Tasmania – A Musical Homage


Written by: Mandy Stefanakis

“Tasmania can find itself left off the map sometimes, but perhaps this is Goliath’s jealousy of David.”

Tasmania’s main energy source is hydro-electricity indeed it has the greatest percentage of renewable energy use of any state in the nation. [i] (1) Though not blessed with the kind of sunshine of Queensland, the Northern Territory or Western Australia, it does have a great deal of wind for power, plus, of course, water and mountains. It has made the most of these assets over a long period of time and can also boast the second lowest electricity costs in the country.

The vistas are spectacular everywhere and it is easy to see why former Greens leader, Bob Brown, has championed the cause of the environment for so long given his enviable surrounds.

Tasmania: the Franklin River wilderness

Renowned Australian composer, Nigel Westlake, was so inspired by the state that after conducting the TSO and visiting some of the spectacular offerings with Brown, he wrote a new concerto for oboe entitled Spirit of the Wild. Virtuoso oboist Diana Doherty has collaborated with Westlake previously and performed the work at the Sydney Opera House in February. Westlake was inspired for the work by a particular part of Tasmania called the Brakesea Islands located off the coast of the stunning south-west region of the state.

Tasmania has it all: spectacular sea vistas, lakes, mountains and rainforests to rejuvenate the souls of even the most depleted and world-weary.

Near Strahan

And the eccentric arts aficionado David Walsh, has captured the essence of what is already a highly artistic community with his gift to Tasmania’s tourist industry, MONA, a short and very pleasant ferry ride from Hobart. The arts make an incredible contribution to the state.

On the ferry to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)

In an ABC News article, Brown is asked if he feels the arts have a particular role in environmental awareness and activism. He says:

‘Oh totally. I’ve never been in a successful environment movement where the arts didn’t take a crucial role.’ [ii]  (2)

Brown mentions Peter Donbrovski’s picture of Rock Island Bend when many were demonstrating to save the Franklin River. Goanna Band, under the pen of Shane Howard, wrote their second most popular song for this cause, Let the Franklin Flow. It was artistic works that helped highlight the issue and activate the Australian community.

Westlake in turn, speaks of the human neglect of country, instead being consumed by materialism. ‘Such places are priceless and we exploit and destroy them at our peril’. (3)

Cradle Mountain

Tasmania can find itself left off the map sometimes, but perhaps this is Goliath’s jealousy of David. It has much to teach, offer and inspire many on the mainland.


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