Tasmania is Australia's only island state. It has the smallest land area of any state and the smallest population, with roughly 500,000 inhabitants. It is separated from the Australian mainland by a body of water called the Bass Strait that has isolated it for thousands of years.
Tasmania is the smallest of Australia's six states, with an area of 68,401km² (26,410 square miles). It is comparable in size to Ireland or the US state of West Virginia. Tasmania is separated from mainland Australia by the Bass Strait, from New Zealand by the Tasman Sea, and otherwise surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It is located right in the pathway of the notorious "Roaring Forties" winds that encircle the globe.
Most of Tasmania's population is concentrated around the south east and north coasts. The Midlands (the area between Hobart and Launcestion) is primarily used for agriculture. The Huon Valley and the area between Launceston and Burnie is used for both agriculture and horticulture. The Central Highlands, the West Coast and the South West are all mountainous forested areas, a majority of which are protected inside national parks.
Tasmania is the most mountainous state of Australia, its tallest mountain is Mount Ossa at 1,617m (5,305 ft). Much of Tasmania is still densely forested, with the Southwest National Park and neighbouring areas holding some of the last temperate rain forests in the Southern Hemisphere.
Scientists believe that Tasmania was originally connected to the mainland of Australia and then separated as an island by rising sea levels, and may well have had Aboriginal inhabitants for thousands of years, perhaps even before it became an island. However, the recorded history of Tasmania begins with European discovery: first, by Dutchman Abel Tasman, from whom the island takes its name, in 1642; next, by the French in 1772; and finally, by the British between 1773 and 1799. Upon contact with British colonists, there were nine major Aboriginal tribes on the island, which the natives referred to as "Trowunna."
As early as 1798, European whalers and seal hunters began arriving in Tasmania, and this situation motivated the Governor of New South Wales to set up a military outpost on Tasmania's Derwent River to prevent the French from taking control of the island. In 1804, Camp Risdon was founded on the Derwent, and within a few months, Hobart Town, now Hobart, was founded on the opposite river bank. Another colony was soon founded at Sullivan's Cove, which nearly perished from starvation in 1806 but ultimately survived. Next followed the large penal settlement at Port Arthur, but all of the earliest towns were actually penal settlements to a large degree. In fact, 65,000 convicts, 40% of all those ever sent to Australia, went to Tasmania, and the colony had 1/3 of Australia's colonial population by 1830. At the time, however, it was known as Van Diemen's Land, its name being changed to Tasmania only in 1853 to disassociate it with its "convict past."
The Black War
The atrocities committed against the native Aboriginals during the 1820's and 1830's are collectively known as "the Black War." The conflict arose as the British-immigrant population swelled and overtook that of the original natives, putting pressure on land formerly serving as kangaroo hunting grounds to be converted into sheep grazing pastures and farmland. Another factor that led to conflict was that men outnumbered women four-to-one in Tasmania, and convicts began abducting native women. The Aboriginal men reacted with incessant attacks, which led to reprisals. By 1828, the governor gave permission for Aboriginals to be killed on sight in the settled districts. Soon, the native population dwindled to only 300, and these were mostly deported to Flinders Island, where most died of disease.
Self-Rule, Union, and Tourism
At first, Tasmania was a territory within the colony of New South Wales, but in 1825, it became a separate colony. In 1856, it got its own elected parliament and became self-ruling within the British Empire. In 1901, it joined five other colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia.
After joining Australia, Tasmania continued to grow in population, economically, and as a major tourist destination. Some major events in its more recent history are: the Tasmanian Fires of 1967, the 1975 Tasman Bridge collapse, the 2006 Beaconsfield Mine collapse, and the opening of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in 2011, which soon became Tasmania's top tourist attraction.
Tasmania has a cool temperate climate with four distinct seasons.
The West Coast and the South West recieve a significantly higher amount of rainfall than anywhere else in the state. The number of rainy days per year in Tasmania is much greater than anywhere else in Australian. The saying "four seasons in a day" is very true here.
Tasmania has produced an abundance of well-received literary works, far out of proportion to its size, and those interested in visiting the island, moving there or just learning about its people and culture will do well to explore some famous Tasmanian literature.
Seven notable Tasmanian authors and some of their most important works are listed below:
Tasmania's main industries are mining (including copper, zinc, tin, and iron), forestry, agriculture, fresh produce (fruit, vegetables, dairy, seafood, beer and wine), and tourism.
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
The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial found only in Tasmania. The size of a small dog, it is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, extremely loud and disturbing screech, and ferocity when feeding. Despite its appearance, the devil is capable of surprising speed and endurance, and can climb trees and swim across rivers.
Since 1996 devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has drastically reduced the devil population and now threatens the survival of the species, which in 2008 was declared to be endangered. The disease is a transmissible cancer, which means that it is contagious and passed from one animal to another. Individual devils die within months of infection. Programs are currently being undertaken by the Tasmanian Government to reduce the impact of the disease, including an initiative to build up a colonies of healthy devils in captivity, isolated from the disease. As of 2008 there is an estimated 10,000–15,000 remaining in the wild.
Cities & Townships
Tasmania has some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery not just in Australia but also the world. Over 45 percent of Tasmania is protected in national parks so you can't make a visit here without checking at least a couple of national parks out. There's a park for every season and for every person. Discover spectacular landscapes from highlands carved by glaciers, to quiet solitary beaches, from cool and silent rainforests, to colourful alpine wilderness wildflowers. Tasmania's 19 national parks encompass a diversity of unspoiled habitats and ecosystems which offer refuge to unique, and often ancient, plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth.
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.
Crossings are also part of Cruise ship itineraries.
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, 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 110km/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 90km/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.
Some indicative travel times, not including any rest periods:
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 provide services around the state are:
The main population centres are serviced by local bus networks provided by:
There are no public passenger trains in Tasmania, the rail network is solely for for freight and industry.
The West Coast Wilderness Railway  is a tourist train which runs between Strahan and Queenstown on the West Coast. The trip takes about 3 hours with lunch included.
Bicycle touring is a popular way to see Tasmania.
Anyone who spends a little time in the Tasmanian bush country is likely to see such animals as the following: Kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons ("small marsupials"), ringtail and brushtail possums and wombats (short-legged, stubby-tailed marsupials).
Though the odds of a sighting are less than with the animals listed above, you might also catch sight of any of the following: A duck-billed platypus, a spiny anteater, a Tasmanian Devil, a bandicoot or potoroo (small, jumping marsupials) or a carnivorous marsupial called a "quoll."
If you spend any time in the bush you are very likely to see:
Less common wildlife include:
Three of the most popular of Tasmania's landmarks are:
Australia's only national park featuring caves. Among many features are the King Solomon and Marakoopa Caves, both of which can be viewed with Tasmania Park Service guides leading you. Both caves are distinctly different and a separate entry ticket is required for each. Tour times are staggered throughout the day.
Some of the most popular parks in Tasmania are:
Some of the most popular man-made attractions include:
Tourists are as diverse in their interests as Tasmania is in its offerings. The rugged terrain lends itself to a wide array of outdoor adventure activities, such as the following:
Adventure Tasmania  has a growing list of tour operators for Adventure and Outdoor activities.
Visitors to Tasmania are greeted with a wide variety of shopping opportunities, including an abundance of outdoor markets and quaint little antique shops. There are also many art galleries with for-sale items and small boutique shops with unique stock. You can find shopping malls and "standard Australian" stores selling trinkets like boomerangs and koala "Teddy" bears, but this will concentrate on some of the more distinct places to shop in Tasmania:
In Hobart, you should check out two main areas: the Central Business District and the small side-streets and lanes where some of the more unusual shops tend to be "hidden away." Some of the best places to shop in Hobart include the following:
In Launceston, Tasmania's second-largest city, and in other parts of the island's northern half, you will find all of the following and more:
One of the most fun parts of experiencing a new place as a visitor is partaking in the local food culture and Tasmania has plenty to offer in this regard:
World-Famous Tasmanian Cuisine
Famous Hobart Restaurants
"Travelers to Tasmania who are interested in sampling some unique, locally produced beers, whiskies, fruit ciders and fine wines will find plenty to choose from. In fact, the island has quite a long history of brewing/distilling, and many of the traditional techniques are still employed.
World Class Beers
Boags beer of Launceston and Cascade beer of Hobart are by far the two major beers produced in-state, and you can tour both Cascade Brewery and J. Boag & Sons Brewery for an up-close look at the manufacturing process and some samples. Boag beer is traditionally the favorite of north-islanders, while Cascade fills that role to the south, but that distinction is now fading as islanders re-locate more frequently and bring their beer preferences with them.
Smaller, "boutique," breweries are also found scattered all over the state, including: Seven Sheds in Railton, Van Dieman Brewing in Evandale, Iron House Brewery in White Sands, Moo Brew in Hobart and Morrison Brewery in Launceston.
You can also tour the Tasmanian whiskey-making industry with such groups as Tasmanian Whiskey Tours or Whiskey Trail, and you will learn much about the people, stories and methods involved from an expert tour guide.
Three major whiskey distilleries in Tasmania are:
Due to Tasmania's location further south than the Australian mainland and to its cooler climate, the wines produced on the island are distinct in flavor from those made further north. The main wines produced are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
There are many tour groups that will take you, step by step, through the various Tasmanian wine-producing regions, though you could also opt to simply drive through the vineyards and visit the wineries on your own. Some of the main grape-growing areas on the island are: the Tamar River Valley just north of Launceston, the "Southern Wine Route," which includes the Derwent, Coal and Huon River Valleys (not far from Hobart), and the more far-flung wine routes of the northwest corner and along the eastern coast."
Tasmanian travelers will find a wide array of accommodations where they can rest and recover from the day's activities. The options are very extensive indeed, but here are a few exemplary choices within four major categories:
Camping and Caravanning
Tasmania has one of the least-touched natural environments in all of Australia. For this reason, camping at state parks and nature reserves, staying in upscale but close-to-nature cabin accommodations and "caravanning" at any of the state's over 50 caravan (RV) parks are all popular ways to tour the island.
Some of the best such places to camp or caravan throughout Tasmania include:
Hotels and Motels
Tasmanian hotels/motels cover the full range from "budget-conscious" to five-star luxury living. Many of them are located in major tourist hot spots, and they frequently include Wi-Fi, swimming pools, game rooms, childcare centers and gymnasiums.
Ten of the most popular hotel chains include: Accor, Best Western, Budget, Grand Chancellor, and Rydges on the more economical side; and on the more upscale side of things, Innkeepers, Pure Tasmania, Stay Tasmania, Tassie B&B Pubs, and TasVillas Group.
Bed and Breakfasts
Tasmania is famous for its numerous, locally owned bed and breakfast establishments. Some are set in-town inside of colonial-style buildings, while others are located on the edge of the wilderness or near popular beach strips. All of them, however, offer first-rate service and a memorable Tasmanian breakfast.
Two exemplary B&B establishments are:
Resorts and Lodges
Tasmania's many resorts and lodges are often set amid natural beauty, such as on the edge of a state nature park or on a cliff-side overlooking the ocean, and they offer the highest level of luxury accommodations. You can expect a "full experience," including things like guided tours, spa treatments and fresh local foods and wines.
Two exemplary resorts/lodges are:
Tasmanians are generally more laid back and friendly than their mainland counterparts. They are usually very willing to help you out or give advice when asked.
Jokes are occasionally made at the expense of Tasmanians by mainlanders about being inbred or have two heads. This is highly offensive. While this joke may slide in other parts of Australia it will not go down well here.
"Vacationing in Tasmania is an experience that many enjoy and remember for a lifetime, but unless your tour of Tasmania is a safe one, you may find yourself remembering it for all the wrong reasons. Even on vacation, safety must still be put first. Here are 10 travel safety tips that tourists to Tasmania should heed:
When driving observe the speed limits. The rules are simple. 50km/h on all Tasmanian streets, and 100km/h on highways and country roads unless otherwise signposted. Many of Tasmania's country roads are narrow and windy, use common sense and drive to the conditions - not the speed limit.
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.
Be especially careful driving between dusk and dawn as this is when the wildlife is most active. Be prepared to see a lot of roadkill. Wallabies and wombats can make a mess of your vehicle if hit. Drivers swerving to avoid wildlife have caused many accidents.
In the Bush
Bushwalking can be a truly breathtaking experience in Tasmania, but be sure to obtain the right gear, local advice and maps. Always sign the logbook at the beginning and end of each walk. Be aware that mobile coverage is limited in wilderness areas. The main dangers of bushwalking are getting lost and/or suffering from hypothermia. Tasmania's weather is notoriously changeable. Be sure to take a good raincoat and warm clothes with you even on a sunny day because an hour or two later it could be pouring with rain. If undertaking more serious bushwalking a map and compass is a must, as is a good sleeping bag and tent for multi-day walks.
There are three species of snake in Tasmania: copperhead, white-lipped, and tiger. The tiger snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the world, but don't let that deter you. No one has died in Tasmania by snake bite since 1977, almost 40 years ago! All three use the same anti-venom so identification of the snake if bitten is not important. Most snakes will slither away as soon as they hear you coming.
While in wilderness areas the water may be good to drink, but it is still highly recommended that you boil before consumption. If in touristy areas, such as The Overland Track, always boil your water.
Mosquitoes are present all year round. There are mosquitoes-born viruses. Numerous cases of Ross River Virus are on record with the State Health Department .A good repellent is advisable if going into the bush.
The Spirit Of Tasmania ferry service between Devonport and Melbourne departs 1-2 times a day. Night sailings depart 6pm and arrive 6am.