitions and musicians, Mona Foma 2012 will see the Tasmanian capital come alive with an exciting mix of music, arts and culture.

A program and ticket planner are available on the Mona Foma website and event tickets and passes can also be purchased at Hobart's Brooke St Pier, as well as the Mona ferry terminal.

PJ Harvey: photo by Jonathan Jackson

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Oct
29
2011
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The southern migration of humpback whales from the coastal waters of Queensland and WA back to sub-Antarctic waters is in full swing, which means that visitors to Tasmania who are hoping to catch a glimpse of the gentle giants in October and November could be in for a treat.

A report in the Mercury this week indicated that Cape Raoul is an excellent place to spot humpback whales, with a recent wilderness cruise spotting a family of the marine mammals during an excursion last weekend (October 23).

Katrina Graham, who enjoyed a whale watching tour on board a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys boat with her husband and two sons, said the group saw a pod of three whales and the trip was a great day out for her young family.

"They were having the best time," she said.

"We were just having a look at Shipsterns Bluff on the way over and when we turned around, there was a pod of three whales in front of us," Graham added.

If you would prefer to try your luck spotting whales from dry land, you may want to pay a visit to Tasman National Park and spend a morning or afternoon on the Cape Raoul walk, which typically takes five hours to complete.

In addition to whales, you might also be fortunate enough to spot dolphins, fur seals, leopard seals, elephant seals, dolphins or penguins from the shore or out on a wildlife cruise.

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Oct
28
2011
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Anyone planning a trip to Bruny Island's Hothouse Cafe will want to make sure they book their table ahead of time, according to writer Sam Vincent.

Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, Vincent said he paid a visit to the charming eatery on the recommendation of a friend – and while he was able to find a table, it is wise to book in advance.

The quirky establishment, which is located near The Neck, is a former greenhouse-turned-restaurant and evidence of its former function is everywhere.

With a sand floor and garden furniture, the cafe may seem to be an unlikely place to enjoy a modern meal, but a warm welcome from owner Michael Morrison and delicious, hearty fare kept Vincent happy on a rainy Tasmanian night.

"Along with a glass of chardonnay from Bruny Island Premium Wines and a chunk of Morrison's legendary damper, it's the perfect accompaniment to the beating rain," Vincent wrote of his salmon meal.

Morrison and his wife Fiona also own Morella Island Retreats and visitors will find plenty to like about their character-filled property, according to the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide.

Bruny Island can easily be reached from Hobart – it is a short 30-minute drive (plus 15-minute car ferry ride) away from the Tasmanian capital city.

The quite unique former hothouse - now a stylish cafe on Bruny Island

Amazing view from the HotHouse Cafe

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Oct
27
2011
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The Wrest Point Royal Hobart International Wine Show is one of the highlights of an exciting summer calendar of Tasmanian events, as well as a highly significant moment each year for the Australian wine industry.

First held in 1975, the show has grown to become the second-largest of its kind in the country and is renowned for its focus on innovation.

As the only wine show in the southern hemisphere making use of the specialised AS/NZS ISO 9001:2000 quality assurance accreditation to oversee the judging and stewarding processes, competition is serious.

Visitors to the show and members of wine-loving public should note that entries are restricted to bottled wines only – not barrel samples or pre-bottled varieties – meaning you are guaranteed to find these exact creations on shelves around the nation.

Judging occurs from November 4 to 15, with the awards dinners on the evening of the 16th and a trade tasting day on the 17th.

Public tasting is available November 17 at Hobart Showground.

For $25 guests can enjoy a tasting session of medal-winning wines in a comfortable atmosphere. The entry fee also includes a wineglass to take home, while a detailed catalogue of results is available for an additional $10.

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Oct
26
2011
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Connecting the Tasman Peninsula to the Forestier Peninsula on Tasmania's stunning south-east coastline, Eaglehawk Neck is a highlight of any journey to this beautiful corner of the world.

The white sandy beaches and dramatic sea cliffs make this dramatic isthmus a visual and atmospheric delight.

Remarkable geology is the standout feature of the landscape in this region.

At the neck you will tiptoe across Tessellated Pavement – a fascinating rock formation divided into squares that appear to have been man-made.

There is a gorgeous view high above the pavement, while a hundred metre walk along the path that leads to steps down to the shore.

Driving south your eyes will be fixated on the left side of the vehicle, as you witness the impressive coastal rock formations of the Devils Kitchen, Tasman Arch and the Blowhole.

Jutting out of the water in glorious fashion is the Totem Pole – a large dolerite column near the end of Cape Hauy that is extremely popular among kayakers and climbers.

If seal, dolphin and penguin spotting excite you, why not take a cruise from Pirates Bay along one of the world's most breathtaking stretches of coastline?

Temperate waters make for superb visibility, so you will be able to marvel at a variety of sea creatures such as sponges, invertebrates, weedy sea dragons and giant kelp forests.

For the more adventurous, diving expeditions can be organised that will open your eyes to a myriad of caves and crevasses, hiding among the towering dolerite and sandstone sea cliffs that extend deep into the ocean.

Bushwalking enthusiasts may also enjoy exploring Waterfall Bay in the Tasman national Park.

Eaglehawk Neck is situated about one hour's drive from Hobart, making it an easy daytrip from the capital if your holiday time is limited. 

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Oct
25
2011
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In the picturesque north-east of Tasmania, Scottsdale is the administrative centre for the region and possesses a rich forestry and agricultural history.

The highlight of your visit here will be the Forest EcoCentre – a unique architectural experiment that showcases the island state's finest timbers, ecology and history. Designed with an eye toward saving energy, the distinctive structure with an external shell shape is a highly impressive drawcard.

Tasmanian towns are always known for their natural beauty and Scottsdale is no exception, with visitors able to enjoy a picnic in North East Park before trekking off for a half-day adventure to the summit of Mount Stronach.

Here you will be treated to panoramic views of the forests and farms below.

A short journey west of Scottsdale takes you to Nabowla and the Bridestowe Estate Lavender Farm – renowned throughout the world for its quality lavender flowers and oil products.

In December and January the rolling fields in this area are covered with blooms and present a spectacular image for onlookers.

Just under an hour's drive from central Launceston, Scottsdale is also home to historic St Barnabas Church and Doll and Bear Cottage, as well as being the ideal base for a round trip through Bridport, Barnbougle and the inviting swimming spots at Tomahawk.

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Oct
24
2011
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While Hobart itself offers visitors a peak into charming heritage atmosphere, the region surrounding the capital city makes for one of the best Tasmanian holiday itineraries available.

A unique and fascinating journey awaits you on the historic Convict Trail from Richmond to Eaglehawk Neck and Port Arthur.

This tour requires at least four days in order to enjoy it to its full potential, so it is important to plan your trip to the island state carefully – especially if you only have limited time.

Beginning in Richmond, you will get up close to the first military garrison town outside Hobart.

The Convict Trail takes you along some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world, as you discover intriguing stories of Tasmania's past as a home to long-suffering prisoners and harsh penitentiaries.

Officially recognised by UNESCO for their important historical worth, a number of sites in the region are the best-kept records of convict history anywhere in the world.

You will journey through the Coal River Valley – passing some of Tasmania’s best cool climate wineries along the way – to the powerfully emotive Port Arthur Historic Site.

Some 73,000 convicts were transported Van Diemens Land on the peninsula's southern-most tip, with about one in five serving time at Port Arthur.

A day here includes at tour to the boys' prison of Point Puer, the coal mines and – if you're brave enough – a ghost tour.

There will also be time to spot some Tasmanian Devils, take in the panoramic views and rugged rock formations of the coastline and be dazzled by the Tasman National Park.

Other significant destinations en route include the Cascades Female Factory in South Hobart, Darlington Probation Station on Maria Island, and Woolmers and Brickendon Estates near Longford.

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Oct
23
2011
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Tasmania's east coast islands are widely marvelled at for their beauty, diversity and fascinating histories.

Dotted along the picturesque coastline, these groups of unique destinations offer visitors a chance to discover various attractions that can't be found on the mainland.

The islands fall into groups, known as Schouten, Maria, Tasman, Sloping, Betsey, Partridge and Actaeon.

Schouten Island was a whaling and sealing centre during the 1800s, while in 1905 the peninsula became Freycinet National Park.

It is mostly made of sand and is hugely popular with camping enthusiasts and kayakers.

At Ille des Phoques, the flowstone and submarine caves and tunnels are thought of as possessing vast geological significance.

In some ways Maria Island is representative of Tasmania's dramatic history – by 1825 it was a convict prison – while today you can stay in the former penitentiary.

Maria is one of the best places in Australia to observe wildlife in its natural habitat, such as Forester kangaroos, pademelons, Bennetts wallabies and Cape Barren geese.

With no cars or shops, it is a serene environment ideal for exploring by foot.

The Tasman Island Group is renowned Hippolyte Rocks – a popular site for charters to take tourists to spot birds and seals. It is accessible by boat from Fortescue Bay camp ground and other nearby fishing wharves.

Actaeon Island Group is home to The Friars – four steep dolerite rocks formations off South Bruny Island which form part of the national park.

You can often be lucky enough to enjoy spectacular views of Australian fur seals hauling themselves up the rocks.

Visitors to this side of Tasmania often leave wishing they had dedicated more of their time to this wonderful corner of the world.

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Oct
22
2011
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Whether you're an international visitor or holidaymaker from mainland Australia, backpacking in Tasmania will be an unforgettable experience for any travel enthusiast on a budget.

The island state is home to fun and friendly backpacker-style accommodation, with great hostels located in all major towns and adjacent to renowned national parks.

Tasmania is ideally explored unrestricted, once you've dropped off your luggage. Heading into the wilderness or along a glorious coastline with nothing but your backpack may turn out to be one of the most liberating and exciting times of your life.

With relatively short distances between major attractions and an extensive coach system, backpackers can cover the island cheaply and efficiently – stopping at each new destination to meet locals and fellow travellers at a hostel.

Small groups or couples can stay in private rooms at cheaper rates than you will find in hotels, while single travellers always appreciate the chance to make friends and save money by checking into a dormitory.

Buildings generally have shared bathroom, laundry and kitchen facilities, along with communal dining and living areas.

Those on a tight budget might also like to consider earning some extra cash along the way by getting involved in casual harvest picking.

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