The sheer vastness of Australia often surprises many. It’s one of the world’s largest continents and the one with the greatest uninhabitable land. With vast desert right through the centre, the only really comfortable areas to live are on the coasts and around a quarter way inland.
As Australia’s cities become overcrowded with need for vastly improved infrastructure, I am witnessing now, a heavy migration away from them, as they become increasingly more expensive and difficult to live in. This is no phenomenon, but having lived in Sydney most of my life, there is an exodus going on as our lifestyles and needs change, as we move with the ebb and flow of ever-increasing pressures.
The interesting thing is that this move away from our major cities isn’t happening just with those who are in the latter stages of their careers. This sea change is happening across a much younger generation. As we become aware of the perils we have created on our planet through overpopulation and the resultant damage caused, so many of all ages are seeking a healthier, cleaner, less frenetic and more sustainable life.
So, to the little island of Tasmania, which is shining so brightly, beckoning travellers to see how it’s possible to live this way, with the only shortcoming (for some) the coldest, wildest weather in Australia. With so many seeking a better, more comfortable existence away from the stress Western society places firmly on those inhabiting our main cities, Tasmania has been in a unique position to show the world its standout, special nature.
Tasmania is an industry unto itself and it has a quiet but immense power. For years now, it has been chugging along singing its praises, like a peacock displaying its multicoloured fine feathers. Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world. Next stop is Antarctica. The most abundant pristine natural environment blankets the island, with remarkable ancient plants from prehistoric times still existing, only there. The point being made by Tasmanians is that everything grown or made there is world’s best. With air and water so pure and clean, how could it not be?
Those that know me well, know I love to collect the finest tipples. A trip to Tasmania inevitably involves the discovery of some mighty fine wines and spirits. There are now hundreds of distilleries in Tasmania, all proclaiming that extra something, such as the purest water from a particular stream making their product absolutely unique.
There is even a growing industry of rainwater. The rain falls through the worlds cleanest air and is captured in bottle. It’s claimed to be the healthiest, purest water in the world. I’ve tasted it, and I must admit there is something special about it. But with the label covered up in a blind tasting, could I tell the difference? Nope. I doubt it. And how much is a bottle of captured rainwater worth? Not the double figures being asked, surely?
The explosion of produce out of Tasmania that sees world demand knows no abating. One thing I’ve noticed is the elevated price of Tasmanian produced goods, and more curiously, the slightly lessened volume that is sold. For instance, spirits tend to come in less than standard bottle sizes. The usual 700ml bottles are often 600, or even 500ml, but the price is equivalent, or more than the larger volumes produced from other areas in Australia.
With every new whisky distillery, their initial release is met with much fanfare and enthusiasm. What I find striking, is the price of that very first, untasted, yet to be acclaimed whisky is as much as one of hallowed reputation and of long history. All because it is Tasmanian.
“Industry Tasmania” is certainly clever and lucrative. It’s a marketer’s dream. With the potential to jump on the bandwagon, many younger mainlanders are uprooting and moving to the island, to begin their fledgling start-up businesses, to work and play in the best possible environment and create an enviable lifestyle.
There is certainly no doubt about the superior quality of many Tasmanian products. The flood of goods available now, may however, prove to be more detrimental to the industry, than if there were a more select and specialised variety available.
Youth culture on the island is infectious, but in a very different way from stressed-out city dwellers. Young families abound, and with a strong desire for adventure and healthy activities such as the abundant walking and hiking trails. Tasmania has been well positioned for an influx of youthful energy, adding to the growth of the island.
Tourism has been the major success story. I have found the influx of visitors obvious during my regular visits. The increase in population is also very visible. During my last few visits I have been stuck in very slow crawling traffic in Hobart, something I had not seen less than a decade ago.
Of course, the result of all this is that Tasmania’s two biggest cities, Hobart and Launceston, with the best infrastructure to sustain a higher population, will become increasingly crowded, and the issues that people ran to escape from will become evident here as well. Then where do we go? Antarctica is not an option.
But the biggest concern is that at some point, all these unique, pure, unadulterated Tasmanian products will no longer be so special. The weather is rapidly changing. Tasmania has not, and will not escape the climate change issues the whole world faces. Some reports state that it is amongst the most vulnerable. As it is right across the world, changes are expected to the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Rainfall intensity and associated flooding is projected to increase across the island, with much longer dry periods in between heavy downpours. The new and very real likelihood of regular bushfires have the potential to decimate much of the unique ecosystems. The prehistoric flora that has flourished for millennia may become extinct.
Many businesses charging premium prices now, will eventually have to rework their models or change their nature altogether. It saddens me to think how Tasmania could lose its lustre. It really is one of the most naturally beautiful and pristine environments on Earth. But this is not likely to last.
At this point for me, partly due to the stresses of life, but also due to the agonising concern of the damage we as humans have inflicted on our planet, I feel immense pressure to see as much of the world as I can as quickly as I can. I worry so much will disappear. The shortness of our lives with this internal pressure make the years feel even quicker.
I’ve been quite seduced by Tasmania and continue to be. A place such as this is indeed now, very rare. The pride of the people and the desire to produce the best of the best and make a true mark on society, and even the world, is admirable. I want to be around this kind of enthusiasm and positive vibes. A truly dazzling tourism and marketing success story, Tasmania cannot help but be applauded. But the dangers of over development and tourism coupled with climate woes are right there. The cracks are beginning to show. An interesting future lies ahead. Let’s hope it is as positive as it can be. For now, get a taste of Tassie. It’s one that will stay with you and one you’ll want to repeat. Just make sure your wallet is full, as well as your heart.