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Tasmania is Australia’s only island state and is located right at the bottom corner of Australia, just 240 ks from the southeast coast of the mainland. Somewhat heart-shaped, Tasmania is full of lush forests and deep gorges holding many secret delights. The mountains are not massively tall, but are unusual for their serrated profiles. If you want fresh, pure air, Tasmania is the place to go as scientists have proven that Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world.

For such a small island, there are wild variations in the climate. Although the four seasons are experienced throughout the year, the weather varies dramatically from day to day - and even within each day, making it similar to the north of Europe. In the short distance from one side of the island to the other the difference in rainfall is marked - from 2,400 mm in the west to just around 626 mm at Hobart, making it the second driest capital city in Australia - Adelaide being the driest.

While Tasmanians think their climate is a mild one, anyone used to the searing heat of the top half of Australia would consider their summer temperatures to be quite cool at between 17 and 23 degrees Celsius - that’s winter in Queensland. What they do have are those long twilight evenings that much of mainland Australia misses out on.

One other thing that Tasmanians can enjoy that the rest of Australia misses out on is the Aurora Australis that regularly lights up the night sky. This amazing light show of violet, blue, red or green, is caused by the many charged particles streaming from the sun through the Earth’s magnetic field towards the South Pole. It can only be seen from the 40th parallel or below.

Over 40 % of the island has been set aside for national parks, with rare birds and animals under their protection. Even so, one of Australia’s most rare wild marsupials, the Tasmanian tiger or thylacine, has become extinct. Still, there have been several unproven sightings of this beast since it’s extinction was declared, so who knows what might remain hidden in those wild and isolated mountainous regions?

Quolls, bettongs, and pademelons are some of the more rare animals on Tasmania, but there are many more such as the wombat, koala, wallabies, echidna, many different possums and the Tasmanian devil. They abound here because their natural predator, the fox, has not been introduced to the island as it was to the mainland.

While the visitor might think only of visiting the one big island, there are actually 300 smaller islands grouped around Tasmania. Maria and Bruny islands are home to the rare, 40-spotted pardalote - one of the most endangered birds. Many of these islands are home to other unique, rare and endangered species of birds and sea creatures and visiting during the breeding season is discouraged.

King, Flinders and Bruny Islands are the three largest and all are settled - with their populations not reaching more than 1,000 for the largest - with provision made for tourists. You can go walking, rafting, fishing, diving or bird and animal watching. King Island is famed for its dairy produce, particularly the hand-made cheeses. Industries on the islands include gathering kelp from the beaches and diving for abalone. In all, Tasmania certainly offers its share of unique and amazing experiences to the traveller who takes the time to explore its wilderness.