The Tour of Tasmania's reputation as one of Australia's premier cycling events continues to grow, with the race now attracting significant international interest.

In a huge boost for the sport and a tick of approval for the whole state, the Russian national cycling team has signed up to compete in the 2011 race from October 4 to 9.

Held over a gruelling 542.7 kilometres spread across the state's stunning landscapes, it is the ninth event on the National Road Series Calendar and the fourth and final race of the Scody Cup.

Russia's full squad of eight riders has not yet been announced, but four members of its UCI Track World Championships team in March – which won the silver medal – have already been confirmed by race organisers. On that occasion it was the Australian team that took gold.

The important link thought to be a driving factor behind the coup is Russia's German-born coach Heiko Salwedel, who spent seven years working with the Australian Institute of Sport in the ‘90s and is widely accepted to have revolutionised the structure of the sport in this country.

Tour director John Craven believes the signing is a massive fillip for Tasmanian and Australian cycling.

"There are dozens of races around the world at that time of the year that Heiko could have worked towards, but he was keen on Tasmania," Craven said last Wednesday (August 17).

He added: "This speaks volumes for how the Tour of Tasmania is viewed not only nationally, but internationally."

The six-day tour will be launched with a colourful five km parade from the Wrest Point Casino in Sandy Bay to the Cascade Brewery in Strickland Avenue. Riders will then climb 1271 metres to Mount Wellington's Pinnacle lookout.

Just prior to the tour, the Russian team will also line up for the tough Launceston New Norfolk race held on October 2. 

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Viewing Hobart from the sky has been described as "San Francisco with a dash of the New South Wales south coast" by one travel reviewer, but it's the city's culinary delights that have truly dazzled.

e-Travel Blackboard indulged in a "foodie's tour of Tassie" and was highly complimentary of both the picturesque landscapes and the range of wonderful restaurants the island has to offer.

The taste sensations begin early at the Quality Hotel at Hobart Airport, the publication says, with "melt-in-your-mouth carrot cake" the best possible way to mark an early-morning arrival from the mainland.

Next stop was the Barilla Bay Restaurant and Oyster Farm – and not for the first time a customer was left to ponder if they had just eaten the best fresh oysters of their life. The produce is locally sourced from special farming facilities stretching over 30 hectares.

The area also offers farm gates sales seven days a week and since oysters can be packaged for extended airline travel, this is definitely a stop worth making if you're a seafood lover.

Other highlights of this food-fest around Tasmania included organic hamburgers at the "quaint" Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet and European-influenced modern Australian wonders at Smolt in Salamanca Square.

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A unique new production titled Love will entertain both children and adults in Tasmania next month.

The wonderful play is brought to life through a combination of traditional puppets, digital puppetry using Xbox Kinect interactive technology and a superb musical score.

Audiences will no doubt be intrigued as the animations occur live and react to the skilled movements of the human performers and their onstage puppets.

Love is more than an ordinary puppet show. It's a visual treat – with sets unfolding in front of audiences and instruments coming to life and playing themselves.

But Love is not just a display of creative theatrics for the eye – it is a well-crafted and heartfelt story centred around a brave ten-year-old Australian boy on a journey of discovery.

Oslo Rogers and his eccentric mum Ruthy are forced to flee their town by an approaching storm and head to the big town hall on the hill.

They can only afford to carry "love luggage", Ruthy tells her son – those precious items that simply cannot be left behind.

Terrapin Puppet Theatre production is the company behind this marvellous work and there will be five performances of Love from September 16 to 18 at Theatre Royal in Hobart. Tickets can be purchased via the venue's website.

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The upcoming Toast of the Coast Exhibition offers a chance to discover the hidden gems of Tasmania’s fine food and wine scene.

Launched this week, the main event takes place on Tuesday, August 30 and will allow attendees to experience the wonderful tastes of fresh, local produce.

Event management students from the Devonport campus of the Tasmanian Polytechnic have managed and coordinated the event, showing the talents of the region’s students as well as the vibrancy of its home grown products.

Course teacher John O’Donnell told the Devonport Times that support from local producers had been superb, with charitable donations including delicacies such as pickled octopus, cherry liqueurs and lamb to name just a few.

Mr O’Donnell also said the event was aimed at giving students “hands-on learning”.

“It will help to connect the students with the industry,” he said.

The exhibition takes place at the Drysdale Polytechnic from 15:00 to 19:00 and features cocktail hour from 17:00 to 18:00, as well as raffles with great prizes and product demonstrations.

There is also plenty of entertainment for the kids.

For anyone planning to visit Devonport or surrounding areas at this time, it promises to be a fascinating afternoon full of vibrant smells and tastes.

For further information contact the venue.

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The north-west coast of Tasmania is a delightful place to visit at any time of year, but even more so during the Bloomin’ Tulips festival.

Coinciding with the spectacular spring colours of tulips in bloom and the vivid yellows of the acacia – Australia’s national floral emblem – the October 8 event is the focal point of the three-week Colours of Wynyard celebration that begins September 24.

Situated in a small town on the beautiful coastline, Bloomin’ Tulips will provide visitors with the opportunity to marvel at the sight of vast quantities of the flower in full bloom.

Table Cape will be home to the largest publicly-accessible area of tulips under cultivation in the southern hemisphere .

Some of the highlights of the day include cocktail drinking with Tulips@Twilight, local arts and crafts, musical performances and a sensational fireworks display over the Inglis River at night.

You can also enter the unusual tulip tossing championships or sit back and feast on some of the island’s fresh produce and delicacies.

Wynyard itself is an easy-to-walk flat area just ten minutes from quiet forest areas and one hour from the majestic mountains.

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The Brilliant Australian musical My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch is set to entertain a Tasmanian audience for one day only on Friday, September 9.

Based on the much-loved book and developed by international bestselling author Graeme Base and the producer of Wombat Stew and Possum Magic, Garry Ginivan, the production promises to be a big hit for the local theatre scene.

The production tells the story of Kate, a city kid forced to spend the summer holidays with her eccentric Grandma in an outback town.

Assuming it will be the worst time of her life, Kate is surprised to find that the local animals in Gooligulch can talk – leading to a whole new world of excitement.

Nominated for Helpmann Award, the production premiered at the Arts Centre in Melbourne in 2006 to rave reviews of its humour, imaginative puppeteering, original music and top-shelf cast.

It will be held at the Devonport Entertainment and Convention Centre – housed in two magnificent Federation heritage buildings and located right in the heart of town.

It offers sublime views of the Mersey River, which is home to the passenger and vehicle ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2.

Tickets for the two shows – at 14:00 and 18:00 – cost $25 for adults and $20 for children and can be purchased online.

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There is still an opportunity to buy tickets for the Falls Festival in Tasmania’s picturesque Marion Bay over New Year’s Eve.

Held from December 29 to January 1, it is an annual event known for its variety of sights and activities such as films, fiestas and an art camp. A high-calibre musical line-up from Australia and around the world will be appearing, including Josh Pyke, John Butler Trio, The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys and Pnau.

This is an amazing chance to enjoy some of the best festival music appearing in Australia this year, in an unrivalled wilderness setting by the sea – the truly magical Marion Bay. No music and arts event in the country can match this for location and promises to be the camping trip of a lifetime.

Falls is now into its 19th year, so visitors are sure to be treated to a well-organised celebration they will never forget.

A two-day festival pass costs $188 and a three-day pass is $216, with tickets available online – but keep in mind they have already sold out for the Lorne version of the event in Victoria and are unlikely to last long.

Falls Festival singer

Falls Festival singerFalls Festival guitar player

Falls FestivalFalls Festival Tasmania

Falls Festival violin player

Falls Festival crowd kid on shouldersFalls Festival

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On the back of the highly successful 2010 inaugural version, the Junction Arts Festival (JAF) in Launceston is set to be held again this year and has been upgraded to last for five days.

Held from August 24 to 28, it is a multi-arts event that comes with a few twists that are bound to delight visitors. Featuring playful and interactive contemporary live performance, theatre, visual and media arts, music, dance and literature, JAF seeks to present works that invite audience participation and interaction in city settings.

Various exhibitions, events and site-specific public installations will be produced and shown by a combination of local, national and international artists at all different stages of their careers.

Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the Launceston Travel Information Centre in the Cornwell Square Transit Centre or at the Junction Arts Festival Box Office in Civic Square.

The festival is a wonderful opportunity for talented locals to become involved in something unique, as well as a chance for both Tasmanians and visitors to enjoy a different type of cultural experience.

Scattered across the beautiful city of Launceston, what better way to combine sight-seeing and outdoor relaxation with the fun and quirky addition of interactive street art?

Launceston Junction Arts Festival banners
Junction Arts Festival music
Junction Arts fabric display

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If you are looking for some new warm garments to get you through the remainder of winter, why not combine the search with a pleasant and relaxing country getaway?

The Tasmanian Wool Centre sells a variety of high-quality woollen products that it describes as versatile, comfortable and offering great value for money.

But a trip out to the centre can be so much more than just a day of shopping. It is located in the small town of Ross on the banks of the Macquarie River. Ross is a convict-built stone village lined with cobble-style pathways, a main street lined with grand old elm trees and Australia’s third-oldest bridge.

Convict stonemasons produced such detailed and quality carvings on the bridge that they were given a free pardon.

Ross is about a one hour drive from Launceston south down the Heritage Highway. The main highway bypasses this beautiful village, leaving the special nature of its historic atmosphere well and truly intact.

Winter temperatures can be cool, but you will be heading straight to a source of organic wool that is hand-spun, dyed locally and turned into a variety of clothing.

There is also a wool exhibition area and history museum telling the story of Ross’ past.

Ross'sconvict-built stone bridge

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Artists have put together the fascinating Osmosis exhibition that will pique the curiosity of locals and visitors to Tasmania from next Tuesday (August 23).

The core focus of their work centres around the idea of location – and how to engage with specific places through research, interaction and visual investigation.

In this exhibition, artists show a diverse range of responses to the many aspects of their encounters with Lake St Clair, such as memories and history, cultural identity and conflict.

Featured works include paintings, sculptures, prints, photography and performance, all used to express the feelings inspired by the area.

Osmosis is a group of female artists – both emerging and in the middle of their careers – who have spent the past year interacting with the lake and its surrounding areas in a quest to develop meaningful and tangible results from their experiences.

The depth of Lake St Clair serves as the source of the Derwent River. The stunning environment of this part of Tasmania was shaped by glacial activity and a cold temperate climate.

It forms part of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park – a significant region of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.

Glimpses into artists’ backgrounds and examples of their works that will be on display can be viewed in advance on the exhibition website, but to truly engage with the spirit of the display it is recommended to see it in the flesh at The Salamanca Arts Centre’s Long Gallery.

The centre is a unique and vibrant community of studios, galleries, venues, retail outlets and public spaces that make it Tasmania’s “Heart of the Arts”.

Osmosis Artists will be held for eight days until August 31 and if you are interested in knowing more, contact the arts centre directly via telephone or email, or view the website.Pebble Beach Lake St Clair

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