Travel

Van Diemen’s land, no longer the sleepy hollow

Van Diemen’s land, no longer the sleepy hollow or the forgotten state that fell off the end of Australia, Tasmania, she may be small, but she is mighty.

It’s like a slap in the face you need to wake up, and I’m not referring to the cold air, although, that’s pretty fresh, Tassie is awake with history, culture, festivals and picturesque landscape and she’s ready to let you discover, explore and immerse yourself in her richness.

You’ll find yourself bunny hopping around this small island as there are an abundance of magnificent scenery everywhere you look. You’ll want to stop to see every crevice, every cove, and every corner from the Huon valley trail up to the Great Eastern Drive over to the western plains and across the top of Launceston.

If you’re looking for an adventure to feed the soul,why not look in your very own country and come on down to Van Diemen’s land.  This is one destination you don’t want to rush, really take your time to take it all in. My suggestion would be to hire a motorhome and that’s exactly what I did for the 8 days I was here.

If you’re ready to explore, consider this your treasure map. After landing in Hobart, I made my way down to the Huon Valley, a region best known as the primary apple growing area and in more recent times, it’s now home to many vineyards. There is nothing sweeter, juicier and more delicious than a freshly picked apple straight from the tree. The Huon Valley is sprinkled with road side apple shacks filled with apples straight from the trees where the juice trickles down your arm. It’s also the region where i lived from the age of 10 through to 16, so when I had to opportunity to head home, you could keep me away.  Have things changed in the past 27 year, not really, the town is still pretty much as it was when I left, the only real change is the region has an abundance of vineyards and roadside cafe’s. If you make your way through the Huon and down do Cygnet, you are in for a treat. I also lived in this town for 2 years in my late teens early twenties and it’s one little town that now has a big impact.

One of the biggest festivals in the southern region is the Cygnet Folk Festival. For 38 years, Cygnet has come alight with one of Australia’s most iconic folk music festivals. The Festival is a showcase of eclectic music genres featuring both local and international talent, dance, poetry, masterclasses, film, kids’ entertainment, food, wine, art and local handicrafts all set in the breathtaking scenery of Tasmania’s Huon Valley.  The whole town is involved in the festival and this one weekend brings in 3 months worth of income to shop and business owners.

There are many tourist drives to do from the convict trail to the Western range but the one I chose to explore was the Great Eastern Drive.  It’s one of the most scenic drives which is visually pleasing and the entire coastal road is lined with breathtaking views, rugged coastlines where you can witness the veracity of the ocean smash up against the cliff edges, blowholes that spray water meters high into the sky and sunsets that submerge over the tops of mountain tops.  The reason I mentioned you will be bunny hopping your way around Tasmania, is because you can’t help but stop every 10 minutes to capture a mental image and to take a snap of the coastline as it changes from seaside towns and coves to rugged plunging cliff faces to red covered boulders tumbling into the sea and of course, you HAVE to sample the mouth-watering produce that this tiny island has to offer.

There is 176km of road to stop along and wonder why you haven’t visited Tasmania sooner.  If you are adventurous and love a bit of campervanning, then I would absolutely recommend you do just that.  That way you can take in all of the road’s gentle curves through east coast wine country, beach towns, forests, farmland and the open coast. Stop off along the way at the world’s best beaches, visit cellar doors to taste award-winning cool climate wines, taste the region’s wonderful produce and seafood and explore its famous national parks.  

Exploring this incredibly scenic part is much more than just another holiday, this place gets inside your soul and changes you for the better.

The East is blessed with a much milder climate than that of it’s southern region. WIth clean and clear oceans, the east have some of the finest seafood, produce, and premium wines on offer. Following this stretch of road will lead you directly to cellar doors, farm gates and markets. If you find yourself detouring off the beaten track you can stumble across famous pancake houses like Mount Elephant Pancake’s.

Visit local producers to taste fine wine, juicy berries, and creamy cheeses and ice cream. And stop at marine farms at St Helens, Coles Bay and Dolphin Sands, harbourside fish punts on St Helens waterfront, seafood eateries in Bicheno and fish vans in Triabunna to sample the region’s freshest seafood.

My suggestion would be to fly into Hobart and start your voyage. First stop has to be MONA aka the Museum of Old and New Art. Just up the river from Hobart, Mona’s subterranean architecture showcases David Walsh’s $110m private collection of art and antiquities, as well as hosting abstract and some eyebrow raising exhibition program. There is simply nothing like it on earth.

From Hobart, make your way up to Triabunna, Little Swanport, Rocky Hills, Swansea all the way up to Bicheno, may favourite out of all the towns I visited. Why, the red stained boulders that rest along the ocean’s edge are remarkable. They glow a vibrant red as the sunset kisses them each afternoon.  The seals and penguins that lounge around on the rock formation just slightly out to sea while you dine at The Lobster Shack eating the freshest of seafood. Maybe it’s because it’s a very small fishing town with a population of 1000 people make it a quaint and peaceful place to visit. 

After reluctantly moving on from Bicheno, it was time to keep tracking along the Eastern tail to St Mary’s, Derby and onto Bridport, home of Barnbougle Golf Course and more importantly, the Barnbougle Polo which I was privileged enough to attend in the Stella Artois Marquee.  Barnbougle has a prime location in the town of Bridport. As you may or may not know, Tasmania is known for its untouched wilderness, pristine coastline, cool climate, wines and fresh local produce. The rugged north east coast of Australia’s island state is one of the most ideal places in the world to build, what is now known as the 30th best golf course in the world. It’s coastal strip and stark beaches meets undulating farmlands all rolled into one magnificent Golf Course that is Barnbougle.

As it said, it may be small, but Tasmania is mighty and she has erupted with history, culture, festivals, breathtaking landscape and the countries best seafood, wine, cheese, fruit and veggies.  It’s a slow paced kinda life, where the local farmers, lift their index finger off the their steering wheels to wave to oncoming motorists, it’s a place full of nature, never before seen wildlife, it’s fresh, clean air, clear water with white sandy beaches. It’s not just a destination but like a warm inviting home.  The people, landscape and rich history make Tasmanina your next must see bucket list state.

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