FOR MANY Northern Tasmanians, the lasting images of Tony Abbott from the federal election campaign will be early morning bike rides and the Opposition Leader's love of a good steak.
His exclamation when he walked into Launceston's Black Cow restaurant one night early in the campaign went around the city like a Chinese whisper.
``This would have to be the best steak house in Australia,'' said Mr Abbott, smacking his lips together in satisfaction.
University of Tasmania midwifery lecturer Lynne Staff was one of the few to slow Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's relentless campaign pace for a few minutes when he paused to ask her what she was doing with the model baby at the university's Launceston school of nursing.
They were both surprised to discover that Ms Staff had spent 11 years nursing at the Selangor private hospital, in Nambour, Queensland - the hospital in Mr Rudd's home town where he had been born.
In this campaign, it has been the life happening beyond the reach of the cameras and microphones that has created the interest.
It had to be that way for one of the longest federal election campaigns on record.
It might have officially started on Monday, August 5, after the prorogation of the 43rd Parliament and the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
But Australia has been in election mode since former prime minister Julia Gillard announced on January 30 that it would be held on September 14.
Mr Rudd only made it a week earlier after Ms Gillard lost the Labor leadership ballot that returned Mr Rudd to the top job.
In Northern Tasmania Bass Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic started talking politics two years ago after the former army brigadier retired from the defence forces to concentrate on trying to get elected.
In one of the tightest-controlled federal elections, journalists trying to cover the visits and announcements of the federal leaders were left to guess where they would be and at what time.
Even those on the media bus or plane travelling with the leaders were only told near their journey's end.
Sea freight has been the dominant election issue at least in Northern Tasmania, but the state Liberals were unable to persuade their federal colleagues to match their $33 million three-year funding for a new operator.
Labor promised money to Tasmanian exporters to upgrade infrastructure to make them more freight ready.
Across the North, candidates from the major parties were given funding projects of varying sizes and importance to announce as the campaign rolled out.
More interestingly, Lyons Labor MHR Dick Adams revealed that he lived in a haunted house; opponent Eric Hutchinson confessed that he had once been fined for driving with his friend's white bull terrier called Will on his lap and Bass Greens candidate Lucy Landon-Lane said her husband's first posting as an international aid consultant to Vietnam at the start of the 1990s had been their toughest as a couple.
Bass Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic was an immigrant from Yugoslavia who came to Australia with his parents when he was four and married former Launceston Plaza Taxis proprietor Peter Symons' daughter Christine.
Bass Labor MHR Geoff Lyons was paid in rocks instead of money for the French drain behind his fish and chip shop at Exeter in his first season playing with the local football club.
And Lyons Greens candidate Pip Brinklow took training for aged care nurses looking after dementia patients to Kerala in southern India.