Tasmania has the distinction of being one of the first places on the planet each year to get a visit from St. Nick.
Each Christmas Eve, after loading up Sleigh Rider One (the official name of his Sleigh according to Air Services Australia), Santa travels down the international dateline into the Southern Hemisphere.
After a quick stop in New Zealand, the big man and his reindeer team enter Australian airspace and land happily in Tasmania. It’s a good thing for the rest of the world that Kris Kringle doesn’t drink and drive. Because if he stopped off for even one, he may get tempted to stick around for a week.
TAKING IT TO THE STREET
On any given year, the city of Hobart is bustling with holiday activity from visits to the Christmas Tree at Mawson’s Place to festive block parties throughout town and one-of-a-kind shopping at Salamanca Market. And it all begins with a pageant.
Like many cities worldwide, the holiday season in Hobart officially kicks off with a parade. And just like the Big Apple has Macy’s, Hobart has department store Myer. Each year entertainers and colorful floats parade along Liverpool Street, up Harrington and down Collins Street in the annual Myer Hobart Christmas Pageant.
But where Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gives Americans a one month lead up to Christmas, Tassie’s one-up the Yanks by holding theirs five weeks prior to the big day.
True to Tassie form, the theme for the 2019 edition of the Myer Christmas Pageant was bees, flowers, butterflies, upcycle and recycle. The event attracted over 2,500 participants from community, school, sporting clubs and charity groups, and featured drag queens from Prada’s Priscillas in Sydney as well as performances by the casts of the musicals Madagascar and Mamma Mia!
Alas, due to COVID restrictions, this year’s edition of the Myer Christmas Pageant was cancelled. Thanks, 2020. But organizers promise that they’ll be back in 2021 bigger and better than ever with the event’s 40th edition.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
England has its traditional pudding. Germany celebrates by feasting on a goose. Costa Rica has tamales. France has buche de Noël. And Japan has fried chicken for the holidays.
In Tasmania, it’s all about the sea food.
Being an island state surrounded by the most pristine water on Earth, The Apple Isle has access to some of the finest seafood available on the planet. And when it comes to appetite, at Christmas time Tassies don’t hold back.
Tasmanian oysters are a treasure for connoisseurs. Unlike their mainland counterparts, which need a barrage of lemon and sauces to mask the saltiness and astringency, our oysters are smaller, more delicate, sweeter, and cheap!
While Tassie’s beloved freshwater crayfish (also called Tasmanian giant freshwater lobster) is a delicacy, they’re also endangered. So most have turned their attention to saltwater crayfish, locally called Crays (southern rock lobster).
Equally popular are Tasmanian scallops, salmon and abalone. But a good entree is never complete without a side dish, and in Tasmania, it’s all about the Pink Eye potato. Called ‘Southern Gold,’ these creamy yellow spuds are known for their deep pink eyes and are best served with a garlic butter sauce.
A great way to work off the calories from a feast of Tassie seafood is to take part in one of the island’s many Christmas sporting carnivals. Events run the gamut from running, rock drilling and woodchopping. But cycling is the real star of these series of events.
Organized by the Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania (SCAT), these series of events are among Australian cycling’s most popular summer fixtures. The main entries are in Latrobe, Launceston, Devenport and Burnie.
The Burnie Carnival is one of the oldest ongoing sporting events on the planet. In fact, before fans started filling the stadiums in Athens at the modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, Tasmania had already completed 12 editions of the Burnie Carnival. A COVID-conscious event is scheduled for December 31st!