Crayfish behind kelp curtains, secret local stories and bikes that power uphill past slow-grazing wombats. This is how Tasmanian E-bike Adventures do Maria Island.
Maria Island’s history fascinates me. One fellow in particular, eccentric Italian Diego Bernacchi, believed the island off Tasmania’s east coast could be the ‘Riviera of Australia.’ It was the 1880s and most thought he was a touch over ambitious and nutty. This didn’t stop him from developing a coffee palace, resort hotel, vineyard, silk farm and a cement works using the island’s limestone.
With a good dose of charisma, Bernacchi convinced others of his vision. Soon there were 250 calling Maria home. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the intriguing merchant. Little did I know I’d be spending the day pedalling with founder of Tasmanian E-bikes Adventure, Ben Rea, who grew up in a home built by pioneering Bernacchi. Oh, and the house was built on Maria then transported across Mercury Passage to Orford. Seemingly, nothing was too challenging back in those days.
Fast forward to 2019, and Ben is tapping into eight generations of Tasmanian East Coast connection to share Maria in a way that reveals new layers. As a local who has frequented the island much, I met a very different island with Ben on his new full-day 25 kilometre guided experience. I left with a new connection. A new bond. A new appreciation for this island national park.
OUR E-BIKE ADVENTURE
Ben’s enthusiasm is palpable as we sip coffee on the ferry’s top deck, making our 25-minute commute from Triabunna. Coming into dock with a wetsuit stuffed in my backpack and a German electric bike being wheeled onto the jetty below, I know we’re in for an intrepid day.
In a matter of metres, heads down navigating our new ‘turbo button’ for effortless hill climbing, a welcome wombat appears. With Maria’s signature blonder coat, the local barely raises a head to give a nod to our fancy bikes. We pedal on, bound for our first stop at Four Mile Creek for homemade brownies and plump local cherries.
The beauty of being on two electric wheels is that we swiftly pass the bulk of visitors on foot. We ride through a changing landscape so enchanting it’s no surprise some convicts chose to commit petty crimes just to be stationed here. One of the jail’s most celebrated inmates, William Smith O’Brien, described it "as one of the loveliest spots formed by the hand of nature."
We pull up quietly surrounded by tall flowering gums. Ben knows his bird calls and is looking for a Swift parrot. The adventure guide specialised in Experiential Education during his Bachelor of Outdoor Education and Nature Tourism and has criss-crossed the world on expeditions ranging from back-country skiing and sea kayaking through Canada and the Pacific before returning home to Tasmania to create a school-based marine adventure learning program. He knows his stuff in the great outdoors.
Ben doesn’t just spill rehearsed lines. A day out is equal parts education, play and genuine love of land. He picks up a piece of plastic sheeting waste and tucks it into his pack without pausing his current tale – leading us to the foundations of Bernacchi’s house on Maria that became his boyhood home. The man loves the place. We follow him into the scrub where concrete foundations remain of a house that once looked out to Mount Maria, and today out to a sprawling green Orford garden.
We pedal on to Encampment Cove for lunch beneath a shady Sheoak. It’s easy to imagine how early island inhabitants once shared open air dining under similar branches. We feast on lamb, local cheeses, crusty bread and generous lashings of family-recipe relish.
“We still need to get your heads underwater,” announces Ben, pulling me from an after-lunch daze on our picnic blanket. He’s lulled me into a contemplative moment; hours don’t seem enough. Days could be lost to this magical island – swept up in its indigenous stories, tales of prisoners helping the magistrate’s wife to brew beer and hypnotic sapphire bays. For us though, it’s back on the bike seats.
A quick left and we’re led down to a petite sign-less bay. We’re into our flippers with childlike speed and in moments the cool Maria waters swirl about our ankles. He’s gentle on us, offering words of encouragement as our snorkel-wrapped faces meet the chilled surface. Then we’re off, drifting into our own sensory feast. Kelp wraps a silky welcome around my hand as a vibrant underwater scene beams through my goggles. Silence is broken only by a muffled squeak of excitement from my travel buddy as she peers through a ’kelp curtain’ into the living room of two happy crays. It’s as if they know they’re hanging out in a marine reserve. They’re relaxed, just ebbing and flowing in their fish-tank clear waters.
In a style reflective of the cruisy crays, Ben mentions the bay was a favourite of his late fathers, pointing out a reef where his ashes were scattered. The ties are close in these parts. For us passers through, it’s back into turbo mode as skies start to darken on the home stretch. We have one more natural spectacle to absorb. The Painted Cliffs offer a rewind button set in sandstone. They roll us back 260 million years. It’s difficult to fathom time – entrancing layers that bring us to a standstill without words.
With rain pattering onto our helmets, (a welcome feel as wildfires sweep our landscape) we arrive back at the jetty for a Willie Smith’s cider and just one more brownie. I imagine it’s not on the tour menu, but next we’re standing in Ben’s childhood home. His mother greets us with a salty coastal smile that confirms she’s walked the floorboards of Bernacchi’s home since she was three years old. Cradling a cup of tea I look down expecting to see 4pm on the clock, but it’s near 7pm.
To lose yourself in time to Maria is the finest form of loss – an island gift.
Get in touch with Ben to find out about private and customised tours. A season opening Saturday Maria adventure is running through 2019 for the special price of $495 per person.
Tailored Maria Adventures are available through the week days and weekends - Ben will custom one just right for you and your group. Tours generally depart Triabunna on the Maria Island Ferry at 9am, and return on the 3:30pm or 5pm ferry from Darlington, Maria Island. Check out the Bangor Adventure too.
Ferry trip from Triabunna to Maria Island
Access to Maria Island National Park (park fees included)
e-Bike helmet and MTB instruction
Guided story telling
Tasmanian gourmet bicycle picnic catering
Post ride reward refreshments Tasmanian cider and craft beers
State of the art German HaiBike electric pedal assisted mountain bikes
Transfers from Hobart can be arranged
Flights to Maria Island with Par Avion Scenic Flights
Book with Ben here or call 0438 072 453 to chat to Ben about your next adventure on wheels.
Words: Alice Hansen
Images: Julie Melrose and Ross Giblin
The Turvey sisters are all smiles. They’re sitting with cups of tea on the verandah of Twamley Farm’s original sandstone homestead. The first Turvey family footsteps wandered their farm back in 1874. Today, they are the custodians of 7,000 acres complete with settler’s huts for quiet moments, trout fishing, mountain bike trails, Tassie devils and accommodation built for drifting off in East Coast history.
It all began in 1823 when John West Turvey stole some sheep and got sent to Van Diemen’s Land. Ten years later when granted a ticket of leave, he settled in Prosser Plains where the Turvey family have been farming ever since. Five members continue to work across agri-business, wrangling young Turveys and hosting visitors.
“Bats were living in The Stable when I started to clean it out,” laughs Elizabeth of the circa 1847 rough-cut sandstone building. “My grandfather was outside waving his walking stick at me as I threw things out the top storey window, assuring me of their value.”
As luck would have it Grandpa had his way with many items that now form the fabric of a beautifully styled historic stay. A large yoke for bullocks hangs against the whitewashed stone and coats can be hung where horse saddles once rested under blue gum timber beams.
The Stable sits beneath century old English oaks, an hour from downtown Hobart. Four horse stalls downstairs have been converted to open plan living, complete with a full kitchen. A cosy wood fire is well matched with a Darlington pinot from up the road. Climb the original stairs to the ‘grain store’ and a queen-sized bed with freestanding bath await. Don’t turn the taps straight away though – down a cobblestoned path is an outdoor tub.
It’s the little touches that make Twamley special. It’s the old Women’s Weekly mags tucked away to giggle over in a hillside hut. It’s the gourmet pre-prepared meals that make a stay easy or the French explorer-inspired picnic hampers on hand for a spot of trout fishing on the farm’s dam. It’s the outdoor fire pot calling for dining in evening country air. It’s the in-house massages and accommodation options ranging from The Storekeeper’s in Buckland to the farm-based Stable, a modern pod for two alongside a glamping tent ideal for little ones. And it’s that authentic farm welcome that has crossed generations of Turvey faces.
Fuel up on local brekkie provisions of homemade muesli and creamy yoghurt, free range eggs and rustic sourdough before stepping out onto the working farm. There’s friends to meet. There’s Frida and Poncho the miniature donkeys and Sheila the sheep who hit international headlines. Sheila took a wayward step on a bush run and returned six years later with an overgrown fleece beamed into homes across Germany, Canada, Japan and the UK. Talk to Elizabeth, who lives with her family in the homestead, if you’re keen to join in farm activities from feeding lambs to visiting the working shearing shed and learning about Sheila and her 2,500 woolley mates.
Hop in the wooden row boat or cast a fly for rainbow trout from the shores of Twamley’s well-stocked dam. There’s also wild trout in the Tea Tree Rivulet and a handy map leading straight to the prime fishing holes. Keep an eye out for birds; a pro-twitcher spotted some 55 different species on a recent farm stay including twelve endemic birds across the gullies, temperate rainforest and varied farm microclimates.
Walk the trails or hop on provided mountain bikes to explore the farm. From the highest peak in the valley, Prosser Sugarloaf, a clear day provides views across the entire peninsula and back to kunanyi/Mount Wellington. On the way, drop in to see the ruins of 1800s settlers hut where families once survived on catching wallabies and possums.
There’s hidden falls and stories trapped in Twamley time. Learn about a WW1 soldier who fathered six children and got about the farm on a wooden leg. Ask after famed 19th century artist and writer Louisa Anne Meredith who once lived in the homestead or about Billy Swan who got caught in a snow storm after a late night walking back from the Buckland Inn. Although taking shelter in the hollow of a tree, he died, found with his loyal dog still by his side.
Beyond the farm gate, there is plenty to explore along the Great Eastern Drive. Maria Island is just a short ferry trip away and historic Richmond and Port Arthur Historic Site are both within easy driving from the Buckland area. Nearby neighbours double as vineyards, freshly shucked oysters are due north and white sand beaches come standard in these parts.
Twamley isn’t just a place to stay though. The sisters busily host events from intimate weddings to Sunday Lunch & Shoot affairs where guests head to the clay target range with a champion shooter followed by long table lunch in the homestead’s Stone Room. It was the original scullery kitchen beneath the homestead and flows out to a garden terrace for cooking over fire pots.
Spend hours or spend days at Twamley. It doesn’t take two minutes to assess the speed of early shearers on the tally boarded walls of the Shearer’s Hut – built from the pine hull of a ship. It doesn’t take a quarter hour to slip into ‘Twamley time’ slow cooking over fire. And it may take days to find Sheila.
Twamley Farm Autumn/Winter Getaway Package for Tailored Tasmania readers:
Stay two nights at Twamley Farm and spend a magical day exploring Maria Island National Park.
Total package at the special price of $650 for two guests between April - July 2019, includes:
Call or email to access special deal:
Address: 431 Twamley Road, Buckland, Tasmania
Mobile: (+61) 0439 114 996
*Words by Alice Hansen, images supplied by Twamley Farm
Friday 7 December 2018 – Sunday 5 May 2019
Horns, spikes, quills and feathers. The secret is in the skin! Journey back millions of years to a time when fearsome beasts stalked the earth!
This summer, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) galleries will be transformed into an amazing new exhibition exploring the ancient world of the dinosaurs and their descendants with animatronics, 3D models and fossil casts visitors can touch.
This all-ages exhibition explores the science behind recent fossil finds, providing an insight into the true, bizarre and complex nature of the evolution of dinosauria. Prepare to meet armoured giants, clawed enigmas and that old favourite, the Tyrannosaurus rex and learn more about the evolutionary link between one group of dinosaurs and modern birds.
Things to see and do:
• Once you’ve purchased your tickets, download the OpenAccess Tours and Uist Augmented Reality (AR) apps on your phone. See a dinosaur come to life with Uist and hear the dinosaurs’ secrets to survival with OpenAccess Tours
• Expect lots of dinosaur skeletons and bones, and dazzling artworks!
• Run your hands over the fossil casts that have an ‘ok to touch’ sign next to them.
• Enjoy triggering four animatronic dinosaurs by walking near them. Hear them roar and watch them move. They’re cheeky and will talk back, but they won’t bite
• Take time out in the kids’ Discovery Space, and know that when you buy a ticket it is a day pass, so pop in and out at any time on the day you visit.
• Have fun in the dinosaur dress up area and don’t forget to tag your pics #dinosaurrevolution #tmag
• Once you have finished in Dinosaur rEvolution: Secrets of Survival take a trip to the Earth and Life Gallery to learn more about Tasmanian dinosaur connections, and enjoy the rest that the Museum has to offer.
Get tickets and find out more here.
*Images and video courtesy of TMAG.
It began over a cuppa. “You should come with us,” said Cody taking a sip from his tea cup. “Okay,” I replied, wondering what I’d just said yes to. With Cody and Lou from Wild Pedder, it’s best just to say yes straight away because it’s guaranteed to be wildly good fun. And the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest Pilgrimage I’d just been told about, seemed a terribly good cause.
Before my cuppa was over, I’d committed to a 40 kilometre trek over kunnayi/Mt Wellington from Hobart to the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival to raise dollars and awareness for the Hobart Women’s Shelter and Bethlehem House crisis and emergency accommodation in Hobart. I was well aware too many people have it hard in winter, so spending a night in icy conditions on the side of a mountain seemed a fitting way to the raise profile of their plight.
We departed from Wild Pedder HQ, which is almost next door to Bethlehem House. Twelve of us (looking rather like we were lost in the city) took to the CBD streets with walking poles and backpacks – the mountain as our evening destination.
We wandered past the mighty Cascade Brewery and in little time were enveloped by the wilderness on our city doorstep. Some 17 kilometres and a few pretty waterfalls later we were setting up camp at The Springs. By a crackling fire in the Spring’s stone hut we shared dinner before settling in for a freezing night in our little cocoons.
Few slept well and 5am came round abruptly as we crawled out with head torches ready for the 23 kilometres ahead. Many hands made light work when Andy and Ciara (of impending venture Walks on Wellington) busied themselves helping out with pack up.
We slipped on spikes and I must admit walking in snow, in pitch black darkness en route to the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival I found a touch exciting. I think each of us had every layer we could muster on – I had a thermal, a jumper, a polar fleece, a jacket, another jacket, two pairs of gloves and was looking decidedly like a Michelin woman but spirits were high. The banter between representatives of Bethlehem house, Parks, the midwinter festival and new friends remained jovial for the entire trip despite weary legs.
At the morning tea stop, coffee was served the Wild Pedder way. Crouched precariously on a rock in the middle of a stream, hot drink orders were taken. I was equally taken by the pure waters thundering past us and over the 40 metre drop that is Wellington Falls. Many kilometres stood between us and the festival but we soldiered on happily and ate lunch near Norris/Thurstons Hut on the shoulder of Mount Montague where we were able to capture our first glimpse of Willie Smith’s Apple Shed.
It was a downhill pursuit from here, traversing private land and entering the main street of Mountain River. This is where locals pulled open their front doors, much to our surprise and delight. We had our photo snapped, we had dollars handed to our cause and friendly waves from a tractor. Smiles spread across rosy winter faces. It was all we needed to continue to the finish line. There at the Midwinter Feast we were welcomed into much merriment, toasty fire pots, warm cider, hearty food and the lighting of Willie, aka Burning Man.
Never have I walked a distance driven by such a worthy cause and with such enthusiasm and cheery comrades. If you have a moment head to the My Cause page that will remain open about 2 more weeks for donations.
Other thank yous extend to: Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival Hill Street Grocer Drive Car Hire Tasmanian Walking Company Wild Island Adventure HireHobart & Beyond Hype tv Osborne Images FIND YOUR FEET Walk on Wellington ABC Hobart Triple M Hobart
Images and words: Alice Hansen (unless otherwise captioned on images)
We push open the pavilion door under the cover of darkness. It’s winter in Tasmania, so it’s barely hit 6pm and stars are sprinkling across a clear sky. I’m not sure if this late arrival adds to the ambiance and sensory wonder that is the new pavilion experience.
The lighting is moodily low. The space is cosily intimate. The scent is rich with Tasmanian timber. The walls are tactile and discovery-prompting. Push lightly and a hidden bathroom shelf emerges. Slide gently and there are plush slippers and robes. Dig a little deeper and we find sketch paper and board games. There’s a sensuous mystery about our new little home. Peek beyond the curved glass and there it is … The outdoor tub. The tap is nudged on at once.
Sinking into rainwater on a chilled East Coast eve is a treat. Pushing open the door, I’m hit with a sharp winter nip to the air. The bath glows warm and begs for a swift entry. Above, those stars are twinkling handsomely, across skies we flew earlier on a scenic jaunt over the peninsula.
The impromptu flight was the result of alfresco tunes at Devil’s Corner Vineyard as part of the Festival of Voices. We took a grassy seat beside what turned out to be the local pilot, happy to launch us into a sunset flight. Now in the bath, the merriment of a surprise-filled day drifts into enveloping silence. I hear nothing but the lap of affable waves beyond our deck.
There’s little to worry about at this moment. My biggest concern is making it to dinner on time over at the lodge and if the resident possums have eyed off our charcuterie platter sitting by the bath. Word on the street is they can be pretty swift on a deck visit.
The next difficult decision is between Cape Grim beef and a dish piled high with local mussels and octopus. This is all the more reason to stay two nights. I go seafood on night one. Excellent decision. That night, an uber lush king-sized bed calls. I pull the velvety curtains across knowing that Great Oyster Bay will be waiting in the morning.
Day two begins with a long breakfast. (Get the brekkie hamper delivered to your room if you prefer to stay snuggled in your pavilion nest.) Our day has only one reference to the clock: be at the Freycinet Lodge jetty at 12 noon. There we are greeted by Nathan in his chariot - the Freycinet Aqua Taxi. He and wife Susan run Freycinet Adventures and I’ve enjoyed exploring by kayak paddle with these lovely folk on a previous trip.
Today, Nathan steers us toward Schouten Island, pointing out coastal features between telling us about his third child on the way. It is equal parts ‘tourism experience’ and ‘boat trip with a mate’ in its feel. Meanwhile, seals nod hello to us from Refuge Island. They barely raise the energy for a quick synchronised swim routine.
Arriving at Bryans Beach is like stepping onto Wineglass Bay’s little brother that few know about. The beach is empty of people, its sand is blazing white and the water is some crazy shade of blue sapphire. I take my sunglasses off to assess reality. The shade is staggeringly correct.
We step ashore and begin the easy three kilometre wander through to Cooks Beach. It’s largely flat and resident wallabies are our only company. There’s a quaint stone hut to peek inside near Cooks then we’re ushered to the beach – apparently a wombat is roaming the sands. Unfortunately, he takes one look at us and gallops off. Who knew wombats could run faster than it takes to turn on an SLR. He departed in a puff of sand.
After delivery back to the lodge jetty there’s little more to do than turn the bath tap again. It’s the most practical way to pass time before dinner. Tonight, it will be the Cape Grim option. It doesn’t disappoint, cooked to mid-rare perfection.
Lying back against comfy Tasmanian Shall Design cushions back at our cocoon, I smile. Floor to ceiling windows bring the starry night in. Slithers of lighting encourage a sleepy feel. Drifting off, I wonder if the morning will bring time for just one more bath …
Book your Freycinet Lodge Coastal Pavillion Escape here.
The darkness is upon us. The chill is palpable. Late in the night things are happening ... there's a man buried under a main street and a lady is sipping craft beer in a full piece leopard getup. Someone is self tattooing while metres away a man is having his hair cut blind folded. This can only mean one thing. Dark Mofo has begun.
Start with Matthew Schreiberart's Leviathan at Dark Park. Get your trance on. Walk through his red beams with a child's curiousness. In fact, don't be surprised if a mini human is moving at speed through the light. No matter which way you look at Leviathan it'll have you transfixed.
Don't worry, heating is supplied at Dark Park.
Who doesn't like a good alpine ski bar? Black Diamond Ski Manor Bar has you sorted. Moo Brew and Moorilla flow freely here.
The wine glasses are pretty fancy with their red cross but it's the 'stubby holders' that are causing chatter. Only the Mona team would concoct the idea of 'Dark Muffs.' Nuff said.
If you dare, the Submissive Salon is open for all manner of services. The Avant Gardge Hair Upstyle? This basically means for 150 bucks you get to submit your hair as art. You'll need the complimentary liquor considering these chops are done blind folded. Oh, and they offer massages complete with hot stones and they'll vibrate your head ... whatever that means.
On the wander over to Winter Feast, stop and meet a fellow through a window at the Art School. He's got his phone number sticky taped to the glass ... ring him and have a natter. He's up for anything so the note says.
This is where the hungry come to feast by candlelight. Pull up a pew if you can find one. Get cosy. It's winter time.
Vince Trim, Mona's Executive Chef has been very busy with fire pit master Sao Paulo from Brazil. It's taken some 20 hours to cook an entire Scottish Highland cow, ethically farmed by Big River Highland Beef. The line up is well worth it.
It's time to put those crackling fire pits to good use, toasting marshmallows of course. Scott will sort you with s'mores from his Krumbies outfit down the far end. Fun fact, he's also an acroyoga gun. What's acroyoga? Ask him.
There is so much to see, so much to do, so much to absorb. There's Night Mass, that refreshing nude swim, the burning of a giant spider, and at Domain House people feel like they've taken flight. The program is long and its bold. If you're a Tasmanian, you probably forgot to book stuff. If you did, be sure to pull on a puffer and get out to Dark Park and the feast.
Dark Mofo continues to re-invent and thousands have flocked in 2018 - drawn to the bitter cold not really knowing what they're moving towards on mass. The unknown doesn't matter though. It's what this festival is all about. So keep your mind and Narryna eyes open.
Words & images: Alice Hansen
Quiet cruising in UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Some may say the Gordon River is a spiritual place. I’m with them on this. So it’s fitting Gordon River Cruise’s new vessel is named Spirit of the Wild. When RACT invited me to join a photo shoot on the new boat ahead of the public launch June 16, I replied with a spirited yes! We hopped on a little Par Avion plane beneath the stars Monday night and were on our way.
The Gordon River has the power to move. Through its stillness, majesty and silence. For some, it’s that mind-shifting moment when reflections confuse up from down. For me, it is gliding nose-close past a 500-year-old Huon pine. Across 23 cruising kilometres there are moments where this ancient river pulls time to a standstill.
Come June 16, trips will depart 8.30am for 6 hours of cruising, set to deliver a new level of luxe to the region. The boat is a beauty. It’s slick and oozes with style. Like a small child I head straight for the Premier Upper Deck. The plush wide leather seats line either side, angled with anticipation of what’s to come. It whispers of first class airliner comfort but with the tannin-stained waters of Tasmania’s wild west coast in place of clouds.
The boat itself is a diesel and electric powered wonder – a first of its kind in Australia for this specific engine designed by German company MTU. When I draw myself away from the ‘top shelf’ with its Hydrowood communal centre tables (the timber reclaimed from the depths of Lake Pieman) I ponder the international chats that will occur over this Myrtle. After all, the West Coast draws strangers from the world over, some becoming new friends....Don't let me mislead you - the main deck is gorgeous too.
Ours isn’t your typical cruise. It is shoot day and the crew busily set about capturing all manner of still, video and drone footage as we leave the Strahan docks behind. In days to come, guests instead will be charmed with what hospitality consultant David Quon describes as a “cocktail party in the wilderness.”
When Skipper Paul Brown enters the Gordon River’s calm, petite cups of pink eye potato and leek soup topped with parmesan crumbs shall emerge. The seasonal menu is all about fresh, wholesome, local fare. The steamed local ocean trout is straight from the harbour and served with lemon myrtle butter sauce.
As we glide up the river, silence overcomes all. The majesty commands us so. We’re enveloped by a world largely unchanged for millennia. Dark waters meet a shoreline crowded with impenetrable green. Not just any green but species not found elsewhere on the planet. Huon pine, my all-time fave and one of the oldest living organisms on earth, humbly appears on a bend. It’s been hanging out there some 500 years according to a guide whose enthusiasm is contagious. Its close neighbours include everything from Sassafras, Leatherwood, Celery top and Southern Beech myrtle.
About 11 kilometres up the river we come to Heritage Landing. Here, we walk through the temperate rainforest, breathing in air that deserves bottling. It’s cool, crisp and pure. I’m stopped by fungi clinging vibrantly to a mossy trunk. It’s tiny. Perfectly formed. Strikingly beautiful. It’s another moment of pause.
Heading back to the boat, wafts of that fresh ocean trout call. It is look don’t touch for us though, as photographers swarm to the delicately-presented plates. Mixed grain and char-roasted vegetable salad, smoked Macquarie Harbour salmon and a rustic tart gather with freshly poured Tasmanian reds and whites. Afternoon sun streams in as we motor near-silently across to Sarah Island.
The island has its fair share of harsh convict tales. Speaking of, the cat of nine tales was an enhanced version known as the Macquarie Harbour Cat, complete with lead beads. What’s more, each windowless solitary jail cell had the same dimensions as a grave. Intentionally. Let’s just say it was nice to walk off the island rather than swim like an early, desperate escapee. It seems at odds with the idyllic beauty of this tiny patch.
Next stop, Hell’s Gates. A place of grief for so many sea captains, the name dates back to early convicts who saw the narrow 80 metre stretch as the ‘entrance to hell.’ Today in its relative calmness it’s hard to imagine the many lost lives as we start on a cheese board.
After an about-turn we sink into our lush leather comfort and head for Strahan. It’s a time for quiet reflection, just as the river gave us earlier. This is a place where beauty and tragedy collide; where charm and harshness drift side by side. Today the weather is golden. Tomorrow it will be in another mood. Unpredictable like yesterday. It’s the wildness and rawness that captivates me.
The sun begins to sink on our rare blue sky day, as I chat to the captain. It is only now he speaks of his connection to place. He talks of his love of Huon pine. I nod in agreement at our shared awe. Only thing is, I don’t have a son named Huon after the species. We laugh that one day he may just be the mayor.
Hop aboard Spirit of the Wild today. FIND OUT MORE
Upper Deck: $265
Main Deck: $135 ($165 for window recliner)
Words & images: Alice Hansen
Come through the latest doors to open across our island.
As if you need a reason to visit Tassie! We’ve given you 15 and hope to see you this year during the wintery goodness that is Dark Mofo. Stay warm and take a peek at the latest happenings we’ve handpicked. Some haven’t even opened but aren’t far away!
Petite in size but big in heart. At Sweet Sassafras the menu changes with the seasonal goodness of the small producers and local farmers they support. It’s a cosy little coffee shop with real Tassie flavour from Mt Roland Hazelnuts to Amber Harvest Honey and crusty bread from Pigeon Whole Bakers. Drop in for a bite and board game. Lay a linen napkin on your lap and sip through a stainless steel straw – less waste – happy planet.
Visit Sweet Sassafras at 279 Elizabeth St, Hobart
Ti Ama might just have the coolest pizza oven on the island. Head there for rustic Italian and sourdough wood fired pizza along with great cocktails and house-made pasta. Anyone for a share plate of chargrilled Pirate’s Bay octopus, potato, parsley and smoked aioli?
Visit Ti Ama at 13 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point
Faro is Mona’s new bar and restaurant in the Pharos Wing. Faro … pharos … are you pronouncing correctly? ‘Faro’ means ‘lighthouse’ in Spanish and is the English word for ‘pharos.’ This aside, Executive Chef Vince Trim is at the helm of a place designed for sharing. Signature sangria comes by the glass (or litre) and there’s share plates aplenty beneath towering 13 metre ceilings.
Visit Faro at 655 Main Rd, Berriedale
SILENT READING PARTY
Have you been silent reading lately? Gather with other Hobartians on the first Wednesday of every month and …. Drink. Read. Eat. Repeat. Hosted by Island Magazine and Transportation Press, keep an eye out for next month’s venue here. Also, if you’re a writer looking for some silent writing time, the Island Magazine office also turns into a writing cave for 3 hours every Tuesday in the old Mercury Building at 91-93 Macquarie Street, Hobart.
To find out more here.
Great coffee, smooth New Orleans tunes, cheery baristas and a vibrant space have just added serious colour to the Murray Street strip. Try to walk in and not feel brighter! Narrow in stature but big on personality, Shotgun is the latest ‘meeting place’ in Hobart.
Visit Shotgun at 49-51 Murray Street, Hobart
IMAGO BAKERY AND PATISSERIE
Delectable bakery treats in Hobart’s CBD! Flaky almond croissants, champagne loaves, wintry pies and more. Keep an eye out for Imago at this year’s Dark Mofo. They’ll be teaming with The Glass House and Chef David Ball at the winter feast.
Visit Imago at 114 Elizabeth Street
Get ready. Come August 2018 Ben Milbourne’s first restaurant will open in Providore Place, Devonport. Milbourne, of Ben’s Menu notoriety (Channel 10) will swing open the doors to a restaurant unlike any other the North West Coast has seen. He’s busy filming more TV shows right now so stay tuned.
Visit Ben Milbourne
About half an hour out of Hobart, 7K was dreamt up by Tyler Clark who downed tools on his former work to follow his distillery mission. Pushing boundaries with native produce with new craft spirits, the Aqua Vitae Modern Gin is a must try. In old Latin, Aqua Vita means ‘water for life.’ Make contact for a distillery visit.
Visit: 7K Distillery
GRAIN OF THE SILOS
Opening in June, Grain of the Silos is about venturing across Tasmania’s landscape to source our very best local produce for the Grain menu. From the port to the wilds, community is key for Head chef Peter Twitchett who has worked in kitchens worldwide. Expect sustainable and delicious in stylish surrounds come June 2.
Visit: Grain of the Silos at 89/91 Lindsay St, Launceston
Get your Canadian fix in Hobart. After spending time in Canada, the owners became captivated by Canadian cuisine, ranging from the game influence of Ontario to the French inspired pastries of Quebec. That’s right, Bellerive Tasmania just got a little bit Canadian.
Visit Gastown East at 5/16 Cambridge Rd, Bellerive
SUMINATO JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Tucked away in King Street, Suminato brings fresh Japanese flavours to Sandy Bay. Think Tassie fresh oysters with six special sauces or a sashimi chef selection. They also have a ‘no raw’ menu for those who prefer their Japanese all cooked.
Visit Suminato at 48 King Street, Sandy Bay
PABLO’S COCKTAILS AND DREAMS
With its Speak Easy feel, how do cocktails by the fire sound? Tucked down a laneway, this 1920s style bar is well suited to those who like to rest back on Chesterfield lounges and tap away to some live jazz.
Find Pablo's at 101 Harrington Street, Hobart
Right in the heart of Hobart’s CBD you’ll find REV. Pop in for an all day brekkie or a long lunch. They bake delish muffins every day and serve up great coffee. They also do a very handy beef burger made with prime grass fed beef, bacon and topped with their in-house mayo.
Find REV at 119 Liverpool St Hobart
GORMANSTON FOOD STORE
Had Afghani food lately? In Moonah there’s authentic Afghani cooked to order every day. There’s naan straight from the tandoor and always a welcoming smile. Take a traditional seat on the floor cushions or park yourself at a table. Don’t forget to order a freshly squeezed juice.
Visit GFS at 35 Gormanston Road, Moonah, Tasmania
SOUTH ON HAMPDEN
Under the watch of restaurateur Ian South, South on Hampden is a great go-to for brunch in Battery Point. It’s also open for dinner and warmer days invite craft ales or cocktails in the courtyard. Be sure to take a peek at the petite bar tucked away out back!
Visit South on Hampden at 45 Hampden Road, Battery Point
FIND CHEF STEVE CUMPER AT THE FERN TREE TAVERN
If you loved his food at Red Velvet Lounge you’ll be excited that Chef Steve Cumper is now at the Fern Tree Tavern whipping up a storm in the higher altitudes, en route to Mount Wellington’s pinnacle. Stop in for a drink by the open fire and a hearty meal this winter. Relaxed atmosphere and generous serves come standard.
Visit Fern Tree Tavern at 680 Huon Rd, Fern Tree
Last month Bobby Alu was beamed into 1.7 billion homes, strumming the ukulele to his own song amidst 200 beach-going dancers, at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. This Thursday (May 9), he’ll be bringing his cruisy Polynesian vibes to Willie Smith's Apple Shed and The Homestead on Friday.
If you like the idea of ‘finding your flow’ and going about your days to ‘the rhythm of your own making,’ you’ll enjoy this drummer and uke strummer live. The Byron Bay singer is coming as part of a huge 2018 Australian and New Zealand tour with his latest single Move. Listen here.
For the last five years, Alu has been touring as Xavier Rudd’s drummer. It’s been quite a ride since the day Xavier asked for a quick jam and then suggested they play a gig. After 20 minutes of rehearsal, Alu found himself performing in front of 10,000 at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest. He’s looking forward to a couple of relaxed days in Tassie, after a schedule that included 35 shows in 34 days across 10 different countries.
“I’d been so busy with Xavier that it feels great to be back writing songs again. Move was fun to make. This is the start of a new album, the first taste of it. It feels amazing to create something, record it and now take it on the road,” says Alu.
This isn’t Alu’s first time to Tasmania. He has performed on Bruny Island, busked at Salamanca Market (getting very sunburnt despite the cold weather) and has travelled up to the Bay of Fires and around the north. He also came at 13, as captain of the Queensland Athletics Team. The aspiring sprinter has fond memories of how good the Hobart tap water tasted in the 90s.
As a young boy he hoped to run in an Olympic or Commonwealth Games. Although he didn’t make it to the Commonwealth Games as a sprinter, he made it as a strummer. His family and friends cheered him on in the Gold Coast crowd. His smooth harmonies and rhythm are inspired by a strong family lineage of Polynesian performance. Alu uses Samoan log drums and instruments handed down through generations.
“My mum is from Samoa,” he says, “She taught me to play the ukulele when I was young and her brothers taught me to play the drums. Dad left Australia on a scuba diving trip in the Pacific, saw mum dancing and not long after I arrived! Mum works in Aged Care, takes her ukulele every day and sings to them.”
When Alu does local shows he’ll often get his Mum up to dance. In the 80s, she flew the flag, a pro dancer in a Polynesian dance group. During performances, young Alu would often drift off to sleep beneath the drums. No surprise why Polynesian rhythm runs deep in his blood.
“I did six months of an engineering degree and hated it,” smiles Alu. “Music took over. It’s amazing to think the ukulele and Samoan log drums have taken me around the world.”
Don’t miss Bobby Alu at Willie Smiths in Grove on the 10th of May and The Homestead in Hobart on the 11th of May. What will you enjoy live? According to his website: Expect a fresh, simple sound with tastes of Polynesian ukulele, Pacific beats, catchy songs, tasty harmony and powerful log drumming on a bed of slick style.
Sounds good to us!
He’s even prepared a cruisy Tassie playlist for us here.
“His chilled out Pacific tunes have a long-lasting feel good effect and his finely crafted songs have instant appeal.”
ABC Radio Australia
“Smooth hammock music genius.”
The AU Review
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Words Alice Hansen
Images: Monica Buscarino
Heard of Yoga Cucina? The Sydney-based outfit is an unrivalled blend of yoga and food. To use their own words, it’s a “hot-lipped love child of our two great passions – body rocking movement and seriously good food.”
I was fortunate enough to enjoy an overnight visit to their four-day Tasmanian retreat at one of my faves, Ratho Farm. Yoga Cucina’s country-wide escapes are more adventure than retreat, Ratho the ideal playground for the bliss to unfold.
Yoga Cucina is the creation of an eclectic bunch. The Yogis include Claire Blackwood, Aly Clarke and Rebecca Lockyer (BodyMindLife, Flow Athletic, Power Living). The Chefs are Marco Gobbo and Luca Faccin (Catalina, Icebergs Dining Room, Apollo). Clearly, good yoga and good food a certainty for these epic moveable feasts of movement and local fare.
The crew honed their skills in Sydney’s finest restaurants and studios. They believe that through shared experience, a higher state of consciousness can be realised. They serve up a delectable degustation and a dynamic flow class with equal passion. They love that “both have the power to bring people together, hands in the air or wrapped around a glass of wine.”
I arrive just in time for a pre-dinner yoga session. Although clearly the most inept yoga-goer on a mat, the team immediately make me feel comfortable. Hidden at the back, a gentle hand of assistance is never far away.
The team are right. Yoga is followed by the most delightful feast of local produce, spread down a jovial long table in Ratho’s atrium. Tasmanian wine flows as does the chatter while Marco and Luca busy themselves in the historic homestead’s kitchen. It’s a place where many high-end chefs have worked their craft including Gourmet Farmer’s Matthew Evans as part of his SBS television series.
With full tummies we all retreat to comfy convict-built, thoughtfully restored quarters. The following day, early risers can revisit their mats for a morning session. Naturally, this is followed by a breakfast banquet, bursting with fresh fruits and all manner of healthful options.
Although my time is short with Yoga Cucina, the team travelled far and wide. From their Ratho base, the crew visited vineyards, got sand between their toes and met local makers. They dropped into the subversive adult Disneyland that is Mona and were welcome to swing a club on Australia’s latest 18-hole golf course back at Ratho. During their downtime, the natural beauty, clear light and crisp Tasmanian air was theirs to enjoy.
Why do the team love Ratho?
Ratho Farm has a colourful history. Home to Australia's oldest golf course and chook shed, it's a working sheep and cattle farm, and a base for fly-fishing expeditions. Established in the highland wilderness by Scottish settlers Alexander and Mary Reid and a band of convict workers in 1822, the farm has been ransacked by bushrangers, housed exiled Irish nationalists, produced Melbourne Cup winners and golfing royalty. The old farm buildings including the bakery, verandah, stables and tack room have been lovingly restored into boutique rooms with original masonry and carpentry but modern features.
If you think this type of escape is for you, join their next adventure in the New South Wales Southern Highlands this September.
For more information visit: www.yogacucina.com
Images: Leeroy Te Hira (unless otherwise stated) Words: Alice Hansen
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