I’m not sure if it was the wallaby welcome party or that we were unlocking a door to perhaps the world’s first fully zero-emission house, but I felt a wave of natural calm on stepping into Greens Beach Solar Home.
As a worldly collective, we are learning to tread more lightly. Off-grid, low emission, enviro-friendly terms are thrown about with fashionable abandon, but Greens Beach Solar Home has taken it to a new level. It’s not just ‘off grid’ until that moment guests need the generator. It’s not just ‘brochure green’ but arguably the world’s first house that is 100% off-grid and 100% electric. There is no wood fire or gas for heating and cooking, there is no backup generator. No powerlines stretch overhead and it’s no hybrid car needing a plug in for juice. What’s more, it’s fittingly on the doorstep to some of northern Tassie’s finest natural assets.
Pushing open the thick triple-glazed glass door, it’s immediately apparent that staying in this solar home doesn’t mean a dip in modern comforts. It’s warm, state-of-the-art and appointed with everything from an ethanol eco fire to an induction glass cooktop. Wandering through the two-bedroom secluded haven, I pull open grand French doors – the master bedroom spilling out onto the deck. Walking back by the bathroom, I pause. The generous bathtub just begs to bathe in Tasmanian rainwater.
After studying a masters in sustainable building design in the UK, homeowner and architect David Macfarlane chose Greens Beach in northern Tasmania to test his solar concept home. It took two years to devise his storm and fire-proof dwelling. He selected the location based on its challenging climate and natural seclusion. Choosing this harsher environment allowed Macfarlane to test the sustainability of his off-grid features and monitor for warmth, power outages, and energy efficiencies, using the highest quality products available.
Completing the build in 2017, Macfarlane lived in the property for one year to test the solar home’s performance. The home, with its 25 solar panels, performed well beyond his expectation. He has now opened its doors for others to enjoy.
Nestled on an acre of bushland, the home is just an hour from the Launceston Airport. Greens Beach is a small community at the Tamar River mouth that I hadn’t spent much time exploring, so I was delighted to see the myriad of walking trails and tips provided by David. Directions to the sheltered swimming beach and a walking trail leading past the wallaby welcome crew seemed a suitable evening stroll for us.
Weaving through the casuarinas and tea trees, it didn’t take long to reach Greens Beach where the sun was sinking in spectacular fashion, casting final light over the colourful boathouses lining the shore. Out on the horizon, Low Head Lighthouse commenced its dependable recurrent glow.
Retreating back to the Solar Home, a quick gas lighter flick and the eco fire licks into flame. It’s ambient company for a moment of stillness, musing over the selection of coffee table books before dinner. Although we don’t light up the pizza oven, I make a mental note the home can accommodate four, making it ideal for an evening of woodfired pizza and chatter into the night. For us, dinner is a selection of regional treats from an area famed for its Tamar Valley wines and rich bounty best collected en route. Naturally, the bath then calls.
I wake early in king-sized luxury to the sound of the sea. The room is awfully cosy and if there wasn’t a DeLonghi coffee machine waiting, the rise may have taken longer. We took coffee to the deck and hatched a plan. World class golf at Barnbougle Dunes? Platypus House? A wander to Badger Head via Copper Cove? With every booking allowing for early check-in (any time after 11am) and late check-out through until 4pm there was time to take a longer 6-8 hour Badger Head hike departing from nearby Springlawn at Narawntapu National Park.
A few things fascinate me about this coastal walk. First, we are pretty much guaranteed to see wildlife – Badger Head was documented as containing over 200 species of native fauna within just a two kilometres radius. Next, the idea of walking four pristine sandy kilometres along Badgers Beach to Badger Head sounds like the ultimate head-clearing sojourn. Finally, I want to see where Australia’s first female pirate used to hang out! Badger Head is named after Charlotte Badger, a convict escapee who roamed the region back in the early 1800s.
The walk rewards in every way, complete with echidna and wallaby encounters. Down on Copper Cove I stumble across thousands of beautiful shells, all pushed against shoreline boulders by the moving tides. They have me down on my knees like I’m hunting for treasure Charlotte Badger-style. I’m lost in time at this remote cove before being nudged to begin the return trek. It’s no surprise the late Steve Irwin handpicked land here for a wildlife sanctuary just before his death – it’s simply stunning.
We get back to solar home-base by mid-afternoon with plenty of time to freshen up and bid farewell. It’s a genuinely pleasant feeling to know that our stay has involved treading gently, all the while feeling relaxed and indulgent. I eye that wood fired pizza on the way out, with a silent promise of return.
To receive a complimentary bottle of the region's wine on arrival, simply note Tailored Tasmania Promo in the Comments Section when booking.
Bookings must fall between July 1 and August 31, 2019. Visit Greens Beach Solar Home to book your escape.
Dark Mofo. It’s beguiling and hypnotising. Under the cover of Tasmanian darkness each June, all manner of experiences unfold. But how does one navigate beneath those 20-metre glowing red crosses in the chilled night air without FOMO fears they’ll miss a highlight. What’s down that dark laneway? Why are people lining up there? What shall we feast on? How do we make the most of this year’s dark forest-themed festival?
Wrap your mitts round this must-do list and stride out into the Dark Mofo night.
1. WINTER FEAST
It’s the biggest feast yet and there will be much cooking over fire at this year’s Winter Feast. It's where the winter hungry come to feed. Familiar faves like the Heavy Metal Kitchen will be there and new experiences like ordering an Unholy Water – perhaps a Behold Fashioned from the Void’s range? This Dark Mofo exclusive has much rum. There’ll be guest chefs, live music and far too many indulgent eats and drinks to list here. Just be sure to pull up a pew at this winter banquet ... and more than once.
Princes Wharf 1
Friday 14–Sunday 16 June
Wednesday 19–Sunday 23 June
2. DARK FAMILY TIME
Bring the kidlets down to the Winter Feast between 4-5pm for free sessions of Fire + Ice. They’ll learn all about native ingredients and hear stories from Tasmanian Aboriginal elders. They’ll try native periwinkles by the fire circle and smash local spuds on a long table. Who knows, they may even learn how to whip you up a native dinner.
Want to submerge your kids in the sound of an electrically-charged wave ... transcribing patterns of solar wind and the Aurora Australis? Drop into the Long Gallery at the Salamanca Arts Centre for Coronal Mass (also free.)
Fire + Ice
Princes Wharf 1
Friday 14–Sunday 16 June
Wednesday 19–Sunday 23 June
3. DARK PATH
This 4-kilometre path of darkness is accessed at the Regatta Grounds and leads through Queens Domain and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens too. By the River Derwent, venture into the All This Coming and Going with its 12 shipping containers – an installation about humankind’s fatal relationship with the ocean ($15). Want to see a Tassie Tiger? Head to Beaumaris Zoo for 6th, a ‘digital de-extinction’ of the legendary icon (free). Enclosure is another goodie.
If you’re feeling like tea and scones at Government House book your place with a $15 donation to the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania (pre-bookings essential) for Take This, For It Is My Body. Aboriginal performers ensure you’ll get more than the traditional European fare. There’s so much along this path, but half the joy is happening across it in the dark.
Friday 14–Sunday 16 June, 5–10pm
Wednesday 19–Sunday 23 June, 5–10pm
Regatta Grounds + Queens Domain + Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
4. TALISKER IMMERSIVE BARS
Talisker have something super special planned along Dark Path – The Talisker Wilderness Bar. Keep an eye out for a rustic boat shed-inspired bar, aglow with flames from open log fires. They’ve been making single malt scotch whisky since 1830 and have conceived some Dark Mofo specialties including the Talisker Campfire Hot Chocolate and Talisker Spiced Hot Toddy, complete with spices and topped with an Aussie gum leaf or two. Pair it with a Tassie blue cheese jaffle. You’ll also find Talisker at the Winter Feast!
5. FREE STUFF
David Walsh is a kind man – there’s always plenty of free stuff to experience for those who lost their wallet in the forest or missed ticketed gigs. Tip – the Winter Feast is free nightly after 8pm and all night on Sunday June 23. Yay. Take the Dark Path. That’s also complimentary but we can’t say where it might lead. Wander alongside Hobart’s Centre for the Arts and peer in the windows … don’t be surprised if some windows of Panopticon III: The Garden of Earthly Delights hold very, very random oddities.
The Ogoh-Ogoh burning and purging is free too (this year an enormous swift parrot), along with that much-loved Ryoji Ikeda beam known as Spectra that seared its way into the hearts of locals during the first Dark Mofo festival. It'll be out at Mona. There’s lots more free stuff including the Nude Solstice Swim … you couldn’t pay me to join as a local in fear I might bump into a former colleague but this bare-bottomed tradition grows bigger every year. For church-goers, Coronal Mass is another freebie.
6. FROLICK IN A FOREST
Oh, we haven’t mentioned there’s A Forest to explore. Prepare for serious noise, art, performance and ‘the violent undergrowth of human nature.’ It’s $20 timed entry on the hour up in Melville Street and really, we’re having trouble visualising ‘an industrial vacuum pump sucking at empty oil drums,’ virtual reality violence and a durational performance with an artist pressing up against melting ice. We don’t really know what to say but to go! When you leave and can't sleep ... drop into 'In the Hanging Garden' (image below).
Wednesday 12–Sunday 16 June, 5–10pm
Wednesday 19–Sunday 23 June, 5–10pm
There are so many more ticketed events and happenings out at Mona that we literally must stop here …. to rest and prepare for the dark nights ahead. So, get with the program here and follow this handy map when lost.
See you in the darkness ...
Words and images: Alice Hansen (unless captioned otherwise)
The future is bright for the Theatre Royal so, get in now, book a ticket and make sure you’re at the Theatre Royal this year!
2019 is a very exciting year for the Theatre Royal. Construction work is well underway on the Hedberg (find out packages, upcoming shows and more here) and there will be a range of new facilities including foyers, bars, a new Box Office and cloakroom facilities.
Due to the development work for these new facilities, the Theatre Royal is currently closed, however in preparation for the reopening of the Theatre Royal at the end of May, the 2019 Season is on sale now!
And what a season it will be! You can see the best of Australian performing arts companies, including Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Dance Company, Circus Oz, Bangarra Dance Theatre and Bell Shakespeare. These companies are bringing their high-quality production of dance, comedy, circus and drama with some very special anniversary tours.
There’s plenty of local talent too including My Fair Lady and fabulous big band musical numbers in The Very Best of CROON LIVE.
Young people and families will love the entertaining range of productions such as the madness of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts (shake & stir theatre company) and the very Australian story of Possum Magic (Monkey Baa Theatre Company).
See what else is on offer here.
The future is bright for the Theatre Royal so, get in now, book a ticket and make sure you’re at the Theatre Royal this year!
Address: The Theatre Royal Box Office is currently located at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Dunn Place, Hobart
Phone: (03) 6146 3300
*Words and images supplied by Theatre Royal
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
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.