There’s lots of new happenings in this old town. Get your art and culture on by timing your trip around an event. November is particularly colourful with the Blooming Tasmania Flower and Garden Festival 22-23 September. Artentwine celebrates sculpture in family-owned vineyards between September and November, while the sparkling festival, Effervescence, kicks off 16-18 November at Josef Chromy Vineyard.
If busy events aren’t your thing, head to Cataract Gorge, an urban playground, home to the world’s longest single-span chairlift. Back in 1972 when the first feet dangled high over the gorge, this 457-metre ride was a hit. Today, it remains quaintly so.
Next stop, the Design Centre Tasmania is a celebration of Tasmanian talent. Huon pine, delicate ceramics and bold craftsmanship find a home beside the city’s main park. A side table might just take your eye. From here, head to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, a museum of visual art, natural sciences, design and history. There are two sites just a few minutes’ drive apart (everything is close in Tassie). They’ve been building their collection since 1842.
Tonight, dine at Grain of the Silos. It’s not your ‘run of the mill’ restaurant. It has a changing menu packed with seasonal produce from local producers. Stay at Peppers Silo Hotel, once filled 35 metres high with grain, now a sophisticated stay.
Launceston to Evandale and the Tamar Valley
Curious about Tasmanian wine? The Tamar Valley has more than 30 cellar doors dotted across 170 km of pretty wine country. If bubbles are high on your list, Jansz Tasmania and Clover Hill at Pipers Brook and nearby House of Arras (Pipers River) are sparkling neighbours not to miss.
Put Josef Chromy Wines on your dining list. This state-of-the-art winery and restaurant in the rolling hills of Relbia is the life work of Josef, who fled his war-torn Czech village in 1950 at the age of 19. Their award-winning wine is the product of hand-picked fruit that is processed within 48 hours of leaving the vine.
Take a break from the vineyards and lose yourself in some colonial history. Head to Longford and visit Brickendon and Woolmers Estates. You’ll want to spend a few hours here. Brickendon, once considered the best farm in the area in the 1840s, has the original chapel, cookhouse, Blacksmith’s shop, timber barns and beautiful heritage gardens. Once you’ve experienced how the convicts and farmers lived, see the how the well-to-do enjoyed life at Woolmers, where collections of furniture and antiques provide insight into a family over six generations.
You might like to stay in one of the original convict cottages at Brickendon. There are three to choose from. Or, head back to Relbia and stay at Woodbridge Farm. Follow the hawthorn-lined drive up to a heritage-style home built with century-old bricks. Help yourself to the veggie patch and create your own Tasmanian feast.
More wine is on the agenda today. Head to Wines for Joanie in Sidmouth on the other side of the Tamar. The rustic packing shed cellar door is full of curious Tasmanian history for those who enquire. Owners Andrew and Prue are happy to share stories of Glendale Farm, an apple and pear orchard established in the early 1930s.
Leaving the Tamar, drop into Ghost Rock Vineyard near Port Sorell. Young winemaker Justin has taken over the reins from his parents. Working with his wife Alicia, the dynamo team hosts lots of events and serve up lunch with Bass Strait views.
Devonport has been undergoing a serious makeover of late including Providore Place, the city’s new ‘meeting place’ complete with Sunday market. Be sure to eat with Ben Milbourne of Ben’s Menu notoriety (Channel 10) at his new restaurant, Charlotte Jack. Food scientist come distiller George is also in Providore Place with his Dasher + Fisher gin range at Southern Wild Distillery. Both are due to open in September. It might be tempting to stay over in this coastal port tonight if you have an extra night. Otherwise, head back to Launceston. It’s worth a small detour to The House of Anvers Chocolates near Latrobe to pick up some homemade Belgium Chocolates to take home.