We are in Tasmania, the southern-most and possibly the most beautiful state of Australia. Australia's only
island state. We can be found on any good-quality map, adrift in the ocean below Australia's
southern coast and to the left of New Zealand (home of the mighty
Here are some (disputable) facts about Tasmania:
- Tasmania is famous for its apples, or so we are told. By and large the fruit in Tasmania's shops
is pretty ordinary. Many of Tasmania's apple growers have been driven to do other things now that
we all share in the wonders of the global economy and its benefits. You know: benefits like poorer
quality food-stuffs, shoes and clothes made by grossly underpaid Indians and Chinese but all cheaper than
the local product. A triumph for the middle-man.
- 99.3% of Tasmanians are one-eyed devotees of an Australian game called "footy" or "rules"
or "Aussie Rules". The game's correct title is Australian Football League but
was known more commonly as Australian Rules Football. This is a misnomer
because there are no rules to the game other than the ball must stay inside a playing area which is about the
size of 15 soccer pitches. Well, it seemed that big the last time and only time I played. In rules football men are men,
are as tough as nails and allowed to do almost anything during the game, short of killing the opposition. They tend
wear tight, small shorts and sleeveless shirts. The game has a significant female following.
- A very small minority of Tasmanians (approximately 0.7%) are devoted to Rugby Union
and the mighty Wallabies. For a short while the Wallabies were mightier than the All Blacks, and I prayed that this
would continue for ever and held my breath. It didn't but now, despite the uneven performances of the Wallabies, I am at
least breathing normally. Rugby Union is the game played in Heaven and
must on no account be confused with Rugby League.
This is a game played in Sydney (the capital of New South Wales which, according to some, is the capital of Australia) and Queensland.
Queensland has dominated Rugby League for years, to NSW fans it seems to be since around the time Captain Bligh arrived. The annual tournament between NSW and
QLD, the State of Origin, is a thrilling affair and rivals the FA Cup Final as a sporting spectacular. No that's not true, it outshines the FA
Rugby Union players are young, handsome, strong, virile and many are from Catholic schools and
colleges. I played Rugby Union once but I was not from a Catholic school or College.
- Tasmania is about the size of Ireland and the population hovers around
500,000 men, women and children. This is because Tasmania is a very-well
kept secret and can only be reached by expensive, infrequent air-plane flights
or rugged sea-crossings. Tasmania has a beautiful climate, many natural
resources and the world's most interesting preferential voting system. The
voting system is called the
and it works like this: At each election
about fifty people stand for each seat, each voter votes in order of preference for each
candidate. A candidate has to get a quota ie a certain number of votes. The excess votes of
a successful candidate are then distributed amongst the remaining candidates and a process of
elimination is applied. This is repeated until the quotas are filled. In short, the result is that
often no voter actually gets the first preference and often candidates are elected that nobody
actually wanted. This makes sense in a Tasmanian kind of way since, at a certain time of the year,
Tasmanians and the rest of Australia can't even agree on the time of day. In summary, the Hare-Clark
system is what you might have gotten if Stalin, instead of being a monster, had been a committee.
Mainland Australians mainly believe that Tasmania has the worst weather in the
country. It's a gross error and Tasmania's weather is on the world heritage list. In
Launceston summer temperatures average 12° C to 26° C and winter
temperatures average 1° C to 15° C. That's hardly hot in summer and cold
in winter. In all honesty: I must say that winter is too cold for me although
the rest of the family think it's good.