Headline, February25, 2014




FOR MANY years, Tasmania has seemed to lag behind other Australian holiday states:

 To be moving in reverse compared to the screaming, fifth-gear Americanisation of Sydney and rapid resort development in Queensland.

This is for sure changing at a very rapid pace. Not only are more Australians visiting the island, but the number of overseas visitors, especially from Europe, has increased dramatically.

For now, Tasmania has become fashionable. Its mild, maritime climate means flora and fauna thrive, and many visitors come to the island specifically for such activities as bushwalking, climbing, fishing and caving.

And for = wilderness flights into the remote and rainy south-west, home to shadowy forests and sedgelands that boast hardy sassafras and orchids, and such wildlife as the wombat, possum and famous Tasmanian Devil.

THE WESTERLIES carry air up from Antarctica that has had to cross nothing but thousands of miles of ocean.

With fewer than half a million people living in an area twice the size of Switzerland, it is also a destination which promotes its space and its  unrivalled  wilderness.

More than 30%  of the island comprises  World Heritage Areas,  national parks and reserves.

And if, at times, the place reminds you of the ruggedness and verdancy of coastal Scotland or Ireland, still the light seems more intense, the air sharper, the water purer and the sky bigger than anywhere in Europe.

As impressive the island's wildlife are, it would be negligent to visit Tasmania and not gain some appreciation of island's darker side: its cruel and violent colonial history.

Set up as a penal colony for the British convicts, lunatics and paupers who continued to misbehave after transportation, the island was run as a series of early concentration camps where punishment was far more creative than simple confinement.

Lashing, flogging, branding, the stocks and hanging were common; those few who survived were subject to hard labour, road gangs and slavery.

Worse still was the genocide of the indigenous Aborigines. The  5,000 original inhabitants of Tasmania came under attack almost immediately after the first European settlers and sealers arrived.

By 1835,  after 30 years of guerrilla war, only 135 Aborigines remained, mostly banished to Flinders Island to the north. The last Aborigine is thought to have died there in 1876.

Much of this early history has been repackaged as  ''Heritage Tasmania'' complete with homesteads and colonial mansion hotels.

It's a successful transformation  -the so-called  ''model prison''  at Port Arthur, now a museum, is now Tasmania's number-one tourist attraction.

It's well worth a visit, as is the Tasmania Museum in the sleepy capital of Hobart.

This conjunction of natural beauty stained by human brutality makes Tasmania all the more fascinating. The island's tempestuous past seems to have created a palpable fear of disorder and moral corruption.

Offenders are still dealt severely by the state government. And the state has the highest rate of unemployment in Australia.

It might have been late discovering it, but it would seem Tasmania needs its new-era tourism more than it is prepared to let on.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Tasmania. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless :

''' A Free Students Worship '''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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