Anybody who’s travelled overseas knows the urgency with which we start planning our next overseas trip – even if we’re still jetlagged from the last. It’s known as the travel bug. We’re all susceptible and it can bite us at any time.
Once bitten, it compels us to see amazing parts of the world – which on one hand is great, but it can mean we have no real idea
about what lies in our own country. So for my next trip, I decided to discover a little more of Australia – or at least embark on an
‘overseas’ journey without leaving our shores!
A week later I found myself in Tasmania, and, for so many reasons, I felt I was in another world.
From Wineglass to wine glass
I’d heard there was a beach in Tasmania that could easily be mistaken for a view of Port Douglas or some tropical island. So I had to go and check out this cool-climate paradise.
Visiting Tasmania’s Wineglass Bay is like accidentally falling into a postcard. This pristine bay lies tucked away on Tasmania’s east coast; a hidden treat for those in the know. The beach is accessible only by foot, via a steep,rocky-but-beautiful bush path. It’s a walk that, although not a great distance, can take hours because every step is a photo opportunity.
Once I reached the bottom, with my two feet buried in the sand, I took the best part of three hours soaking up the views and salty air. And although I was seeking solitude with my trek, I was pleasantly surprised to find I had gatecrashed a lively party attended by five bottlenose dolphins. It’s almost a given that anyone who walks this path will fall in love with it. And many who travel through choose to extend their stay and check in at one of the eco-lodges found dotted along the Freycinet Peninsula.
The Freycinet Eco Retreat is beautiful. You’ll find comfort amidst the wilderness and a maze of bush trails that start at your doorstep. Built with the environment in mind, the only footprint you’ll leave is the tracks heading towards the beach.
After drinking up as much as I could of the Freycinet Peninsula’s beauty, I called it a day and put my feet up with a different kind of wine glass.
Countryside worth savoring
The Coal River Valley is responsible for 18% of Tasmania’s wine. The cool climate wines it produces are renowned throughout the world for their premium quality. Nestled in the state’s south, only a 20-minute drive from Hobart, it’s hard to imagine such charming countryside lying so close to a major city. The region can be explored in either a half day or full day depending on how dictatorial your taste buds are as tour guides.
Cool climate wineries provide the perfect conditions for producing fine white wine - the region’s Domaine A/Stoney Vineyard wins many awards for their Lady A Sauvignon Blanc.
But if, like me, you are in search of something warmer as the weather gets cooler, Tasmania produces a gorgeous Pinot Noir. I settled on a glass of the Puddleduck Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009, and then went back for a bottle to take back home.
Many of the cellar doors are open for tasting, and against the backdrop of misty grapevines, I’d suggest taking a few hours or more to indulge in the varieties of Coal River Valley region vintage wine. Cheers!
To the end of the earth and back
It’s twenty-twelve and the world hasn’t ended, but with a visit to Bruny Island, you wouldn’t necessarily know it. For those of us after some time to contemplate the simple pleasures in life, a few days holed up in a B&B on Bruny Island could be the answer. Although it is an island, it’s nearly 100 km long, so there’s plenty to keep you busy.
The Bruny Island Cheese Company, responsible for some of the finest artisan cheeses produced in Australia, should be atop the ‘must-do’ list. And nothing complements the salty sea air better than freshly shucked oysters from the very popular(and cheekily named) Get Shucked.
We often get asked what we’d take with us to a deserted island. My answer would be a plate of oysters, vintage cheese and a good book.
Something old, something new
Tasmania may lie at the geographic bottom of the world, but the success of the recently opened MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is propelling the state to the top of the art world. Intended to be a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’ by creator David Walsh, the museum takes you on a journey that will shock, entertain, inform, challenge, provoke and at times even offend you.
A short ferry ride saw me standing at the ‘deliberately underwhelming’ museum entrance – simply a suburban cottage and tennis court. It then became clear that such an entrance was intended to highlight the stark contrast to what lay within.
Given an iPod touch, I was taken on an audio tour through the 400 or so works inside the museum, each one jarring and different in its own way. After an easy five hours willingly left within the walls of the MONA, I stepped outside with a new perspective and a very vocal, hungry stomach.
With my eyes and ears safely satisfied, I decided to treat the rest of my senses before boarding the ferry and leaving the museum. Being a one-stop- shop indulgence, the MONA also offers 5-star dining and even its own winery.
So as the cool Tasmanian evening settled in, I feasted on a most delicious rack of rabbit accompanied by the MONA’s own Muse Cabernet Merlot.
Until next time
It’s funny how the coldest state can leave you feeling so warm. From snowy-topped mountains, to beautiful beaches, to captivating countryside, for its small space, Tasmania has such a diverse range of experiences on offer – more than I could cover in just one trip.
So while I’ve always been so keen to pack my bags and head overseas, this trip is one that’s convinced me to stay put. By visiting Tasmania, I’ve discovered, just how much I’ve yet to discover.
– By Hannah McElhinney