Difference between revisions of "Tasmania"
Revision as of 07:34, 20 September 2013
Tasmania  is Australia's only island state, its smallest in land area, and its second-smallest in population, with roughly 500,000 residents. It enjoys a unique lifestyle and beautiful landscapes. It is separated from the Australian mainland by a body of water called the Bass Strait that has isolated it from the rest of Australia for thousands of years.
Tasmania was settled by the British as a penal colony and convicts were first transported to what was then called Van Diemen's Land, in 1804. Penal settlements were established at Sullivans Cove (Hobart), Maria Island, Sarah Island, and Port Arthur. The ruins of the convict jails can still be seen in these places, particularly at Port Arthur, which has been carefully preserved and has many convict related activities for tourists. For its size, Tasmania has plenty attractions and you could spend a month there and still not see everything.
Tasmania promotes itself internationally as Australia's Natural State and within Australia as the Island of Inspiration. About 40% of the island is protected as national parks, World Heritage Areas, and forest and marine reserves. It is also a state dominated by logging, with vast tracts of old growth forest being destroyed. The catch cry is "see Tasmania before it is gone".
Tasmania is famous for its merino wool which is used by Japanese companies to manufacture high quality men's suits. It is also known world-wide for the Tasmanian tiger, a now extinct striped marsupial dog-like animal, and the nocturnal Tasmanian devil, a small black and white marsupial whose sharp teeth and frightening screams belie the fact that it is shy of humans. Tasmanian devils  are currently under threat of extinction due to a widespread facial tumour. The state government is endeavouring to detect the cause of the tumours and preserve disease-free colonies.
On the whole, expect a good mix of nice natural scenery, fresh food and wines, and heritage.
National Public Holidays
Regional Public Holidays
When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday (and Tuesday if necessary) are usually declared holidays in lieu, although both the celebrations and the retail closures will occur on the day itself. Most tourist attractions are closed Christmas Day and Good Friday. Supermarkets and other stores may open for limited hours on some public holidays and on holidays in lieu, but are almost always closed on Christmas Day (25 Dec), Good Friday, Easter Sunday and ANZAC Day morning.
Tasmania is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 18 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Daylight Saving is observed from the first Sunday of October to the first Sunday of April the following year.
AEST - Australian Eastern Standard Time UTC+10
AEDT - Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time UTC+11
Cities, Towns and Villages
Tasmania is served by several national and regional airlines, primarily flying into Hobart and Launceston. Some flights are also available to Burnie, Devonport, King Island and Flinders Island from Melbourne.
Tasmania is served by two Spirit of Tasmania Ferries  from mainland Australia. They depart daily from Station Pier in Port Melbourne (a bayside suburb of Melbourne) and arrive at Devonport taking the full night (or the full day during peak summer periods) for the crossing.
The crossing can be a little rocky at times, but provides beautiful views. You have the option of booking one of a range of a cabins or a reclining chair for the journey. The large ferries take vehicles, bikes, foot passengers and pets.
See the Devonport article for the details of the ferry.
Rental car companies usually have restrictions on taking vehicles into or out of Tasmania on the ferry. If you have hired a car on the mainland and need a car to hire in Tasmania, it's best to drop the car off in Melbourne CBD (there is no hire car dropoff at Station Pier), then take the 109 tram out to Station Pier (the terminus is across the road from the ferry terminal); car hire is available at the Devonport terminal.
Getting around Tasmania by car is by far the most convenient way to see what the state has to offer. Cars can be brought into Tasmania from the mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry (see above), or hired upon arrival by the major operators such as Redspot Sixt, Hertz and Avis.
With the exception of Highway 1 between Devonport, Launceston and Hobart, travel times by car will be much longer than you think. The state limit is 110 km/h, though achieving that speed on some of the coastal or inland highways is not often possible, and the speed limit of some of those roads may only be up to 90 km/h anyway. Many major roads wind their way through mountain passes and along coastlines, with few overtaking lanes, and some major sections of more remote road may be in need of minor repair. Seek local advice if timing is critical, or just allow more time. What appears the most direct road can add hours to your journey time. Again, seek local advice on the quickest route if timing is critical. Also be aware that on some of the winding roads, or on B roads, some locals (who are used to driving those roads) may try to overtake on inappropriate stretches of road or start to tailgate you if you aren't travelling at the speed limit. If you are concerned or feel uncomfortable, it is usually best to pull over where safe and allow them to pass.
Tasmania uses an alphanumeric system for road references, and all roads are generally well marked with references and destinations. Attractions are generally well signposted from the nearest main road. As a result, it is quite possible to navigate most of Tasmania using only a rudimentary map. Exploring the forests can often lead to a maze of forest roads. A GPS can come in handy for finding your way out, but beware GPS maps are not always up to date and following them blindly can add unnecessary time to travel.
If you have plenty of time in Tasmania, buses can be an option, but you would be advised to study timetable carefully and to do an extra bit of planning, as services can be infrequent.
Two major companies which service most of Tasmania:
The only passenger train in Tasmania is a tourist train, the last regular passenger services having ended in 1975. The West Coast Wilderness Railway runs between Strahan and Queenstown on the west coast of Tasmania. The trip takes about 3 hours with lunch included.
Bookings can be made on their website.
Bicycle touring is a popular way to see Tasmania.
There are a wide variety of culinary offerings in Tasmania, from the best chips and gravy at the local milk bar, to world renowned chefs in amazing upper class restaurants.
For a list of vegetarian and vegetarian friendly eateries in Tasmania, go to this link:
Tasmania has superb wine regions including along the Tamar River and Down in the Huon Valley.
In addition, Tasmania has the Cascade and Boags breweries in Hobart and Launceston respectively, which offer tours. A number of boutique beer makers and distillers also exist.
There is also a large spring water industry in Tasmania, which means that some bars and restaurants do not to offer free tap water (they are not legally obliged to do so).
There is a variety of accommodation available across the state, from camping through to 5-star luxury. Individual cities and regions pages have more information. Tasmania is particularly renowned for its hosted bed and breakfast accommodation, where you can experience a different way of life in a whole range of different properties, including heritage listed and more modern properties in stunning locations.
When driving observe the speed limits. The rules are simple. 50km/h on all Tasmanian streets, and 100km/h on highways and freeways unless otherwise signposted.
Be aware that there are many wild animals in Tasmania, and be prepared to see a lot of roadkill. Be especially careful at dusk and dawn. Although wallabies and wombats are not large, they can make a mess of your vehicle and drivers swerving to avoid them have caused many accidents.
When driving on highways and freeways, do be careful of large trucks. Speeding large trucks are common and dangerous. If one is heading your way slow down and move towards the side of the road, letting it pass.
Always slow down at school zones and crossings when in operation or you may be surprised by a waiting police car and receive a fine.
Bushwalking can be a truly breathtaking experience in Tasmania, but be sure to obtain the right gear and local advice and maps. Always sign the book at the beginning and end of each walk. Be aware that mobile coverage is very limited (although reception can often be had on Mt Ossa, Tasmania's highest mountain). The main dangers are getting lost and/or suffering hypothermia. Tasmania's weather is notoriously fickle, but if you include thermals, a good raincoat, a good sleeping bag and a map and compass in your shopping list, these scenarios are unlikely.
The Spirit Of Tasmania ferry service between Devonport and Melbourne departs 1-2 times a day. Night sailings depart 6pm and arrive 6am.