Ah hello there *waves*. So you might have gathered by now (or not if you are new to my blog) that I live in Tasmania. In fact, I am a born and bred Tasmanian. Which is what this blog is all about – a celebration of the people and the wonderful places that make up this great island, with a little poetry along the side.
It occurred to me that many people reading this might want to know some basics about ‘Tassie’ (the affectionate nickname) particularly since our island has many guises according to which part of the world you are in. And I have noticed this all my life.
When I was a child (probably around 8), one of my teachers commenced a writing program with other children across the globe. I remember one of the first questions I was asked from my new pen friend was whether we had electricity and do kangaroos really just wander our streets?
Fast-forward a decade and traveling through the UK a few folk were intrigued by our “exotic” island. With the most common question asked, “Do Tasmanian devils really spin around as fast as in the cartoon?”. And the one that always made me chuckle was the ever so hopeful, “do women in Australia really wear bikinis to the shop????”.
So, I thought I would just put together a few fun facts about my island home (I called it Part One as I know there will be many more I think of once I post this and I am sure the Tasmanians reading this will let me know what I have missed).
1. Yes we are Australian. Same continent. Same English language. Same currency. Same passport. We are a State – Australia has six of these and two Territories.
2. We are not to be confused with Tanzania, which is a country in East Africa. That is another continent entirely.
3. Yes we have electricity, in fact, Hydro Tasmania (the energy provider) is celebrating their 100th anniversary the year (http://www.hydro.com.au/about-us).
4. Tasmanian devils do not spin around as famously portrayed in the Warner Bros. cartoon. They are also much smaller than “Taz”, are black with irregular white patches, and have quite a disturbing screech (as an aside, Koalas are cuddly looking creatures but can be rather vicious). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_devil).
5. Yes, Australia is full of kangaroos – almost 25 million of them. This outnumbers the human population of around 22 million. In Tasmania we seem to have a fair amount of wallabies, which are cuter, littler marsupial versions. Wallabies do occasionally frequent bushy backyards, however, to date, I have not seen them wandering any streets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallaby).
6. Kangaroo and Emu meat is consumed in Australia. I think we are one of the only countries in the world to eat the animals that appear on our coat of arms.
7. Tasmania’s climate is quite moderate (I would go as far to say “cool”) but the bonus is we do get four distinctive seasons – sometimes it feels like four seasons in one day! We are one of the last stops before the Antarctic.
8. In some ways we are also a little conservative compared to the rest of Australia so not many bikini clad wearers are found wandering shops! But it does happen in coastal towns during summer. If you travel north to warmer Australian states, such as Queensland, this occurs frequently.
9. We refer to the rest of Australia as “the mainland” heh. I think ‘mainlanders’ find this more amusing than we do.
10. Yes. You have heard correctly. Our scenery is pretty spectacular. It comprises national parks, world heritage areas and convict sites. Around 40 percent of the state is in protected parks and reserves.
So there, you have it, a little taster from my part of the globe.
For those interested, my poetry book on Tasmania is currently being written and will contain many photographs of our beautiful scenery, so watch this space!