Tasmania in spring is a treat. The peonies and roses are blooming, the strawberries are sweet and the produce is bursting with freshness. Join us to explore great gardens and fine flavours from Launceston to Hobart.
Meet Robin Powell at Sydney Airport for the flight to Launceston. This afternoon we’ll visit Woolmers Estate. This historic estate belonged to one of the three Archer brothers who so dominated the northern Tasmanian economy in the mid 19th century. We’ll tour the house and garden, and the fabulous outbuildings. Also in the grounds here is the National Rose Garden, which will be in its spring peak of fragrant flower for our visit.
We’ll check in to our accommodation for the next three nights, Peppers Seaport. The hotel is on the marina where the three rivers that come together in Launceston – North Esk, South Esk and the Tamar – meet. We’ll have a welcome dinner tonight in the hotel.
We’ll get another side of the Archer family story this morning when we visit Panshanger. The property has been in the Mills family since the turn of last century. Maree Mills is a wonderful guide to the history of the estate and she’ll show us around her beautiful garden, and treat us to morning tea.
Then we’re off to lunch at one of the state’s finest wineries, Josef Chromy. The 2011 chardonnay made here won World’s Best Chardonnay in Decanter’s World Wine awards last year. Decided if you agree with the judges when we taste the range, and choose what to enjoy with our lunch.
We’ll be back in Launceston in time to catch the last cruise of the evening up the river to Launceston’s famous Cataract Gorge.
Ginseng takes a long time to mature so Ziggy Pyka set up a salmon farm to make ends in the meantime. His intriguing setup is completely off the grid, and uses gravity to wash water through the fish ponds, and then through a series of wetlands that clean the water before returning it to the river. It’s a fascinating project – and the award-winning fish is delicious!
Old Wesleydale is our garden visit this morning, where we’ll meet Scott and Deb Wilson who bought the 1830s property in 2001 and starting making a garden. You’ll love what they’ve done – especially the ‘elephant’ hedge in front of the house.
We’ll lunch in Mole Creek, resisting dessert so we can indulge in the leatherwood ice cream at the honey shop in Chudleigh, the self-described village of roses.
We leave Launceston this morning and head down the Midlands Highway to Hobart. Our first stop is at Oatlands, which boasts the largest collection of sandstone Georgian buildings in Australia. We’ll have a quick tour, and enjoy scones and tea at Callington Mill. This wind-driven stone ground flower mill was an empty shell for most of the 20th century. But it is now operating again and our scones will be made from Callington’s stone ground flour.
Lunch today is a visual and gastronomic treat! We’re off to a peony and vegetable farm. The Westons grow thousands of peonies, and they’ll be at their peak when we visit. The family also grows interesting vegetables for fine restaurants in Hobart, including their own café, Pigeonhole. Chefs from the café will cook lunch for us in the wood-fired oven in the garden.
After lunch we’re visiting the neighbours, renowned sculptors Folko Cooper and Maureen Craig, who have made an unusual garden to show off their work. (Regulars at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show will be familiar with this couple’s work, which dominates the sculpture show at MIFGS.) Folko’s background is as a chef – he started carving ice, not sandstone – and his chefly talents now find their way into his cider, made from apples grown on the property. Hobart chefs are keen to get the cider on their menus, but Folko keeps it for his own use – and ours, when we have a tasting this afternoon.
Later we’ll check in to our Hobart hotel, The Old Woolstore, which is an easy walk to the waterfront or into the heart of the city.
We heading south today down the D’Entrecastueaux Channel and the Huon Valley. Our first stop is one of the country’s few sheep milk cheese makers, Grandvewe. We’ll taste their award-winning cheeses while admiring the amazing view over Birchs Bay.
Our garden visit today is in the perfectly named village of Flowerpot! Claire and Bill Handbury have made a French-style garden on the edge of the river. The views here will make you want to move to Tasmania!
After lunch in a sculpture garden, we’ll take the long way to the Huon valley to feast our eyes on the beautiful scenery for as long as we can. By afternoon tea time we’ll be at Willie Smith Organic Cider and Apple Museum, where they do a great apple pie! We’ll also have a cider tasting here and a tour that will explain the history and importance of apples to the Apple Isle.
Richmond is a charming village on the river, with a thriving garden club. The club will put on morning tea for us this morning, and then take us on a tour of a couple of the local gardens.
Then we’ll head back to Hobart, with free time to shop and explore.
Salamanca market is synonymous with Hobart, and we’ll explore its nooks and crannies this morning. This is the place to find antique china, kitchenware and knickknacks, as well as art and craft by local artisans.
After lunch we’ll look at art of a different kind at the phenomenal MONA. We’re going by ferry, which is a great way to arrive at this fascinating bunker of art. There’ll be plenty of time to explore before our coach picks us up and takes us further up the Derwent River to Plenty.
The historic property here is Redlands Estate, built by the secret son of King George IV. Redlands was once the thriving heart of agricultural production in the region, and it is being revitalised by its new owners Peter and Elizabeth Hope. We’ll find out what they have in store, tour the gardens and convict-built outbuildings and irrigation channels, then narrow our focus to whisky. We’ll learn how whisky is made, what makes it taste different and taste some for ourselves.
Our farewell dinner is in the distillery at Redlands Estate, where we’ll enjoy bread baked in the country’s oldest oven, as well as local produce skilfully prepared just for us by one of the city’s leading caterers.
Salamanca is the market for things, but for edibles the locals come to Hobart Farmers Market. We’ll join them this morning and pick up the delicacies we can’t leave the island without. There’s more opportunity to fill the carry-on luggage later this morning when we visit Littlewood strawberry farm, and pick ourselves a couple of punnets of sweet red berries.
Our final treat is lunch at Frogmore winery, formerly Meadowbank Estate. With its views over the vineyards and the water and great food, the restaurant here has been a benchmark of fine dining on great Tasmanian produce for more than a decade.
After lunch we’ll head to the airport, which is only moments away, and bags loaded with treats, regretfully farewell Tasmania.
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