The wonderful island that is Tasmania

The Australian island of Tasmania, 26th largest island in the world, lies about 150 miles south of continental Australia, and one of its promotional slogans is “a world apart, not a world away”. About 37% of its approximately 24,000 square miles consists of natural reserves, national parks and World Heritage sites; it is arguably one of the cleanest and most unspoiled spots on the planet. Here is one place you needn’t worry about drinking the water; it’s pure enough to bottle right from the tap.

The majority of Tasmania’s population is found in and around Hobart, the state capital, but in the north east the hub for tourists is Stanley, named for Lord Stanley, British Prime Minister for three terms. The town has a notable landmark known as The Nut, a round volcanic plug with a flat top, 143 metres high with very steep sides. It’s possible to walk up a (very steep) path, but for the less stalwart there’s also a chairlift. Either way the view is quite literally breathtaking.

Stanley is also the main fishing village and very much oriented to the sea. A visit to the Seaquarium gives you a chance to meet some of the local marine characters such as the Tasmanian Giant Crab that can grow as large as 16 kilos.

The Tarkine Wilderness, encompassing about 4,500 square kilometres, is Australia’s largest surviving primeval rainforest, and much of the land is inaccessible; a large faction wants to keep it that way and give it National Park status. At present the virtually unprotected Tarkine is home to a marvellous variety of flora and fauna including more than 60 rare and endangered species. From Wedge-tailed eagles to Tasmanian Devils, and from Dismal Swamp to wild rivers, this is an unrivalled natural heritage.