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
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