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.
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 - and don't miss the special Tailored Tasmania reader's offer through September
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.
Special Tailored Tasmania offer:
Head to Novo Luxury Apartments and enter the promo code TAILOREDTAS.
Book and pay for a minimum 3 nights during the month of September 2019 and only pay for the price of 2.
To stay 3 nights or more please contact us on email@example.com
Starting from $450/night
93 Main Road, Penguin
3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 300sq metres of wonderful
For more information visit: www.novoluxuryapartment.com.au
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 Tamar Solarhome.
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 Tamar Solarhome 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 Tamar Solarhome 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
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.