Tasmania – A World Apart, Not A World Away

| August 12, 2013 | 1 Comment

Bay of Fires Tasmania

Binalong Bay – Bay of Fires Conservation Area, Tasmania

(Credit: Stuart Crossett/Tourism Tasmania)

Yeah, I know I’m very biased because my beloved Tasmania is my state of birth, where I spent the first 20 years of my life… But it really is a great place to visit, and you don’t just have to take my word for it.

A World Apart, Not A World Away

Recently Hobart was voted the 2nd Friendliest City IN.THE.WORLD. Yep, 2nd only to Florianopolis in Brazil as voted by a reader’s choice survey on Condé Nast Traveler.

But that’s not all! Tasmania took home four awards from the Australian Gourmet Traveller 2013 Travel Awards back in May.

  • Best Weekend Away (readers’ choice) winner – Hobart
  • Best City Boutique Accommodation (readers’ choice) winner – Islington Hotel
  • Best Cultural Attraction (readers’ choice) winner and Standout Australian Travel Experience (expert panel) winner –MONA
  • Best Resort or Lodge (readers’ choice) runner-up – Saffire Freycinet

Plus Hobart was voted number 7 in the Top 10 Cities in the World to Visit in 2013 in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2013 publication.

Hobart - Top 10 Cities in the world to visit credit_Alastair_Bett

Hobart, with Mount Wellington in the background

(Credit: Alastair Brett/Tourism Tasmania)

I couldn’t be prouder of my little state!

Traditionally known as a clean, green wilderness destination, and also that place that convicts were sent to that was REALLY bad, Tasmania is now being put on the map as an amazing cultural destination.

The winner of the Standout Australian Travel Experience was the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). It is the largest privately funded museum in Australia and is made up of the private collection of art from David Walsh, who is a Tasmanian who made his fortune as a professional gambler. Officially opened on 21 January 2011, MONA holds a number of festivals that have definitely put little old Tas on the map.

One such festival is Dark MOFO, an annual winter solstice festival, the first of which ran from June 13-23 this year.

DarkMOFO_Osborne Images

The view from Mount Wellington of  Spectra: an installation, as part of the Dark MOFO festival, by Ryoji Ikeda which shoots pure white light 15km up into the Hobart sky

(Credit: Osborne Images)

Below is a story we are republishing (with full permission) about Dark MOFO by Tasmania local Alice Hansen. Read it and get inspired about Tasmania as an awesome travel destination.


Tasmania Sees Light in the Darkness

by Alice Hansen

“It goes 780 kilometres in the air. It nearly touches China,” he calmly says holding his little sister’s hand. She looks up, wide-eyed and nods in agreement saying, “I can see a Chinaman at the top. But only just.”

Light shines on both their chubby, over-awed faces as I overhear their dramatic conversation. It takes me back to the night my father took us outside to see Halley’s Comet. It was such a momentous occasion we stood for what seemed like forever with our necks craned in fascination.



I’m at Dark Mofo’s Spectra installation with my head tilted skyward alongside what feels like the population of Hobart. It’s some 4-degrees outside and yet swarms of coat-clad silhouettes are descending on this spectacle like moths to a flame. To be honest, I’ve never seen so many people out, in the cold, embracing Tasmania’s winter.To say David Walsh has put Tasmania on the map is to understate. He may not have beamed a light straight to China, but in the imagination of two young Tasmanians, it makes no difference. For them, Dark Mofo will be etched in their memory and in their dreams and quite possibly the myth will be passed along to classmates.


But it’s not just the children that are captivated. Traffic literally rolled to a halt this morning on a main arterial when some type of whale with saggy bloody teats, floated above the city streets. Hobartians aren’t used to that.Nor, as it turns out, are they used to lying down in the middle of a public building on a fur rug with a voluptuous woman. But this mate of David’s (perhaps?) had other ideas as part of MOFO Winter Feast, while hundreds milled around food stalls. She lured a nicely-dressed lady away from her counterparts, proceeded to pull her down to the floor, and asked that they snuggle together. Promptly, the lady obliged.



As for food choice, it’s a feast fit for Princess Mary. There’s Bruny Island cheese, Willie Smith’s delicious organic cider, grass-red Angus beef from Fat Pig Farm, Ruby’s Macarons, frothy Moo Brews, signs for sexy burgers; there’s such a flurry of Tassie goodness that I don’t know where to turn.



Suitably impressed, I turn on my heel and I’m nearly collected by a lyrca-lady on roller skates. Another mate of David’s I’m sure, along with some odd-ball who’s collecting people’s left overs and pouring them into a bucket like a science experiment. It’s time to move outside.


In my excitement to take a snap that captures the crazy fireballs shooting up outside Princess Wharf 1, I step up onto a trailer. No one seems to mind, the buzz of excited chatter reminds me of the atmosphere during our summer festival season.


The trailer happens to belong to a lovey fellow named Dan who’s brought along his wood fire on said trailer, and whips out the sizzling goodness to show me. “Take a look at this, we like to call it our drunken half lobster in whisky sauce,” he says proudly.


With that, a musician erupts into song, a local throws a log into one of the fire pits and I smile at having just been invited to Stanley for a three-course-feast with my new-found lobster chef.


Not long after, a light show begins and sends a little shower across those who have hurried across to the grassy strip beneath the action.


I join as children leap, dive and laugh around me, and grandparents gaze up with a smile that indicates they’ve been to a rave or two in their day. I realise that David Walsh has done something very special.




Is it the darkness? Is it the light? Or is it the life he has brought to our Tasmanian winter this year. I’m not sure, but what I do know is that in my three Tasmanian decades I’ve never felt a more communal cheer than I did tonight. There is a pride in the air, an electricity in the new sounds, and a glow in the campfire smiles.


If this is winter in Tasmania, it shines more brightly than the European summer I lived this time last year. And might I add, I’m blatantly proud of our little Tasmania tonight….shining more brightly than ever before.While our beam may not be reaching China, this winter light has brought together an island of people like never before. And for the first time, we’ve all looked up in unison.

Images: Alice Hansen

Dark Mofo runs June 13-23 (predominantly in Hobart) and celebrates the dark through large-scale public art, food, music, light and noise.

For more awesome articles on Tasmania check out Tailored Tasmania.

Alice has written articles for national and international magazines including Australian Traveller, Jetstar, Whisky Magazine (UK), Fitness Life (NZ) and Australian Tennis Magazine. She has six published books and has written brand ads featuring in Qantas, Virgin and Gourmet Traveller and gained experience on the NBC Foreign Correspondence Desk in North Carolina. Her photography has appeared in Italian Vogue and her best selling children’s book A Devilish Tale featured on BBC’s Fast Track, reaching 180 million households worldwide and has raised more than $6,000 for the Tassie Devil Appeal.

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  1. Lisa says:

    It is on the list of places to go, my Brother lived there for 3 years and his partner she grew up there – they said its alot like NZ 🙂

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