The Royal Launceston Show is fast approaching and as the region’s major annual agricultural event, it is definitely worth factoring into your Tasmanian holiday plans.

Celebrating Tasmania’s primary industries, it will offer attendees an insight into the island state’s wide range of rural resources as well as a chance to enjoy food tasting, wood chopping, breeder competitions and much more.

There will also be the much-loved staples of any great show such as show bags, rides, fairy floss and farm animals – kids are sure to love interacting with the rabbits, calves and piglets. The cat and dog judging events are always a favourite, with well-groomed pets providing fantastic entertainment.

Held from October 6 to 8, this annual spectacle regularly attracts more than 15,000 visitors to the Launceston Showgrounds in Inveresk. Interestingly it is held in such high esteem that a public holiday is marked on Thursday for northern Tasmanians.

Over time the Royal Launceston Show has drifted further and further towards a big carnival atmosphere – these days the big crowds and vast array of entertainment truly rank it as one of the best of its kind in Australia.

This is the perfect time of year to spend a day out in the spring sun with the whole family or a group of friends. You’ll be sure to meet some of the friendly locals while you’re there and walk away with some delightful fresh local produce.

If you are a first-time visitor to Tasmania, Launceston itself is an important part of your journey. It is the state’s second-largest city and has a burgeoning reputation for being a cultural hub, with a host of trendy cafes, museums and magnificent Victorian architecture.

Launceston is also a gateway to the Tamar Valley’s cool-climate wineries – a must-see region of any trip to this part of the world.

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The Burnie show is only three weeks away and if you plan on being anywhere near the north-west coast of Tasmania at the end of the month, it could be well worth your while to add it to your itinerary.

Held over two days from Friday September 30 to Saturday October 1 at Wivenhoe Showground, it is a wonderful opportunity for locals and visitors alike to enjoy an old-fashioned carnival atmosphere.

Whether you come with family or friends, the Burnie Show has something to offer everyone.

Fresh produce from the region, cute farm animals, arts and crafts, rides, games and a variety of food and beverage stalls will all contribute to a great event with a pleasant vibe.

As one of Tasmania’s best regional agricultural shows, newcomers to the island state will get a glimpse of traditional life through the fascinating exhibitions and displays inside the large industrial hall.

Admission is $15 for adults and $6 for children and concessions, with family passes costing $30.

Burnie is a vibrant town in spring and summer – situated right on the serene coastline and home to the largest eucalypt tree farm in Australia.

You can reach this little gem by driving 30 minutes west of Devonport.


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A group of top Tasmanian scientists known as the Devils’ Advocates has been awarded a major prize for their work researching one of the island state’s most iconic animals.

The team, which includes leading researchers from the University of Tasmania’s School of Zoology, the Save the Tasmanian Devil program at the Tasmanian Animal Health Library and the Menzies Institute, was presented with the Sherman Eureka Prize for Environmental Research this week.

The Devils’ Advocates’ research focuses on Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease – a fatal and contagious condition that affects these endangered creatures.

Tasmanian devils have captured the imagination of visitors to the island state for centuries and you may want to stop at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park to learn more about these fascinating creatures during your stay.

The conservation park is located in an isolated, disease-free area and is closely affiliated with several research projects focused on the protection of these animals.

During your visit to the park – which is approximately one hour’s drive from Hobart on the Port Arthur Highway – you’ll have the opportunity to see Tasmanian devils feeding, with times scheduled throughout the day.

You’ll also have the chance to see a range of other iconic Australian animals and even hand-feed kangaroos and friendly wallabies.

Tasmanian Devil © by jennifrog

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Tasmania’s forests are renowned for featuring some of the world’s most diverse and spectacular temperate wilderness areas, with national parks such as Freycinet and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair providing naturally breathtaking sights.

But the island state is not just home to a sample of the most beautiful trees imaginable – it is also the place to find the tallest hardwoods on the planet.

In the north-west of Hobart lies the Styx Valley and Australia’s largest collection of the highest-standing hardwood trees you can find. Here, three of the biggest five worldwide stretch proudly in the Andromeda stand.

The number one ranking, though, goes to a tree nicknamed Centurian – which was discovered in 2008 in state forest in the Arve Valley near Geeveston, roughly 60 km south-west of Hobart.

No other standing hardwood in the world has been measured above 100 metres, but you will have to wait a few months to visit it as spring sees the area closed due to nesting eagles.

For sheer volume, it is impossible to go past the Andromeda stand, where you can gaze up at more than a dozen specimens of over 90 metres.

Three-time Australian tree-climbing champion Tom Greenwood comes here to haul himself up to their lofty peaks. With the aid of a high-powered crossbow, he fires five arrows attached to tracer lines into a canopy, hoping they will attach to a sturdy branch.

Greenwood, who has a degree in forestry, advises visitors to marvel at these wonderful gifts from nature rather than dream of climbing them as he does.

“A lot of things can go wrong,” he told The Weekend Australian on Saturday (September 3).

“Getting an arrow up is only the first step.”

To get up close and personal to the forest’s wonders requires a journey of about 90 km from Tasmania’s capital, Hobart. Accommodation is available in nearby Maydena, allowing visitors to comfortably settle into this great escape.

Lake Parangana © by PVT INC

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Fans of iconic science-fiction drama Doctor Who might be tempted to book a flight to Tasmania to see a unique play exploring just how obsessed one man can be about his favourite television show.

The long-running BBC program tells of the adventures of a humanoid alien who explores the universe in his time machine.

Titled Who Knows, the play follows lovable loser Russell on his quest to foil an evil villain’s plot to destroy the national Doctor Who convention and take over the world.

Written by Tasmanian playwright Paul McIntyre and directed by David Quinn, the production will run from Wednesday September 28 to Saturday October 1 at Launceston’s Annexe Theatre.

All shows are at 19:00, with adult tickets costing $25, concessions $18 and students $10.

As part of Theatre North, the venue draws remarkable creative talent from all over Australia for Tasmanian audiences and visitors, while also supporting the development of locally-produced theatre and dance.

A number of wonderful theatre productions were performed in the island state during winter and it appears that spring will be no different.

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An international audience will soon be treated to spectacular footage of Tasmania’s diverse landscape when The Hunter – a movie filmed and set in the state and starring Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe – opens at the Toronto International Film Festival beginning Thursday (September 8).

Three weeks later the Academy Award nominee will return to the island to celebrate the film’s Australian release with a red carpet screening at the State Cinema in North Hobart on September 28.

Screen Tasmania director Karena Slaninka believes The Hunter has the potential to take the region’s worldwide reputation to a new level.

With stars such as Dafoe, Sam Neill and Frances O’Connor, Slaninka says: “It gives it exposure internationally and it will make people start to sit up and take notice of Tasmania and say ‘wow, we’ve never seen this place before on screen’.”

“It’s got a different tone and different mood to the rest of Australia. It’s not suntans and bikinis, its beautiful old-growth forests and it’s moody and atmospheric and full of mystery,” she told The Mercury.

The Australian-produced psychological thriller tells the story of a mercenary sent to the island wilderness by a European company with the task of hunting down the last surviving Tasmanian tiger.

Filming took place in a variety of stunning and rugged regions such as Maydena, the Florentine Valley and Deloraine.

Speaking on location last year, producer Vincent Sheehan said the storyline was distinctly Tasmanian and that it could not have been brought to life anywhere else in the world.

”This wilderness is quite unique and extraordinary and unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in the world or even on the mainland,” Sheehan said.

The distinctly local flavour has also been influenced by the fact around 40 per cent of the crew were Tasmanian – a proud career achievement for many.


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Tasmania’s largest annual event, the Taste Festival in Hobart, is expanding this summer to cater for its increasing popularity.

Taste is the island state’s premier food and wine festival – no mean feat in a region famous for its fine cuisine and wonderful fresh produce – and its international reputation has grown over 23 years on the calendar.

The event has always thrived in its original home – the modernised Princes Wharf No. 1 Shed – but it will now also spread to streets and green spaces by the water to boost seating by 30 per cent. A brand new entrance will be built to help launch the upgraded look.

Along with all the usual lively festivities and a higher percentage of shaded areas to combat the summer sun, there will also be a new wine bar and improved corporate facilities.

Around 250,000 people are expected to attend the event from December 28, 2011 to January 3, 2012.

With a total of 82 stalls, visitors will be treated to a superb range of Tasmania’s best locally-produced goods and friendly service, all held in a picturesque setting.

Festival committee chairman and Hobart alderman Ron Christie told The Mercury: “We want it to be a people place that includes the lawns. There will be the seaside precinct and the park precinct.”

Enjoying Food at Taste Festival
Taste festival outdoorsFireworks at Taste FestivalStreet Artist at Taste Festival

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Yellow boat road

Rob Pennicott lived out the dream of many Tasmanians on Saturday (September 3) as he motored up the Derwent River to the cheers of thousands of welcoming supporters.

It was perfect timing for the operator of award-winning Bruny and Tasman Island Cruises, who was able to spend Father’s Day with his family after a journey of more than 12,000 nautical miles around Australia in two inflatable dinghies.

The voyage – named Follow The Yellow Boat Road – was to raise money for charity, but for Mr Pennicott, fellow skipper Mick Souter and cameraman Zorro Gamarnik it also provided a wonderful personal highlight.

“It’s a really humbling experience to come home to this. There is nothing like a Hobart welcome,” Mr Pennicott told The Mercury.

Tracing the waters navigated by some of the world’s finest yachts every year in the classic Sydney to Hobart that begins on Boxing Day, the pair were afforded the rare honour of returning home to a similar reception to that of the race’s leading crews.

The father of three was delighted to have made it back in time to spend Sunday with his children.

“It’s been a long way – it doesn’t look that far on a map,” he said.

With the final leg of the trip still to come, Mr Pennicott plans on taking his kids with him.

The circumnavigation of the country has so far raised more than $180,000 for Rotary’s Polio Plus Campaign.

Mr Pennicott hopes to eventually reach up to $500,000 by the time the journey is completed and said if everyone had been as generous as Tasmanians the total would be in the millions.

Also a strong advocate for the local environment, he will be donating a percentage of the funds to conservation programs.

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In just over a week Tasmanians will play host to their adopted Hyundai A-League soccer

2009 Hyundai A-League Grand Final © by AsianFC

team the Melbourne Victory and 2010 champions Brisbane Roar in an important pre-season trial match.

Following on from the successful staging of Daniel Geale’s IBF world title defence at the Derwent Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night (August 31) – and with the Russian national cycling team due to race in October’s Tour of Tasmania – this fixture between two of the biggest clubs in the competition is another indication of the island state’s ability to draw big-name sportspeople and major events.

It is the sixth consecutive year the Victory have brought a match to Tasmania.

Launceston’s Aurora Stadium will hold the event on Sunday, September 11 at 14:00 and tickets are available through Ticketmaster, with adult entry costing $19.

The buzz around the national soccer competition at the moment is palpable, with iconic Australian star Harry Kewell returning home from Europe to play with the Victory in what many sports commentators have labelled ‘the biggest signing in Australian sport’.

Although it will be an exhibition game, Tasmanian sports fans are likely to be thrilled with the opportunity to see the Roar – convincingly the best team in the country last year and proponents of fast-paced, exciting football – take on the closest thing they have to a ‘home’ team.

Making a promotional appearance at Princes Street Primary School on Wednesday, Victory youth graduate Jimmy Jeggo told The Mercury: “We’re the closest A-League club to you guys down here so we’re keen to promote it and have a kick with the kids.”

Jeggo’s teammate Luke O’Dea said that after pulling a big crowd last year against the Central Coast Mariners, “hopefully we’ll see a repeat this time around”.

The duo offered training and playing tips and put students through drills along with Football Federation Tasmania southern development officer Anthony Alexander.

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Tasmanian food at its best

If you’re looking for a true taste of Tasmanian hospitality, you won’t want to miss a visit to the Stillwater Cafe in Launceston.

Set in a historic heritage building – a flour mill dating back to the 1830s – you’ll find this award-winning restaurant is definitely worth a visit.

In the past six months, Stillwater has been honoured with the award for Tasmania’s best restaurant (May 2011) as well as the Australian Hotels Association’s best stand-alone restaurant (August 2011).

Speaking to The Mercury, Kim Seagram – the restaurant’s marketing manager and one of its five part-owners – remarked that the key to Stillwater’s success is fresh Tasmanian produce, as well as its inviting and welcoming atmosphere.

She said: “You’d also be pressed to find friendlier, more welcoming people than in Tasmania.”

Menus are decided according to the season – oysters are a key feature of the current winter menu, for example – and you’ll find a delicious selection of gourmet offerings for breakfast, lunch and evening meals.

A wine bar and a tempting selection of Tasmanian cheeses are also available.

If you are planning a visit to the Stillwater Cafe, it is well worth booking your table in advance, as this popular venue can fill up quickly.

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