The island state of Tasmania is located some 200 kilometres south of the mainland of Australia and is Australia's smallest state (68,000 sq. km.), measuring only some 250 kilometres from north to south and east to west at its broadest points. Rich in Australia's young history, it was the second settlement in Australia after Sydney and the first settlers arrived in 1803 to what is now Hobart. It was primarily established as a penal settlement to house prisoners from the United Kingdom and much of this early penal history can be seen around the state. It takes its name from Abel Tasman who first charted the island in 1642 and originally named it Van Diemens Land. Like those who visit it today he was struck by its intense and varied beauty. As Australia's most southern land mass, it is snow capped throughout much of the year, and the mountainous terrain and many lakes provide a tranquil and beautiful island which is a popular destination for holiday makers from all over the world. For travellers, the island can be divided mainly into 4 sections. The north west, where the ferry from Melbourne disembarks at Devonport, the North East, with beautiful beaches and snow capped mountain peaks, the South West, renowned for the system of rivers and the beautiful rain forests which comprise a magnificent World Heritage Area, and the South East, which houses the ruins of the penal settlement of Port Arthur, and has a rugged and beautiful coastline interspersed with many fine beaches.

The principal cities are the capital, Hobart, in the south, and Launceston, in the north.