caravan and camping Tasmania style

Winter is officially behind us for another year and camping trips will soon be back on the agenda for families and groups of friends around Australia.

While a chilly night spent outdoors during July may deter all but the most hardened campers, it can be a very different situation in spring. And what better a place to get away from it all than within the vast natural beauty of Tasmania and its many untouched gems?

Tasmania is one of the most accessible and rewarding regions in the country to explore, with unspoiled stretches of land providing countless opportunities for those looking to immerse themselves in nature by day and fall asleep under the stars at night.

Roughly 40 per cent of the island is national park-protected. There are more than 50 caravan parks scattered throughout the island, as well as a host of formal camp sites – found within national parks and forest reserves – and informal ones.

No matter what type of camper you are, there will be a site that suits your preferences – ranging from fields with only basic amenities and a place for you to pitch your tent right up to relatively luxurious parks with en-suite facilities and cabin-style accommodation.

The uncrowded roads found in Tasmania make it the ideal place for driving escapes, not to mention the astounding array of visual delights such as Cradle Mountain, Freycinet National Park and glorious Wineglass Bay. You are also likely to come across some fascinating native animals on your drive.

While taking in the unique wilderness, you can also experience the region’s heritage towns and gourmet food and wine along the way.

For further information about where and when to go, visit the caravanning listings .

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The live entertainment scene in Tasmania seems to be gaining significant momentum every year and show-lovers in Devonport next week will be the latest beneficiaries, with a one-night-only performance by some of the country’s finest comedians.

Aptly titled Comedians, the tour will stop over in the island state on Saturday September 10 and the line-up includes such humorous Australian talent such as Tom Gleeson,

Geraldine Quinn © by nekonoir

and Jeff Green – along with an array of other stars from radio, stage and screen.

Gleeson frequently appears on the Seven Network’s The Morning Show and is a regular panellist for Ten’s popular programs The 7pm Project and Good News Week. Having also performed at major galas such as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, he’s guaranteed to bring some true class to the stage.

The laughs will be taking place at the Devonport Entertainment and Convention Centre from 20:00, with tickets currently still available but selling fast. It costs $39.90 for adult seats, $36.50 for concessions and $31.60 for centre members.

The show is further evidence that a trip to Tasmania can be about so much more than just picturesque towns, rugged landscape and fine dining – these days there is a strong cultural presence on the island and performers are keen to bring their talents across the Tasman.

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Tasmanian sport threw itself into the limelight last night (August 31) as a Launceston-born and raised boxer defended a world title in front of a packed and enthusiastic home crowd.

Daniel Geale comfortably defeated Nigerian-born American Eromosele Albert to hold onto his IBF world middleweight title belt at the Derwent Entertainment Centre (DEC) – ten minutes from Hobart's city centre.

The venue is regarded as the premier facility of its kind in Tasmania and is surrounded by magnificent mountains and the Derwent River's clear blue water.

It was a watershed moment for both Geale and his state, with the event one of the biggest ever staged on the island. The bout drew an international television audience that may lead many people across Australia and around the world to investigate more about Tasmania and some of its excellent cultural and natural wonders.

Winning in front of a parochial home crowd made the event even more memorable for the 30-year-old, who has regularly competed overseas to the jeers of hostile stadiums.

"5,000 screaming Tasmanians is better than 5,000 screaming Germans, I can tell you that," said Geale, referring to his previous fight where the title was claimed.

"I had to keep the crowd to the side a little bit but gee I could feel them especially towards the end, they just kept pushing me. Things got tough at a few stages and the crowd definitely helped me."

Despite turning down a $1 million purse to take the event to a different location, Geale appeared delighted with his decision and has now fulfilled a promise to fans that his first title defence would be staged on home turf.

With an imposing record of 26 wins from 27 bouts, he is now set to take his burgeoning reputation to the US and will bring plenty of clout to the negotiating table when searching for big match-ups with highly-regarded opponents in the future.

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While Tasmania is deservedly famous for its diverse and stunning natural beauty, there is increasingly more to see and do away from the mountains and forests as well.

Culturally the island state possesses a burgeoning arts and theatre scene, meaning visitors can truly enjoy a holiday that has a little bit of everything.

There is no better example of this trend than the upcoming run of the classic musical Oliver! Presented by the Launceston Musical Society, the production promises to dazzle audiences over five shows from Wednesday, September 21 to Saturday, September 24.

Right from the opening scene – where the starving orphan boys sing Food Glorious Food – this ever-popular story will unfold with a magnificent combination of singing, dancing, humour and drama.

But of course you want more? The cast of over 100 will also perform the songs Oliver!, I Shall Scream, Boy For Sale, Consider Yourself and many more.

The story might be familiar, but every viewing of Charles Dickens' timeless masterpiece is a unique experience.

The three-hour spectacular will play at The Princess Theatre and tickets cost $39 for adults, $32.50 for concessions and $25 for children under 16. Group tickets can be purchased at the box office.

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If you love horse riding or have been thinking about trying it for the first time, Tasmania could be the perfect location.

More than any other state in the country, the island feels as if it was designed to be explored – and what better way than by horseback for an even more rewarding adventure?

Experience the wonderful combination of stunningly beautiful wilderness with hundreds of walking trails and riding paths – all naturally woven into the terrain.

With forests, beaches, plains and mountains scattered across the land, visitors have the opportunity to ride through an unrivalled diversity of landscapes, each offering their own unique experience and photo-worthy moments along the way.

Specialist operators have been taking groups on tours for years and know all the best trails and camp sites. They also have the flexibility to tailor a tour to your specific interests or ability level, so nobody ever misses out.

The Tasmanian Trail is one of the most challenging on offer – ideal for enthusiastic intermediate riders or those with plenty of experience – as it crosses the entire island from Dover to Devonport.

This route passes through forests and private land and also includes a number of stops at picturesque country towns for a spot of shopping or a hearty meal.

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The University of Tasmania (UTAS)’s Painting and Printmaking Societies Exhibition will showcase the outstanding works of some of the state’s most talented artists.

Held at Salamanca Arts Centre for one week only in September, the event is titled Open Doors and aims to showcase the various talents of society members.

The name was given to highlight the collaborative and encouraging nature of the societies and their members.

All styles and genres will be exhibited, meaning visitors can enjoy an eclectic artistic experience that satisfies any specific interests – whether it be portrait, abstract, landscape or any other.

For Hobart residents it is a wonderful opportunity to support budding creative talent in their local area, while those who have travelled from other parts of the state, country or around the world might see the early offerings of a future star of the arts.

The exhibition can be seen at the Long Gallery, a large visual arts space the centre describes as having “an intimacy and warmth that is hard to beat”.

It will be open between 10:00 and 16:00 every day from September 13 to 19 and entry is free, so there is no reason not to go along and enjoy the many fine pieces on display.

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Tasmania is home to an impressive number of the country’s top 20 unique must-see destinations, according to one blogger.

While famous landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and the Twelve Apostles frequently rank as major Australian tourist attractions, there are a plethora of slightly less known yet still fascinating and stunning sites.

And the island state is the place to find at least five of them, says Asian Correspondent writer Kritika Seksaria.

In an August 24 article titled Unique Australian Travel Hotspots, Seksaria listed both Cataract Gorge and Woodbridge among the top five unconventional vacation highlights.

The former, a river gorge in Launceston is an “example of wilderness in the city”, consisting of a pathway built along the cliff face and overlooking the South Esk River and the Kings Bridge – a truly breathtaking view.

Woodbridge, on the other hand, is a quaint village found in the south of Hobart. Visitors appreciate it for the small farms of craft makers, interspersed among rolling hills and winding country roads.

The Peppermint Bay in Woodbridge, says Seksaria, is a “world-class dining venue set on four acres of waterfront headland”.

It is no surprise to see the former convict settlement Port Arthur appear on the list. Coming in at number 12, the town possesses rich architecture along with the prison and church ruins that make it a fascinating place to explore.

Another recommendation is Coles Bay, sitting at the foot of the pink granite mountains and adjacent to the stunning Freycinet National Park. It is surely one of the most beautiful settings in the world to try activities such as fishing, kayaking, bushwalking and rock climbing.

Finally, Seksaria ranked Cradle Mountain at number 17 for being “the epitome of scenic beauty in Tasmania”. By walking along the Dove Lake Circuit or Overland Track, visitors can marvel at the rivers and vast stretches of woodlands.

Cataract Gorge - Tourism Tasmania & Lap Fung Lam

Cataract Gorge

Freycinet Lodge jetty - Tourism Tasmania & Sean Fennessy

Freycinet Lodge jetty

Penitentiary - Port Arthur Historic Site

Penitentiary - Port Arthur Historic Site

Freycinet Lodge - Tourism Tasmania & Gabi Mocatta

Freycinet Lodge

Freycinet Experience Walk - Tourism Tasmania & Greg Clarke

Freycinet Experience Walk

Peppermint Bay restaurant - Tourism Tasmania & Russell Galloway

Peppermint Bay restaurant

Cradle Mountain reflected in Lake Dove - Tourism Tasmania & Masaaki Aihara

Cradle Mountain reflected in Lake Dove

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The Banc Restaurant - Tourism Tasmania & Ray Joyce

Some of the finest food and wine you will come across in a wide-ranging tour of Australia can be found in Tasmania. And as consistently excellent as the dining is throughout the island, there are also a few gems that stand out from the pack as truly world class.

One of those might just be The Banc, situated in the heart of Tasmania’s oldest seaside town Swansea.

Tucked away in a restored heritage marvel – the original Commercial Bank of Australia from the 1930s – this award-winning restaurant offers guests an exquisite culinary experience from fresh local seafood to game. The regional creations highlight the variety and quality of Tasmania’s east coast produce.

It is an ideal setting for a cosy winter meal, while in summer the outdoor garden seating makes for a picturesque lunch.

Swansea is about 135 km from both Hobart and Launceston. Located right on the coastline, the area is a hidden treasure for travellers who delight in discovering charming buildings as they wander the countryside.

The town is a perfect example of one of the island state’s greatest advantages over so many other destinations – everything is reachable and so many discoveries can be made simply by hopping from town to town.

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uber chef Luke Burgess

Hobart chef Luke Burgess has taken an enormous leap in Australia’s highly competitive restaurant game by winning a prestigious industry award that could take his reputation to the next level.

The 35-year-old was named best new talent at the Australian Gourmet Traveller 2012 Restaurant Guide Awards in Sydney on Tuesday night (August 23).

On top of that, his restaurant Garagistes – which was launched only 11 months ago – was endorsed as the best place to dine in Tasmania. This is no mean feat in a state overflowing with exquisite fresh produce and restaurants that delight visitors from across the island, the country and the world.

Burgess said his love affair with cooking had been spawned as a boy in the late 1980s when his school Italian teacher offered classes. He instantly became obsessed and has never look back.

The former Cleo Bachelor of the Year contender spent time as a food photographer before investing in his first venture – a cafe at Birchs Bay – which led to a passion for local produce.

“I was captivated by picking something and using it that day,” he told The Mercury.

Award judges said Burgess’ creations were “beautiful” and gently challenged yet comforted the palate.

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In the latest instalment of the wonderful season of Tasmania theatre, an exciting performance called Labyrinth will take to the stage over four days in September.

The CentrStage production is based loosely on the story of the Minotaur – the Greek mythological creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man. He was thought to live in the elaborate Cretan Labyrinth, which was built for King Minos.

Written by Stella Kent and directed by Peter Hammond, the play tells the story of a new college principal who is determined – like Theseus – to encourage a cultural focus in the people he is responsible for.

However, by handing over control of the college students he unwittingly allows other forces of chaos and brutality to consume them.

Labyrinth appears at the Annex Theatre at Inveresk Railyards in Launceston from September 7 to 10.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for concessions and $10 for children and can be purchased through Theatre North, with all shows beginning at 19:00.

In a sign of its burgeoning arts scene and significant appeal for production companies, the island state has been drawing in more high-quality theatre than ever before in recent times. 

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