Tasmania: An Unspoilt Gem
by Guest Author
Just 240 kilometres south of the Australian continent lies the beautiful little unspoilt gem of Tasmania. This island state has a population of around 500,000, most of whom reside around the capital Hobart. Whilst Hobart is a lively city, about 40% of Tasmania consists of largely undiscovered areas contained in protected reserves and natural heritage sites. Despite covering such a small area (just over 68,000 square kilometres), Tasmania is immensely diverse and offers some of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the world. Whether you like lounging in one of the many quaint coffee shops, dining in an excellent restaurant whilst watching the sunset, bush walking across unspoilt nature, sailing or just enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon at the world famous Salamanca Market, Tasmania will delight you with a surprise around each and every corner.
Tasmania, the smallest of Australias six states, is a heart-shaped island of lush green valleys, uncrowded towns and villages and still undeveloped coastlines. It has a jagged coastline with numerous little bays.
It is surrounded by smaller islands, the most important ones being Flinders, King and Bruny. The state is separated from the Australian mainland by Bass Strait, and the remaining coastline is bounded by the Southern Ocean on the south and west and the Tasman Sea on the east.
Hobart, Tasmanias capital city, is in the south of the state, extending over both sides of the River Derwent. Founded in 1804, it is the second oldest city in Australia. The buildings from that era have been beautifully preserved and many of the areas still mainly reflect early 1800s architecture. Hobart is dominated by the river, which originates at Lake St Clairand flows south over a distance of 187 km to New Norfolkwith the estuary portion extending a further 52 km out to sea. The large estuary forms the Port of the City of Hobart often claimed to be the deepest sheltered harbour in the Southern Hemisphere. During summer months, large passenger liners travel down the river into Hobart almost on a daily basis. The largest vessel to ever travel the Derwent is the 113,000 tonne, 61 metre high, ocean liner Diamond Princess. At some points the river is nearly three kilometres wide.
Tasmania is one of the worlds most mountainous islands and the peaks are unique in their serrated profile. The islands geology reflects a connection millions of years ago to Antarctica, and Tasmania is one of the few places in the world where ancient dolorite rocks dominate the landscape.
The climate is mild, but generally cooler than the rest of Australia. The Roaring Forty winds that travel across Tasmanias island bring with them the cleanest air in the world, but in less than 300 kilometres the weather patterns change dramatically. On the west coast the average rainfall is around three metres a year, while on the east coast it is less than 20 centimetres. The capital Hobart is Australias second driest large city but it goes unnoticed due to the fact that there is so much water everywhere.
Tasmania has a rich and unique alpine flora, with over 60% of all species being found there and nowhere else on earth. Some of the most interesting animal species in the world are found only in Tasmania. This includes the Tasmanian devil, of course. The platypus, bandicoot, swift parrot and others that are on the verge of extinction on mainland Australia are still finding a final refuge in Tasmania due to fewer introduced predators and a relatively large amount of intact habitat on the island.
Tasmanias population is concentrated in the north and the south. The population pattern has resulted from geographical, historical and commercial factors that have led to the development of a number of relatively large centres on the islands north coast. These serve as centres for the agricultural and industrial activities typical of the region and include Launceston, Devonport and Burnie.
Is an archipelago of more than 300 islands.
Has more than 1,000 mountain peaks.
Has some of the worlds rarest animals.
Is home to living dinosaurs plants that date back to the Gondwana super-continent more than 95 million years ago and plants so tall they appear to touch the sky.
Has trees such as Huon, Celery Top and King Billy pine that are found nowhere else in the world.
Was ranked equal third in the world for wise land stewardship in the 2004 United States National Geographic Traveler magazines Sustainable Tourism Initiative.