Tasmania's biggest annual celebration for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Intersex (GLBTI) community takes places from next Saturday October 29 until Sunday November 6, with a fantastic array of events happening right across the island.

Social activities, new friendships and raising awareness are the priorities for organisers of the TasPride Festival, which in 2011 takes to the streets of Hobart for the first time ever – in the parade down Murray St to Parliament House lawns on November 5.

TasPride Festival gives members of the GLBTI community locally, interstate and around the world a chance to enjoy a diverse itinerary of entertainment.

Major performances include UK diva Dolly Diamond's one-woman show More Than A Woman, along with appearances by Scott Brennan, Adam Hill and an acclaimed comedy show by Toby Sullivan.

The island state is a unique destination full of natural and cultural highlights all year round, but during the TasPride Festival it will be even more exciting.

This year's program guide will include tour options, sample itineraries, gay-friendly accommodation listings and special offers for GLBTI visitors.

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Tasmania’s rugged mountains and lush wilderness forests are renowned throughout the world and visitors to the island often marvel at the immense natural beauty on display in a relatively small area.

While exploring the region by foot, bicycle or car is bound to provide you with impressive views and exciting adventures, nothing can rival a Tasmanian scenic flight for breathtaking sightseeing that you will never forget.

A light plane or helicopter ride will have you feeling on top of the world for the day, as you soar above mountains, rivers, coastal cliffs and pristine beaches.
You can land on the Gordon River and get up close to a 2,000-year-old tree, fly to the south-west for a picnic at remote Melaleuca, or to a vineyard for lunch.

Alternatively, you might wish to get the heart rate going by strapping on a helmet and taking the controls in the co-pilot seat of a fighter-jet. This is a unique opportunity to experience an adrenaline rush unlike any other – with the bonus of witnessing a truly astounding landscape from a bird’s eye point of view.

Amazing South West Tasmania

Amazing Bathurst Harbour remote South West Tasmania

Military plane flight - the real deal ... Not a simulator!

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With December fast approaching, training time is running out for competitors signed up to the 2011 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge – returning to the summer adventure calendar after a three-year hiatus.

Australian Formula One racing driver Webber doesn't just lend his name to the exciting event – he participates alongside all the other enthusiastic teams of two.

In the 2008 running of the event he broke his leg, but there has never been any doubt about his desire to return to the spectacular backdrop of Tasmania's diverse and rugged landscape for another attempt.

"There were a lot of people that wanted to take the event to other parts of Australia, and overseas, but Tasmania is where it started and I think it’s very important to keep it here," Webber says.

The challenge is an intense, five-day, multi-discipline race across 350 km of terrain through some of the island state's truly unique and remarkable locations.

Competitors will run, trek, mountain bike and kayak their way along pristine beaches and among renowned wilderness regions – with brief opportunities to relax at the end of each day and take in the breathtaking scenery from their campsites.

This year's competition will take place from Wednesday December 7 to Sunday December 11 and is set to raise significant funds for the Mark Webber Foundation, which supports a number of Australian charities.

Webber says the event it is not exclusive to elite athletes, with inexperienced adventurers capable of turning up and surprising themselves by completing the entire course.

"For many of them it's been a life-changing experience and it's great to see them having a go," he says.

Once again Tasmania will showcase its stunning natural beauty and friendly hospitality to visitors from all over mainland Australia.

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With abundant bodies of pristine water scattered throughout the island, trout fishing in Tasmania is hard to beat.

But it is not just 3,000-plus rivers and lakes that mark the region as one of the world’s finest angling destinations – the unique clarity of the water is ideally suited to spotting and catching large brown and rainbow trout.

Supply is plentiful and you are virtually guaranteed to make a decent catch in the lowland rivers, calm lagoons or at Great Lake – especially if you go with one of the many expert guides, who have an intimate knowledge of the best places to fish and can provide handy tips.

Among the state’s most popular locations are the rivers and streams of the northern midlands and the lakes of the central highlands, where you will discover shallow shorelines that are perfect for wading out and getting close to leaping rainbow trout.

On the Central Plateau, Arthurs Lake offers visitors the opportunity to explore native bushland and discover why the area is renowned for its superb brown trout population.

Other must-visit trout fishing locations in Tasmania include Penstock and Nineteen Lagoons – with the rocky and sandy shores giving anglers shallow water to ply their trade – along with Brumby’s Creek, Macquarie River and Huon River.

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Tasmanian national parks are undoubtedly some of the most spectacular and breathtaking you will find anywhere in the world.

Mole Creek Karst National Park – located in the central north of the island – is no exception, with its deep limestone caves offering visitors a wonderful opportunity to explore subterranean beauty.

Inside the caves you can marvel at superb stalactites, stalagmites, columns, streams, cathedral caverns and even glow worm displays.

Marakoopa and King Solomons caves are the two highlights of the area and can be appreciated as part of a guided tour or specialist caving adventure.

The tours take around 45 minutes and depart several times throughout the day.

It is well worth making the extra effort to visit both – as they offer drastically different and uniquely beautiful sights.

Accommodation is available in either Mole Creek or Sheffield for those who wish to stay overnight and participate in all three tours.

Aside from these two important destinations, the 1,345 hectare region contains a total of 300 caves and sinkholes – making it a truly remarkable corner of the earth and a must-see destination on any Tasmanian holiday.

Situated about a 40 km drive west of Deloraine, the national park is an easy daytrip or weekend sojourn.

The small town of Mole Creek is not far from the caves – along with quaint shops and places to stay, it has a delightful wildlife park.

Basing your stay in Deloraine will give you the chance to absorb the town's relaxed, quaint atmosphere – full of historic homes, antique shops and craft galleries all set in picturesque pastures by the Meander River.

Cave Tasmania © by SplutterBug

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Spring this year has proved to be a wonderful season of Tasmanian theatre and the trend is set to continue later this month when the Hobart Repertory Theatre Society presents the magnificent Richard III.

Directed by Andrew Casey, this timeless tale of jealousy, ambition, manipulation and destruction is often labelled one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

Audiences will be treated to an exquisite and powerful portrayal of one man’s Machiavellian rise to power, with the King of England’s brother – Richard – murdering and manipulating members of the royal family in his quest to capture the throne.

Richard III is a dramatic combination of brutality and comedy – you will be taken on this unforgettable journey inside The Playhouse Theatre in Hobart – an intimate setting that showcases high-quality theatre to both the local public and guests from around Australia and the world.

The play will be open from Friday October 21 to Saturday November 5 at 20:00, with a Saturday Matinee performance on October 29 at 14:00.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for concessions, $20 on Tuesdays and the same for people in a group of ten or more.

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This year's Royal Hobart Show is set to be one of the biggest events on Tasmania's action-packed spring calendar, bringing traditional country life to an exciting carnival setting for everyone to enjoy.

Running from Wednesday October 19 until Sunday October 23, it will feature a fantastic program of attractions and events suited to all ages.

Animal exhibitions and competitions are always a spectator favourite at the show, with well-groomed pets appearing in the cat and dog judging halls and a farm animal nursery giving you the chance to pat lambs and rabbits.

The finest cattle, sheep and alpaca breeds will also be on display, so animal enthusiasts are sure to have a great day out.

Other important attractions to mark on your itinerary are the fashion parade, wood chopping competition and equestrian events that draw a big crowd every year.

A great range of showground rides will entertain the adventure-seekers, while no event of this kind would be complete without taking home a showbag of snacks and novelty items.

Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the Royal Hobart Show from around the state and mainland Australia.

Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania chief executive Scott Gadd says organisers aim to make the show an attractive entertainment destination for any budget.

"Once you're through the gates you needn't spend another cent but there are almost limitless things to see and do," Gadd told The Mercury on Thursday (October 13).

"We also work to ensure the show provides opportunities for show-goers to do something they may never have done before in their life."

Tickets at the gate cost $18 for adults and $11 for children aged five to 15. At this stage the weather forecast is for fine and warm conditions, so don't hesitate to add the show to your Tasmanian travel plans.

Stock being shown at the Hobart Show

Fun for the Kids

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The largest Tasmanian town on the north-east coast – St Helens – is also one of the most interesting to visit.

A population of about 2,000 friendly locals reside in the island state's game-fishing capital, which overlooks the picturesque Georges Bay.

With boats always docked, there is a wonderful village atmosphere making this a truly special place.

The bay is the focus of the region's activities – fishing trips, boat charters and diving adventures are all popular choices.

Extensive kelp forests and underwater caves make it a standout diving location that draws regular visitors from around the island and mainland Australia.

Bushwalking, coastal vineyards and four-wheel-drive tours are also on the itinerary of any journey to this Tasmanian gem.

A one-hour return walk to St Helens Point showcases the scenic Peron Dunes and the impressive coastline, while you can also explore beautiful Binalong Bay.

A trip to the Bay of Fires will leave you astounded by the spectacular group of giant granite boulders – jutting out from the exquisite white sandy beach.

St Helens is about a two-hour drive east of Launceston, but although it is an easy daytrip – why not relax and stay overnight in a seaside hotel or rental apartment? 

Georges Bay

Superb Binalong Bay

Peron Dunes

Broad swathe of the bay - St Helens

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There are few Tasmanian towns that combine better ‘a rural feeling and water views’ than Woodbridge.

Located at the northern end of Bruny Island and overlooking Peppermint Bay and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Woodbridge is the jewel in the Huon Valley's crown.

Whether you are planning a week away or a quick day trip, there is plenty to do in this small town.

Take some time to visit Woodbridge's many artists and craftspeople at venues including Woodbridge Hill Hand-weaving Studio and Gardens, and Regnans Art Gallery.

Nestled amongst other small Tasmanian towns on the Channel, Woodbridge is a standout for dining and produce.

The Woodbridge Summer Market gives visitors the opportunity to sample locally-grown apples and stone fruit, while Hartzview Vineyard offers the finest local wines and ports. Visitors can also sample up to 15 different types of cheese at Grandvewe Sheep Cheesery.

Enjoy the view of Bruny Island while dining alfresco style at The Stackings restaurant, which utilises the freshest local seafood and produce (especially from its onsite garden) to create its innovative menu.

Alternatively, dine at Fleurty’s café named after a convict sawmiller from the early 1800’s. Native peppers, cut flowers and essential oils are grown on the property and they specialise in freshly baked savoury pastries, local wine and delicious cakes. That’s worth stopping for!

No matter what time of the year you plan your trip, Woodbridge has something to offer every type of visitor, and there is good accommodation in the area.

It is a short 40 minutes up into Hobart.

Fleurtys Cafe

Spectacular sunset from high ground overlooking Woodbridge

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The classic Georgian village of Westbury typifies the quaintness and charm found in so many Tasmanian towns.

Surrounded by hedgerows and filled with gorgeous European-style laneways, it offers visitors to the island state a plethora of incentives to make the drive from Launceston or Devonport to explore this hidden gem of the north.

This region’s rich and fertile land was settled by Irish farmers and provides a picturesque backdrop to the village. Tasmania is renowned for its beautiful and diverse landscape and one of its best aspects as a holiday destination is the proximity of all its interesting sights.

Children and adults will enjoy a day at the National Trust’s White House – built in the 1840s as a general store and now home to an intriguing collection of 19th century toys, historic furniture and vintage cars.

If you have an interest in antique steam engines, you will find the world’s largest collection at Pearns Steam World – along with hundred-year-old agricultural machinery.

At Culzean Gardens, visitors can wander among the exquisite grounds with mature exotic trees and lakes full of water lilies.

During the current season you will see hectares of spring bulbs including daffodils and bluebells.

Another unique attraction is the Westbury Maze – a traditional hedge maze formed by three thousand neatly-clipped bushes standing two metres high. The network of pathways extends more than a kilometre, so it promises to be a fun activity for your whole group of friends or family.

If you manage to successfully negotiate your way out, you can enjoy refreshments in the tea room by the formal garden courtyard.

In Westbury you will also find a great selection of antique shops and the John Temple Gallery, featuring magnificent Tasmanian landscape photography.

Looking across the green to Quamby Bluff

Steam engine from the museum

Painting - Sarah Ann Fogg -  Quamby from Westbury c1860

Composie image - cottage and maze Westbury

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