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Thursday, 10 March 2005
Page: 169

Senator WATSON (6:37 PM) —Tonight I wish to take a few moments of the Senate’s time to talk about a unique event in Launceston—that is, Launceston’s Festivale, arguably Tasmania’s premier annual wine and food event. Tasmania, as you know, Mr Acting Deputy President Watson, has an excellent reputation for its high-quality local produce, and Festivale is the perfect vehicle to show it off. But Festivale is not only about food and wine. It is a colourful, fun-filled three-day celebration providing great family entertainment and featuring music, dancing, street theatre and other performances by local and interstate artists. Its mission statement is ‘to promote the unique lifestyle of our state through excellence in fine food, temperate climate wines, arts, entertainment and fun’, and it seems to be well and truly succeeding.

Festivale originated 17 years ago as a one-day multicultural event in the city’s streets, with its main focus on food and entertainment from the diverse cultures within our community. The event has now moved to a more spacious location—namely, Launceston’s historic and beautiful City Park—and has evolved into a three-day affair. With the change in location, it has also changed its emphasis to focus on Tasmania’s top-quality range of food and wine. Beautiful weather, an improved layout and a wider variety of exhibits proved to be a winning combination, making this year’s Festivale a huge success, with an estimated 45,000 people coming through the gates. In Tasmanian terms, this is a sign of enormous community support.

The aim of the organisers, however, has been to make the experience more enjoyable for patrons rather than just make the event bigger. In recent years, the organisers have raised the quality of the food to a very high level. It is a requirement now that the food must have a high Tasmanian content, be innovative, be in small-sized portions and be reasonably priced to encourage patrons to sample multiple dishes. This new format has indeed been very well accepted.

Festivale featured a new exhibit this year called Tasmania on a Plate, dedicated solely to Tasmanian produce and concentrating on new and exciting foods. The exhibit was a hit, with some of Tasmania’s best chefs holding cooking demonstrations and with local wine experts conducting wine and food matching workshops. The organisers’ aim was to feature some of Tasmania’s hottest chefs showcasing their skills using Tasmania’s superb produce. Rather than using interstate chefs, they wanted to highlight our amazing local talent.

Daniel Alps, one of Tasmania’s most innovative chefs, from the renowned Strathlynn restaurant at Rosevears Estate in the Tamar Valley, was a star attraction. Daniel is known for transforming the highest quality produce from his local region into an exciting melting pot of flavours, with superb execution. From the outstanding Launceston Stillwater restaurant, Kim Seagram, a highly knowledgeable authority on Tasmanian wines, offered wine tips, characteristics and tastings of a selection of Tasmania’s excellent wines.

Highly respected chef and food identity John T Bailey of the Athenaeum Club in Hobart demonstrated the use of lamb from Flinders Island and organically reared beef from Mount Roland—examples of the types of fine produce showcased at the event. Mr Bailey is an expert on Tasmanian produce and regularly demonstrates nationally and internationally on the subject.

Massimo Mele, head chef of Launceston’s Mud Bar and Restaurant, drew inspiration from his Italian ancestry and our exceptional local ingredients to cook up great-tasting but simple dishes, bringing out the true natural flavours. Massimo is only 24 years of age but is quickly gaining a reputation as one of our most exciting up-and-coming chefs. The much talked about Hobart restaurant Lickerish was represented by Kathryn Wakefield, who combined her unique style with seasonal ingredients to produce some taste sensations.

In addition to the Tasmania on a Plate marquee, there were some 80 food and wine exhibitors offering tastings all weekend, far too many to mention individually. They were naturally of the highest quality, as strict guidelines had to be adhered to in order to participate in the event.

Tasmania’s wine industry is booming, and many of the vineyards exhibited at Festivale again provided reasonably priced samples to allow patrons the opportunity to try out several different varieties. A number of Tasmania’s wonderful cheeses were also on offer to perfectly complement the wine tastings. Launceston’s famous Boag’s brewery was the supplier of beer, and Cascade in Hobart was the major supplier of soft drinks; so it is not only our food and wine that we are famous for.

The event was an absolute credit to the organisers—a committee of tireless and passionate volunteers. The chairman estimates that a minimum of $900,000 was exchanged over the three days. The increasing popularity of the event is attracting not only artists but visitors from intrastate, interstate and overseas. It also acts as a stimulus for the Tasmanian economy, particularly this year, as Festivale set off a fortnight of major events right across Launceston. Visitors are encouraged to stay for other events, thereby injecting more tourist dollars into the city, not only in the hospitality and accommodation sectors but also in the retail sector. It is apparently near impossible to get a hotel bed in Launceston over the Festivale weekend each year. So, honourable Senators, come, sample and enjoy this unique event. It is estimated that the combined events brought in millions of dollars, benefiting the whole of the Launceston community. The events made good use of the perfect weather which Tasmania enjoys at this time of the year.

The topic of Festivale also provides me with the perfect opportunity to remind honourable senators and others listening of another event that is not to be missed, called ‘Flavours of Tasmania’. It will be presented at Parliament House by the Tasmanian Liberal Senate team on Wednesday, 12 October. Mark it in your diary as it is bound to be another taste sensation and definitely a highlight of the parliamentary social and food calendar.