Destination: Tasmania “Island of inspiration”
By Linda McClain, CTA
Statistics show that Australia, the Land Down Under, was host to over four million tourists in 2004. With six states and two territories, Australia is the only continent that is one country. Even though Australia is a forerunner of desirable vacation destinations, most people are unaware of its smallest state, Tasmania.
I have had the unique pleasure of visiting this island state and found its location and beauty both unforgettable and intriguing.
Tasmania is located 124 miles south of mainland Australia. Originally, it was named Van Diemens Land by Abel Tasman, who charted it in 1642. Later, it was renamed Tasmania after the explorer himself.
Approximately 400,000 people live in Tasmania. Their origin mainly consists of Australian, Irish, or English descent. There is also a mixture of people from New Zealand, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
How do I get there?
Fly nonstop from Melbourne, Australia or ferry over the Bass Strait from Melbourne to Devonport, Tasmania.
US citizens need a valid passport and a VISA to visit Australia.
Capital city: Hobart
Currency: Australian dollar
Best time to visit: Tasmania has four distinct seasons. December through April has the most stable weather conditions. In addition, Hobart is one of the two driest state capitals in Australia.
Summer: December, January, February–Average maximum temperature 70˚ F
Fall: March, April, May – temps averages 63˚F
Winter: June, July, August – Temps range from 40˚F to 52˚F
Spring: September, October, November – Temps average 65˚F
The mountains and highlands experience snow.
Conde Naste Traveler voted Tasmania the best temperate island in the world.
While Sydney was the first Australian settlement, Tasmania became the second state in 1803. Its development was to establish a place to house prisoners from the United Kingdom. Even today, the ruins of Port Arthur, Australia’s historic penal colony are evident. Daily tours include haunting tales of the inmates, who were brutally punished and often tortured for their wrongdoings. You will be fascinated to learn of the “crimes”—stealing a candlestick or loaf of bread for their family—which led prisoners to their demise in a land so remote and disconnected from any opportunity for justice or escape.
What can I do there?
Tasmania is a mecca of diverse outdoor activities. Whether you are laid back or an extreme adventure lover, you can choose a new activity every day.
Its beautiful beaches are the perfect setting for every water activity imaginable, including surfing and diving. Its coastline offers dramatic diversity from tranquil shores, dramatic cliffs and lush rainforests.
A fisherman’s dream! Tasmania has the finest brown trout angling in the southern hemisphere.
A botanist’s delight! Ancient species of flora flourish in the Tasmanian climate. In addition, the largest lavender farm in the world can be found here.
Unique Australian wildlife includes the Tasmanian devil, wombat, wallaby, fairy penguins and platypus, to name a few.
Wine lovers have over 60 wineries to choose from in Tasmania. Taste award-winning chardonnay, pinot noir and Riesling.
Tasmania has over 1,000 miles of walking tracks and 18 national parks.
With 68 golf courses, Tasmania has more per capita than any other area of Australia.
• The Tasman Pine is estimated to be over 4,000 years old!
• The oldest bridge, which is still in use, is in Richmond, Tasmania.
• Launceston, Tasmania was the first to have electric street lights in the southern hemisphere.
• Australia’s first parking meters were in installed in Hobart, Tasmania in 1955.
• The Tasmanian devil is three to four feet long, feeds on dead animals and is mainly nocturnal. It can store body fat in its carrot-shaped tail!
• The kangaroo and emu are represented on Australia’s coat-of–arms because of two reasons: They are two of only a handful of Australia’s land-dwelling animals can only move forward and they cannot walk backwards!
• Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world. Their rainwater is so pure it is bottled and shipped to Australian athletes traveling around the world.
Famous personality: Errol Flynn, famous Hollywood actor, was born in Hobart, Tasmania. He was of British descent.
Tasmanian vacation anyone? “No worries”. Log onto www.discovertasmania.com to learn more. l
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region based Linda McClain Travel Services. “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.com.