Read about our island hopping adventure off Tassie here.
Overseas travel just a skip from home has become rather desirable of late. This pocket-sized Bass Strait wonder perched off Tassie’s NE tip packs adventure, flavour and stunning scenes into an island home to about 1000 locals. The biggest of 52 Furneaux Group islands, we’ve gathered 10 cracking must sees so you don’t miss a thing.
1. Trousers Point Traversing
Not far from touch down, Trousers Point is a breathtaking first stop. Wander the fiery-orange lichen licked boulders and find out about the shipwrecked fellow who lost his trousers coming ashore … or did he? Picnic, swim, take the coastal walk or settle in for sunset. Nature got excited with Flinder’s colour pallet – from vivid aquas to white sands this is a striking welcome.
2. Get Social at The Flinders Wharf
This is where the crays happen! Let Head Chef Mikey of The Flinders Wharf cook you up a storm and drop into Flinders Island Distillery next door where notes of the island are infused. Much of a community hub, Park Runners leave from the Wharf and there’s always a cheery island buzz. Drop a line off the wharf, head just up the road to Condimental for amazing pies from Jon (once a pro juggler!) and don’t miss Cate Cook’s tuckshop for coffee and treats.
3. Meet a Bundle of Wombats
Look we can’t promise this, but if you head to The Purple Swamphen in Whitemark, you might just find a wombat or two hanging out there. Regardless, the store is packed with handmade and eco-conscious gifts so shop away. Owner Mel helps Kate Mooney (aka the Wombat Lady) to look after orphaned baby wombats. Kate does this all off her own bat, so be sure to donate to her incredible work rescuing and releasing 150 plus. That reminds us, go slow on those roads at night. And don’t forget to wave to every car!
4. Summit Mount Killiecrankie
This is now one of my all time Tasmanian highs! Climbing Killiecrankie left us without words. Giant geological wonders trailside are like roaming through nature’s own sculptural granite museum. Plus, even a hint of altitude rewards with sweeping views of a coastline dotted with quaint coves. It’s about one hour up if you leave from the Docks (stop when you get to sign saying 4WD only). If you like Tassie’s East Coast, this is like discovering it all over, but with new outcrops and secret beaches to fall for. Which takes us to …
5. Cove Hopping at The Docks
The Docks, as the locals call it, is a stunning patch of coastline. You can walk through from Killiecrankie or take the 4WD track road in. It’s a bit of a local secret but well worth the trek. Breathtaking bays and, as they say on Flinders, if one has footprints just go to the next.
6. Burrow away at Wombat Lodge
This gorgeous property is nestled on the owner’s cattle farm, that’s been in the family since the 1930s. Thoughtfully appointed, and all style, the Wombat Lodge deep bath is perfect after a day of exploring. What’s more the property spills down to a coastline where just a short walk away is …
7. Soak up Stacky’s Bight
You could be forgiven for thinking you’d stumbled on secret treasure here. Pack a picnic and swim beneath the limestone arch at Stacky’s Bight. On return to Wombat Lodge, we came across a trickling river at the far end of Killiecrankie Beach and found the tiniest speck of Killiecrankie Diamond (as confirmed by island gold and silversmith Sandro Donati!) Be sure to visit his little workshop by the sea. Killiecrankie Diamonds are a colourless topaz and my spec is maybe worth a cupcake but, it does feel like striking gold to find one at a Flinders beach.
8. Castle Rock Hugs
Go and give Flinder’s biggest beach rock a hug … just try and wrap your arms round this one. You can nearly drive right to it but it’s a great day out to walk there, paired with a visit to the Furneaux Museum and Wybalenna to dip into the island’s rich (and confronting) indigenous past.
9. NE River & Palana Beach
Head to the far north for long beach strolls, breathing in the freshest of Roaring Forties swept air. Palana Beach feels like it goes on for as long as a busy mind needs to clear. Then, pop out to NE River, where the river and ocean collide in raw majesty.
10. Summit Strzelecki
Is the tallest peak calling? Climbing to the top of Mount Strzelecki is done best with the new walking outfit, Walk Flinders Island. David and Kathleen serve up tasty treats from their orchard down below at Trouser’s Point, where you can catch a yoga class with Kathleen to settle into island time. Not up for a 6hr+ return hike? Hop on the bikes with Amanda and Claire of Mountain Biking Flinders Island, who go generations back on this island. They are all smiles and have an epic ride round Strzelecki plus another that takes you to the cellar door of Unavale.
Getting there: we went with Flinders Island Aviation which we highly recommend if flying out of Tassie. They can even take a bike or two! From Bridport, it’s a short 35-minute flight, plus they can whip you across by chopper from Clover Hill Wines. Want to touch down on another island on the way? No worries? Sharp Airlines currently have flights from Launceston and Hobart, too. If coming from the big island, it takes about an hour from Melbourne. Or, go by boat from Bridport with a carload of kayaks!
We stayed at Allports on the Beach at Emita and Patridge Farm at Lady Barron during our recent visit. We also stopped in for a mini cooking class at Flinders Island Gourmet Retreat. Do check these out too.
Special for blog readers! Until Nov 30 click here to enjoy $10 off the latest edition of Tailored Tasmania, delivering free to your door. It's your launch pad for exploring Tassie like a local - featuring the best places to eat, play and stay. Perfect for that special someone for Chrissie who has been missing their travels. Plus we have a 2 for $40 Tassie kids book offer. Remember, you can also book Tassie adventures and accommodation in real time with Tailored Tasmania.
Words & images: Alice Hansen
What could be more dreamy than heading to a villa named Magic Beach?
I slide open the big glass windows and step out onto the balcony. A barefooted local down below is with a young child. She glances up and says hello. I hear her so clearly that Magic Beach Villa might as well have Boat Harbour waves lapping its front garden. It’s utterly striking – an azure beach stretching out before me so close I can taste the salty breeze.
Growing up in North West Tasmania I’ve loved Boat Harbour Beach as much as the next local. Friends grew up holidaying regularly at nearby Sisters Beach and days have been enjoyed in shack-sprinkled Boat Harbour.
These days, a lucky few outside of Tassie have caught on and fallen for its spell. That said, likely not all newcomers appreciate standing ankle deep in what looks like tropical paradise to find it feels more like undercurrents direct from Antarctica. It’s bracingly cold. Plain and simple. This idyllic beach with its crystal waters and blindingly white sand is bracingly chilled.
The descent down into Boat Harbour Beach is always special. It’s like unwrapping a very pretty present. Gums do their best to obscure the spectacle below. A stay at Magic Beach Villa elevates this to a whole new level. When the brochure says absolute waterfront to what’s been named one of Australia’s top beaches, they mean it. It’s impossible not to unlock the door and head straight for the view. From the balcony, a manicured terraced garden spills down to meet the sand.
Our framed Bass Strait views are rivalled only by the glorious host Georgia. As I backtrack to the personal welcome message and treats, I see they are all local. A smooth Pinot from Ghost Rock Vineyard, summer berry jam from Hill Farm, cheese from Red Cow Organics, eggs and homemade granola from the owners farm ... attention to detail that is so utterly genuine. Everything has its origins in North West Tassie and begs Magic Beach guests to explore a little further. (Note: These goodies are usually only available during a stay at Mallavale Farm .... that's another story and another special stay ... find the link below.)
There’s plenty of room for up to seven across three generous bedrooms, complete with a king, queen and bunks. Two bathrooms ensure no squabbles or folk left with sandy feet. We make use of the thoughtfully-appointed kitchen and dine in by the flowing fire. After all, it’s winter.
Next morning, in just a few steps we’re on the beach. I’m on a cold water mission courtesy of Dutchman Wim Hof and gallop straight into the chilly waters, no doubt waking most of the village. It’s exhilaration followed by the promise of that deep bath and brekkie on the sunny balcony.
There’s only one word that keeps returning across our morning coffees. “Magic. It’s so magic here.” As we venture off to explore Rocky Cape National Park, we agree that indeed they got the name right on this one.
Find out more about Magic Beach Villa and other stunning Boat Harbour properties including Mallavale Farm here.
The world has been turned upside down of late, so an invitation to enjoy a little ‘timeless romance’ at Somerset Hobart sounded just right …
I wasn’t the only one to be holidaying at home on arrival at Somerset on the Pier. Clearly, others had got the romance memo. A couple from Devonport were treating themselves to Hobart’s only loft-style waterfront stay, housed in a former 1930s pier building. The $290 special with all romantic touches sorted, seemed to be drawing lovers from Tassie’s furthest reaches.
Pulling up to the hotel door, only in Hobart could I wander over to chat with boat crew on a familiar moored yacht a few metres from check-in. Met with wide smiles at reception, no sooner had I walked into the premier apartment, Forty-Two Degrees South chilled sparkling arrived with two glasses. At this point on my solo work trip, it seemed necessary to have a friend drop by!
The team at Somerset had crafted all the dreamy extras prior to arrival. The bubbles were accompanied by a ‘Sweet dreams are made of cheese’ platter and two fluffy Somerset robes absolutely made for curling up in, to watch the sun sink over Sullivan’s Cove on the balcony. Listening to the hum of a working dock come to rest was bliss. There was little to do but sit back as the River Derwent grew dark and the lights of Hunter Street began to glow across convict-carved sandstone. Hours became lost to cheese and chatter.
Up above, the loft-style king sized bed waited patiently, complete with the promise of a lengthy sleep in and late 1pm checkout. Though Brooke Street Pier and the restaurants of Salamanca were only a short stroll away, it was too tempting to stay cocooned on this wintery eve. Turn down service came complete with locally-made Federation chocolates, and the generous cheese platter worked nicely with an easy dine in option. No where to go, nothing to do but unwind in Tassie’s waterfront Capital.
Next morning, breakfast was only a few steps away down the stairs. Giant Jackman & McRoss croissants, Meander Valley Dairy butter, fresh juice and sunshine. This was served up with Lady Nelson Tall Ship action so close, one could hear the weekend sailor's instructions.
Somerset hit my pause button. There’s something very special in becoming still and re-connecting with the place we call home (for those who forgot to pack lovers). Covid-19 has propelled us into a rare moment of holidaying at home and having the island largely to ourselves. Sitting on the Somerset balcony allowed me to see glorious Hobart through new, rested eyes. Those wanting to embrace Tassie, and their special someone, would do well to book a romantic Somerset escape!
Stay for only $290.00 per night. Valid until June 30, 2020.
Your TIMELESS ROMANCE experience includes:
Accommodation in a One-Bedroom Premier apartment with a private balcony (with our famous waterfront views)
Sweet dreams are made of CHEESE platter served to your room
A bottle of chilled Tasmanian sparkling wine on arrival
Somerset Robes to keep you warm whilst watching the sunset from your balcony
Turn down service with delicious Federation chocolates
Parking for one car (subject to availability)
Extend your sleep in and enjoy a late check out of 1pm
To unlock this special offer, click here.
The borders shut. Bookings stopped. Streets emptied. Doors closed. The lights went out on Tassie’s tourism with a silent flick named Covid-19. The glorious wave we’d ridden was wiped out by a global tidal wave … a viral dumper. But did our ingenious, resourceful Tasmanian industry break? Hell no. They found new ways, better ways, novel ways to combat that novel virus.
When the world stopped still, so did we. Shocked. But days later we decided to contact our industry mates and see how we could work together. Gosh, what a rewarding move. By offering our services complimentary, hundreds of stories came forth. It was the least we could do for those who have made our career possible. Their tales nearly brought a tear.
We decided they were worthy of their very own hashtag: #givetassielove. We wanted to encourage togetherness. What did the tag mean? It meant interstaters ‘giving Tassie love’ by forward booking, locals ‘giving Tassie businesses love’ by way of coin or individuals ‘giving Tassie love’ by gifting something Tasmanian. It seems the momentum has swung and we’re all supporting our own.
While we can only share a handful of stories here (*do note, some offers/activities only occurred during lockdown), you’ll see the resilience, you’ll be reminded of what us Tasmanians are made of and hopefully, you’ll want to support local forever. Get comfy, we’ll mention more than 60 here! Despite the economic whack, hardships and uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought, we’re hopeful much good will come from it. Have families come closer? Have less planes littered our skies for ‘vital’ meetings? Have we reshuffled our priorities? Have we connected while apart? Do we want to explore our own backyard? (scroll to end to win a 2-night getaway!)
It didn’t take long for the stories to come through. In usual style, they were humble. They read along the lines … Hi Alice, I’m not sure what you’re after but we’ve just planted a veggie patch to feed the oldies of Bruny Island … Yes, Hundred Acre Hideaway that’s exactly what we’re after! It’s easy to feel individual loss and inertia, but how mighty to turn respond with a big virtual community hug.
Next came an email from the wild west. Who knew that the West Coast Wilderness Railway are busily laying railway sleepers made from recycled plastic? Not only did the news come with details about the upgrade, but a warm invite to return when steam is billowing skyward once more.
Then from Pigeon Hole Café … “Our current staff are all visa holders – German, Brazilian, Italian and Nepalese so no entitlements from the government. Our other casual hadn’t been with us for 12 months so once again no government assistance. They totally banned together, and split their shifts to all be equal in pay even our FOH supervisor. Even one employee stood down handing in his resignation to go on Job seeker so the others could obtain more hours, to assist in their survival. What a selfless act. These visa holders have no family or other assistance – but I can truly say we are their family – “The Pigeon Hole Family.”
Anyone else notice one of the most heartening scenes of lock down were the Italians singing from balconies? Tassie had their own songstress beaming into living rooms as far as the UK …. Ange Boxall kept spirits up with live tunes each Friday night, warmed up by wine chats with Curly of Vintage Tasmania. Music Therapist Alli Davies created a catchy tune that reached millions from her Wynyard home. Don’t even get us started about the creative ideas Tassie folk have come up with …. Tasmanian Air Tours offering ‘fly-through takeaway’ says it all! Their Private Beach Picnic Flight featuring Bangor pick up looks something else ... but take your pick ... Frogmore Creek, McHenry Distillery, Shene Estate?
Willie Smiths have been using their downtime to create the first ever virtual Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest so set July 11 aside! They stream live from their FB page and feature all the festival faves including the wassail, costume comps, Hairyman telling tales and burning of Big Willie of course. They’ll encourage you to dress up, whip up a bonfire if you can and will also have hot spiced cider kits and Huon Valley produce packs available so you can feel like you’re really there!
Some of the emails were hard to read. Little businesses clinging on, doing their best to ‘pivot’ in an unfamiliar world. But cling on they did. Providore 24, tucked beneath the Stanley Nut, busily prepared Mother’s Day hampers so that our North West mums could feel some love despite celebrating in the Covid-19 epicentre.
Meanwhile, at the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory, Survival Packs were being prepped and sent all over, packed to the brim with no less than 16 Tassie producers. Every pack helped so many more. One was delivered to the doorstep of a family who lost their 39-year-old daughter, unable to even conduct a funeral for her. The Conservatory didn’t just offer their standard; but handpicked mugs and candle and thoughtful touches. The hamper was so fine that through tears, the recipient could not believe it was for her. Now this is the Tasmania we know and love …. Where in spite of isolation it was connection that prevailed.
Speaking of, then there’s Katinka, owner of gift store Lily & Dot in Hobart. While Katinka had to close the doors of her sweet store, it didn’t stop her hitting pen to paper. She penned greeting cards for those who couldn’t get out, ranging from birthday wishes and new born congrats to ‘just because’ notes, shouting a stamp and popping every single one in the post. Katinka also hit the road, hand delivering everything from felt toy sharks to a doorstep gift for a newborn complete with roses from her garden.
While we’re on deliveries, Wobbly Boot Vineyard got in touch too. Who doesn’t like a doggy that delivers wine? Many have had the joy of Maeve the Golden Retriever at their door, diligently dropping wine around the hood to delighted Wobbly Boot fans.
How have Moo Brew combat iso? They created the Lonely Beers Club where they brew a super rare one-off beer for the club every fortnight. With all that extra time on our hands, the brewer shares all the nerdy deets as the beer baby comes into being. Plenty Cider also created a club, so you can join the Plenty fam with 15% off an added bonus for twice yearly orders … cider from their farm to your fridge.
As if Mona have been hibernating … despite the gallery being closed and empty…they’ve had Tim (a human artwork by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye) continuing to sit and spectra, Ryoji Ikeda's beam of light, beaming into the sky sunset-sunrise every Saturday night. Then there’s the Victory Gardens project, with Kirsha Kaechele digging up the Mona lawns to plant vegetables and which helped inspire the garden at Hundred Acre Hideaway to feel those Bruny elders!
Some couldn’t believe the unfortunate timing. What are the chances of working towards launching a whisky label only to be halted by Covid-19? Robbie and Emma Gilligan weren’t deterred and may just be the first distillery in Australia to launch via an interactive online tasting. Derwent Distillery won’t forget their ‘arrival’ – their name coming from the second distillery ever built in Australia – Derwent Distillery circa. 1823. Follow them for more exciting developments.
What have Wingtons Glamping been up to in the north? They’ve restored their great grandparent’s clawfoot bath so that future guests can enjoy toasty baths under starry skies. What did Prospect House do when folk couldn’t be spoilt dining in? They hand delivered three courses to your door, complete with a smooth jazz tunes playlist and candle. Tameka of The Spotted Quoll sent plants galore and Tasmanian-made wares in a lockdown period that rivalled Christmas trade. Then there’s Redbanks Fish & Field – they’ve taken time to finesse their Woodball course and equipment. Haven’t heard of this new sport? You’ve gotta try it!
The stories go on and on … art deco cinema Star Theatre Launceston had a virtual Great Gadsby movie night, Beauty and the Bees sent Tassie soap to first responders, Miss Arthur Homewares swung open the doors of their online store, Home State were super busy online too, Sanctum Medical designed gorgeous survival boxes, Claudia Jewellers celebrated their Tasmanian range, Millie Ma kept us soothed with the likes of Good Night Balm and Tasmanian Devil Unzoo launched their Tasmanian Devil Channel on Youtube. Tailrace kept fams connected with Baby and Toddler Sense @ Home classes, Smitten offered great online storewide discounts to keep locals employed, and the list goes on….
On the foodie front, the Hanging Garden Green Grocer opened, supporting local producers Wednesday to Saturday and The Farm Gate Market worked diligently to adapt to our challenging climate and now even has a Farm Gate Drive Thru! The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery provided sell-out pick up menus, The Tasmanian Juice Press kept our thirst quenched with home deliveries in reusable glass bottles – the likes of apples straight from Huon Valley pickers. Apogee Tasmania offered special rates, Fat Pig Farm whipped up produce boxes (soon to be re-launching their amazing long table lunches) and Maxie Coffee kept the doors open to ensure we were all well fuelled with great coffee. Pollen Tea Room kept up a nourishing weekly collect menu, Tasmania Gourmet Food Tours offered voucher specials and Metropolitan Pizza threw in extras with pizza orders.
Mic of Sirocco South has busily developed his wild asparagus spring time forage and feast tour, offering an early bird special of $250 a person (just do it – we LOVED it). Blackman Bay Oysters got super swift, offering home delivered oysters to Hobart and Melbourne (plus the Mornington Peninsula), to the door within 24 hours of harvest from their boutique farm. Further south at the Old Bank of Geeveston, doors have swung back open and Huon Valley apple crate veggie beds are set to explode with goodness come Spring! The good people at Urban Greek kindly offered discounts for front line workers and emergency services throughout lock down and can’t wait to re-open! And let's not forget the amazing folk at Dawat Indian Cuisine who fed front line workers and those less fortunate for free every week once a week through lock down as well as Gormanston Road Store with daily soup for whatever could be afforded.
T-Bone Brewing Co. kept our hopes alive with their Meat Mistress meat tray still up for grabs weekly and 4-7pm Friday beer pick-ups. You may not have been able to spot Henry from Tasmanian Truffles at Salamanca Market, but you could catch him with Ben Milbourne on the first episode of Channel 9’s Award Winning Tasmania. Hill Street Grocer kindly picked up staff from Suzie Lucks to keep folk in work and have done a wondrous job keeping us safe while shopping. Oh ,and news just in…Hobart Brewing Co. will reopen from 3pm this Friday for a max of 40 so head down for a drink by their fire. St. Albi are also excited to get back open and had quite the busy time making 250 take home meals for Mothers Day.
Free Spirit Pods prepared a special Bounce Back to Bruny experience and Waterton Hall Wines got busy offering a virtual visit for those dreaming of their wedding day beyond Covid-19. Rochford Hall offered a complimentary night with any two-night stay (Promo code 1878, valid till Sept 30) and Coast House delivered a 20% discount for Tasmanians wanting their very own peninsula to escape to. At Mallavale Farm (can’t you see yourself there?), the owners have planted hundreds of tulip bulbs from Table Cape Tulip Farm to ensure an even more spectacular Spring for their guests, launched Boat Harbour Boutique Accommodation and are hanging regular artists in Aquila Barn. Phew, they’ve been busy! As for Novo Luxury Apartment in Penguin they can't wait to welcome their winning guests.
Who knew a L’Orangerie (structure from the 17th to 19th centuries to protect oranges and other fruit trees in winter at fashionable residences) would pop up in NW Tassie? Using the greatest hotchpotch of scrap materials, Table House Farm is the proud owner of one that doesn’t quite look Parisian but does have chandeliers (from a salvage yard!)
Over on the East Coast, the Sanda House owners have been flat out installing solar power, building more veggie beds for brekkie produce and are in the process of creating a toasty firepit for guests. Pop Up Picnic Bicheno picked up a bell tent beauty – perhaps for your next special escape?
In need of some fresh Tassie air? Walk on kunanyi is soon to launch a new winter walk for locals called Five Huts. With this blog being one of our most popular of all time about mountain huts and a hidden ice rink, we know this will be a hit! The team will also launch a collab with Hobart Mountain Bike tours including a North South track descent, walking in Darwin’s footsteps and a drink in Midtown. Art Farm Birchs Bay is open daily for sculpture trail walks through the community garden, pepperberry crops and orchards (café currently closed). Wild Island is about to re-open and have busily been upgrading their website. Take a peek at the homepage – it’s a stunner! Oh and Rob Blakers has been having fun with night sky videos.
Other operators are opening their doors including the Blue Derby Pods Ride – offering Tasmanians ‘accommodation only’ on select weekends from June 5. They’ve always been keen to find a way to reward the locals! And Freycinet Experience Walk are doing the same with private lodge hire. Read about our amazing trip here.
We could go on but with restrictions lifting, we can all peep out of hibernation with a brighter future on the horizon. Yes, we might be plagued with Covid-19 outbreaks, but we can rest assured our tourism industry is robust and tough. We’ll get through. And we’ll do it together.
Now get out there and support our locals and be sure to enter for your chance to escape to the North West.
Go on, #givetassielove. This pair are read for their King Island Escapes sauna ....
Words: Alice Hansen
Remember, you can book Tasmanian adventures and accommodation in real time with Tailored Tasmania. We've got your trip sorted and can also deliver the latest edition of Tailored Tasmania with free shipping to your doorstep.
Want to win a luxe Tassie stay?
To celebrate the re-emergence of Tassie we’re also offering 3 prizes ... 2 nights accommodation at Novo Luxury Apartment, 2 at Mallavale Farm and 2 at Aquila Barn (Boat Harbour Boutique Accommodation) that's over $1500 in value!! To enter, just like and share our Tailored Tasmania Facebook post and tag three people, or find it on Insta. Comp closes and winners announced June 26! Prizes non-transferable for 2 consecutive days between July 1 & Oct 31.
Meeting a royal, climbing offshore peaks and sharing long table brekkies by candlelight. The Freycinet Experience Walk invites an East Coast encounter far from the ordinary.
Beneath my bare feet is 370-million-year old granite. It’s coarse underfoot, contrasting the silky-smooth curve of Wineglass Bay beyond. I’m crouched low in makeshift swimwear, prepping mentally to launch into chilly waters.
Other walkers have taken the dive. Call it peer pressure or the beginnings of a cold water love affair – I launch with an ungraceful splash. Dutchman Wim Hof’s global waves about the benefits of cold water had been high on our chatter list descending Mount Graham so it seemed fitting to test his theory.
Enveloped in the bracing waters of Wineglass, an exhilarating calm sweeps over me. I smile at the other walkers, bobbing beside me. It occurs to me this small cocoon of strangers has become firm friends. Friends that let another go first in the rainwater bath. Friends that natter late by candlelight. Friends that tread icy water together. I realise it’s these unexpected moments (oh, and midnight spotlighting) that set Freycinet Walk apart.
The lodge-based walk on Tasmania’s East Coast is one of the island’s original, founded by Joan Masterman, considered the matriarch of Tasmanian eco-tourism. Today, the ‘invisible lodge’ with its timeless Ken Latona-architecture sits lightly in the Friendly Beaches landscape unchanged, some three decades on. It’s the welcoming haven each eve after walking windswept beaches, summiting granite peaks, weaving through Casuarina shaded trails and following steps taken by the Oyster Bay Tribe 20,000 years before.
No sooner are we whisked from Hobart’s city streets, we find ourselves shaking hands with a salty skipper aboard the Naturaliste. We’re bound for Schouten Island, the southernmost tip of Freycinet National Park. There’s a fleeting sense of movie star status as we step off our private vessel onto pristine white sands of an island rarely accessed. Our mission is to climb Bear Hill, while a few sensible ‘walkers’ opt to stay aboard dropping a line for Flathead in Schouten Passage.
It doesn’t take long following well-trodden guide boots to realise they know their stuff. From Fairy wren calls to trigger plants to female trees that grow nuts, my curiosity peaks far from the summit. Back down at shore level I watch as thick granite sand spills through the guide’s fingers as he traces 120,000 years of time. There’s a lot to ponder as we take a dip on this late summer afternoon. After a swift boat trip via an eagle’s nest so impressive it looks like it could comfortably sleep three grown humans, we walk a short distance to our lodge.
It really is hidden. Hugged by tea tree, banksias and casuarinas, the lodge feels more a homely shelter than a flashy lodge with its weathered timber and tin roof. It’s invitingly informal yet quietly elegant. Two giant lodge host smiles beam from the deck, a candle topped table behind whispering of what’s to come. We’re taken to our quarters, equipped with a cosy wood fire and large windows that have my Queensland cabin-buddy quick to whip out his art pencils and capture the forested frame. That night we dine by flickering candles, just enough light to point a finger at the failed fisherman of the day. In their off-grid petite kitchen those lodge hosts magically turn out Flathead all the same, served with East Coast whites from up the road, as strangers from the UK to Bondi become new friends.
The day begins with the sweet sound of rain on our tin roof and a hot brekkie of eggs, bacon, Pigeon Whole bread, tomato and mushies that look straight out of a swish city cafe. We coat up and head for Bluestone Bay to embark on a sacred path exclusive to guests of the Freycinet Experience Walk, following the steps of the Oyster Bay Tribe. We’re already well waterlogged as we gather on a wet log for a ‘sole cleansing’ ceremony to ensure we don’t carry any nasties on our boots, leading to root-rot of the giant Xanthorrhoea (grass trees). They’re a favourite of mine with their perfectly-manicured do’s as though a barber has raced ahead of us.
The 14-kilometre coastal sojourn includes a steep climb up along the clifftops – it’s not enough to warm my bones. The rain is unrelenting but manages not to dampen our mood. It draws me deep into a time some 20,000 years back when the tribe walked this patch. I wonder how they warmed up on a rainy day without the latest thermal tech tops and Gortex shells when it’s too wet to light a fire. I am informed they would carry fire with them. Who knew? All I knew is that I gasped in shivery delight when a mirage-like camp kitchen appeared in the wilds, complete with hot coffee and local fare. Beneath a canopy tied between trees we cosy close.
My pace quickens as we reach the southern end of Friendly Beaches. I know if my soggy boots can speed, I’ll be deep in a rainwater bath in a jiffy. Sinking down with Epson salts swirling, I feel equal parts spoiled by lodge bliss and in awe of those who walked before us. We re-gather around a roaring open fire, followed by hearty lamb shanks with polenta.
This one is a biggie. We’re back on the boat, cruising down to Cooks Beach where those choosing the longer day walk are dropped. The conditions are not perfect and I begin my morning tripping in the shallow surf complete with backpack much to the stifled giggles of my new found friends. Our former-military-man-turned-nursing-student guide, Rob, assures I’ll dry off quickly. It takes my pride longer. He’s keen to work in disaster relief and I’ve kicked the day off with an impromptu swim.
Fortunately, the rest of the day is disaster free as he leads us through tall Peppermint and Blue gums, pointing out a family of Scarlet robins. He’s enchantment is infectious – much like when we come across a fresh water lobster on our way to the top of Mount Graham. It’s a climb but with views stretching back to day one’s Schouten and up the coast towards our ‘friendly home,’ we pause to breathe it all in.
As we step out onto Wineglass Bay, I’m met with a surprise unlike I’ve seen in near four decades of being Tasmanian. I drop my walking poles in shock. There in front of us is a Royal penguin. The moulting, lonely looking mate is a rare site hailing from Antarctica or perhaps New Zealand. While we are assured by a passer-by they often moult alone, I feel an odd sense of abandoning as we walk on, hoping a feathery friend joins for company. Striding on, I figure if the lone penguin is going to waddle up to an unfamiliar beach it might as well be one rated among the world’s finest many times over. It would be at the beach’s northern end that I myself waddle to the granite’s edge and take a plunge.
After raising glasses of Jansz teamed with Great Oyster Bay oysters in celebration of a guest’s birthday, we return to the Tasmanian oak table for Cape Grim eye fillet and mash. Little do I know a small huddle of us would be back out walking until midnight – lured by the blue sparkles of bioluminescence and a spotlight tour of Saltwater Lagoon. It’s hardly on the guide’s job description but these guys love the patch so much they leap from the couch immediately. Strolling the dark beach wakes new senses as stars punch through a cloudy sky. Friendly Beaches in yet another mood – dark of course but equally affable – true to its name.
Just to make the farewell from our homely lodge a little harder, we wake to a glorious morning and preparation for a lazy brunch out beneath the casuarinas. We are invited to take George’s favourite walk (Joan’s late husband) along a fossil-clad ridgeline and back down to the lagoon. Part of the walk is shared in silence, to soak up the landscape and reflect. We take a leaf and a stick – symbolising what we might like to leave behind following our journey and what we’d like to stick with us. It’s a fitting close to a moving four days.
As I walk the final 4.5 kilometres along Friendly’s to Isaac’s Point I know the bus is waiting. I smile, knowing my pack is now full of new memories. Fireside chats. Rainwater bathing. Tribal tales. Meeting a ‘royal.’ Oh, and sea plunging on a peninsula dotted with pink granite mountains lapped by turquoise seas. No wonder famed British writer Nicholas Shakespeare said of this place, “I knew, without knowing the first thing about it, that I was gazing at the most beautiful place I had seen on earth; a conviction that all subsequent experience has served to deepen.”
I’m no Shakespeare but I tend to agree thy is spot on.
Duration: 4 days/3 nights
Distance: up to 37-40km
Base: Friendly Beaches Lodge
Max group size: 10 guests
Cost: from $2350 per person for four-day private lodge hire and $2750 per person for signature four-day walking experience.
Ride. Connect. Eat. Strum. Rest. Repeat.
World class mountain bike riding with a side of long-table dining and a nod from the resident platypus. There’s much to love about a stay at Dales of Derby.
Rolling into town, Dales of Derby sits gently on the landscape to our left. It’s long, well-proportioned and sleek – like an elite, Lycra-clad cyclist. But at the Dales accommodation, there’s a seat for everyone round the fire, whether talking up a mighty rainforest descent or a tot’s pumphouse track debut.
Once a bustling town home to the world’s richest tin mine, Derby has reinvented since the 1800s and today is hailed as a mountain biking mecca. It’s a little over an hour north-east of Launceston. With some 125 kilometres of trails weaving through temperate rainforest, in an Australian first, Derby played host to an Enduro World Series stage in 2017. Having competed in the likes of Canada, France and New Zealand, the professional riders selected Derby as their top pick. Little wonder the world class series returned two years later.
But we’re not at Dales of Derby to break any downhill records. While the pros gush over Derby, the network of trails is designed with everyone in mind. This fits nicely as extended family vehicles pull into the Dales across the afternoon and toddlers emerge beside big brothers who love nothing more than to tackle trails with names like ’23 Stitches.’
The architecturally-designed Dales sits effortlessly on the banks of Ringarooma River. Those with a penchant for panning, I’m told may have luck upstream. Our main mission is to satisfy one young voice that’s determined to meet a platypus. As we pull ourselves from the river and file inside, the communal space draws us in. Bright yellow light fittings give a splash of colour and a sense of impending joy. The fire is pre-prepared, ready to strike a match and whip up tall yarns from the highest trails. The long timber table begs for as many seats to be filled as possible - there are 11 of us but the Dales’ capacity is up to 24 guests (16 bunks, 4 queens). The commercial-quality kitchen is generously long and capable, promising room for several helpers. By design, everything about this place spells togetherness.
Separating the sleeping quarters from the communal living space is a well-equipped alfresco area, complete with open air barbecue. We share a grin at the gift of fine weather for our evening steaks and continue on to check out the rooms. In between, some of us are dutifully popping bikes into the purpose-built storage area, complete with repair stand and bike hooks. There’s no doubt this Dales place is made for riders. A few tweaks to the back brake can be made while snags are turned on the barbie.
As we pop individual keys into room locks, each reveal is different. There are bunk beds topped with crisp linen, followed by queen-size escapes with Ringarooma views. Although the five-year-old is certain she’s seen a wallaby in one of the rooms (courtesy of two nights camping with her father), we all settle just right and in plenty of time to regather for dinner.
Getting more familiar with our riverside home, it’s apparent the Dales just ‘works.’ There is good reason it picked up multiple awards at the 2019 Tasmanian Architecture Awards. Along with its well styled functionality though, much of its impressive heart is hidden. Tucked away beneath, the Dales is dutifully heating water via solar power to run the efficient dwelling. Invisible genius! It’s the work of owner Martin Dingemanse, founder of Mode Electrical.
Martin’s the type who has managed to engineer solar powered hospitals in Africa, that he can monitor from his Tasmanian home. His wife Margaret and their three children have been to the continent as part of this outreach effort. A close-knit crew, the family touches evident at Dales are reflective of how the Dingemanse team like the gather. Indeed, it was a lack of options when they sought to bring extended family together from as far as Holland that sparked the idea of accommodation in Derby where both Margaret and Martin holidayed as youngsters.
As the barbie fires, our determined platypus-hunter returns to the water’s edge with little success. The rest of us study trail maps that weave across the Blue Tier, a new option traversing 42 kilometres to the East Coast’s Bay of Fires. Following dinner, just as dusk falls, we hear squeals of delight as not one but two shy platypus playfully perform near the banks. It’s highlight enough for us all to turn in for an early night.
Luckily the first to wake are dutiful chefs and our eggs and bacon are nearly to the table. There’s little for me to do than strum a few chords on the resident guitar – enough encouragement for the brekkie to arrive at speed. We’re then off to the trails in every direction. It’s only a five-minute walk, even quicker by two wheels, to the central township. A little further on at the trail head, we part ways.
Most of us enjoy a relaxed morning circling the dam, a relatively flat ride ideal for my mountain-biking enthusiast brother who has a special contraption affixed to his handle bars for his two-year-old son. I’ve often felt no seat could be more terrifying, but this Derby cruise proves to be a giggling delight for his chief navigator. Later in the day, he’ll hit the big descents sans child.
After a quick bite at Two Doors Down, a great little café on the main strip (note, there is just the one main street!) we hit the trails again. A group of us girls decide to challenge ourselves on Flickity Sticks. At 65, Mum takes the turns well as we climb higher through the forest. Although I’m a touch fearful as we gather speed back down, the four of us are all smiles at the base. A combo of relief and elation. We push on to an opening where we take a refreshing dip before heading back to home base.
The Dales seems even more exceptional on night two. Perhaps it’s because we’ve carved new memories out on the trails and our chatter echoes off the walls with heightened enthusiasm. There’s already talk of a return trip and high fives at the thought of tackling 42kms through to St Helens. Perhaps that’s the real enchantment of the Dales – it brings folk together in the moment and equally offers space to dream up new two-wheeled Tassie fun.
It may just be a place where new generations of riders emerge; where mini-riders move from handle-bar home to handling their own bikes. For us, it brought together the family of now and fireside talk of where to next. Cocooned in the Dales, even a marathon pedal to the) East Coast seems a sensible idea. Nothing like some more quality family time – clearly the Dales have worked upon us!
Foraging and seaside feasting with Mic Giuliani in Tassie’s south.
We meet on a blue-sky morning at Dodges Ferry. As Mic Giuliani leads us to a grassy patch between two homes, I look at the foraging basket hooked over his elbow and up to his enthusiastic smile. I look back at the empty grassy paddock. It’s my first day out foraging and for the life of me, I can’t see past the inedible emptiness. There’s something in his stride though, that draws us all into obedient line.
We become Mic’s students. He’s best known as the familiar face at Hobart’s Farm Gate Market, sharing generations of Italian secrets through his Sirocco South handmade pasta. His love of food is palpable, but his real passion is plucking it straight from the source.
“Follow me,” he enthuses, as we meander along what feels like a wallaby’s well-worn path. The neighbourhood sounds begin to fade as we journey into a wild food tour in Mic’s coastal backyard. Having lived at nearby Carlton, about 45 minutes from Hobart for more than a decade, he knows the patch intimately.
He takes no more than six on his foraging ventures, because he wants the experience to be intimate and equally, there’s a need to tread lightly across these grasses and shores. It begins to quickly feel like a secret mission as he details what we might find; swiftly holding up a dandelion and explaining its edible and medicinal wonders. Gone are my childhood beliefs that they’re reserved only for wishes.
I think back to living with an American a couple of years back, who had come to work in one of Hobart’s finest restaurant kitchens. She waved goodbye one sunny morning and returned with her bicycle basket brimming with foraged fare. It was then I realised that foraging had become rather fashionable. But as I stood on Mumirmina country with Mic, I was reminded that the indigenous people were many thousands of years ahead of the trend.
“We’re not doing anything new here,” says Mic. “We’re simply returning to ancestral roots. For me, I feel privileged to have grown up foraging for wild asparagus, just like my mother and her mother. It’s precisely what we’ll be looking for today.”
Once he’s shown us a couple of wild asparagus, a fellow forager becomes particularly adept at shoot spotting. From a group standstill, she darts like someone who’s just spotted a cash note in the grass. With childlike excitement, she scans for the next find, slipping it into the basket. Mic’s enthusiasm is infectious.
As is custom when we find something new, Mic hands me a sample of what I think looks like the top of supermarket-variety celery. I take a nibble and it even tastes like celery, but indeed it’s Lacy sea parsley. It’s another flavourful surprise like the petite flowers he drops into our hands that taste of leatherwood honey.
We stand beneath pines where Mic talks of the mushroom goodness that he harvests come Autumn and we pass around the shores of Blue Lagoon. Along the way, we collect the salty delights that are marsh samphire and some buck’s horn plantain for our salad. As we step out into the sunshine of Frederick Henry Bay with sand underfoot, the basket is now suitably overflowing with our bounty. But it’s what we find up a few wooden steps that brings us all to a halt. There before us is a Michelle Crawford-styled (think Gourmet Farmer level amazing) outdoor dining scene complete with outdoor chef busy at the grill. Mic has spared nothing – not even the kitchen sink.
We are shown to our seats and swiftly poured a 2012 Cuvee Traditionelle sparkling by Rafe Nottage of Bream Creek Wines. It feels like some sort of foraging fantasy where fairies appear to fill your glass and whip up a feast from all that you’ve gathered through the morning. It’s seaside bliss as our wild asparagus is barbecued by one of the attentive crew and plump Pacific oysters arrive, some topped with butter fermented asparagus.
There is no doubt, the courses taste better outside. The exquisite flavours feel heightened as the sea breeze swirls between our conversations and the canopy shades us from a warm Hobart sun. Our neatly printed menus outline items that we didn’t source ourselves (ie. no, we didn’t forage for tender octopus down Port Arthur way, but we did find its wild parsley garnish), most of which are found within thirty kilometres from our airy dining room.
We tuck into the lamb breast served with wild cabbage shoots and a salsa verde created with buck’s horn plantain and bower spinach. Another forager and former chef, who lives at nearby Lewisham, gives a nod of delicious approval. Even our dessert is infused with nearby fennel pollen flavours. It tops off one sweet day out with Mic.
What sets the Sirocco South foraging experience apart though, is that no two days with Mic are alike as Tassie shifts through the seasons. He never knows what the land may bear. In summer, the former diving instructor may take you along the dunes and shallows, seeking out round leafed pig face, dune spinach, mussels and oysters.
What’s next to get excited about though is upcoming autumn, with an enticing forage centered around wild mushroom and game. Think dining deep in a pine forest by candlelight. With only a few seats round the table, hop on www.siroccosouth.com.au early to secure you possie.
2020 FORAGING TOUR DATES
The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery has just been voted the number one restaurant in Tasmania. And the best way to experience it? Hop aboard with Alex Palmer of Tas Gourmet Food Tours. That way, you are chauffeur driven by convivial Alex to and from the pretty Derwent Valley and what’s more, he has some special stops along the way. It’s a full sensory day out. Oh, and Tailored Tas readers get a special treat ... read on.
The day goes a little something like this. You’re scooped up at 9.30am from your waterfront hotel or other, and settle in with your new wining and dining friends. It’s always an intimate group in size, or the option is there to gather friends and hire Alex out all to yourselves.
It doesn’t take long in Alex’s company to find he’s a passionate born and bred local. He serves up more than 20 years of food and travel industry experience. So, it’s like winding down the valley with a good friend who happens to know the best foodie stops with a side of history sprinkled in. As a professional photographer and video producer, he also provides a complimentary ‘postcard experience’ of the day. This all-inclusive tour is a step beyond.
First stop is Glen Derwent Tea Rooms for Devonshire tea, with some smart looking peacocks watching on. It’s little wonder, with scones so fluffy and fresh anyone would envy. Glen Derwent is wrapped in history dating back to convict days and sets the scene for a day where old and new meet.
Rolling into New Norfolk is an opportunity for Alex to share snippets about this historic town before chairs are pulled around a table at the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery. This is a place where seasonal produce is the hero. There’s an authenticity about it that weaves throughout – from the eatery’s interior to the wholesome friendly staff to what’s on the plate. Here, there is a genuine sense of place. Naturally, the menu shifts with the seasons but expect the likes of purple mandan corn polenta with calamari, green garlic and chilli. It’s quite the divine fusion of flavours.
The day rolls on with some antique hunting followed by wine tasting at Derwent Estate and Clemens Hill vineyard. The sweeping views from Derwent Estate are rivalled only by the rich calcite soil that deliver Derwent Estate’s distinct flavour. At Clemens Hill, the delicious golden fume blanc is a must try, and heading into afternoon hours, a delicate dessert wine might call.
From here, Alex shifts direction to Hobart’s waterfront. Leaving the countryside behind, it’s onto Mures for an iconic Tassie scallop pie. Surrounded by fishing boats, they are so delish because those scallops weren’t long plucked from the salty waters. Your host isn’t done just yet though. There’s one more stop at the Brooke Street Pier. It’s time to settle in for award-winning Grandvewe cheese and Hartshorn gin and vodka (that’s right Grandvewe just won world’s best cheese at the World Dairy Innovation Awards for their Gin Herbalist cheese and took the gong at the World Vodka Awards in 2018.) And doesn’t gin taste even more divine on a floating pier? Don’t forget to enjoy the River Derwent views! Alex then dutifully delivers you back to your drop off point around 4.30pm, just in time to freshen up and head out for dinner. Ah, that’s if you have room.
Tour: Agrarian Kitchen Eatery and Derwent Valley Gourmet Tour
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
GET IN TOUCH:
Words: Alice Hansen Images: Alexander Palmer unless otherwise stated.
*Book your tour by Nov 14 to receive a complimentary Tailored Tasmania book (rrp $39.95) on the day. Just mention Tailored Tas!
Escape to Bruny for a long wild lunch! Believe us, you'll want to. Don't just drive and ferry to the island. Do it in style. Hobart Boat Charters have a hand out waiting to welcome you aboard from the Brooke Street Pier. They'll whisk you down to Bruny and even have Tassie bubbles and fresh oysters waiting at the jetty before a long table lunch. Expect the day out to be spot on - brought to you by Rob Knight the founder of Bruny Island Long Weekend - which we were fortunate to trial on Rob's first ever trip. If you love Bruny, you'll love Rob's style of showing off his favourite offshore island whether it's for hours or days.
Know anyone who needs this for Christmas? Or someone who would love to sit by your side on this dreamy five hour ($165) escape? Rob also offers private charters ... so if you're thinking about a floating Christmas Party just call him: 0437 256 270.
*Book your cruise by Nov 14 to receive a complimentary Tailored Tasmania book on cruise day. Just mention Tailored Tas and you'll be sorted!
While we are on the topic of Bruny Island we have included here a novel we are deep within, after attending the launch. Bruny, by the lovely Heather Rose, is simply a must read. We can't put it down. When asked about a 'link' to add for her novel in this blog Heather said the bookstores have been so wonderfully supportive that she'd love anyone who wants a copy to head to a local store. Now that's a beautiful Tasmanian response!
Enjoy these warmer, longer Tassie days,
Tailored Tasmania xx
PS. Find out more about the long wild lunch.
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.