More people are flocking to Tasmania in winter than ever before. Why? Because the season is dark, cold and whole lot of fun. Dark Mofo encourages one to dive nude into the River Derwent. In the Huon Valley, others sing to apple trees. The more refined sip Pinot with rare truffles while others again are drawn to mysterious steampunk action. Even the whales want to stop by. Come find out why winter is so hot in Tasmania.
THE WHALES ARE COMING
Back in the nineteenth century, residents of Taroona were kept up at night by a cacophony of whale tunes. These days, we’re not fortunate to be woken by such thunderous visitors but if you’re keen to spot a migrating Humpback or Southern Right, head east. Between June and September, the likes of Frederick Henry Bay and Great Oyster Bay are prime whale watching possies. Some have even been known to give birth in our coastal waters.
Image – A Humpback Whale calf breaching off the coast near Bicheno: Tourism Tasmania & bodhiimages
DARK MOFO MERRIMENT
In the dead of winter, people flock to Tasmania. They are drawn by Dark Mofo because Mona’s winter festival celebrates darkness like no event on the planet. Large-scale public art, nude (and insanely brave!) swimmers plunging into the River Derwent, ogoh-ogah’s up in flames, mesmerising light, unheard music and unexpected noise. We can’t say exactly what will take place June 8-21 because nobody knows but those MOFOs in charge.
Image – Dark Mofo: The Burning: Adam Gibson
The Bay of Fires Winter Arts Festival is a four day weekend featuring everything from artists and music, to films and fire. From June 9-12, an artistic trail weaves its way up the northern end of our Great Eastern Drive from Four Mile Creek to Binalong Bay. Up this way it’s edgy and so are the folk. After all, the fiery coastline has a name worthy of learning its origins. The festival is a rare chance to meet locals; artists inspired by a stunning coastline with well-kept, ancient secrets. Step inside art studios, join a workshop and learn who takes home $20,000 for the Bay of Fires Art Prize. Blues tunes and a flaming celebration are set to open and close the festival.
Image – Wintry Bay of Fires: Tourism Tasmania & Paul Fleming
Visitors to Georgetown on June 24 will get a good dose of quirk. The northern town is set to host our Steampunk Tasmania Festival. Steampunk is a subgenre of sci-fi inspired by nineteenth century steam-powered machinery, a suitable fit for Georgetown with its maritime history dating back to Victorian times. Music, workshops, exhibitions and futuristic oddities are expected to transform the town into a retro steampunk centre.
Image – Low Head near Georgetown: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett
BRING YOUR VOICE
The Festival of Voices is your best excuse to sing – whether you can or not. This community-warming festival (June 30 – July 16 in Hobart) brings voices from Australia and indeed the world to Tasmanian shores. With workshops, choirs, harmonic duets and a crackling bonfire drawing singers close in a soul-stirring way like no other, the festival has become Australia’s premier celebration of the human voice. Enjoy the Hobart-based program or combine with a special three day program on the East Coast from June 30 to July 2. Layer up, embrace your voice and live in tune with the season. Can’t sing? That’s okay – it hasn’t stopped one local yet.
Image – Festival of Voices Bonfire: Tourism Tasmania & Peter Whyte
GREAT CHEFS EQUAL GREAT FOOD
The Great Chef Series is back, a delectable merging of TasTAFE Drysdale talent with some of the world’s most influential culinary names. The result is a series of multi-course degustation evenings in Launceston and Hobart, featuring fine Tassie produce. The first gastronomic journey for winter takes place in Launceston, July 7, with guest chef Phil Wood followed by Mark Best in Hobart, July 28. The last for the year is back in Launceston with Mike McEnearney on August 11. Why be in Tassie to catch one of these chef series evenings? Because it’s your only chance to enjoy world-class plates infused with the talent of Tasmania’s tomorrow. And that’s a flavour yet to reach anyone’s lips.
Image – Stillwater River Cafe: Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador
Want to see Hawthorn or North Melbourne players up close and feel the heat this winter? Tasmania plays host to seven AFL games each season in our intimate Launceston and Hobart stadiums. Our first winter clash sees the Hawks take on the Greater Western Sydney Giants in Launceston on July 8, followed by North Melbourne up against Melbourne on July 29 in Hobart. North Melbourne then return to take on Hawthorn August 13, at Launceston’s Aurora Stadium, Hawthorn’s home away from home. So don your beanie, get behind your team and then head out to explore after the siren sounds.
Image – Aurora Stadium: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett
WINTER IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
We think winter is for getting outside in your gumboots, beanies and jackets then heading inside to defrost by the fire consuming copious amounts of slow cooked, nourishing comfort food with a tipple of wine on the side (Tasmanian of course!) Do just that by joining Matthew Evans at Fat Pig Farm, the place this Gourmet Farmer calls home.
On July 12, he’ll have the fire stoked ready for Winter on the Farm. This full day experience is all about preparing hearty dishes – think chunky beef pies, warming soups and braises. Meet the pigs, harvest from Matthew’s garden, get hands on in the kitchen then share a late, long-table farmhouse feast matched with local wine.
Image – Fat Pig Farm: Alice Hansen
MID-WINTER FESTIVITIES IN THE HUON
July is the time that we sing to the apple trees. It’s the age-old tradition of scaring nasty spirits from the orchards to ensure a good crop and is part of the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival (July 14-16). If you feel inclined, dress yourself in pagan-inspired flattery, don some greenery or attach any manner of feather, fur or leather to your body and head for Grove. You’ll find your kind likely in gumboots and garb, singing enthusiastically into the cool night air. If you’re not into giving gifts to trees or dressing for odd processions, that’s okay. At Willie Smith’s Apple Shed there’s plentiful cider, feasting and tunes to be enjoyed. Ask anyone who’s been. It’s a hoot.
Image – Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest: Mia Glastonbury
JAZZ ON THE COAST
It’s Tasmania’s only winter jazz festival and transforms the coastal town of Devonport into a smooth, swinging jazz capital. The Devonport Jazz Festival has a touch of old and a touch of new jazz. There’s traditional, be-bop and even Latin style. They don’t do things by the book here, adding a good dose of visual art, dance, film and food into the four day program. Get amongst the groovers July 27-30.
Image – Devonport Jazz Festival: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett
PINOT AND TRUFFLES
If there’s a marriage that’s made for winter it is Pinot Noir and truffles. Stillwater Restaurant is once again hosting the Tasmanian Pinot Noir and Truffle Weekend in Launceston, luring lovers from across Australia. Earthy notes from the local Pinot and truffles are a perfect match. Truffled eggs, wine tastings and a degustation menu are just some of the wintery offerings across the weekend of July 28-30.
Image – Truffles Australis: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett
WHISKY FOR A WEEK
Tasmanian Whisky Week is not just a typical week of whisky. For one, it goes for ten days. Because here in Tasmania, seven is simply not enough to enjoy our liquid gold. From August 4-13, the Tasmanian Whisky Week sees local distilleries, stables, bars, hotels and even barns swing open their doors to share our whisky story. Get a behind the scenes peek, sample unreleased whiskies and pop a bottle under your wing to take home. If anything is going to warm your cockles in Tasmania this winter, it should be our fine whisky.
Image – Whisky tasting at Redlands Distillery: Samuel Shelley
CHOCOLATE IN WINTER
Why is it that chocolate blends so well with cooler months? Chocolate Winterfest in Latrobe is a wickedly delicious festival celebrating all things chocolate. You can even wear chocolate on August 13 if you like. There’s a wearable art competition, along with all manner of sweet activities. Wrap your mitts around a mug of hot chocolate, be part of the lantern parade or just pop in for your cocoa hit. After all, the Latin translation of cocoa is ‘food for the gods.’
Image – House of Anvers, Latrobe: Graham Freeman