In northern latitudes, the effect of an aurora is well known. It is given the name aurora borealis (or the northern lights), after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas, by Pierre Gassendi in 1621. Lesser known is its southern counterpart, the aurora australis (or the southern lights), which has almost identical features to the aurora borealis. Tasmania, King Island and Southern Victoria are the most likely places to see a southern aurora.
Australia is very much 'The Lucky Country' when it comes to surfing. It has the largest stretch of coastline of any island in the world, and a large portion of it is surfable. Tasmania is often overlooked as a surfing destination yet it actually does get very good waves. The most pleasant time to surf in Tasmania is late summer/early autumn, when the water is at its warmest. However, the biggest swells and most favourable wind conditions occur in autumn and winter.
Tasmania provides some of the best inland fishing waters in the world. Its abundant streams and lakes and its pristine, unique natural environment make it a highly attractive and exciting fishing destination. Here, you can catch wild trout in crystal clear waters surrounded by spectacular natural scenery, access prime fishing locations easily from major cities, and fish for a variety of trout and salmon at a single water or at several waters within the one day.
Skiing in Tasmania takes place in the high country of the state during the Southern Hemisphere winter. Cross country skiing is possible within the Tasmanian Wilderness and two small downhill ski-fields have been developed at Ben Lomond and Mount Mawson. The Tasmanian Ski season opens in early July and closes in late September.
Tasmania is the only island state in Australia and is claimed to be one of the world's most mountainous islands. While this claim could be debated, it is certainly true that there is very little flat land in the entire state. Less than a quarter of it is flat enough for agriculture and farms - much of the state is undeveloped. The scenery is so good that walkers often ignore mountain ranges that in any other part of Australia would be ranked amongst the best.
As in the other states of Australia, and indeed most developed countries of the world, railways were built across the Tasmanian countryside throughout the 19th century, but modern day road transport has made all but the main lines obsolete. The corridors the train lines followed were abandoned, but in recent times, a new use has been found for many of them - rail trails.
Australia's smallest state both in area and population, Tasmania has stunning scenery and good-quality, mostly lightly trafficked roads. These plus relatively short distances between towns and services, make Tassie an ideal region for cycle touring. A temperate southerly latitude and long summer days means comfortable cycling conditions and ample time for side trips. Always beautiful, often demanding, Tasmania's terrain is renowned among cyclists for its hills, but effort is rewarded.
Most Tasmanian ghost towns are former mining settlements, which were more often than not located in dense rainforest on isolated mountain sides. Extreme weather conditions and the tendancy of rainforests to grow back in cleared areas very quickly, has seen many a mining settlement reclaimed by the bush within a few short years, and all that remains today are foundations of former buildings or remants of a graveyard, a railway or abandoned mining equipment.
The transportation of British convicts to Australia came about as a result of the poverty, social injustice, child labour, harsh and dirty living conditions and long working hours that were prevalent in 19th-century Britain. Tasmania was the second colony to be established by the British, in 1803. Tasmania's first penal colony was established at Macquarie Harbour (Sarah Island) on the west coast in 1822.
The probation and assignment systems resulted in convicts making roads, erecting buildings and bridges and working on farms in and around the first townships throughout the colonies. In Tasmania, much of what the convicts created during the transportation years (1818 to 1853) remains, and Tasmania now has the largest collection of convict buildings and infrastructure of all the states.
I'm not sure if it's because of the weather, or that there is a gigantic ditch (Bass Strait) separating Australia's island state from the mainland, but if you are looking for something unique and a little different from the run-of-the-mill, chances are you'll find it in Tasmania.
No one quite knows why but many people have a fascination for lighthouses. Every photographer has at least one dramatic shot of a lighthouse in his/her collection. Tourists love climbing them, in part for the view but perhaps also because they hold a strange fascination like no other man made structure.
Anglicanism has remained the largest Christian denomination in Tasmania during two centuries of European settlement. For the first half of the nineteenth century the Church of England was treated by government as the colony's official though not 'established' religion. Robert Knopwood, the first colonial chaplain, carried responsibility for the spiritual oversight of the entire colony until 1818.
Sadly rail travel as a means of public transport around Tasmania is long gone - the remaining rail network is used exclusevley for the carriage of freight these days. However a number of history buffs and rail enthusiasts have rescued or revived some of the many historic railway journeys using sections of old line that are no longer connected to the main network.
Since 1984 Engineers Australia has been recognising important historic engineering works with the award of distinctive markers. These include numerous historic bridges, as well as dams, powers stations and associated infrastructure of Tasmania's hydro eletricity generation schemes, many of which have received recognition for their engineering excellence.
Natural freshwater lakes in Australia are rare, due to the general absence of glacial and tectonic activity in Australia. Due to glaciation, there are a large number of natural freshwater lakes on the central plateau, many of which have been enlarged or modified by hydro-electric developments. The Deepest lake in Australia is Tasmania's Lake St Clair.
Covering an area of over 1 million hectares, the Tasmanian Wilderness constitutes one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world. It comprises a contiguous network of reserved lands that extends over much of south-western Tasmania including several coastal islands. The insularity of Tasmania, and of the Tasmanian Wilderness in particular, has contributed to its uniqueness and has helped to protect it from the impact of exotic species which has seriously affected the mainland fauna.
For many visitors, the best time to see Tasmania is spring mainly because of the mild weather, however the profusion of wildflowers is an added bonus. There's no single spot that stands out as the place to go to see Tasmania's wildflowers, you'll find them practically anywhere where there's a walking path through untouched countryside from September to November. The wildflowers of the alpine regions are in full bloom in summer, which is perhaps the best season to walk the tracks of the high country.
Tasmania is often referred to as Australia's island state. Located 240 km to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait, Tasmania is the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. Tasmania has the world's largest areas of dolerite, with many distinctive mountains and cliffs formed from this rock type. In the southwest, Precambrian quartzites form strikingly sharp ridges, ranges and coastal features. In the northeast and east, continental granites can be seen. Combined, they provide a variety of stunning seascapes.
The island of Tasmania is renowned for its variety of coastal features - from deserted beaches that stretch to the horizon and beyond, to some of the most stunning, rugged cliffs, rock pillars and natural rock arches you are ever likely to see. Some are in remote areas like the near inpenitrable south west that few people have ever seen, while others are just a stone's through from regularly visited attractions like Port Arthur and Wineglass bay on the Freycinet Peninsula.
Because it is an island, Tasmania is the only state of Australia that cannot be reached by road, unless of course you take the car ferry from Melbourne to the north coastal Tasmanian port of Devonport. This is a popular option for mainlanders as one needs a motor vehicle when touring Tasmania as public transport options are limited.
Tasmania is linked by sea to the mainland via the car and passenger ferries Spirit of Tasmania I and II, which ply the waters of Bass Strait every night (duration: 10hrs 30 minutes), and during daylight hours in the summer months. Getting on and off with a car is an easy, painless experience; the only delay is likely to be going through the quarantine check at Devonport which is slow in peak periods.
Once that is behind you, there's something magic about heading along the coastal road to Devonport to Burnie just after sunrise with the road to yourself, with cows grazing on the lush green grass beside the shoreline. The Spirit of Tasmania operates daily from Station Pier, Melbourne to Devonport in Tasmania, running overnight, with additional trips in daylight hours during peak travel periods (mainly Summer); duration approx. 12 hours. The drive from Devonport to Hobart is 285 km (allow 4 hours).
Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and King Island are all gateways for domestic air traffic from the mainland to Tasmania. The majority of flights are from Melbourne and Sydney and go to Launceston or Hobart. The latter is still classified as an International Airport with full customs and immigration facilities, but the airport has not had a regular scheduled international passenger service since the 1990s (from Christchurch, New Zealand). Qantas, Virgin Blue, Jetstar, Tasair, REx and Tiger Airways provided regular services to the mainland.
Tasair caters also for internal air travel, with daily scheduled flights connecting Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, Devonport, King Island and Flinders Island. Much of the air traffic into Tasmania is through Hobart International Airport. In addition to domestic and general aviation operations, Hobart Airport, located 17 km from the city on a plain between Frederick Henry Bay and Barilla Bay, provides the only international gateway to the island. Hobart is one of the few cities in Australia to enjoy curfew-free air services. Launceston Airport is also widely used, particularly for travellers from the mainland seeking access to the north of the state. The main routes followed are:
Sydney 1 hour 55 min.
Melbourne 1 hour 15 min.
Brisbane (direct - limited flights per day) 2 hours 35 min.
Brisbane (via Sydney or Melbourne) 4 hours 10 min.
Perth (via Melbourne) 4 hours 15 min.
Adelaide (via Melbourne) 2 hours 35 min.
Darwin (via Melbourne or Sydney) 7 hours 15 min.
Sydney (via Melbourne) 3 hours 5 min.
Melbourne 1 hour 35 min.
Flinders Island (Sharp Airlines) 35 min.
King Island (Sharp Airlines) 1 hour 35 min.
Melbourne (Regional Express) 1 hour 15 min.
King Island to/from:
Sydney (via Melbourne) 3 hours 5 min.
Launceston (Sharp Airlines) 1 hour 35 min.
Wynyard (Sharp Airlines) 45 minutes
Melbourne (Regional Express) 55 minutes