7 DAY CRADLE TO COAST TASTiNG TRAiL TRiP
If the rugged beauty doesn’t take your breath away, the stunning array of seasonal produce and some wonderfully quaffable local wines surely will. After the winter thaw, hoppy creatures start to stir (and they have terrible road sense), so please keep an eye out.
Launceston and surrounds
Fly into Launceston and out of Hobart, with plenty of ‘west’ in between. Prepare for a wild week. Begin your day aboard a two-hour Segway experience at Hollybank Treetops Adventure through Hollybank forest. Or, for something more fast-paced, opt for a dose of adrenalin on a zipline through the forest canopy above. By comparison, Josef Chromy Wines in Relbia takes life at a more relaxed pace; drop in here for lunch and tastings at the cellar door, in the restored 1880s homestead.
Afterwards, cruise along to Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Nabowla, which is the world’s largest commercial lavender farm. The lavender-infused ice cream is out of this world.
Get back to Launceston in time for a riverside dining experience at Stillwater. After enjoying the range of world-class meals that Stillwater offers, check into your accommodation. If you’re not ready for bed, take the Launceston City Ghost Tour. Launnie (as the locals call it) has a dark and violent past, full of convicts, murder and all sorts of gruesome goings-on. The ghost tour only incorporates true (and very spooky) stories.
Launceston to Cradle Mountain
Hit the road for Cradle Mountain. This drive includes some delicious stops along the Cradle Coast Tasting Trail, including the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm for early morning lattes dusted with ‘raspberry lust dust’, and Ashgrove Farm, where the cows are just beyond the tasting room.
A few more minutes along the highway, and brunch is served at the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory near Sassafras. This light-filled café has a Parisian feel and a providore packed with 100% Tasmanian produce, and commits the same ethos to their menu offerings. Tucked away off the main road, it has quickly become a favourite stop for travellers.
Further up the road at Latrobe, turn towards Railton ‘town of topiary’. Marvel at the well-groomed elephants and leafy emus and drop in for a beer tasting at Seven Sheds Microbrewery.
Fifteen minutes and you’re in Sheffield, ‘town of murals’, with more than 140 outdoor artworks to take in before venturing into alpine territory. Check in to your Cradle Mountain accommodation for the next two nights and find a cosy table at Hellyers Restaurant.
Overnight Cradle Mountain.
Suit up this morning – in a wetsuit that is – and explore The Lost World Canyon with Cradle Mountain Canyons crew. Float and jump through the upper reaches of the Dove River through quartzite gorges and past button-grass plains.
In the afternoon, sink deep into a hot spa at Waldheim Alpine Spa and let the afternoon slip away as you gaze upon King Billy Pines from above.
Be sure to be at Devils@Cradle by 5:30pm for an after dark Tasmanian devil feeding. Here you can watch the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial enjoy dinner, before heading back to Cradle Mountain Hotel to enjoy your own. Start with a Tasmanian single malt at Brushtail’s Bar and dine at Quoll’s Restaurant this evening – also part of the Cradle Coast Tasting Trail.
Overnight Cradle Mountain.
Cradle Mountain to Strahan
Wake early and take a walk around Dove Lake, hugging the shoreline in a six-kilometre loop that travels through the forest under the crags of Cradle Mountain and often rewards hikers with a wombat spotting or two. Hansons Peak or Marion’s Lookout are great options for a steeper climb.
Before farewelling Cradle, tuck into a hearty breakfast and look through the current wilderness photography exhibition at The Wilderness Gallery at Cradle Mountain Hotel. Your two-hour drive to Strahan today takes you through the small townships of Tullah, Rosebery and Zeehan.
In Zeehan, venture through a 100-metre long abandoned railway tunnel. The tunnel takes you to the former Spray Silver Mine where you’ll discover old boilers and abandoned equipment from the mine’s operational days. From here head to Strahan, a harbour-side settlement that is the gateway to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Local boat cruises provide unforgettable journeys into wild rainforests on the Gordon River.
Check into your Strahan accommodation for the next two nights, then sit down to freshly caught mussels or a perfectly cooked pub-style steak at Hamer’s Hotel Bar and Grill along the waterfront.
Strahan and surrounds
It’s an early start to jump aboard the Gordon River Cruise crossing Macquarie Harbour. Gain a sense of the Southern Ocean’s power at Hell’s Gate before venturing up the Gordon River, where ancient forest tumbles down to the river’s edge to meet glass-like reflections. Enjoy a chef-prepared lunch before reaching Sarah Island. This island was once the largest boat building settlement in the British colonies, and was also said to be the most feared penal colony in Australia.
Be back in Strahan with plenty of time to enjoy ‘The Ship That Never Was’ performance at 5:30pm, depicting a true story of convicts hijacking a vessel built on Sarah Island. It’s the longest-running play in Australia and brings Sarah Island to life.
For dinner tonight enjoy á la carte dining and fresh seafood by the water’s edge at Risby Cove. A seat by the window to catch a west coast sunset is a must.
Strahan to Queenstown
After an early breakfast at your accommodation, drive 40 kilometres to the West Coast Wilderness Railway station in Queenstown. Hop aboard the fully restored steam train, which has been traversing this beautiful landscape for 118 years.
Sit back and enjoy this spectacular journey deep into the wild west coast while your guide brings stories of the railway to life. Admire the King River Gorge and rainforest from your carriage, before arriving at Dubbil Barril and swapping the comfort of the train for an adventure in a raft
Experienced guides will safely navigate you down the mighty King River to Macquarie Harbour. Here you’ll be picked up and taken back to Queenstown.
Queenstown to Hobart
On your way back to Hobart detour to Mt Field National Park, stopping at the Possum Shed in Westerway for homemade scones with highland berry jam. At Mt Field, walk to Russell Falls or tilt your head skyward on the Tall Trees Walk, lorded over by some of Tasmania’s tallest swamp gums.
If you’re passing through Granton before 4pm, make Stefano Lubiana your final stop for the day. Enjoy a cellar door tasting and perhaps a sneaky afternoon Italian bite. The menu is prepared with seasonal produce from their bio-dynamically run vegetable garden.
7 Day Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail Trip
Availability of experiences in this itinerary may be subject to opening times, seasonal operation or booking requirements, please call ahead to plan each day.
Photo Credit: Rob Burnett, Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, RACT Destinations, Scott Sporleder – Matador and Michael Walters Photography