Located on the other side of the world, and then a two-hour flight from Sydney, Tasmania offers wild and dramatic landscapes and local history galore. For its first 100 years European settlements in Tasmania struggled with the violence imposed on its indigenous people and convicts. Together, that melancholy combined with the greater glory of its landscape, local edibles and cultural attractions, and you have a whole greater than the sum of its many parts.
Home to actress Rachael Taylor, (666 Park Avenue, Transformers) whom we interviewed right here on AStarWasBorn.com, (click the photo of Rachael Taylor to see our full interview with her on Tasmania) Tasmania’s physical landscape is so beautiful, much of it within a World Heritage area, with its exquisite beaches, jagged mountain ranges, rarefied alpine plateaus, plentiful wildlife and vast tracts of virgin wilderness. Tasmania also produces some of the world’s first class food and wine. Its unspoiled environment has proved remarkable for everything edible that grows there; turning the destination into a gourmand’s paradise.
Gourmet Bounty of the Earth
Tasmania produces classic cheeses with a local twist. Bruny Island Cheese Company matures some of its produce on aromatic local Huon pine wood, other shops and markets around the state are plentiful Tasmanian camemberts, savory blues and an array of cheddars uniquely seasoned with garlic or chilli.
Serve that brie with one of Tasmania’s premium wines, elegant, fresh-tasting tipples like pinot noir, chardonnay and gewürztraminer. Go a step further and tour one of Tasmania’s Wine Routes, savoring its flavors while you soak in the landscape from which it emerges. FYI, Tasmanian beer is also widely well regarded but many are not aware that Tasmania also produces first-class whisky and gin.
A cornerstone of heritage, history and pride, apples have a special place in Tasmanians’ hearts. One of the first crops to be cultivated by European settlers, apple trees flourished in Tasmania’s temperate weather. keep a lookout for roadside apple stalls for your pick of the crop. Or if that sounds a little too healthy, do as the locals do and reach for a bottle-fermented cider.
Delectable Abundance of the Sea
The pristine waters of the Southern Ocean produce succulent, gleaming oysters with an unbeatable flavour. Relish fresh oysters with a cold rosé at Mures Upper Deck in Hobart, or ignore the purists and order them deep-fried with garlic at nautical eatery The Drunken Admiral. Warning: dining on these famously aphrodisiac gems along Hobart’s picturesque waterfront could have dangerously romantic consequences…
Curried Scallop Pie
Seafood lovers might balk at nuggets from Tasmania’s coast being secreted away in flaky pastry. You gotta love this gourmet re-imagining of the classic Australian pie and the spice it gives to juicy scallops. The tangy sauce is the perfect contrast to thick, buttery pie crust and because Tasmanians don’t want anyone to miss out on their pies, you can even order a gluten-free version at Rosie’s café in Kettering.
Sullivans Cove and Salamanca Markets
This is a mecca for tourists and locals alike. The working docks at Sullivans Cove, where ships come and go to Antarctica, fishing boats, millionaire yachts and tall-masted wooden vessels provide colour and movement, are the foreground for sandstone-fronted colonial warehouses that have been transformed into art and craft centers, coffee shops and eateries. Saturday morning is the ideal time to visit. Then the Salamanca Markets are in full swing and you can make your contribution to the Tasmanian economy.
Outdoor Adventures Galore
Rafting the Franklin River, Australia
Though Tasmania’s Franklin River isn’t far from the city of Hobart, it remains among the world’s most remote and pristine rafting waterways. Once you launch from below the Lyell Hwy, you’re all but committed to eight days and 100km of rough-and-ready river travel. Immersed in the forest of the Word Heritage-listed Tasmanian Wilderness, the journey transforms from the disquieting stillness of the Iren abyss to the roar of the 5km-long Great and its many rapids.
The Central Highlands
In the heart of the Central Highlands of Tasmania is Great Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in Australia. This is trout fishing country. It is also where Hydro Tasmania has many of its storage dams and infrastructure for generating hydro-electric power. The geography with its rocky plateau, dotted with sheep, evokes images immediately of the Scottish Highlands, probably attracting migrants from that part of the world. Towns named like Ross and Campbelltown reminds us that they brought the game of golf with them. After the forests, the lush green meadows of the north coast, the sandy beaches and the mountain peaks, I would be surprised if you did not find that the Central Highlands add something rich to the diversified flavour of Tasmania
Southwest National Park
Not accessible by road, it is the largest protected reserve in Tasmania, covering 20 percent of the island, and it has been designated a World Heritage Area. Take a charter flight from Hobart Airport, round the cliffs of South Cape and land at Melaleuca. You get panoramic views of Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey before bouncing to a halt on a dirt runway. Believe it or not there are a couple of people living in tin shacks and eking out an existence at Melaleuca along with the Orange Bellied Parrots and hardy walkers hiking this remote wilderness.
Cradle Mountain National Park
Two hours ambling around Dove Lake will be sufficient, for the passer-by, to appreciate the rugged beauty of Cradle Mountain and the National Park. Venture a little further and you will experience what, apart from earliest European settlement history, makes Tasmania so unique and appealing. Between the beaches on the east coast and rivers rolling to the west coast, is the heart of Tasmania. It is a wilderness, relatively untouched, calming for the soul, and designated as a World Heritage Area, embodied by the awesome peaks of Cradle Mountain.
Freycinet Peninsula and Wineglass Bay
The Freycinet Peninsula , about midway up the east coast of Tasmania, is a hook of land, ridged by granite mountains. A nestled playground for swimming and kayaking in the bay on the landward side. On the exposed seaward side is the much-photographed crescent of Wineglass Bay after a short sharp climb to the lookout. A quintessential summer-holiday destination for the natives with many out-of-state visitors too, you can expect to share the walks and beaches with others.
Tahune Forest Airwalk
Perhaps the most endearing quality of the island experience, and the opportunity to explore not only the floor but the canopy is best undertaken at the Tahune Forest Airwalk.The nearly 600metre-long walkway through the treetops at Tahune, on the edge of the South West Wilderness itis a testament to the evolution of Forestry Tasmania. The climax of the walk is a cantilever, 48 metres above the ground, with a dramatic view of forested mountains beyond the confluence of the Huon and Picton Rivers. Half of Tasmania is locked-up with forests of eucalypts and hardwood trees,
It’s a winding narrow road to the 1270-metre summit of Mt Wellington and when you emerge from the forest that covers the slopes above Hobart, into the landscape of scrub and boulders that are battered by winds and winter snow, you are rewarded with a 360-degree panorama that takes in the city, the Derwent River, Tasman Peninsula and distant hazy peaks. It’s a real bird’s-eye view, perhaps a bit disengaged, but ideal for getting geographically oriented. If the day is not too chilly you will remember the sights with fondness.
For The Less Rugged
Port Arthur Historic Site
The decayed penal facility at Port Arthur lives through the stories of convict hardship told by the guides who escort reverential groups through the ruins and across the extensive lawns. It is a shrine of remembrance for Australians – right up there with Gallipoli, and closer to home. The Great Shame of their ancestors having been transported by the motherland has been replaced by national pride in their survival.
MONA – The Museum of Old & New Art
Now the most visited single attraction in Tasmania due to the publicity surrounding the opening of David Walsh’s pet project, MONA in January 2011 extending around the world. The unique characteristics of its location, buildings and exhibits has continued to please tens of thousands of visitors every month. Bringing an unprecedented number of visitors to Hobart, its local restaurants and other service providers, it has definitely risen the challenge.
For those who enjoy wandering through bustling markets, private galleries, boutiques, and arts and craft shops, Tasmania is just the spot. Tasmania is famous for quality timber furniture and handicrafts created from world-renowned speciality timbers such as Huon Pine, Black Heart Sassafras, Myrtle, Blackwood, Celery Top Pine and Tasmanian Oak. For antique shopping, Tasmania is second to none! The state is also home to an array of talented painters and photographers, whose creations can be found in galleries across the island.
Tasmanian wool is among the finest in the world. Clothing, in particular hand and machine-knitted fine wool garments, can be found throughout the state, as can Ugg boots and other sheepskin products. Jewelry and artifacts in and around the markets and boutique stores are very popular with visitors to the state.
Lavender is another well-known Tasmanian product. Grown in the north of the state, lavender has been used to manufacture quality products from lotions and oils to scented candles and even boiled sweets. Take home fudge and chocolate, preserves, full-bodied cheeses, wine, boutique beer and honey.
Certainly with its wide variety of experiences, colors, weather conditions, native and immigrant history and flavors, there is something for everybody in Tasmania. So be bold, explore, enjoy and embrace.
Photo credits: Discover Tasmania