A 10-day taste of gourmet Tasmania
Wrapped in ocean and the world's purest air, Tasmania's produce and menus are as fresh as its mountain scenery. The island state is a true food lover's delight.
By Andrew Bain
Take a flavour-filled journey around Tasmania, mixing the island's top sights with its top restaurants and best produce. This drive encompasses much of the state, taking in the epicurean treats that are a major focus of the Tasmanian experience.
What to expect
- Dine at Tasmania's finest restaurants and sample delicious local produce
- Picnic on the famously perfect sands of Freycinet Peninsula
- Stay in unique, gourmet hotels and explore heritage villages
- Time: 10 days
- Distance: 1,500 kilometres (930 miles)
- Transport: car
- Nearest major city: Hobart
- Price: $$$$
Day 1: Hobart
Pinched between Mt Wellington and the Derwent River, the city of Hobart is Tasmania's capital and one of Australia's culinary centres. Begin the day at cosy Pigeon Hole Café for a paddock-to-plate brunch direct from the owner's farm. If you're visiting Hobart on a Sunday, wander down to the city centre (10 minutes away) for the Farm Gate Market - make sure you try Lady Hester's sourdough doughnuts and Bury Me Standing's pot-boiled bagels. Spend the afternoon wandering the many galleries and boutique stores along historic Salamanca Place at the city centre's edge, then head to Shambles Brewery to watch the brewing process as you enjoy an ale. Have dinner at a local favourite, Templo, before resting your head at the sophisticated Islington Hotel.
Day 2: Huon Valley
Spend a day just an hour's drive south of Hobart in the lush green of the Huon Valley, where most of Tasmania's apples are grown. Make a stop at popular Willie Smith's Apple Shed, a ciderhouse-turned-museum in the heart of the groves. In the relaxed town of Cygnet, lunch at small Lotus Eaters Café, one of Tasmania's finest country cafés, before a tasting of the sheep cheeses (and sheep whey vodka!) at Grandvewe Cheeses. Return to Hobart for dinner and drinks at Fico, where the line is blurred between fine dining establishment and traditional Italian bistro.
Day 3: Port Arthur
Combine gastronomic stops with a visit to the World Heritage-listed former convict penitentiary at Port Arthur, a 90-minute drive southeast of Hobart on the Tasman Peninsula. Get a taste of Tasmania's burgeoning whisky and gin industry at Nonesuch Distillery - phone ahead and you might get a chance to decant a vat or help with bottling. At the Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed, on one of Tasmania's most storied rural properties, enjoy wine and oysters in view of both the vines and the oyster farm. After visiting Port Arthur, return to Hobart to dine at sophisticated Peacock and Jones. Filling a cosy niche inside a dockside warehouse, this restaurant specialises in Tasmanian produce and wine.
Day 4: Hobart to Freycinet Peninsula
Drive north from Hobart for Tasmania's dazzling, beach-lined east coast. Just past the town of Swansea (approximately two hours from the city), try the old and new of Tasmanian cellar-door experiences - the striking modernist design of Devil's Corner provides a great contrast to the convict-built stables housing Spring Vale Wines. A further 30 minutes away, turn onto Freycinet Peninsula for a night of glorious luxury at Saffire Freycinet. Dine at the on-site restaurant and indulge in Saffire's Le Pique Nique experience, walking along the emblematic Wineglass Bay beach to a private picnic prepared by the lodge's chefs. Alternatively, sleep in style in Freycinet National Park at Freycinet Lodge, and visit Freycinet Marine Farm to sample the region's gorgeously fresh oysters and see an oyster shucking demonstration.
Day 5: Freycinet Peninsula to Launceston
Continue driving for 90 minutes north to St Helens (you may wish to duck into the Bay of Fires to see some of Tasmania's finest beaches), before swinging inland through rainforest. Take the five-minute detour to the Holy Cow Café beside the milking sheds at Pyengana Dairy - try the cloth-wrapped cheddars and the hand-made ice cream - before lunch at nearby Weldborough Hotel. This remote pub stocks beer from every craft brewer in Tasmania. Drive two hours to stroll Tasmania's second city, Launceston, and dine in farm-to-fork style at Stillwater, inside a renovated flour mill near the mouth of picturesque Cataract Gorge.
Day 6: Tamar Valley
The Tamar Valley, running north from Launceston, is Tasmania's premier wine region. Head along its east bank to sample the sparkling wines at the Jansz Wine Room, then sip a pinot noir - Tasmania's signature wine variety - from the state's oldest vineyard at Providence. Linger over a lunch platter at Leaning Church Vineyard before crossing to the west bank for a lazy chardonnay afternoon under the tall trees at Goaty Hill Wines.With more than 30 vineyards to choose from, the circuit drive will fill most of the day. When you arrive back in Launceston, head for the Black Cow Bistro, which specialises in Tasmanian steaks.
Day 7: Launceston to Stanley
The Bass Highway takes you west to tonight's destination, the colourful fishing town of Stanley. But on the way, take a short detour to the pretty, historic village of Deloraine, where you will find eco-conscious 41 South Tasmania, a salmon and ginseng farm where you can wander the property's paths and wetlands and taste its fine produce. Continue west for 90 minutes to Cradle Valley and Tasmania's most famous view - the bowed figure of World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain. From here, you have a 2.5-hour drive to Stanley, a coastal town located at the base of the Nut (a volcanic plug rising from the sea). Touchwood has an excellent restaurant, with the likelihood of seeing penguins shuffling ashore through its windows while you dine.
Day 8: Stanley to Hadspen
Turn back towards Launceston along the Bass Highway and into the seaside town of Penguin, just over an hour away, for a tasting and tour of the ethically raised, heritage-breed pork at Mt Gnomon Farm. Nearing Latrobe (a half hour drive), there are Belgian-style chocolates at the House of Anvers, and family-run Ashgrove Cheese uses local produce to craft its unique wasabi, bush pepper and lavender cheeses. For a gourmet stay, the boutique Red Feather Inn in historic Hadspen has a cooking school and weekly 'Tasmanian Table' dinners.
Day 9: Hadspen to Hobart
The Midlands is Tasmania's agricultural heartland, and the 2.5-hour drive back to Hobart curls through its pastures. Pull off at Kempton, where you can taste whisky in period surrounds inside the colonial inn that houses Redlands Distillery. Old Kempton Distillery is another must-visit before you leave town. Head for historic Richmond, making a stop here to walk across Australia's oldest bridge, before entering the vineyard-lined Coal Valley. Lunch with a view over the vines at Frogmore Creek Wines, but save room for a taste of the triple cream brie or chilli camembert from nearby Wicked Cheese.
Day 10: Hobart
Make a classic Hobart start to your final day with breakfast at stylish bakery Jackman and McRoss in the city's oldest suburb, Battery Point. Afterwards, head to Hobart's waterfront and board the ferry to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) - Hobart's famed subterranean art gallery. Let art turn to appetite at MONA's impeccable Source restaurant, with its wall of windows peering over the Derwent River. Head to the North Hobart café precinct for dinner (and tequila) at dark and delightful Pancho Villa, before settling in for a few fine wines at intimate Willing Bros Wine Merchants.