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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tasmania


Lush with rainforests, soaring peaks and white-sand beaches backed by dense bushland, Tasmania, Australia's island state, is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Enchanting forests that include the world's tallest and rarest trees are recognised through a system of 20 national parks. The countryside owes its conservation to decades of struggle - thankfully, considering some of the most beautiful spots in Australia are to be found here.Tasmania's relatively small size contradicts its ecological diversity. Being an island, it harbours distinct wildlife, many of which are endangered or extinct elsewhere: the infamous Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tail and the eastern quoll are the three biggest carnivorous marsupials on the planet.Long periods of isolation from the mainland meant that the Tasmanian Aborigines developed their own idiosyncracies, and Tasmania is full of remnants of their heritage. When British colonisers sought a new penal colony, Tasmania's isolation rendered it favourite, triggering years of tragic violence against its Aborigines. Eeriness haunts the Victorian streets of Launceston and the penal colony Port Arthur. Tasmania's preserved buildings are both aesthetically wonderful and historically shocking.War between colonisers and indigenous inhabitants meant that by 1876, the last full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigine had died, severing a link that had run roughly 60,000 years.

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