Some things just don’t get the attention they deserve. Take the exceptional song-writing savvy of Damien Rice, the ruthless efficiency of Arsenal ace Kolo Toure and, probably the biggest travesty of all, Flash Gordon’s often overlooked role in saving our planet. They remain the world’s misunderstood geniuses; the seriously underrated and the unsung heroes. You can add Tasmania to that list.

Evidence that the Apple Isle helped repel Ming the Merciless has yet to be uncovered. But in terms of undiscovered talent, unappreciated beauty and an experience unrecognised for its wonder, Tassie is a bona fide top trump. The Island state was overlooked by the 2000 Olympic committee when they designed the logo – an oversight some Tasmanians are still bitter about. And many travellers overlook poor little Tassie too.

It seems a little out of the way perhaps; too small to bother with; too cold; and, well there’s nothing much there really, is there? These arguments could not be more wrong if they were made by Mr W. Rong of Incorrect House, Erroneous St, Misguided Avenue, Notatallcorrectville. For starters, flights to Hobart from, say, Sydney currently start from $99 (before tax). But to make a decent adventure of it, get on the Titanic-sized Spirit of Tasmania ferry (currently $120 from Melbourne) and cruise across the notoriously perilous Bass Strait.

Perceptions of Tassie’s temperature suffer similarly from myth. While the wild west coast is indeed often wet and windy – adding drama to a refreshingly little-touched area – the east coast is dry and sports a surprisingly sunny climate. Lastly, anyone who thinks there isn’t much to see or do there would lose Trivial Pursuit to Paris Hilton. I’ve been to Tassie twice and I could go on for days about how top notch it is (though our Sydney-born designer usually starts throwing his trainers at me after an hour). But I only have two pages.

So here’s ten reasons why Tassie is for you:

* You like getting away from the crowds. It seems heaps of travellers are too busy getting pissed on the Gold Coast to make it down here – Geronimooo! Tassie benefits from its unpopularity.

* You like the wonder of wilderness. Not carefully manicured “wilderness areas” with a concrete path through the middle. Proper, life-changingly spectacular wilderness. Try the Arthur River cruise through the wonderful Tarkine region (in the north-west), the windswept beauty of the far south (mistakenly overlooked even by those who visit Tas), or the barely penetrated South-West National Park, where the Tasmanian tiger is still thought to roam.

* And that’s the third great attraction: mystery. As well as the dark convict history (visit Port Arthur, near Hobart, for the best insight into their hellish existence), there’s the great tiger debate. It was hunted to “extinction” in the 1930s, but numerous sightings make it the equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster. But better ‘cos it’s real. When I was last there a German tourist took a convincing photo. Though, oddly, despite a tiger expert being sure it was a tiger “if the photo is real”, it was never officially verified, or discredited (see sidebar, right).

* Which slides neatly into another debate that splits the island: greenies versus people who want to cut down ancient hardwood trees (the tallest in the world), and ship them to Japan to be turned into paper. Then there’s the battle against the poisoning of native animals (the only country in the world that does) so they don’t eat their plantation seeds. Yup, I think I’ll sit on the fence with this one. See some of the amazing rainforests before they’re turned into newspapers. The north-south divide is entertaining too; try saying your favourite beer is Cascade – the Hobart-brewed beer – whilst on a Boag’s brewery tour in Launceston. Great tour. But let’s just say I got less beer to taste than the others. These divides make Tassie the most interesting state in Australia.

* Wildlife. Many of the introduced mainland pests haven’t made it down here so native critters flourish. Pademelons (the Tassie wallaby), wombats, platypuses and feisty Tassie devils (think pig meets dog, but cuter) run rampant.

* Adventure. Sure there’s no bungy jumping, but the mainland can keep all that. Tassie is more unique. Though my feet still grumble about it, I’ve survived the 80km Overland Track, an exhausting, yet exalting, walk through stirring gothic landscapes that rivals anything NZ has to offer. And there are plenty more less famous (and less crowded) trails. Tassie is a hiker’s Valhalla. I’ve also cycled along the east coast, stopping off every hour or so for a refreshing dip in the sea.

* Profound beauty. I could name so many spots – some incredible forests, islands and beaches – but Wineglass Bay is possibly my favourite spot on the whole continent. A seductive curve of squeaky white sand, with bush on one side and the turquoise sea lapping the other – where dolphins can be seen splashing about. Camp at the end of the beach and find yourself surrounded by curious pademelons when you wake.

* Hobart is truly lovely – I met two ex-Sydneysiders who had come on holiday and never returned home. Okay, it can be difficult to find something decent to eat on a Tuesday night after 7pm, but that’s part of the charm. They won’t fall over backwards for the tourist dollar – they’re just being themselves. It’s Australia’s second most picturesque city, with plenty to do, like climb up or cycle down Mt Wellington, trawl through the intriguing Salamanca markets, or sample some great and cosy pubs.

* Best of the rest. Tassie boasts the world’s freshest air; the country’s best (and second-best) beer, and the friendliest Australians.

* Ah, those locals. They have a good line in self-deprecating humour: to them the mainland is the “North Island”. People are so friendly and unassuming – I was offered somewhere to stay and even a spare beanie by someone I met on the plane. Men aren’t afraid to talk to other men in pubs, and someone even complemented me on my hair (he had a white stick, but still).

Like I said, they do things differently here. A three-day Wild West tour costs from $395 with Under Down Under, Freephone: 1800 064 726; a three-day Freycinet Magic tours starts from $480 with Island Cycle Tours, Ph: 03 6234 4951, and a Port Arthur tour with Bottom Bits Bus starts from $110, Freephone: 1800 777 103.

Tassie Tiger

It probably says something about our inability to accept the random nature of our mortality that there are so many conspiracy theories out there. Elvis, JFK and the moon landing are a few, and some must have substance. Here’s another for you.

The Tasmanian Tiger is the island’s icon and yet it was officially declared extinct in 1986. The dog-like cat is another species, recklessly hunted to extinction, just like the dear old Dodo.Or is it?

Tasmanians constantly claim they’ve seen “The Tiger” – whether it’s footprints, excrement or a dog-shaped creature lurking in the shadowy woodlands. Nick Mooney, a Tasmanian wildlife officer, biologist and foremost thylacine expert, says he receives around 10 sighting claims each year.

None have been confirmed, but with each one, the mythical status grows. While TNT was in Tassie in 2006 a German tourist claimed one of the more convincing sightings yet. The traveller, who said he didn’t even know about the tiger, took a photograph of a yellow-striped creature, near Lake St Clair and the island was abuzz with speculation. I questioned many locals and the answers varied.

A few were believers, less were sceptics and most couldn’t make up their minds. Nick Mooney saw the blurry picture. “The image is to me, quite clearly, a thylacine,” he declared, dramatically. But over the following days no more news came… Why not? I was baffled. “I know the tiger exists,” a tour guide told me. “But it will never be officially recognised. Confirmation would become an obstacle to the people who have power here.” He meant the logging industry and the likelihood of vast tracts of forest being protected as “tiger habitat”.

Paranoid conspiracy or shocking truth exposed? You decide…