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Tasmania's winter secrets The season of unexpected adventure

By Kris Madden

Tasmania's rugged beauty takes on an enchanted quality in winter. The air is crisp, and falling snow dusts the mountains and eucalyptus trees. Festivals celebrate apple cider, chocolate, singing and the winter solstice. Clear nights are ideal for stargazing and seeing the southern lights of the aurora australis. It's also the perfect season for a sip of Tasmanian whisky by a cosy open fire.

Map of Tasmania

Experience midwinter festivals

Mona (the Museum of Old and New Art) hosts the midwinter festival Dark Mofo every year in June. Highlights include the Winter Feast, which attracts thousands of food lovers, and the Winter Solstice Nude Swim, in which people of all ages brave the chilly temperatures to swim naked in the Derwent River. Head to the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival in July to celebrate the region's apple growing history and join in the age-old tradition of wassailing. It's a ceremony in which revellers sing and bang drums and pots to scare away evil spirits, wake up the cider apple trees and ensure a good harvest.

Follow the Enchanted Walk

Visit Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and follow the Enchanted Walk through rainforest bejewelled with frost. Or wander around shimmering Dove Lake beneath the black spires of Cradle Mountain. On the southern side of the park, walk the 18-kilometre (11-mile) circuit around Lake St Clair, Tasmania's deepest natural freshwater lake.

Snowshoe the Overland Track

The Overland Track is hugely popular for hiking during summer, and a number of local companies, including Tasmanian Expeditions, offer snowshoeing trips along the track during winter. It provides a different perspective on Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park as you explore highland landscapes, deep forests and snowy peaks. Not only will you enjoy the breathtaking nature, but also the quiet tranquility of the Tasmanian winter.

Sip a nip of Tasmanian whisky

Tasmanian whisky has taken the world by storm, with many locally-produced blends winning top awards overseas. Follow the Tasmanian Whisky Trail, visiting distilleries such as Lark and Sullivans Cove in Hobart, or the Launceston Distillery and Hellyers Road Distillery in the north of the island. Complete your education in Tassie whisky by attending Tasmanian Whisky Week (usually held in August). The week-long festival features exciting events hosted by Tasmanian distilleries, bars, restaurants and hotels. You'll be able to go behind the scenes, meet the distillers in person, have access to unreleased whiskies, and dine on delicious produce matched to the spirits on offer. 

Take a ghost tour of Port Arthur

The convict ruins of Port Arthur can be a spooky place at any time of year, but on a cold winter's day you'll really get a sense of how desolate and frightening it must have been for the poor souls transported here from the other side of the world against their will. Take a lantern-lit ghost tour to discover the site's haunted side and hear stories of unexplained events and paranormal activity.

Sing along at the Festival of Voices

The Festival of Voices is Australia's premier celebration of the voice, attracting thousands of Australian and international singers, choristers and music lovers who gather each June and July to hear and perform beautiful harmonies in concert halls, theatres and public spaces across the state.  

Indulge at Chocolate Winterfest

The indulgent Chocolate Winterfest gives chocolate lovers a great reason to visit Tasmania in August. The festival takes place in Latrobe in northern Tasmania and offers plenty of chocolate to taste as well as workshops in which you can learn how to make your own chocolate delights. 

Cosy up by the fire in a luxury lodge

Winter in Freycinet National Park is another well-kept secret. Stay at Saffire, a luxury lodge overlooking the Hazards mountain range, Freycinet Peninsula and the pristine Great Oyster Bay. By day, you can marvel at the sweeping mountain views or walk the vivid blue curves of Wineglass Bay. At night, huddle next to a roaring fire or watch the sky ablaze with stars. 

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