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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1867

Mr LYONS (Bass) (21:45): I rise in the House today to speak on my vision for tourism in my electorate of Bass and the opportunities of the region. Tasmania is generally thought of as an eco-destination, but I see it as much more than that. Launceston was established in 1806 by free settlers. The area has fine Victorian buildings from the 1870s and 1880s and elegant contemporary architecture. We have many unique attractions, such as the Cataract Gorge, a natural wonder only a 15-minute walk from the city. There is also the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Inveresk precinct. The James Boag and Son brewery is just a block away from the CBD and a short drive out of the city you can glide through the treetops at Hollybank, one of Tasmania's newest tourism ventures.

Cool climate wines and fine dining are important fixtures of the Northern Tasmania experience and Launceston is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding region. We are becoming a food bowl, with great local produce and keen innovators looking for ways to grow and expand their businesses. The Gillard Labor government has encouraged this through generous funding for irrigation projects around the state in conjunction with the state government. I am pleased to note that in February Stillwater restaurant in Launceston was voted by Australian Traveller as one of the top five destination restaurants in Australia. Me Wah in Launceston is also well renowned, winning many prestigious state and national awards.

Travelling around the region, the Tamar River flows north from Launceston to George Town with lavender plantations—which I visited just last week with the minister for agriculture, Senator Ludwig, the member for Braddon and the member for Lyons—vineyards, berry farms and orchards available to the public. I encourage visitors to do a Tamar River cruise to see the area by water. North-east of Launceston is Scottsdale, with its Forestry EcoCentre and art galleries.

I also recommend visitors travel to Bridport for fishing and the world-class golf. If you have not been to Barnbougle Dunes or Lost Farm you have not been to the best courses in Australia. When it comes to sporting events, we are home of the Tassie Hawks, a footy team that play at my club's old ground, Aurora Stadium. They are a great boost to our economy. Many tourists also visit for the Targa Tasmania event, which is a tarmac rally with competitive stages on closed roads for the best touring, sports and GT cars in the world. Launceston plays host to Targa Tasmania and this year will be the base for the first five nights.

Festivale took place during February. This is one of the premier food and wine events in Australia. It is a celebration of the great produce and arts that Tasmania creates. The organisers do a fantastic job, and I offer them my best wishes for the future of the event. The Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival, directed by Owen Tilbury, is also a standout attraction. The first Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival was held in 2010, an initiative of the Launceston Film Society, Australia's largest film society.

Cataract Gorge is a must for tourists. Here you will find walking and hiking trails, the world's longest single span chairlift, a swimming pool, restaurants, kiosks, peacocks and wildlife in the gardens, a suspension bridge, an interpretation centre and lookouts with spectacular views. Another great place to visit is the Tin Centre at Derby. The centre tells the story of tin and why it was of such vital importance not only to our region but to the world.

The Australian government TQUAL or tourism grants create another great incentive for tourism operators to invest in regional Australia. One such grant will help Velo Wines at Legana in the Tamar Valley construct a restaurant, further improving that facility. The Australian government is committed to maximising tourism's net economic contribution to Australia. There are truly magnificent places in Tasmania, places that will take your breath away. I encourage all mainlanders and people from overseas to look at the island down under for their next holiday and encourage entrepreneurs to invest in our region. (Time expired)