Island Living: Tasmania
1. Tell us a little bit about Tasmania.
Tasmania (or ‘Tassie’) is one of the seven states and territories that make up Australia. The island is the little heart-shaped island you see below the mainland of Australia. We were affectionately known as ‘the Apple Isle’, and recognised for our small towns, forestry, farming and tourism industries.
Hobart is the state’s capital at the Southern end of Tasmania. Hobart is recognised as the cultural hub of Tassie and is situated by the sea at the base of Mount Wellington, which is snow-capped in winter. Hobart is also the gateway to exploring Antarctica.
2. How many people live here? Is the population growing or shrinking?
Estimations about population are usually around the 500,000 mark. We have been referred to as the 'Retirement State' because life is naturally slower here. Many young people decide to leave Tasmania to go interstate for university or jobs but many also return to raise their families. The relatively recent addition of MONA (Museum of New and Old Art) has really put Hobart and Tasmania as a travel destination on the international map.
3. What is abundant and what is scarce on the Tasmania?
Abundant: We have some amazing world heritage listed parks and forests here.
Scarce: Tasmanian Devils are becoming threatened with extinction due to facial tumour disease. Tasmanian devils were lionised by Loony Tunes ‘Taz’ character. And there is some debate to whether the marsupial predator, the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) still exists. The last known Thylacine died in captivity in the 1930s.
4. What is important to note about the island's geographical location or history?
The best part about Tasmania’s geographical location is you can never find yourself more than two hours drive away from a (probably deserted!) sandy beach.
Tasmania was originally established as a penal colony with convicts arriving by boat from England in the early 19th century. The Port Arthur Historic Site is full of convict history and tours and is the best preserved convict site in Australia.
Along the waterfront in Hobart is Salamanca Precinct a area filled with Parisian-style sandstone buildings and lots of boutique shops and cafes. This area was originally an industrial warehousing port and hosts a huge outdoor market every Saturday.
Hiring a car or camping is a great way to see the state. For example heading down the East coast of Tasmania is an absolute treat, with gorgeous little boutique towns, vineyards and beaches every half hour/hour and can easily be done as a day trip. The Southern West Coast of Tasmania can only be accessed by a plane or boat and is relatively unexplored territory and is only suggested for experienced walkers or hikers.
5. What are some of the practical challenges of living on Tasmania?
Being so close to Antarctica thermal clothing is a must every day in winter!
6. Is there an assumption or stereotype about Tasmania you’d like to correct?
Yes! There is an assumption that everybody in Tasmania knows each other or that we are all related. While it is true Tasmania might be small population wise, we are probably some of the biggest travellers due to our geographical location!
7. What do you think makes island communities, like yours, unique?
There is definitely a bond you find with fellow Tasmanians overseas or on the mainland Australia. It’s a very community-minded place also, with several exciting festivals each year that keep the community spirit up.
8. How are tourists generally seen by locals?
They are welcomed with open arms. Tourism is one of the state’s biggest industries. Tasmanians are known as being super friendly, so come make the trip down South.
9. What is the best way to get here?
There are two options—by boat or by plane. Plane is definitely preferable time-wise, as it’s only a quick flight from the big mainland cities of Melbourne or Sydney. You can also bring your car over on the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’ which can be great if you’re travelling with a campervan. It takes around 9 hours.
10. What should visitors know or read before setting out for Tasmania.
The weather is unpredictable! It can be beautiful and sunny and then rainy by afternoon. The best time to visit is in summer (December to February) when the action is happening and locals come out of hibernation. Although in winter, the waterfront of Hobart sparkles.
And a little bit about you Laura: You can take the girl out of Tasmania, but you can’t take the Tasmania out of the girl. I’ve lived in Tasmania my whole life. I grew up in Launceston, the state’s second biggest town. Launceston has been voted the most family friendly place to bring up children in Australia. It’s a very quiet, sleepy town. I studied at university and live in Hobart in the south.