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Midlands and Coal River Valley

Yesterday I landed an interview with a viticulturist I've been trying to connect with for years. He's based in Victoria, but manages multiple vineyard sites in Tassie for a fairly large Australian company. They have been very open that one of the reasons they have bought vineyard land down here is to be better prepared for climate change. He happened to be driving between vineyard sites and offered to meet me part way in Campbell Town, which is in a region called the Midlands. The Midlands runs right down the center of the island. The main highway that connects the two largest cities, Hobart in the south and Launceston in the north, cuts right through it. It is pretty expansive, and probably the least "dramatic" part of Tas's landscape that I've encountered. It's sheep country mainly, and was the first area to get access to the public/private Tasmania Irrigation scheme that was built about a decade ago, piping water from the wet west of the island to the dry east. As a result the Midlands looks quite verdant, but you also see signs of heavy irrigation equipment and retention ponds everywhere. My meeting was late afternoon, so I decided to drive through the Coal River Valley on the way up- a well-known wine region on the island. CRV is also one of the driest places to grow grapes, and has had some challenges with climate and water in recent years. I stopped at a couple of cellar doors. They were full of Americans! Large cruise ships now dock in the harbor in Hobart- often just for a few hours- and the passengers pile on buses for local excursions. I was pretty surprised to encounter them. Not something that I had come across in past trips. After a really interesting and fruitful interview, I stopped to check out these sculptures I eyed as I was driving out of town. They were carved into giant eucalyptus tree stumps and depicted historical events in the town and local animals (platypus!).

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