Mia Glastonbury
Mia Glastonbury
Travel Tip

The 10 Commandments Of A Tassie Winter

Alice Hansen
Follow these commandments and thou shalt experience a remarkable Tasmanian winter. Prepare for curious. Pack for rituals of feasting on long Dark Mofo eves. Expect flames and large-scale art. This winter, follow us into the light.

1. Thou shalt be drawn to the light

Many are drawn to the Northern Lights but few know Tasmania too has its own Southern Lights (aka the Aurora Australis). No one can predict exactly when the dancing beams of nature’s nightclub will light up our hemisphere, but long winter nights are your best bet. Face south, learn your camera settings, space weather maps and predictions and get in touch with local social groups who let each other know when the party’s on.

Aurora Australis over Margate
Paul Fleming
Aurora Australis over Margate

2. Thou shalt stay in the wilds

There’s something about driving into the wilderness with bags packed for a sleepover. The roads wind, signs of civilisation grow thin and nature’s quiet turns up its volume. Pumphouse Point at Lake St Clair have launched The Retreat just in time for winter indulgence. Separate from the other rooms, tucked away in native bush, it is the most exclusive offering yet. Choose between the indoor or outdoor bath at this all-inclusive haven. Or, head to the heart of Freycinet National Park on Tasmania’s East Coast. Wrapped in coastal bush, the new Coastal Pavilions at Freycinet Lodge also boast an outdoor bathtub, floor to ceiling glass and lavish king-sized beds. Romantic wilderness escape sorted.

Accommodation Freycinet Lodge Tasmania
Courtesy of Freycinet Lodge
Freycinet Lodge Coastal Pavillions

3. Thou shalt head west

The air in winter has a clarity that our other seasons envy. Flying on a still, crisp-blue-sky day with Par Avion to the South West is difficult to top. Whisked from civilisation to your rugged outpost, the five hour trip includes a boat tour and tales of the region’s harsh past. Strahan also has its share of curiosities. Take a cruise up the Gordon River across waters of winter-still perfection or cosy up in our wilderness, powered by steam aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

Bathurst Harbour, Southwest National Park aerial Par Avion Tasmania
Mia Glastonbury
New River Lagoon, Southwest National Park

4. Thou shalt walk on frozen water

Cradle Mountain transforms into a magical wonderland in winter. Follow the wombat tracks through the snow, curl up with a good book or sip warm spiced gin by a crackling fire. It’s cosy inside and beautiful out. Pull on your puffer jacket, beanie and gloves and hike among ancient pandanis dressed in white. Late afternoon, find yourself in the alpine spa. The hot tub is not your standard – it comes with mountain air and King Billy pines as company. At nightfall, return to the fire for a Tasmanian single malt or pinot to warm you from the inside out.

Alpine lodge in winter snow
Paul Fleming
Cradle Mountain in winter

5. Thou shalt walk with the wildlife

Walking holidays don’t always come with wombats, candlelit dinners and heritage accommodation. The Maria Island Winter Walk is a condensed three-day escape, from the company renowned for its four-day Maria experience. Take short wanders to the likes of Painted Cliffs and convict ruins or climb the pinnacle of Bishop and Clerk. Back at Bernacchi House, candles are lit, and conversations flow as smoothly as the pinot. Any noises in the night are probs just an inquisitive Tasmanian devil. When you hear those little creatures in action, you’ll understand how they got their name.

Baby Wombat at Maria Island National Park east coast Tasmania
Ben Brown
Walk this way

6. Thou shalt bathtub in a beanie

We like to think of the beanie as a modest uniform for bathing in Tasmania. Find a steamy outdoor tub and let the cool winter air hit your skin. Into selfies? Snap one in Thalia Haven’s coastal outdoor bath. Like ancient trees as your bathtub company? Head for Cradle Mountain’s Waldheim Spa. City tubber? Sink into a stone bath in Launceston from the Hatherley Birrell Collection. Want to really get away? No one will find you at Porky’s Beach Luxury Retreat on King Island, deep in the sunken timber tub. Oh, and there’s a rotating fireplace, sauna and your own private beach too.

woman wearing a beanie in a bathtub
Adam Gibson
Thalia Haven outdoor tub

7. Thou shalt cleanse your spirit

Few places remain where spirits are made the old-fashioned way. Here, water runs off the mountains and whisky, gin and vodka are handcrafted slowly in copper stills all across the island. Discover a network of artisan distillers who are pioneers in their field creating unique blends adding never before used native botanicals and ingredients such as sheep’s whey. If that whets your appetite, join a gin workshop and whip up your own signature gin, meet characters and hear stories on a whisky trail or plan a trip for Tasmanian Whisky Week.

Tasmanian whisky by the fire

8. Thou shalt find your voice

Don’t usually sing to apples? They do every year in Tasmania. It’s called wassailing, an age-old tradition that scares nasties from orchards to ensure a bumper crop. Part of the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival, this Pagan ritual brings much merriment, hand-crafted cider, live tunes and feasting. If serenading the stars is more your thing, shake off winters chill at the Festival of Voices – a huge old-fashioned singalong. Gather around a bonfire and belt out a song or two in public. You don’t have to participate, just turning up warms the soul.

The largest wassail in the southern hemisphere
Natalie Mendham Photography
Wassailing in the apple orchards

9. Thou shalt escape to a secluded island

Ever fantasised about having your own private island? Make the dream a reality in Tasmania. Satellite Island is a stunning private island in the south of Tasmania set in wilderness that will touch your soul with sheer sea cliffs, pristine water and an abundance of fresh seafood. Picnic Island is another private island you can hire on the east coast. A magic space perfect for unwinding and reconnecting. Cosy up by the fire, take a deep breath and let time stand still. You’ve found heaven.

Satellite Island homestead accommodation private island Bruny Island Tasmania
Courtesy of Satellite Island
Private island getaway

10. Thou shalt eat, drink and be merry

We know. You’re planning a trip to Tasmania and you haven’t got further than the eating and drinking bit. That’s okay. Winter in Tassie is all about comfort food, warming whisky, crackling fires and good conversation. We have cosy restaurants and long farm tables at the ready. Head to the Derwent Valley for a taste of fresh seasonal produce at The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery.

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