Tasmania's journal of discovery

Cheeky: Round Two

imageWith the second print run of his bestseller hitting the streets in time for Christmas, we asked a political outsider to review this insider’s ‘confession’.

Our reviewer, Fred Baker, found it a rollicking read:

… Cheek sends a revealing shaft of daylight through the stuffy, cobwebbed corridors of that squat sandstone pile in Salamanca Place, exposing the backroom plotting, the astonishing rorts, the jealously guarded petty fiefdoms — and the fact that in politics there’s far more cock-up than there is conspiracy.

I never thought I would recommend a book by a politician, especially by a Liberal politician, but this one stands out as a genuine page-turner, revealing how politics is really done down here. It’s worth ten tomes of theory or two tonnes of Hansard; read it and laugh as you learn.

Read the rest here

Shipstern Bluff struts its stuff


Tasmanian surf photographer Stuart Gibson has long specialised in capturing the awesome power of the heavy surf at Shipstern Bluff in south-east Tasmania, and is now sharing our state’s best breaks with the world. Emily Davey explains our local surf culture, and Stuart’s pivotal role …


The Mary Phenomenon


By Lia Vaughn | A strange thing happened when Tasmanian-born and bred Mary Donaldson met her prince in a Sydney pub and, after a courtship of three years, married him with pomp and ceremony to become the Crown Princess of Denmark.

Most of us think she’s doing a cracker job under difficult conditions. Sure, the conditions include several castles, a fleet of cars, knockout jewellery and fab outfits that make grown women weak at the knees from sheer envy.

The downside is she no longer has freedom to do, and certainly not say, what she likes and to have her every public utterance and gesture dissected by the media.

In addition, for all that the well-loved Danish monarchy is one of the more relaxed in the world, and the amiable Frederik, heir to the throne, is known for his informal manners and ability to knock back a beer, his marriage to Taroona Mary has thrust her into a world that could also be called a nightmare.

Crowds that just might be cover for a gunman, security men at every turn, and the threat of terrorists, make those public meet-and-greets daunting. Our Mary has coped with this admirably.  

The strange thing is the polarisation of Australians over the Mary phenomenon. While she is admired by the majority of her homegrown audience for her charm and poise, some people go positively apoplectic if her name is mentioned.

But mentioned it is, whether one likes it or not. The facts: the Mary Donaldson that was is today a princess, should all things being equal will become a queen, and has already produced an heir as is required by successful female royal consorts.

Which also makes her prime material for a book. Two such have just been released.

Read the reviews on Tasmanian Times and in Creative Tasmania

The Spud Wars


Potatoes were among the first vegetables planted in Risdon Cove in 1803 and helped the infant colony through its first precarious years. By 1827, Tasmania was exporting them in bulk to hungry Sydney, establishing a tradition that would last into the 1970s. But, life was never easy for the pioneering spud cockies, writes Fred Baker. More here

Life and times of the giant squid


The large deepsea squid shown above triggered its own photograph on a special undersea camera used by Antartic Division scientists during their last expedition to Heard Island, and mimics the movements of the true Giant Squid which was photographed for the first time recently by Japanese scientists.

Hobart-based Liz Turner, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology at the Tasmanian Museum in Hobart, Rosny Collections and Research Facility, says “For the world to be able to see the photographs of a live Giant Squid is a huge leap in the quest for knowledge about these gargantuans of the oceans”.

Continued …

Harsh beauty


Kingston-based marine biologist Lyn Irvine, and Andy Townsend, a Hobart freelance photographer and computer programmer, have again combined forces to produce two more calendars — Antarctica 2006 [in two sizes] — celebrating the harsh beauty of the frozen continent. We highlight some of the images in their portfolio here

Call of the Wild


Rob Blakers is one of Tasmania’s most accomplished wilderness photographers, and he waits with immense patience for the perfect moment. Share two new portfolios here and you can preview his new calendars and diary here

History in the making


When Professor Wong Shiu Hon and his wife Nancy made a second donation of Chinese antiquities to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery they gave us more than art. Beautiful though they are in themselves, these objects have an even greater significance. More here

Giant squid captured — on film


Giant squid, like something straight out of Jules Verne’s novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, have been washed ashore on Tasmania’s coast many times. In fact, Tasmania is something of a hot spot for giant squid, according to David Pemberton, senior curator of zoology at The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

But to date, all the specimens seen here in Tasmania, in New Zealand and a few other places around the world, have been dead.

Until now. The giant squid above was captured on film by Japanese scientists. The carcass below was found on a Tasmanian beach.


Continued …

Recent book reviews

There are a whole bunch of new book reviews to be found in our Creative Tasmania column. Some notables include:

Beyond Organics: Gardening for the future
By Helen Cushing

a little more: Celebrating a life of letters
By Margaret Scott

Claiming Ground:
twenty-five years of Tasmania’s Art for Public Buildings Scheme

Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger
By Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson

The Founding of Hobart 1803-1804
By Frank Bolt

River of Verse
A Tasmanian Journey 1800-2004

Found here.

Art meets science


Art met science when visual artist Peter E Churak was awarded a Synapse Art and Science Residency at CSIRO Marine Research in Hobart. From many hours of underwater video and hundreds of stills, Churak created a sensational short film — Aqualux II. See the results here.

Southern Aurora alert


The giant sunspots that brought on the dramatic Southern Aurora displays a few weeks ago are back and look like entertaining Tasmanians again. According to Shevill Mathers, our resident planetary expert, “the giant sunspots that caused the wonderful ‘light show’ a couple of weeks ago, have survived their journey around the sun and are now facing earth again. The spot group will soon vanish around the western limb of the sun’s disc, and it is near the same position when it caused the last brilliant aurora. Read more here

In the mood for love

The beautiful, but timid, Swift Parrots make their annual journey to Tasmania in August and September for the most romantic of reasons. Find out how they got their name here

Tiger cloning experiment revived

A key player in the plan to clone the Tasmanian Tiger from DNA recovered from museum specimens says the project is back on track.

The bold plans hatched in 1999 by scientists at the Australian Museum, in Sydney, to bring the thylacine back to life were abandoned earlier this year when researchers said the DNA they had recovered was too poor in quality.

Now, the museum’s former director has told Guardian Unlimited that a team of Australian and US researchers were restarting the project and hoped to use new techniques that could lead to the sequencing of the entire thylacine genome.

Continued …

Celestial alignment


By SHEVILL MATHERS | There has been a lot of interest from the general community about the bright objects low in the western evening sky. These close gatherings of celestial objects in the night sky are not common sights and to have two clear nights in succession to record their changing positions is a real treat. The photograph above was taken about 6.30pm on September 6.

Continued …

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Stanton Bed and Breakfast
The magnificent convict-built country manor, Stanton, was built in 1817, and is situated on one of Tasmania's first land grant sites — 16 acres of pasture and orchards at Magra, in the heart of the historical and beautiful Derwent Valley.

Red Tag Trout Tours
Roger Butler leads this one-man Tasmanian guiding operation which caters to flyfishers, from all over the world, who share a common goal: getting a wild brown trout to hand.

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