It's Time to Visit TasmaniaNovember 21, 2014

On November 24, 1642, Abel Tasman and his crew were navigating the southern seas in search of the shortest route from South America to China. It was the height of the Age of Exploration, fueled after the fall of Constantinopole. This momentous event made it impossible to travel from Europe to the Far East by land. The native of Lutjegast, Netherlands first thought that Tasmania was part of New Holland, which was what the Dutch navigators would refer to Australia. It might be its unique fauna, prompting him to name it "Antony Van Diemen's Land". It was in honour of Antony Van Diemen, the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies Company.

The island had an extremely diverse vegetation, which Tasman overlooked. This wasn't what he came for. It was Holland's loss - and Britain's gain. Tobias Furneaux, Royal Navy Officer, was the first Englishman to set foot in Australia. It was 1773, more than a century after Tasman's discovery of the isle, when he and his crew were docked in Adventure Bay. Four years later, James Cook arrived. It was only before the end of the 18th century when the British explorers found out that Tasmania was an island.

Risdon Cove was the site of the first settlement. Convicts and their military guards were tasked to develop agriculture and other industries. The island was renamed Tasmania in 1856. On January 1, 1901, the British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia became the Commonwealth of Australia.

So much for history.

What will entice you to come to Tasmania? It will be difficult to answer after visiting Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. (Some will include Perth, which is on the other side of Oz.) Perhaps the following tidbits will make you think twice:

1. Tasmania is the 26th largest island in the world. Instead of arid landscape, you'll see jagged peaks resulting from glaciation. Dense forests can be seen around it. There are lots of lakes in the highlands, the postcard-like scenery is good enough to book a plane a ticket to this part of Australia. (It's not called the Island of Inspiration for nothing.)

2. Tasmania is not a one-island state. It's one big island surrounded by 334 smaller isles. An archipelago off Australia, if there's no better way of saying it. How about an island-hopping tour?

3. See the Tasmanian Devil in the flesh. If you're not from Down Under, then you first learned about the Tasmanian Devil from watching Looney Tunes shows. There's such an animal found in this island. It's a nocturnal creature, but it doesn't mind sleeping under the sun. The Tasmania tiger is another species only found in this part of Oz. Sadly, it became extinct during the early years of the 20th century.

4. The state is renowned for its production of wine. The cooler climate made this brand different from the wine from the Mediterranean region. It's due to its high acidity. (Sip a glass of wine if you guess it right.)

5. Errol Flynn is from Tasmania. Flynn, the star of swashbuckling films like "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), was a native of Tasmania. You read it right! He acted in plays before moving to London. The rest was history.

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