Tasmania is an Australian island and state of the same name. It is located 240 kilometres (150 mi) south of the eastern side of the continent, being separated from it by Bass Strait. The state of Tasmania includes the island of Tasmania, and other surrounding islands. Tasmania has an estimated population of 493,300 as of June 2007 and an area of 68,401 square kilometres (26,410 sq mi).
Tasmania promotes itself as the Natural State and the "Island of Inspiration" owing to its large, and relatively unspoiled natural environment. Formally, almost 37% of Tasmania is in reserves, National Parks and World Heritage Sites. The island is 364 kilometres long from the northernmost point to the southernmost point, and 306 kilometres from west to east.
The state capital and largest city is Hobart, which encompasses the local government areas of City of Hobart, City of Glenorchy and City of Clarence. Other major population centres include Launceston in the north, and Devonport and Burnie in the northwest.
The subantarctic Macquarie Island is also under the administration of the state, as part of the Huon Valley Council local government area.
During colonial times typical English cuisine would have been standard in most areas of Tasmania. The arrival of immigrants and changing cultural patterns has meant Tasmania now has a wide range of restaurants. Scattered across Tasmania are a number of vineyards and Tasmanian beer brands such as Boags and Cascade are known and sold on the mainland. King Island off the north-western coast of Tasmania has a reputation for boutique cheeses and dairy products.
In order to foster tourism, the state government encourages or supports several different annual events in and around the island. The best known of these would be the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, starting on Boxing Day in Sydney and usually arriving at Constitution Dock in Hobart around three to four days later, during the Taste of Tasmania an annual food and wine festival.
Other events include the road rally Targa Tasmania which attracts world-class rally drivers and is staged all over the state, over five days. Rural or regional events include Agfest is a three-day agricultural show held at Carrick (just west of Launceston) in early May, and the Royal Hobart Show and Royal Launceston Show, both held in October of each year. Music events held in Tasmania include the Falls Festival at Marion Bay (a Victoria event now held in both Victoria and Tasmania on New Year's Eve), and the Southern Roots Festival held in Hobart each Easter. A recent addition to the state has been the 10 Days on the Island arts festival; however, it has drawn criticism from environmental groups for its acceptance of sponsorship from forestry company Gunns.
Tasmania has a relatively small but growing literary culture. Notable titles include For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke, The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan and Out of Ireland by Christopher Koch. The ‘Tasmanian genre’ of fiction includes children's books such as Tiger Tale by Marion and Steve Isham.
Tasmania has a varied musical scene, ranging from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra whose home is the Federation Concert Hall, to a substantial number of small bands, orchestras, string quintets, saxophone ensembles and individual artists who perform at a variety of venues around the state. Tasmania is also home to a vibrant community of composers including Constantine Koukias, Maria Grenfell and Don Kay, who is the patron of the Tasmanian Composers Collective which is the representative body for composers in Tasmania. Tasmania is also home to one of Ausralia's leading new music institutions, IHOS Music Theatre and Opera and gospel choirs, the Southern Gospel Choir. Death Metal band Psycroptic hail from Tasmania and are one of the most prominent Australian metal bands. Apart from the Classical musical season and regular gigs across the state by a number of local and interstate groups two of the highlights of the musical year would be the Falls Festival held during the summer holidays and the Carols by Candlelight held in the weeks prior to Christmas.
The dominant sports in Tasmania are cricket and Australian rules football. Tasmania has produced two prominent international cricket stars, David Boon and current Australian captain Ricky Ponting. The Tasmanian Tigers cricket team, which plays home games at Bellerive Oval on the eastern shore, represents the state in limited overs and first-class cricket competitions. In the last few years they have had significant success, with them winning the ING One Day Cup in 2004-05 for the first time in 10 years, and the Pura Cup for the first time in 2006-07.
Despite Australian rules football's huge popularity in the state, Tasmania does not have a team in the AFL. They do have a team (the Tasmanian Devils) in the VFL (Victorian league), and a team in the national league is a popular topic among supporters as well as the state government (one of the potential sponsors of such a team). From the 2001 season onwards, some AFL teams have played scheduled games at Aurora Stadium (at York Park in Launceston). Since 2007, the Hawthorn Football Club has been in a sponsorship agreement with the Tasmanian government to play four home games a year in Launceston. One of the notable matches to be played at York Park was an infamous match between St Kilda and Fremantle which was controversially drawn after the umpires failed to hear the siren.
In basketball, the state has not been represented in the National Basketball League since the demise of the Hobart Devils in 1996; however, strong representation from the state can be found in the South East Australian Basketball League. Two men's teams: The Oasis Hobart Chargers, and the Northwest Tasmania Thunder are joined in the women's SEABL by the Launceston Tornadoes and the Women's NW Tasmania Thunder also.
In Tasmania, there is a motor racing circuit in Launceston called Symmons Plains Raceway. It holds rounds of the V8 Supercars, the YMF Loans Australian Superbike Championship, Australian Formula 3 Championship and the CAMS Nationals.
Finally, the town of Bridport in the north-east is home to Barnbougle Dunes, a public golf course designed by architect Tom Doak which opened in 2004 and is ranked among the top 100 courses in the world.
The island of Tasmania was home to the Thylacine, a marsupial which resembled a wild dog. Known colloquially as the Tasmanian Tiger for the distinctive striping across its back, it became extinct in mainland Australia much earlier because of competition by the dingo, introduced in prehistoric times. Owing to persecution by farmers, government-funded bounty hunters and, in the final years, collectors for overseas museums, it appears to have been exterminated in Tasmania. The last known animal died in captivity in 1936. Many alleged sightings have been recorded, none of them confirmed.
The Tasmanian Devil is a carnivorous marsupial found exclusively on the island of Tasmania. The size of a small dog but stocky and muscular, the Tasmanian Devil is characterised by black fur with white patches. It has a loud and disturbing screech-like growl, possesses a vicious temperament and is predominantly a scavenger. The Devil survived European settlement and was considered widespread and common throughout Tasmania until recently.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/