SPRING BREAK: TASMANIA
Over the last 15 years, I have probably been to Tasmania seven times, and each trip presents a different face and season. Tasmania is not like New Zealand – it is definitely Australian in its vegetation. Sometimes it can be dry and prone to devastating bushfires; sometimes grey and raining. But on my recent five-day vist in September it was glorious, sunny, green and still.
Less than two hours direct flight from Sydney, Tasmania is a wonderland and an ancient one at that. Its landscape is a never-ending display of nature at work. From grand forests inland of the state, to dramatic bluffs and headlands around its coastline, stunning vistas are never far away. Settled by the British in 1803, its isolation made it an ideal penal colony. A day’s visit to historic Port Arthur highlights the harsh life experienced by male convicts as young as nine years old, contrasting to the genteel existence of the officers and their families.
MONA (Museum of New and Old Art) at Moorilla Estate has become one of the major tourist attractions of Tasmania. Our visit also became a nostalgic trip back in time for one of our party. She could not believe the massive excavation beneath the original family homestead to create the startling underground gallery of provocative artworks created by owner David Walsh, recently interviewed by Leigh Sales on 7.30 Report. Our visit was topped of with a delicious lunch at MONA’s restaurant, The Source, the food prepared by Michelin-Star chef Philippe Lebon.
On the subject of food, we were very lucky to squeeze into Tasmania’s top eatery, Garagistes, the following evening. The five-course degustation menu created by Testuya-trained chef, Luke Burgess was truly amazing, and was paired with wines from the extensive (and confusing!) list of biodynamic and natural wines from around the world. Alternatively, each dish can be matched with a different sake if that is your preference.
The views stretching out to Frecyinet National Park over Great Oyster Bay from our waterfront Swansea Beach Chalets were simply breathtaking. A number of our group also took a 60 minute helicopter flight over Freycinet and Maria Island, while two of us snuck off to a wine tasting at Freycinet Winery. We fell totally in love with their 2012 Freycinet Pinot Noir.
The charming Red Feather Inn-, a Tasmanian heritage treasure is nestled in a side street of the sleepy town of Hadspen, barely 15 minutes from the heart of Launceston and a short carriage ride from some of Northern Tasmania’s great historic homes – Woolmer’s, Brickendon, Clarendon and Entally. As well as cosy accommodation, it is well known for its food and cooking school.
By Marguerite Julian