Hobart for two nights
Few ways are better to greet the city than 1,271 metres up, on the peak of kunanyi/Mount Wellington. The view is breathtaking. From this vantage point, map out your indulgent days ahead.
Follow the mountain bends down to Hobart on a bike tour then set sail with Hobart Yachts. Go the tailored lunch cruise or venture to a secret Bruny Island cove. Ask the captain about his former pet parrot.
Here on a Saturday? Pick up a hand-crafted gin at Salamanca Market, the country’s largest outdoor market and Tasmania’s most popular attraction.
Don’t miss a ferry trip out to Mona. Opt for the ferry’s Posh Pit, up front with a glass of bubbles. Let David Walsh’s subversive adult Disneyland take you to another world, deep underground where cocktails flow at The Void bar.
Once you’ve emerged from the depths of Mona, have an evening meal at Frank Restaurant not far from where you get off the ferry back at Brooke St Pier. Then it’s a brisk short walk to your two-night stay at MACq01, Australia’s first storytelling hotel. They call it ‘informal luxury’. It’s bliss.
Time to leave Hobart behind and head up the east coast. Cruise with Encounter Maria Island from Triabunna across to our isle National Park. There are no cars but plenty of grazing wombats. Explore the island on foot or hire a bike once you’re there. You’ll get to Fossil Cliffs or Painted Cliffs much more swiftly and remember, no traffic to worry about. Then again, catch one of the island’s best views at the top of Bishop and Clerk. It’ll take three to five hours walking and rocky sections may involve puffing.
Back on ‘mainland Tasmania’ indulge at Spring Bay Seafoods. Spring Bay mussels plucked straight from the nearby pristine waters anyone? This evening, continue on and stay at Freycinet Coastal Pavilions in Coles Bay. There’s an outdoor bath beneath the stars with your name on it.
Set off on a Wineglass Bay Cruise with Duncan. He’s been cruising these waters since starting out as a fishing charter back in 2000. Go up front and ask him where the sea eagle nests are. He’ll point out a nest as big as a queen-size mattress, if the timing is right, or maybe a migrating whale.
Get your legs moving with a walk to Wineglass Bay. It’s a steep trek to the lookout but worth every step. Continue on down to beach level where white sands are cool beneath bare feet. Freycinet Adventures do offer an Aqua Taxi service to Hazards Beach, allowing for a flat walk into this pretty bay.
Afterwards, indulge in fresh Melshell Oysters at Dolphin Sands. It’s an oyster shack, therefore a love shack! Crack open a dozen and watch the boys work away out on the farm.
Bicheno to St Helens
If you weren’t lucky enough to spot a whale while on Duncan’s boat, spend some time at Whalers Lookout in Bicheno. Surely with a name like that…? At low tide, take a walk out to Diamond Island. There’s also a blowhole not far from The Lobster Shack, complete with an outdoor table just waiting for a fresh Southern Rock Lobster picnic if the season is right.
For your next mission, we suggest layering up. On the Bay of Fires Eco Tour the sea breeze can whip. Expect an exhilarating salty taste in your mouth after roaring up and down the coast on a boat built by the skipper.
Let your host and chef at Bay of Fires Bush Retreat cook you a feast over the fire tonight. Then curl up in a bell tent and drift away to bush dreamland.
St Helens to Launceston for one night
The Pyengana Dairy Company is something else. The cows don’t move particularly fast here. They line up to be milked when they’re ready and reward themselves with a good back scratch. These happy cows turn out some extremely good milk and cheese. They’ve been making hard cheese here for more than a century. Make sure you take some with you for the road trip.
Next stop, Evandale. Lose hours in the antique stores and galleries here. Be sure to check out the National Trust Store and enjoy some delicate pastries at Ingleside Bakery. Roll into Launceston and explore this park-filled city before dinner. Stillwater Restaurant is an institution, serving up the likes of Tasmanian Cape Grim Beef ragù, pappardelle pasta, gremolata crumb and parmesan.
Tonight, Hatherley Birrell Collection is home. Look out at a 180-year-old magnolia and sink deeper into that outdoor volcanic stone bath with a nightcap.
Launceston & Tamar Valley
Get your early morning march on today with a walk through Cataract Gorge. It’ll make you feel better when indulging on a full day Tamar Valley wine tour later. Could there be a better combo than pinot and chocolate? Spend the day finding out with cellar doors matching their deep reds to sweet chocolate morsels. If bubbles are your thing, head to Josef Chromy and opt for a Go Behind the Label Tour followed by a decadent, slow lunch. Their award-winning wine is the product of hand-picked fruit, processed within 48 hours of leaving the vine.
Jansz Tasmania and Clover Hill are not far away at Pipers Brook and are sparkling neighbours not to be missed. Stay at Woodbridge Farm in Relbia. 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 feast. The inviting provincial farmhouse table seats up to 10.
Head to the ‘West Side’ of the Tamar Valley today. There are many more vineyards to explore. If you’ve done your dash with the wine for now and want to absorb yourself in nature, continue on to Narawntapu National Park where mighty Forester kangaroos emerge come dusk and long beach walks call. You can easily lose yourself here for an afternoon.
Drive to Devonport to spend the night – this coastal port has been undergoing a serious makeover of late. Providore Place is 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.
Tamar to Cradle for two nights
Railton, a town known for its topiary, ask where Seven Sheds is. They’ll have a craft brew at the ready for you. Sip a Kentish Ale in their Hop Garden.
Arriving in Sheffield, you may come across a man with an alpaca or llama on a leash. He loves visitors. If you don’t see him, at least belt out a tune on the footpath piano in front of the Emporium (full of Bric-à-brac) and explore the street murals. To add to the quirk, during the Tasmanian Medieval Festival in October, Sheffield plays host to armoured medieval sword combat, belly dancers and snake handlers. What a mix!
Between Sheffield and Cradle Mountain you’ll pass through Gowrie Park. There’s a big mural on the right that shows the history of the hydro-electric scheme. It’s impressive. The road then winds down into a steep valley to cross Forth River. Look left to see the Cethana Dam wall.
Get up to Cradle Mountain for a whisky or wine at Altitude Lounge Bar followed by dinner at their restaurant. Order your steak seared on a 360°C volcanic stone, sealing in all the natural juices.
Tonight, wrap yourself in the warmth of Cradle Mountain Lodge. Any time of year in these alpine reaches can be chilly. Go with the King Billy Suite. You won’t be sorry about that outdoor hot tub to sink into with a glass of pinot.
Not too long ago the Wilderness Gallery had a makeover. If you’ve been before, come see the new look gallery. That’s if you can drag yourself out of the steaming spa at Waldheim Alpine Spa. Indulge in a facial or hot stone massage – your stress will melt away in this wilderness sanctuary.
Want to really impress someone? Cradle Mountain Helicopters offers the chance to take your picnic to a mountain top. That won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Even if it’s summer, make sure you have that beanie and puffer jacket though!
Tonight, the promise of cheese and wine tasting comes at 4pm. Head back to Cradle Mountain Hotell for a journey through six handcrafted wines, paired with three local cheeses.
Pull up beside a log fire for a hearty dinner – a slow-cooked lamb shoulder perhaps? Pick a pinot from the earlier tasting before retreating to your highland cabin.
Strahan for two nights
Back on the road and it’s time to head to the west coast. It’s quite a drive to Strahan, but worth every minute. Reflections on the Gordon River are trance-worthy. Hop aboard a Gordon River Cruise and yes, it’s never too early for sparkling. Their new ‘quiet cruising’ vessel lulls one into nature’s silence. Come nightfall, get your giggle on at The Ship That Never Was. For most of the year it’s an open-air performance so don’t refuse a blanket, but from June to August the play takes place at the Risby Cove Theatrette. If you like being called up on stage, hang out in the front row, though they’ll still find you up the back.
Feast on fresh seafood right down by the water at Risby Cove and then lay your head at Captain’s Rest with its own quaint jetty. Beautifully styled, it’s the place to be tonight.
Strahan day two
Go to the People’s Park for a local meander. Hogarth Falls is one of Tassie’s 60 Great Short Walks and weaves through the sweet-scented forest up to cascading falls. If it has been raining, even better. Back at the wharf, step into the world of wood turning at Wilderness Woodworks and maybe pick up a piece by a crafty local.
Another option today is to hop aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway from Strahan to Dubbil Barril and back. The river and rainforest journey is a great way to experience the romance of steam train travel, leaving from the original harbourside Regatta Point Station where a new café has recently opened. Hear about the hardy souls behind the railway and check out engineering feats along the way, including the great iron bridge, worthy of a nod from current-day engineers. Later on, dine on the hilltop with views across the harbour.
Strahan to Pumphouse Point
Head to Queenstown for a Lost Mines and Ancient Pines tour departing from the Paragon with Roam Wild Tours. Spend a couple of hours venturing into long forgotten mines, hearing of hardy miners and bumping along four wheel drive tracks far from the standard tourist trail.
Don’t miss the main event on Queenstown’s calendar in October (next event is 2020) – The Unconformity. This arts festival is a rare insight into the small mining community and every two years excels at not conforming. Expect visual art installations, feasting by fire, performances in a river, musicians playing in the Paragon theatre and a match on the famed gravel football ground.
Continue on to Pumphouse Point in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park for one or two sleeps. You’ll want to be there for two – sleeping on Australia’s deepest freshwater lake and watching mist roll in over the lake is an unforgettable experience. They also have The Retreat, a new high-end offering on the lake shore for the extra-indulgent minded.
Head back to Hobart
On the way back to Hobart, visit the Wall in the Wilderness. It’s a spectacular story of the region’s past, carved into Huon pine. Continue on to New Norfolk where the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery is a delicious place to get your final fill of Tassie produce. Their paddock to plate flavour discoveries are as surprising as the antique finds in this town. You’re likely to find something unique to take home – a reminder of your indulgent island escape.