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It’s not exactly ‘overseas’, but Tasmania is separated from mainland Australia by Bass Straight!  So maybe it ‘almost’ fits the travel theme of previous blogs.

It really is a beautify island sate – and I have been fortunate to have had some good project work in Tasmania over recent years.  For a number of years, I worked with my colleague Gordon Stone in evaluating the Stronger Learning Pathways project in the Cradle Coast (North West region). This project was attempting to address the low standing of continuing education in the region.  This gave us lots of reasons to travel to that part of the state – Burnie, Smithton, Wynyard and heaps of other coastal towns – to enjoy the tulips (yes there is a tulip farm just outside of Burnie!) – and look out for fairy penguins on the beach in the evenings.

Another project in Tassie that I was involved in evaluating the was 8×5 wool profitability project (I was never sure what the ‘8×5’ stood for!).  This took me over to the east of the state – a drier area, but older heritage towns remarkably like England!  The project found me (and Robyn) in a cold and draughty wool shed observing a workshop with wool producers about alternatives to fly control.  Rather than use a typical ‘feedback sheet’ to gauge how the wool farmers liked the workshop, I used a ‘dart board’ – three rings like a target up on the wall where they could peg how much the workshop hit the target for them!  This project showed the extra impact of on-going groups compared to more passive ways of bringing about change.

From wool to milk – and I had the chance to evaluate a dairy ‘Pasture-Plu$’ project – mainly across the North of the state.  A little greener than the drought-affected wool areas.  This project encompassed training, ‘focus farm’s, workshops and a ‘young farmer’s program and was very successful in engaging a large number of dairy farmers in thinking about pastures and better business management.  Again this project showed the value of the ‘personal touch’ – against the continuing flow of governments thinking that websites will take away the need for on-the-ground extension programs!

Lastly, I have had the opportunity to work with one of the Natural Resource Management regional bodies – NRM North – based in Launceston.  This has involved evaluating a large program looking at ‘best practice salinity management’ (I hadn’t even been aware that there was a salinity problem in Tasmania!) and different approaches to Property Management Planning.  This is another project that has shown the much added value of having people visit properties to work through the best options (not that I don’t value training and groups and good information to support such engagement!).

As well as work – Robyn and I did have a nice 10 days work-free bed and breakfasting around Tasmania – including getting over to the pristine West!  And, on one work trip, I managed to spend a day riding a horse through the mountains in the south – encompassing rain, snow and sleet all in one ride!  So for walk or play – I recommend Tassie.  I think I could easily live there (maybe if it was a tad warmer!)