Separated from mainland Australia by the 240 kilometres (150 miles) stretch of Bass Strait, Tasmania is a land apart - a place of wild, mountainous and beautiful landscapes; friendly, welcoming people; temperate climate; quality wines and food; a spirited history; and a creative arts community - all wrapped up in a relaxed lifestyle. More than 40 percent of the island is protected as World Heritage Area, national parks and state and marine reserves.
Hobart is Tasmania's capital and Australia's second oldest city, after Sydney.Settled in 1804 beside the wide Derwent River, it has rainforest, mountain and beaches on its outskirts. Its built heritage, mostly restored, reflects a colourful colonial history founded on convicts, whalers, wealthy merchants and seamen.
These days the southern city has a population of about 205,000 and is known for its innovative arts and crafts, maritime lifestyle, festivals and annual blue water classic, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Sandstone Georgian warehouses have been restored as artist studios, galleries, caf?s and restaurants in the historic Sullivans Cove precinct, where the street is closed each Saturday for the bustling Salamanca Market.
Historic Franklin Wharf and Princes Wharf are each worth exploring and the Battery Point Walking Tour will tell you about the architecture. Downtown, Franklin Square leads past many fine old buildings to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Macquarie Street.
In the museum, look for the display on the Tasmanian tiger (or thylacine), a handsome, striped marsupial generally thought to have been hunted to extinction by 1936. Unconfirmed sightings persist in remote parts of Tasmania.
Tasmanian tigers are depicted on the labels of Cascade beer, one of Tasmania's top drops. The city's famous Cascade Brewery (Australia's oldest) is paralleled by the less-known - but equally interesting - Tasmania Distillery. Australia's only whisky distillery uses an Alambic Charentais pot still, dating from the 1860s.
Your palate is in for a treat in Tasmania. The sharp crunch of apples, crusty bread hot from a country bakery, world-beating ales, rich cream, full-flavoured cheeses and a summer spectrum of berry fruits. Stroll around Hobart's docks on route to your meal and watch the catch delivered direct to your plate. Savour local oysters, succulent lobster or the smoky tang of Atlantic salmon. Come and experience and enjoy for yourself the wonderful harvest that Tasmanians reap from the soil and the sea.