Introducing Tasmania

First things first:  Tasmania is NOT a foreign country floating somewhere in the Andaman Sea.   It is the island state of Australia at the country’s most southern point it is further south than Mornington Peninsula.   Actually, it’s a collection of islands much like Hawaii but that’s where the similarity ends.  There is nothing tropical about the weather at this last stop before the Antarctica, rather entirely more like Wisconsin or Michigan in weather . The western 37% of Tasmania is reserve land,  mountainous and snowbound in the winter.

Most of its half million people reside in the eastern and northern part of the state.   An interesting bunch, this lot.  Almost everyone is related  to a crook.  Tasmania was settled by the British as a penal colony,  and where this was once a fact to be hidden, most people today embrace their … colorful… ancestry.  There is a lot free spirit found here in the form of ageing hippies and their organic produce and earth friendly products.  Despite the rumors you’ll hear on the mainland, no one in Tasmania has two heads (a not-so-veiled hint at small island inbreeding.)   The state seems to be losing heads to the mainland anyway.   Unemployment in Tassie is the highest in the country.  The apple, beer (Cascade and Boag) , cheese (King Island cheese & beef is second to none!) and tourism industry cannot make this beautiful state more attractive to young workers and industries that would employ them.  Retirees, however, find this a most suitable place.

Another misconception to correct is the Tasmanian Devil.  Warner Brothers got the strong jaw and irritable temper correct but the rest is a bit fanciful.  The Tassie devil, found in the wild only in Tassie,  is small and black with a white collar. It is also suffering from a facial tumor that has been spreading like wildfire for 15 years now.  Conservation and breeding programs are a high priority for the residents of the state.  Unfortunately, this has also brought out bogus organizations looking to capitalize on people’s concern and generosity.      Also capturing the natives’ fancy is the Tasmanian Tiger—more of a canine with stripes and huge mouth than a big cat.  The last Tassie Tiger is said to have died in 1936 but tragics still hold out hope that their sightings and scat collections will resurrect the state emblem.   And for all you wombat fans ,  wombat poop perfectly square bricks so identifying their scat is easy enough.

Some famous Tasmanians:  actor Errol Flynn,  actor Simon Baker (from  “The Mentalist”) and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark  who met her handsome prince during the Sydney Olympics.

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