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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.