March 11, 2013 - Eight Hours Day in Tasmania

Is it a good life if you spend almost every waking hour working for money? If you never get time to relax, see your friends and family, read a book, watch a movie, attend a baseball game or a rock concert...if you never have a break to go camping or visit a faraway relative or tour a nearby national park...if you only have time to sleep and work, with a few minutes for a shower or a quick meal, here and there... Well, that's not a very good life, is it?

On the other hand, is it a good life if you don't have any work and therefore no money?

A good life is a life that has a balance of work and play, time with family and friends and time alone, time to exercise and time to rest. In many different times and places, in the history of the world, it was hard to achieve that balance. But laws about working conditions have helped. One of those labor laws was a law that set up the eight-hour workday in Australia.

Before the law, factories and other employers had workers slave away ten or twelve hours a day, six days a week. The law induced employers to establish 8-hour days instead.

It was a huge victory for workers who had protested and marched to achieve the 8-hour day. In honor of this victory, the various states and territories of Australia celebrate Labour Day or Eight Hours Day in various months. In Tasmania, the holiday is today!

Where in the world is Tasmania?

Tasmania is an island state that lies to the south of the continent. (Actually, the main island is surrounded by 334 tiny islands that are also included as part of Tasmania.) Thousands of years ago, Tasmania was joined to the rest of Australia, but when it separated about 10,000 years ago, the plants, animals, and native peoples were cut off from those on the mainland. Today the island is known for its unique flora and fauna—but unfortunately not for the unique cultures of the indigenous people, since they died out in the late 1800s or very early 1900s.

Another unique thing about Tasmania is its landforms. There are rock columns called the Organ Pipes (left). 

There are mountains that are made almost completely of quartzite, and so they look like they are capped with snow all year long (right). 

There are distinctive cliffs formed from dolerite and magnificent caves formed in limestone (below). 

With almost 37% of the land set aside in reserves and national parks, Tasmania sounds like a grand place to visit!

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