Where in the world can you rest your head on a hotel pillow knowing that by doing so, you’re feeding 210 orphans a nutritious brekkie in India? Launceston, of course.
It’s dark and cold when we arrive at Change Overnight. A biting wind whips up the side of this black Launceston building. Eyes barely adjusting, we make out an understated entrance. The harsh, wintry conditions are fitting for arrival to a hotel believed to be a world’s first – a better night’s sleep where we’ll be giving back just by drifting off to sleep.
Chilled fingers key in the access code as we trip over each other to escape the night air. We’re certain warmth and comfort awaits. But it’s not immediate here at Change Overnight. The corridor is equally blanketed in black paint, lit with dim industrial lighting. As hints of ‘change’ appear graffiti-style, the senses liven.
Although we don’t hear echoes of children in the streets of Kolkata through these hallways, future guests shall. It’s all part of this social enterprise’s story, written by two young Launceston founders, Sam Haberle and Tara Howell. To realise their vision, the pair joined forces with local co-directors Marcel Anstie and Toby Wilkin. Their intent? That this 18-room York Street hotel headquarters will be one of many Change Overnight hotels across the globe. At the end of the narrow, long hallway we find our room. A gentle push of the door delivers a splash of light, colour and genuine hope. The contrast is palpable. By design, it invites a feeling that change is possible and can reach far.
So how does it work? When booking one of the rooms, ranging from $145/night studio apartments through to a three-bedroom penthouse, guests choose how they’d like to ‘change the world.’ Weaved into Change Overnight’s rates is a direct contribution to one of eight causes.
Each cause is offered to encourage guests to rest easy with intent. Do they want to feed 210 orphans during their overnight, or stay a few nights knowing they’re contributing a full term’s education to a handful of children in Vanuatu? Perhaps they want a cause closer to home, say, ten square metres of Tassie locked up never to be developed by supporting the Tasmanian Land Conservancy. Those touched by mental health struggles in their families can curl up knowing Beyond Blue are making calls to those in need as a result.
It’s not only the good ‘give back’ feels that are part of the Change Overnight experience. The edgy, beautifully-appointed rooms speak style. Sleek appliances sit opposite a sliding door that spills out onto a generous patio beneath clear stars. The vibrant mural of a young girl I could gaze at for many more hours than the flat screen TV above. Globally-focussed books are a nod to further change beyond our hotel stay. The entire experience encourages us to re-think. It brings the streets of Kolkata closer – the problems not so far away that we can’t find a small impact. It challenges by issuing high level comfort but in equal parts a moment of pause. We have it good. But not everyone does.
All rooms have loft bedrooms. Our stairs lead up with a graffitied reminder that “you’re not here to play the game you’re here to change it.” Upstairs views spill over a night-lit city. It’s striking. Naturally, the bathroom is well stocked with Thank you hand soap and Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. The socially aware will love every corner of thought applied here.
For us, it’s time to head back out into the bracing night for dinner at Geronimo Apertivo Bar and Restaurant. As we’re ushered into its warmth another is being helped on with her coat by an attentive waiter. The service and quality never disappoints in this Charles Street institution.
We only need a light bite, moving between crusty sourdough with caramelised onion and mustard butter through to beef cheek ravioli and an awfully tender duck ragu with pancetta, red wine, sweet potato and ricotta dumplings. Beside the glow of a spirit’s locker, keeping watch over aged Tassie whiskies and the like, we chatter about the possibilities that could be if we all committed to change …. from our cosy Geronimo seats with well-fed tummies to the orphanages of Banbasa, India.
Tonight, we curl up knowing change is activated. Already, by choosing the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission cause, 210 nutritious breakfasts for orphaned children have been sorted. Now that makes for a better night’s sleep!
Need more reason to stay? We've teamed with change overnight for a special Tailored Tasmania readers deal:
A WEEKEND OF CHANGE FOR TWO
- 1 night in a Game Changer 1-bedroom apartment ($230)
- An evening at Geronimo Restaurant for two ($180)
Total Value: $410
Your price: $380
To access simply add the promo code TAILOREDTAS10 when booking here.
RATES: start from $145/night
ADDRESS: 25 York St, Launceston TAS 7250 Australia
PHONE: 03 6388 9291
Return to you on Tassie's North West Coast
By definition Novo means ‘from the beginning. Anew. Afresh.’ A stay in Novo Luxury Apartment in North West Tasmania’s township of Penguin delivers just this. There’s a restorative quality about Novo that’s hard to define. It hits with the same undeniable power as its Bass Strait views. Ascending the heritage listed staircase, there’s only one word that escapes my lips. “Wow.”
Novo’s own beginnings date back to 1912 and the staircase is a well-preserved nod to its early days. But as the creaks of its early bakery days fade behind me, I’m enveloped by the apartment’s top floor luxuries. Open living spills out to commanding Bass Strait views. It’s hard to shift between the beautifully appointed foreground and nature’s epic backdrop. Somehow, the two meet in perfect harmony.
We’re greeted with a handwritten note, a treat from Renaessance Café and warmth indicative of an owner who knows how to turn on a winter welcome. I plunge into one of the ‘bean beds’ just in time for the sun to sink. The shift to Penguin pace happens with unconscious ease. We’re surrounded with furnishings that look as though they’re straight from Melbourne’s fashion strip. But they happen to be direct from Cocoon Designs, the homewares store residing underneath Novo. Everything works. Beautifully.
Dining in at the long table is followed by Trivial Pursuit by the fire. It’s not everyday one can change the flame colour depending on one’s mood with the flick of a remote! This is followed by a deep bath before slipping between crisp linen sheets to the lull of waves. Tonight’s good sleep is assured before my eyes even close as I busily admire the original pressed tin ceiling.
Staying at Novo is as much about the inside comforts as it is about experiencing the neighbourhood and beyond. Armed with a comprehensive list prepared by the owner, the options range from never leaving the apartment (tempting considering the library of books, Netflix password and the July chills) through to Cradle Mountain walks and main street galleries and eats.
We opt for seaside yoga. Instructor and local, Caz, warmly invites us into the restorative session and next minute we’re stretching out on mats with equally broad smiles. Preservation Bay just beyond works its North West magic, rivalled only by the encouragement to go gently on our bodies. We sink yet another level into the re-boot and recharge feels of Penguin.
With well limbered legs, we then venture out into the wilds for a climb of Mount Gnomon after a quick coffee at Letterbox (naturally connected to the Post Office). Oh, the coffee here is divine – as are the artworks and the beaming smiles of the baristas. The relatively steep one-hour return rewards with sweeping views across the east to Ulverstone, Mount Roland and beyond. On the loop back down we stop to admire sandstone caves and sip from the mountain’s spring water. (Nothing to do with me forgetting my drink bottle).
We drop in for a quick hello to Guy at Mount Gnomon Farm before catching last light at Level Canyon, about an hour’s drive. Talk about dramatic scenery! It’s Leven River’s pounding winter torrents that catch my ear on the final metres to the lookout, well before the view swallows me in. It’s natural drama that usually takes a day’s walk to reach. Instead, it takes but 20 minutes’ return from our car. We finish up just as the first wallabies are coming out to play.
All good mountain climbs should be rewarded with El Perro. Back down on the main street, a whopping ten metre hike from our door, the tapas restaurant was busily getting ready for the evening’s trade. Reading through their beautiful menu of twice cooked local Scottsdale Pork and local scallops over cauliflower puree tempted, but tonight it was their pizza menu that called for another winter night in at Novo. It would be 15 minutes after our call that we had the most delish two pizzas on the table – one generously topped with Tassie smoked salmon on a cream cheese base, the other a Pollo barbecue chicken favourite. Perfect with a side of Trivial Pursuit.
We wake to another stunning morning – one that begs for a morning foreshore jog following by a quick dip. Even though it’s winter and seems absolutely insane, we plunge into the icy Bass Strait waters. The experience lasts about 92 seconds but the invigoration lasts day long. It’s a fitting farewell and although I believe we’re the only nutters on the coast to have taken the dive that morning, it’s not the case.
Lining up for morning coffee at Renaessance (a whole 40 metres from Novo), I feel guilty interrupting the delightful chatter between regular customers. Having spent just 48 hours in Penguin it’s clear this town has community spirit in spades. They’re like a flock of Little Penguins, huddled and getting through winter with shared smiles. (incidentally the real penguins are currently out at sea so we’ll have to come back for penguin spotting).
I somehow join the early morning chatter and find that the young local waiting for her coffee had taken a swim too. I also find that the café has ten free coffees to give away during the month to anyone in the community who might be having a tough day or a hard time. After this, another café will take the helm. I smile, realising the good mornings on my jog earlier are further evidence that this town really is the friendliest little tight-knit family on the coast. They’d only just spent seven days as a community helping to put in new decks, outdoor seating and a ‘take a book leave a book’ tardis (fictional time machine) library, watched over by the famous Big Penguin.
As I wander out, hands wrapped around my morning coffee I see Cocoon Designs isn’t quite open. The world beyond Penguins calls me back to work, but the pull is too strong. I make arrangements to return to North West Tassie the following week to complete the experience. There’s still a Leven Canyon floor to visit, wooden deck chairs to relax on by the water’s edge and meerkats to meet at the nearby wildlife park.
I leave feeling restored. I leave feeling anew. I leave feeling like Novo wasn’t just a luxurious apartment but a seaside home to retreat to whenever I need a reset. And with enough room for 8 (6 comfortably), I will be sure to share it’s calming spell with many more.
Thank you Novo.
Starting from $450/night
93 Main Road, Penguin
3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 300sq metres of wonderful
For more information visit: www.novoluxuryapartment.com.au
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.