THE YEAR THAT WAS

Ariarne Titmus set the world on fire in the pool for Aus­tralia, but she was just one of the in­cred­i­bly suc­cess­ful, coura­geous and tal­ented Tasmanians who helped make it a year to re­mem­ber. TasWeek­end takes a look back at the year that was 2018

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - UPFRONT - WORDS LINDA SMITH, TIM MARTAIN AND AMANDA DUCKER

Ariarne Titmus was just one of the Tasmanians to make it on a global stage in a hugely ex­cit­ing and suc­cess­ful 2018 for Tassie.

Ariarne Titmus, Aus­tralia’s new­est golden girl of the pool, kicked off 2018 by win­ning four medals — three gold and one sil­ver — at the Com­mon­wealth Games. But the swim­ming su­per­star didn’t stop there — af­ter set­ting her first world record at the world short­course swim­ming ti­tles, in China ear­lier this month, the Tas­ma­nian teenager now looks to be a real con­tender for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Titmus be­gan her cam­paign at the world short­course meet on a high note, by se­cur­ing Aus­tralia’s first gold medal of the event with a record-break­ing 200m freestyle win in 1min 51.38 sec. The 200m freestyle win was also a Com­mon­wealth, Ocea­nia and na­tional record. But then the 18-year-old sen­sa­tion put in an even bet­ter per­for­mance with her 400m freestyle win of 3min 53.92 sec­onds which she swam in world record time.

This all fol­lowed a strong per­for­mance at the Pan Pa­cific Swim­ming Cham­pi­onships in Tokyo in Au­gust — Titmus didn’t win the 400m event, but be­came only the third woman to break the four-minute bar­rier and pushed Amer­i­can ri­val Katie Ledecky more than any other com­peti­tor has.

It’s the re­sult of a lot of hard work and com­mit­ment by Titmus, now based in Bris­bane with her mum Robyn, dad Steve — a former South­ern Cross news­reader — and her younger sis­ter Mia.

The Titmus fam­ily up­rooted their lives in Launce­s­ton where she’d at­tended St Pa­trick’s Col­lege and moved to Queens­land in 2015 to en­sure Ariarne had the best train­ing on of­fer. De­spite be­ing thrust into the in­ter­na­tional spot­light, Titmus re­mains down-to-earth and tries her hard­est to main­tain a “nor­mal” life away from the pool. As well as train­ing for 40 hours a week she has been com­plet­ing Years 11 and 12 part-time at St Peters Lutheran Col­lege and cel­e­brated her 18th birth­day in Sep­tem­ber.

GREEN LIGHT FOR BUILD­ING

Ho­bart’s econ­omy re­ceived a boost dur­ing the year with coun­cil is­su­ing 676 per­mits for more than half a bil­lion dol­lars’ build­ing and con­struc­tion works. In the 12 months to Oc­to­ber, $513 mil­lion worth of works were ap­proved by the Ho­bart City Coun­cil, more than dou­ble the amount dur­ing the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year when $238 mil­lion in per­mits was is­sued.

All eyes are now on the new Ho­bart City Coun­cil’s new Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds, as the city grows. “To­day [devel­op­ment] is all about style, di­rec­tion and suitabil­ity,” Reynolds told TasWeek­end last month.

“We have a choice. Do we set our bar high and say we want devel­op­ment, but we want it on our terms ... Or [do we ac­cept] the other type, the get-rich-quick, crass overde­vel­op­ment lobby that says all we need to think about is mak­ing it as easy as pos­si­ble for de­vel­op­ers to do ex­actly as they want ...”

Did some­one say Ho­bart Not High­rise?

Her­itage con­cerns flared with the State Gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment it plans to sell one of the city’s his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant build­ings, the old sand­stone Trea­sury on Mac­quarie St.

SAV­ING OUR FOOTY

We took the fight to the AFL this year, on be­half of all Tasmanians, try­ing to get a bet­ter deal for footy in Tas­ma­nia and, with the sup­port of a great many Tasmanians, we kicked some goals.

On Fe­bru­ary 6, Burnie was forced to with­draw from the TSL, barely two months af­ter Devon­port did the same, leav­ing the North-West Coast with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the state league.

As con­cerns grew that Tas­ma­nian Aussie rules could be in its death throes, AFL boss Gil­lon McLach­lan was asked what he made of the cri­sis. His re­ply was to deny there was a prob­lem.

In re­sponse, the Sun­day Tas­ma­nian and the Mer­cury launched the Save Our Footy cam­paign on Fe­bru­ary 18, ask­ing for two things: for the AFL to de­liver a strate­gic plan for foot­ball in this state, and for more fund­ing and sup­port for the Tas­ma­nian State League. In the first two weeks we gath­ered 1000 sig­na­tures to our on­line pe­ti­tion and just five days into the cam­paign the AFL an­nounced it would es­tab­lish a work­ing group (later to be­come a steer­ing com­mit­tee) to in­ves­ti­gate the is­sues raised.

McLach­lan ini­tially said he would not sit on the com­mit­tee him­self, but af­ter we called him out on that, he quickly changed his mind and got per­son­ally in­volved. That com­mit­tee an­nounced its find­ings in June, which in­cluded as­sur­ances of an ex­panded un­der-18s pro­gram for boys and girls, the con­tin­u­a­tion of the State League (TSL) as a top-tier com­pe­ti­tion un­til at least 2023, and a Tassie team in the VFL from 2021.

So the first item on our wish list ap­pears to have been de­liv­ered, in terms of paths for lo­cal play­ers. But the se­cond ask — more cash and sup­port for the TSL — ap­pears to have not been fully met. But at least the AFL now prop­erly un­der­stands the value of the TSL to Tassie, mak­ing the fight worth­while.

The fight con­tin­ues and the endgame, of course, is to even­tu­ally se­cure Tas­ma­nia’s own AFL side. With three Tasmanians drafted to the big league this year, we clearly have the tal­ent, and with Hawthorn and North Mel­bourne play­ing well-at­tended games in Tas­ma­nia, the sup­port is ob­vi­ous. TASSIE’S AFL DRAFT STARS

It was a big year for Tas­ma­nia’s young footy hope­fuls, with three lo­cal play­ers drafted into the AFL premier­ship league, two of them in the top 10. It has been more than 20 years since the last time mul­ti­ple Tas­ma­nian play­ers were drafted in the top 10.

In No­vem­ber ver­sa­tile North Launce­s­ton star Tar­ryn Thomas was picked by North Mel­bourne at num­ber eight in the draft, ful­fill­ing pre­dic­tions that the 18-year-old from Had­spen would be one of the hottest prop­er­ties in this year’s AFL draft.

Thomas has been play­ing with the Kan­ga­roos’ Next Gen­er­a­tion Academy and was al­ways go­ing to be the club’s first pick, but on the night they were forced to match a bid from Ade­laide, who also had their eyes on the 190cm mid­fielder and for­ward.

Not to be out­bid a se­cond time, the Crows suc­cess­fully nabbed an­other Launce­s­ton mid­fielder, Chayce Jones, with their num­ber nine pick. Jones had pre­vi­ously been pre­dicted to end up with Port Ade­laide. And the south of the state got a guernsey as well, with Clarence’s Fraser Turner be­ing se­lected by Rich­mond at the 58th pick.

Hav­ing three Tasmanians drafted into the AFL is a great vali- da­tion for the footy tal­ent in a state that is still cam­paign­ing to have its own team in the big league. Last year only one Tas­ma­nian was drafted, with Hugh Dixon go­ing to Fre­man­tle, and in 2016 none were drafted at all.

ECO-TOURISM BOOMS

It was an­other gold medal year for Tassie tourism na­tion­ally, but this year also goes down as one in which many Tasmanians voiced sup­port for a high-yield, low-vol­ume ap­proach to grow­ing tourism in the state. In a place where wilder­ness val­ues some­times seem as defin­ing as the wilder­ness it­self, it’s hardly a sur­prise that few lo­cals are cheer­ing about grow­ing conges­tion on high-pro­file Na­tional Park sites such as the Wine­glass Bay track. Hap­pily, two of our na­tional tourism gold medal­lists op­er­ate just the kind of low-im­pact na­ture tourism that most Tasmanians are happy to em­brace. Eco-tourism gold went to the Tas­ma­nian Walk­ing Com­pany, which was also in­ducted into the Aus­tralian Tourism Hall of Fame, and best Tour and Trans­port Op­er­a­tors went to The Maria Is­land Walk.

Saf­fire-Fr­eycinet was an­other ma­jor win­ner, tak­ing gold in Lux­ury Ac­com­mo­da­tion. Over­all Tas­ma­nia scored 12 awards from 26 cat­e­gories. Launce­s­ton will host the next Na­tional Tourism Awards in March.

INTO THE LIME­LIGHT

It has been a whirl­wind year for Tas­ma­nian truf­fle farmer turned re­al­ity TV star Henry Terry.

Henry and his sis­ter Anna made it to the fi­nal six teams on the most re­cent se­ries of My Kitchen Rules, thrust­ing them into the na­tional spot­light. The 27-year-old from Delo­raine won the hearts of fe­male fans across the na­tion and was even tipped to be the next Bach­e­lor. He didn’t end up land­ing that gig — it in­stead went to Honey Bad­ger Nick Cum­mins — but he re­mains in de­mand as a celebrity cook at pub­lic events.

Terry con­tin­ues to man­age his fam­ily’s farm Tas­ma­nian Truf­fles, which was started by his dad Tim, who un­earthed the first truf­fle on the prop­erty back in 1999. Since then, Tas­ma­nian Truf­fles has grown to be­come a world-class pro­ducer of black truf­fles and pre­mium truf­fle prod­ucts. He’s reg­u­larly at Sala­manca Mar­ket spruik­ing his pro­duce with his sis­ter.

“We loved ev­ery se­cond of MKR, but it’s also good to be home,’’ Terry said af­ter his stint on TV.

“We are now back into cook­ing and do­ing a lot more of it than ever be­fore, ex­per­i­ment­ing with some new prod­ucts for the busi­ness.”

CAP­TAIN’S CALL

In a kind of field pro­mo­tion rem­i­nis­cent of the World War I trenches, Tas­ma­nian crick­eter Tim Paine was el­e­vated to cap­tain of the Aus­tralian Test Cricket team in March this year fol­low­ing the in­fa­mous ball-tam­per­ing scan­dal.

Former cap­tain Steve Smith, vice-cap­tain David Warner and bats­man Cameron Ban­croft were all im­pli­cated in the scan­dal, in which Ban­croft was caught on cam­era rough­ing up one side of the cricket ball dur­ing the third test against South Africa in Cape Town and all three were sent home in dis­grace. In their wake, bats­man/wick­et­keeper Paine was el­e­vated to the cap­taincy, be­com­ing Aus­tralia’s 46th test skip­per and the se­cond Tas­ma­nian to lead the na­tional test side, af­ter Ricky Ponting.

It was a tough job to walk into for Paine, who not only had to pull his frac­tured team back to­gether and con­tinue the se­ries, but also had to shoul­der the bur­den of a wave of scru­tiny and pub­lic out­cry fol­low­ing the scan­dal. One colum­nist de­scribed the af­fair as be­ing “like an episode of Des­ig­nated Sur­vivor”, but Paine distin­guished him­self as far more than just next-man-in­line, show­ing a nat­u­ral tal­ent for lead­er­ship that has kept the team to­gether as it fights to re­pair the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the sport and the pub­lic.

His achieve­ments this year are all the more note­wor­thy con­sid­er­ing he had been con­sid­er­ing re­tire­ment at the be­gin­ning of the 2017-18 sea­son, be­fore be­ing re­called for the first two Ashes tests, go­ing on to score 192 runs in six in­nings dur­ing the se­ries, and also tak­ing 25 catches as wick­et­keeper.

IN­SPIRED EX­PAN­SIONS

Mona wel­comed 2018 with a fab­u­lous new $32 mil­lion wing, Pharos, hous­ing four works by Amer­i­can light artist James Tur­rell. The art­work and ar­chi­tec­ture were de­vel­oped to­gether to be­come what Mona owner David Walsh de­scribed in Jan­uary as “a tem­ple to light, to the his­tory of ideas, a pro­ces­sional … and a jour­ney through the birth canal.”

The most lu­cra­tive land­scape art award in the world had its se­cond birth­day, with the $100,000 Hadley’s Art Prize won by Tas­ma­nian res­i­dent Neil Had­don with his paint­ing The Visit. The art­work was in­spired by HG Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds. The ac­quis­i­tive prize is spon­sored by Hadley’s Ori­ent Ho­tel in Ho­bart’s Mur­ray St. (En­tries for next year’s prize open on Jan­uary 4.) In March, the Glover Prize, worth $50,000, was won by first-time en­trant Halinka Orszu­lok with Ponies, a de­pic­tion of a chil­dren’s play­ground at Cataract Gorge.

It was a big year for Ho­bart’s Bett Gallery, with a move down­town from its long-term home in El­iz­a­beth St, North Ho­bart. “It’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for us to move into the city; it’s be­ing re­vi­talised and the arts is a part of that,” Emma Bett, who runs the gallery with brother Jack, said of the move to level one of a 10-storey of­fice build­ing re­vi­talised over the year as Stu­dio 65. The move is part of an es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional shift of top gal­leries re­al­is­ing they don’t nec­es­sar­ily need street frontage in the dig­i­tal age to thrive. Con­tem­po­rary Des­pard Gallery moved its op­er­a­tion up­stairs on Castray Es­planade in 2015.

BORN SUR­VIVOR

Olympic swim cham­pion and adopted Tas­ma­nian Shane Gould showed that she can still out­wit, out­play and out­last the best of them when she won this year’s sea­son of re­al­ity show Aus­tralian Sur­vivor in Oc­to­ber.

Gould, who moved to Bicheno on the East Coast with husHo­bart’s band Mil­ton Nelms about a decade ago, picked up $500,000 in prize money af­ter be­ing named Sole Sur­vivor in the hotly con­tested Cham­pi­ons vs Con­tenders se­ries of the pop­u­lar pro­gram.

Born in Syd­ney in 1956, Gould shot to fame at the age of just 15 af­ter win­ning five medals in the pool at the 1972 Mu­nich Olympics. Now aged 61, she still swims in the ocean off Bicheno ev­ery morn­ing and while she prides her­self on her phys­i­cal fit­ness, she says she also knew when to rely on her wits in­stead, against younger and stronger com­peti­tors on the show.

A nat­u­ral com­peti­tor, Gould stud­ied sev­eral sea­sons of Sur­vivor in prepa­ra­tion for her own time on the show, say­ing her grasp of the most suc­cess­ful strate­gies was her key to win­ning. And hav­ing been at­tracted to Tas­ma­nia for the quiet out­door life­style, she is not plan­ning to let the prize money en­dan­ger the idyl­lic seren­ity she has found in Bicheno.

All she wants to do is build the en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able home she has al­ways dreamt of be­side the wa­ter, with a li­brary full of books, in mem­ory of her late mum, who al­ways dreamt of hav­ing a li­brary.

HOUS­ING PRICES SOAR

Tas­ma­nia’s real es­tate mar­ket has soared this past year, with Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of Tas­ma­nia data show­ing 21 prop­er­ties broke the $2 mil­lion mark in the 12 months to Sep­tem­ber, up 62 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year.

Ho­bart is on track to be the best per­form­ing cap­i­tal city in 2019 and the state is set to have its best sales fig­ures in 14 years.

Sandy Bay is the golden suburb, with 10 prop­er­ties sell­ing for $2 mil­lion or more, fol­lowed by North Ho­bart with three sales of over $2 mil­lion. The re­main­ing $2 mil­lion prop­er­ties were in Bel­lerive, Bat­tery Point, Ta­roona and New Town.

Ac­cord­ing to the REIT, the state be­comes pro­gres­sively more at­trac­tive to de­vel­op­ers and in­vestors as it sells more high­priced prop­er­ties, so these mas­sive sale prices end up driv­ing in­creased de­mand for new prop­er­ties. And ac­cord­ing to Char­lotte Peter­swald Prop­erty agent Kim Mor­gan, it is over­whelm­ingly lo­cal Aus­tralian buy­ers pay­ing seven fig­ures for lux­ury homes, not over­seas in­vestors.

While all this has been great for in­vestors it hasn’t been such good news for those strug­gling to af­ford in­creased rental prices or those want­ing to buy their first homes.

ECO­NOMIC POW­ER­HOUSE

Dur­ing the 2017-2018 fi­nan­cial year, Tas­ma­nia’s econ­omy recorded its fastest growth in a decade and, for the first time in nine years, it grew at a faster rate than the na­tional av­er­age.

A re­port by the Tas­ma­nian Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try by economist Saul Es­lake, re­leased this month, found that Tas­ma­nia’s im­proved eco­nomic per­for­mance saw the state’s pop­u­la­tion growth rise to its fastest pace in nine years.

Broadly speak­ing, the re­port’s find­ings were good news. In­comes are up; con­fi­dence and con­sump­tion are up; ex­ports are up and both hous­ing and busi­ness in­vest­ment are go­ing strongly; our pop­u­la­tion is ris­ing, thanks to strong in­ter­state mi­gra­tion; the num­ber of over­seas stu­dents in the state has dou­bled in three years; vis­i­tor num­bers are boom­ing, and they are stay­ing longer and spend­ing more; and the state bud­get is strong.

The re­port sug­gested Tas­ma­nia’s eco­nomic suc­cess is more likely due to ex­ter­nal fac­tors such as ben­e­fi­cial ex­change rates, in­creased GST pay­ments and favourable eco­nomic con­di­tions in­ter­state than it is to do with good gov­er­nance on the State Gov­ern­ment’s be­half. But Es­lake says the Gov­ern­ment does have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to make the most of the con­di­tions, and take the op­por­tu­nity to tackle long over­due tax re­forms. He says ma­jor tax re­forms should in­clude broad­en­ing the base and low­er­ing the rate of pay­roll tax, and re­plac­ing stamp du­ties on land trans­fers with a more broadly based land tax.

The re­port notes that un­der­em­ploy­ment and un­em­ploy­ment rates are still high in Tas­ma­nia, we con­tinue to record sub­stan­dard health and ed­u­ca­tion out­comes, and hous­ing avail­abil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity is at cri­sis point. There is work to do.

THE SOUNDS OF SUC­CESS

Af­ter be­ing nom­i­nated for eight dif­fer­ent awards in this year’s

ARIAs, Tas­ma­nian singer-song­writer Court­ney Bar­nett picked up the tro­phy for Best Rock Al­bum in the No­vem­ber awards cer­e­mony. Bar­nett won the ARIA for her se­cond al­bum, Tell Me How You Re­ally Feel, and she per­formed the sin­gle, Char­ity, at the awards. Among Bar­nett’s other nom­i­na­tions were Ap­ple Mu­sic Al­bum of the Year and Best Fe­male Artist.

A former stu­dent of St Michael’s Col­le­giate in Ho­bart, Bar­nett made her first solo ap­pear­ance at Ho­bart’s Lark Dis­tillery and made in­ter­na­tional head­lines in 2015 with her hugely suc­cess­ful de­but al­bum, Some­times I Sit and Think, And Some­times I Just Sit. That al­bum re­ceived four ARIA awards, a Grammy nom­i­na­tion, and APRA and triple j awards. Her se­cond al­bum, Tell Me How You Re­ally Feel, was re­leased in May.

Tas­ma­nian bands Luca Brasi and The Wolfe Broth­ers were also nom­i­nated in this year’s ARIAs.

TRANS­GEN­DER TRI­UMPH

It has been a case of so close yet so far for Tas­ma­nia’s trans­gen­der and gen­der di­verse com­mu­nity this year.

Fol­low­ing last year’s his­toric “yes” vote in the mar­riage equal­ity postal sur­vey, which re­sulted in the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment grant­ing equal rights for same-sex cou­ples to marry, the states had un­til this De­cem­ber to amend their leg­is­la­tion, re­mov­ing the re­quire­ment for trans­gen­der peo­ple to divorce in or­der to have their change of gen­der recog­nised.

This up­com­ing leg­isla­tive re­form proved to be the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity to cam­paign for fur­ther re­forms that could be made si­mul­ta­ne­ously. The lobby group Trans­form­ing Tas­ma­nia has spent 2018 push­ing for a num­ber of ad­di­tional changes, in­clud­ing re­mov­ing the re­quire­ment that gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery must be com­pleted be­fore the new gen­der can be recog­nised, and mak­ing it op­tional to record some­one’s sex on their birth cer­tifi­cate.

The La­bor and Green par­ties united to in­clude the ad­di­tional amend­ments to the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion, and Lib­eral Speaker Sue Hickey crossed the floor 11 times to sup­port the changes, which passed the Lower House. But de­spite signs of change, the Bill never reached the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil for de­bate be­fore the end of the Par­lia­men­tary year. In what some have de­scribed as a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt at stalling, the Gov­ern­ment pulled the Mar­riage Amend­ment Bill at the last minute, say­ing it would have to be de­bated by the Up­per House when Par­lia­ment re­sumes in March. The de­lay means Tas­ma­nia is at odds with the fed­eral re­quire­ment that the divorce as­pects be re­moved by De­cem­ber 9. Trans­gen­der ac­tivists are con­fi­dent the amended Bill will have suf­fi­cient sup­port from MLCs to be passed into law in the new year.

SE­NIORS LIVE LONGER AT HOME

The in­tro­duc­tion of new home care pack­ages fol­low­ing the Fed­eral Bud­get in May has proven pop­u­lar, with Aus­tralians wel­com­ing the op­por­tu­nity to stay at home, in­stead of need­ing to en­ter in­sti­tu­tion­alised care when in need of aged or dis­abil­ity care. Home care — avail­able to any older Aus­tralian as­sessed as be­ing el­i­gi­ble, or a younger per­son with a dis­abil­ity, de­men­tia or other spe­cial care needs — was a cen­tre­piece of the Gov­ern­ment’s May bud­get, with its prom­ise of an ex­tra 14,000 home care pack­ages worth $1.6 bil­lion over four years.

As well as be­ing able to choose to stay at home, peo­ple are able to choose their own care provider and how to spend the funds they have been al­lo­cated, mak­ing respite — as well as weekly out­ings to the foot­ball, cof­fee or break­fast in cafes with friends or car­ers, and par­tic­i­pa­tion in events like the Dark Mofo Nude Sol­stice Swim — a real pos­si­bil­ity for those who want it.

Gra­ham Mineall, of Launce­s­ton, is one of the 2000 Tasmanians who are re­ceiv­ing home care pack­ages. The 74-year-old is wheel­chair bound as a re­sult of hav­ing Mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. He told TasWeek­end he was able to change providers as a re­sult of the changes to aged care, and ful­fil a dream to par­tic­i­pate in the sol­stice swim. “It was a fun, ex­cit­ing day full of at­mos­phere,” he said. “It was just fan­tas­tic.”

But there is a long wait­ing list for prospec­tive clients. Fund­ing has fallen short of de­mand, with 104,600 peo­ple on a na­tional wait­ing list, in­clud­ing 2500 Tasmanians. Tas­ma­nian com­men­ta­tors are con­cerned about the huge wait­ing list, how many peo­ple are on lower-level pack­ages than they re­quire (while wait­ing for a top-level pack­age), and why Tas­ma­nia with its age­ing pop­u­la­tion is re­ceiv­ing fewer top-level pack­ages than states such as Queens­land.

TRI–ATH­LETE OF THE YEAR

Triath­lete Jake Birtwhis­tle was named the Tas­ma­nian In­sti­tute of Sport’s 2018 Ath­lete of the Year last month, edg­ing out fel­low Launce­s­to­nian, swim­mer Ariarne Titmus.

Birtwhis­tle won gold in the mixed re­lay and an in­di­vid­ual sil­ver in the men’s triathlon at this year’s Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast, and he fin­ished in third place in the ITU World Triathlon Se­ries world cham­pi­onships, tak­ing in seven events around the world, mak­ing him just the se­cond Aus­tralian to ever achieve a podium fin­ish in the se­ries.

Birtwhis­tle also helped Aus­tralia to sil­ver at the world cham­pi­onships in Ham­burg and gold in the World Triathlon Se­ries event in Ed­mon­ton in the mixed re­lay event.

His goal for 2019 is to qual­ify for the Tokyo Olympics.

BREAK­THROUGH RE­SEARCH

The Univer­sity of Tas­ma­nia has re­leased ex­cit­ing re­search this year, prov­ing again that the in­sti­tu­tion holds its own on the global stage in terms of aca­demic ex­cel­lence.

UTAS-led re­search, which de­vel­oped break­through tech­nol­ogy de­signed to re­duce in­fant mor­tal­ity, was li­censed to UKbased in­fant life-sup­port de­vice man­u­fac­turer SLE Ltd. The abil­ity to breathe nor­mally is of­ten the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing pre­ma­ture ba­bies and the Tas­ma­nian-de­vel­oped tech­nol­ogy au­to­mat­i­cally con­trols the con­cen­tra­tion of oxy­gen in the gas de­liv­ered to a baby’s lungs, while they are re­ceiv­ing breath­ing sup­port.

A team of divers from the In­sti­tute for Marine and Antarc­tic Stud­ies (IMAS) and the cit­i­zen science project Reef Life Sur­vey (RLS) dis­cov­ered a new pop­u­la­tion of what is be­lieved to be the world’s rarest fish. Red Hand­fish (Thymichthys poli­tus) had only been found off south east Tas­ma­nia, un­til a new site was dis­cov­ered this year. Each site con­tains around 20-40 in­di­vid­u­als.

The Tas­ma­nian com­mu­nity played a lead­ing role in a longterm study of in­ter­na­tional sig­nif­i­cance that looked at the ef­fects of a low daily dose of as­pirin for peo­ple aged over 70. The ASPREE (AS­Pirin in Re­duc­ing Events in the El­derly) trial found that a daily dose of as­pirin does not pro­long life free of dis­abil­ity, nor does it sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the risk of a first heart at­tack or stroke among par­tic­i­pants. Men­zies Pro­fes­sor of Gen­eral Prac­tice, Pro­fes­sor Mark Nel­son, was a chief in­ves­ti­ga­tor on the study, which was led by a team of Monash Univer­sity re­searchers and in­cluded more than 19,000 par­tic­i­pants in Aus­tralia and the US, with more than 2000 of these from Tas­ma­nia.

IRONMAN CHAM­PION

Seven years af­ter mov­ing to Queens­land at the age of 18 to chase his dream of qual­i­fy­ing for the Nutri-Grain Ironman Se­ries, former Clifton Beach surf life­saver Matt Bevilac­qua tri­umphed in March, be­com­ing the first Tas­ma­nian to be crowned Ironman Cham­pion.

The former St Vir­gil’s Col­lege stu­dent, now 25, has won three straight Molokai 2 Oahu Hawaii ti­tles since 2015, and while he en­tered the 2017-18 ironman se­ries in good form, he never dared to dream he might ac­tu­ally take home such a re­sound­ing over­all vic­tory.

Not con­tent to rest on his lau­rels, the three-times world pad­dle­board cham­pion says he plans to keep mov­ing for­ward, chas­ing more wins and en­joy­ing the sport as much as he can for as long as he can. Through­out his early teenage years, Bevilac­qua re­mem­bers wak­ing up for train­ing at 5am, hos­ing the ice off his surf life­sav­ing skis, and plung­ing into Tas­ma­nia’s freez­ing win­ter waves. He says grow­ing up in these harsh surf con­di­tions is what gives him the edge over his com­peti­tors, a tough­ness bred by the bru­tal Tassie coast.

BOWLS STAR SHINES

Launce­s­ton lawn bowler Re­becca Van Asch had a big year, pick­ing up two gold medals at the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games in April, fol­lowed by the Aus­tralian Open Sin­gles ti­tle in June. Com­ing into the Com­mon­wealth Games, Aus­tralia had not won a gold medal in the Games’ lawn bowls since Mel­bourne 2006.

Van Asch, 30, helped to break that drought first with a gold medal in the Women’s Fours, fol­lowed by a se­cond in the Women’s triples com­pe­ti­tion.

And in June, also on the Gold Coast, the Bowls Tas­ma­nia chief ex­ec­u­tive ce­mented her cham­pion sta­tus by tak­ing first place in the Aus­tralian Open’s Sin­gles com­pe­ti­tion. The 2017 joint-Tas­ma­nian In­sti­tute of Sport Ath­lete of the Year (she shared the ac­co­lade with Ho­bart row­ing world cham­pion Sarah Hawe) also an­nounced her preg­nancy around this time, re­veal­ing she had to sit out some post-Com­mon­wealth Games pro­mo­tional play­ing com­mit­ments due to morn­ing sick­ness, but had been un­able to ex­plain to her team­mates why she was out of ac­tion. And in her ca­pac­ity at Bowls Tas­ma­nia, Van Asch has been par­tic­u­larly thank­ful for the huge ex­po­sure the sport en­joyed in the wake of her team’s twin gold medals at the Com­mon­wealth Games, and hopes it keeps driv­ing an in­crease in peo­ple tak­ing up the sport.

A GOAL FOR WOMEN’S FOOTY

Since the an­nounce­ment late last year that the North Mel­bourne Kan­ga­roos AFL Women’s teem would be based out of Tas­ma­nia, the side has been on a fierce re­cruit­ment drive, sign­ing some of the state’s and the coun­try’s finest. North Mel­bourne was awarded an AFLW li­cence to form a team in part­ner­ship with Tas­ma­nia, as part of the AFLW, which is en­joy­ing a spec­tac­u­lar rise in pop­u­lar­ity over its two sea­sons so far.

The North Mel­bourne-Tas­ma­nian Kan­ga­roos will form part of a 10-side com­pe­ti­tion in the 2019 footy sea­son. In May it was an­nounced that su­per­stars Kait­lyn Ash­more, Emma King and Moana Hope were the lat­est su­per­stars to sign with the club.

Pre­vi­ously play­ing for Colling­wood, in 2016 Hope be­came the first player to kick 100 goals in a sea­son in Vic­to­ria’s women’s league and is ar­guably the league’s most fa­mous face.

Ash­more, King and Hope joined Emma Kear­ney, Jas Gar­ner, Jamie Stan­ton, Danielle Hardi­man, Jess Duf­fin, Kate Gille­spieJones, Tahlia Ran­dall, Brit­tany Gib­son, Jenna Bru­ton, Daria Ban­nis­ter, Mad­di­son Smith, Ash Rid­dell, Ge­or­gia Nan­scawen and Elisha King in North’s in­au­gu­ral team. The Kan­ga­roos will play their de­but match against Carl­ton at North Ho­bart Oval, Fe­bru­ary 3.

PUB­LISH­ING TRI­UMPHS

An ec­cen­tric fash­ion de­signer penned one of this year’s most pop­u­lar books set in Tas­ma­nia. The May launch of Alan­nah Hill’s ex­traor­di­nary mem­oir, But­ter­fly on a Pin, at­tracted hun­dreds of read­ers to its Ho­bart launch, many dressed in vin­tage items from the Tassie-born fash­ion­ista’s epony­mous range.

When it comes to lit­er­ary events, though, the month-long Peo­ple’s Li­brary in­stal­la­tion at Sala­manca Arts Cen­tre in Sep­tem­ber takes the cake. The heart of the project by Justy Phillips and Mar­garet Wood­ward was the pub­li­ca­tion and dis­play of more than 100 books of Tas­ma­nian sto­ries in Long Gallery, with live read­ings and even a big bed for read­ers in res­i­dence at the Long Gallery. “What re­ally came through was peo­ple’s need to share very per­sonal sto­ries,” Wood­ward said.

Other pub­lish­ing high­lights in­clude the launch of Kingston Beach nov­el­ist Heather Rose’s The Mu­seum of Modern Love in New York last month, and an in­ven­tive first novel, Flames, by Ho­bart copy­writer Rob­bie Arnott.

WINE­MAK­ERS TOAST SUC­CESS

If you haven’t tasted wine­maker Fred Pea­cock’s cool-cli­mate Bream Creek whites yet, this is the sum­mer for it. Pea­cock is Gourmet Trav­eller mag­a­zine’s Aus­tralian Viti­cul­tur­al­ist of the Year and he’s won a swag of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards.

Last month’s Ef­fer­ves­cence fes­ti­val in the north was a ju­bi­lant cel­e­bra­tion of Tassie sparkling, with wine au­thor­ity Tyson Stelzer say­ing it’s our ac­cess to cool through lat­i­tude rather than al­ti­tude that gives our sparkling a re­fine­ment to ri­val tra­di­tional Cham­pagnes. As if to prove the point, House of Ar­ras sparkling pi­o­neer Ed Carr be­came the first Aus­tralian ever to re­ceive a Life­time Achieve­ment Award at the Cham­pagne and Sparkling Wine World Cham­pi­onships this year – a nice ad­di­tion to the wine­maker’s 225 gold medal tally on the wine show cir­cuit.

Mean­while, Gran­ton wine­maker Ste­fano Lu­biana won World’s Top Bio-Dy­namic Wine for the third con­sec­u­tive year, with a pinot noir.

A SPIR­ITED SEA­SON

Sul­li­vans Cove head dis­tiller Pa­trick Maguire was in­ducted into the global Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame this year. It’s the in­dus­try’s high­est in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lade, and the only two Aus­tralians ever to re­ceive it are Maguire and an­other Tas­ma­nian, Bill Lark. Both men were decades ahead of the craft dis­till­ing ma­nia that has seized the state.

Speak­ing of which, our bou­tique gins con­tinue to mul­ti­ply and wow afi­ciona­dos. Ho­bart’s one-day gin fes­ti­val, Gin­uary, re­turns to Mac­quarie Point next month. Cider has also had a strong year, with its pa­gan-in­spired tribute fes­ti­val the Huon Val­ley Mid Win­ter Fes­ti­val at­tract­ing thou­sands. Sum­mer is a great time to spend a day me­an­der­ing along The Tas­ma­nian Cider Trail (tas­cider­trail.com). And keep an eye out for the Cider Awards at Launce­s­ton’s Fes­ti­vale on Fe­bru­ary 1-3.

TASSIE SPENDS BIG ON EAT­ING OUT

The Ho­bart food scene has out­done it­self again this year, with Tassie’s night-time econ­omy surg­ing past the na­tional av­er­age, and do­ing it in style. The year’s big­gest event is yet to come, with a reimag­ined Taste of Tas­ma­nia launch­ing at Princes Wharf No.1 next Fri­day. The jam-packed pro­gram fea­tures many new el­e­ments, in­clud­ing ex­clu­sive cook­ing work­shops hosted by a swathe of top chefs who have come on board, but as ever it also has a fam­ily-friendly fo­cus.

Dark Mofo’s Win­ter Feast, run­ning over seven glo­ri­ous nights in June, lured the city out on the chill­i­est of days once more with its fiery magic and in­ven­tive cui­sine. Seven Tas­ma­nian res­tau­rants achieved cov­eted hat sta­tus in the 2019 na­tional Good Food Guide Awards, with The Agrar­ian Kitchen Eatery and Franklin both awarded two hats. One-hat win­ners were Tem­plo, Fico, Dier Makr, The Source and Stillwater. Gourmet Trav­eller named The Agrar­ian Kitchen Eatery chef Ali Cur­rey-Voumard as the na­tion’s best new cook­ing tal­ent.

MERINO WOOL HITS SWEET SPOT

It was in­ter­na­tional glory for Tassie farm­ers Matt and Vanessa Dun­babin when they shared the stage with ac­tor Cate Blanchett at the Green Car­pet Fash­ion Awards in Mi­lan in Sep­tem­ber. The Du­nal­ley sheep and cat­tle farm­ers, who also run Ban­gor Vine­yard Shed cel­lar door and restau­rant, were pre­sented with an Eco Ste­ward­ship award for their sus­tain­able wool pro­duc­tion by the Aussie Os­car win­ner. Matt was awarded Kon­dinin Group’s Aus­tralian Farmer of the Year in 2015.

The same award was won this year by Tassie salmon farm­ing pioneers Peter and Frances Ben­der of Huon Aqua­cul­ture, the first fish farm­ers ever to re­ceive it.

TWIN SUR­PRISES

Tas­ma­nian ac­tor Bon­nie Sveen made head­lines in Sep­tem­ber when she gave birth to twins at the Royal Ho­bart Hospi­tal.

The former Home And Away star, who grew up in the Huon Val­ley, wel­comed iden­ti­cal twin daugh­ters Myr­tle Mae and Emer­ald Lois a few weeks ahead of their ex­pected Oc­to­ber ar­rival.

The ba­bies spent al­most two weeks in the Royal’s neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit, with Sveen and her part­ner Nathan Goo­ley stay­ing at Ho­bart’s Ron­ald McDon­ald House to be close to their girls. The cou­ple had been split­ting their time be­tween Tas­ma­nia, NSW and Queens­land prior to the twins’ birth and are now be­lieved to be liv­ing in ru­ral Tas­ma­nia.

Sveen be­gan act­ing with the Huon Val­ley The­atre Com­pany as a child and at­tended Rosny Col­lege be­fore mov­ing to Syd­ney to at­tend the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dra­matic Art.

She re­mains a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for her home state — she is an am­bas­sador for the Save the Tas­ma­nian devil Ap­peal, ap­pear­ing on Tas­ma­nian tele­vi­sion ads sup­port­ing the cause.

She has also added her voice to cam­paigns to save the state’s forests and en­dan­gered wildlife, in­clud­ing the swift par­rot.

The 29-year-old is best known for her role as Ricky Sharpe on Home And Away, which won her a Lo­gie Award for Most Pop­u­lar New Tal­ent. She left the show in 2016 but has more re­cently ap­peared on The Se­cret Daugh­ter along­side Jes­sica Mauboy.

She dis­cov­ered she was preg­nant while film­ing her first fea­ture film, Aus­tralian war flick Es­cape And Eva­sion, on the Gold Coast and says she’s “over the moon” to be a mum.

DOGGED AP­PROACH PAYS OFF

Taxi the stray dog from Van­u­atu em­barked on the ad­ven­ture of a life­time af­ter bud­dy­ing up with a Tas­ma­nian woman who was hol­i­day­ing over­seas. North Ho­bart woman Liza-Jane Sow­den, 41, met Taxi while vis­it­ing the is­land of Santo ear­lier this year. The friendly pooch fol­lowed Ms Sow­den ev­ery­where — in­clud­ing to her friend’s wed­ding — leav­ing her feel­ing she had no choice but to adopt him and bring him home to Tas­ma­nia.

Af­ter a pop­u­lar crowd-fund­ing cam­paign, count­less med­i­cal checks and a 3500km jour­ney half­way across the globe, Taxi ar­rived in Ho­bart.

He ar­rived “full of love and af­fec­tion” and joined Ms Sow­den, her part­ner, and their Ho­bart res­cue dog Zorro at his new for­ever home. You can fol­low Taxi’s progress here: face­book.com/

taxis­ride18

THE AP­PLE ISLE

When tech gi­ant Ap­ple re­leased a list of its top eight apps for 2018 this month, three Aus­tralian-made apps made the list — and one was Tas­ma­nian. Pro­cre­ate Pocket, an il­lus­tra­tion and sketch tool was cre­ated by North Ho­bart il­lus­tra­tor James Cuda and his wife Alanna, and their 20 staff at Sav­age In­ter­ac­tive.

The top Ap­ple award is the fourth col­lected by Mr Cuda un­der his Pro­cre­ate brand, which had be­come a world­wide hit on iPad with graphic de­sign­ers and il­lus­tra­tors. Ap­ple noted the iPhone-friendly Pocket ver­sion of the app un­locked “the power of iPhone as a tool for pro­fes­sion­als and hob­by­ists alike”.

“It’s huge for us, it’s amaz­ing to be recog­nised by such an amaz­ing com­pany who prac­ti­cally wrote the book on modern soft­ware de­sign and devel­op­ment,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of peo­ple in the pro­fes­sional cre­ative space give us feed­back that they love the iPhone ver­sion, specif­i­cally be­cause it gives you an en­tire pro­fes­sional art stu­dio in your pocket.”

Hav­ing three Aus­tralian apps in the global top-eight list is a good sign for Aus­tralia’s app in­dus­try, which em­ployed more than 113,000 peo­ple last year and punches well above its weight world­wide. Ex­perts say Aus­tralia’s dig­i­tal in­dus­try is fore­cast to grow by more than 13 per cent this fi­nan­cial year in an in­dus­try set to rake in $157 bil­lion by 2022. IBISWorld es­ti­mates home­made apps will bring in $2 bil­lion this fi­nan­cial year and grow by 13.7 per cent.

GOLDEN GIRL

Pen­guin-born cy­clist Amy Pauwels, nee Cure, picked up two gold medals at the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games in April. Her first win was in the team pur­suit event on the open­ing night of com­pe­ti­tion, soon fol­lowed by an­other first-place fin­ish in a per­fectly ex­e­cuted 10km scratch race. The dou­ble gold made Pauwels a mul­ti­ple ju­nior world cham­pion, mul­ti­ple se­nior world cham­pion and mul­ti­ple Com­mon­wealth cham­pion.

Based in Bel­gium dur­ing the Eu­ro­pean com­pe­ti­tion sea­son, she mar­ried Bel­gian phys­io­ther­a­pist and os­teopath An­thony Pauwels in Oc­to­ber.

RE­GION’S RE­BIRTH

Tas­ma­nia’s North is chal­leng­ing the long-held be­lief that all the most ex­cit­ing events and de­vel­op­ments are based around Ho­bart. The most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple of this was the de­ci­sion by Mona Foma or­gan­is­ers to hold this sum­mer’s mu­sic and art fes­ti­val in Launce­s­ton in­stead of Ho­bart for the first time, go­ing so far as to ad­ver­tise on bill­boards in Amish com­mu­ni­ties in the US, run­ning their own “pri­vate air­line” to bring in vis­i­tors from in­ter­state, and of­fer­ing a money-back-guar­an­tee to Ho­bar­tians, dar­ing them to buy tick­ets, travel north and en­joy them­selves.

The Party In The Pad­dock mu­sic fes­ti­val, held just out­side of Launce­s­ton, has risen from be­ing lit­er­ally a party held in a pad­dock at White Hills to be­ing a na­tion­ally renowned mu­sic fes­ti­val, with its up­com­ing Fe­bru­ary fes­ti­val be­ing head­lined by UK artist Lily Allen. The open­ing of the re­fur­bished Star The­atre at In­ver­may ear­lier this year fi­nally gave Launce­s­ton an in­de­pen­dent cin­ema, along the lines of Ho­bart’s cher­ished State Cin­ema, giv­ing film lovers a li­censed venue to en­joy see­ing movies out­side of the main­stream big chains. And 2018 also saw the open­ing of the paranaple cen­tre in Devon­port, bring­ing to­gether the city’s civic ser­vices along with the en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre, arts space and even a cui­sine precinct, all in one cen­tral lo­ca­tion in the city’s heart. Add this to the con­tin­ued suc­cess of events such as Fes­ti­vale, Junc­tion Fes­ti­val, and the Panama fes­ti­val.

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