Tasmania has rightly earned its reputation as a foodie heaven and, no matter what your palate, you'll be spoilt for choice. The best advice is not to rush: the roads are often narrow and winding and maps can be misleading. And it will take longer to reach your destination than you estimate, as you will need to allow time to stop at roadside stalls to pick up everything from fresh farm eggs to berries!
Hobart has a colourful history dating back to 1803 and is a magnet for visitors who enjoy its busy waterfront, historic buildings and rich colonial and convict heritage. It is increasingly popular with gourmets, given its fresh produce and artisan wines, ciders and spirits.
The city has undergone a transformation over the past decade, emerging with a busy year-round cultural scene, myriad restaurant and bar options, gourmet delis and festivals, many of which are held during the previously sleepy winter season.
It is surrounded by vineyards — with the Derwent Valley and the Coal River Valley both close by — and is home to several nationally-noted restaurants, including Franklin (with an organic ethos and focus on natural wines), Italian-accented Fico and, of course, several eatery options up the River Derwent at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), which is reachable by road or ferry.
In the Derwent Valley, Stefano Lubiana was Tasmania’s first certified biodynamic winery and the on-site Osteria restaurant specialises in fresh local produce.
Among the standout cellar doors in the Coal River Valley are Pooleys (pop in for a pinot and a platter) and organic-focused Frogmore Creek, which has a restaurant overlooking the vines.
'Must do' experiences in the city include bustling Salamanca markets on Saturdays, the quirkiness of MONA and a visit to the historic Cascade Brewery, and the city winery of Glaetzer-Dixon.
One of the most beautifully preserved towns in Australia, Richmond, is a 20-minute drive through the Coal River Valley from Hobart and is home to dozens of beautifully-preserved Georgian mansions dating back to the 1830s — as well as a lovely stone bridge. Enjoy traditional tea and scones or pop into one of the cellar doors.
The city's resident mountain, kunanyi, Mount Wellington towers over Hobart and its sprawling suburbs. On a clear day, its peak at 1269m offers spectacular views.
Huon Valley Charm
Head south of Hobart to enjoy the bucolic beauty of a twin-tailed valley that is rapidly building a reputation for its cool-climate wines and artisan ciders.
The southernmost municipality of Australia — next stop Antarctica — is known for its hidden beaches, small village and arts and crafts trails. Cygnet, Franklin and Geeveston are among the most popular destinations.
Home Hill Wines is regarded as one of the country’s leading producers of premium pinot noir; and is a popular lunch venue with its restaurant overlooking the vines.
Also check out the Elsewhere, Kate Hill and Two Bud Spur winery cellar doors and the Willie Smith’s Apple Shed (an organic cider pioneer), Frank’s Cider and Pagan Cider, all of which welcome visitors.
Tamar Valley Tipple
The Tamar Valley Wine Route is a classic gourmet trail through wineries, orchards as well as country lanes. The wineries are almost all family owned and operated and there is every chance the person offering you a cellar-door tasting is also the viticulturist or winemaker responsible for the very wine you are sampling.
Among the cellar doors that should be on every visitor's list are Josef Chromy, Pipers Brook/Kreglinger, Bay of Fires/House of Arras and Tamar Ridge.
But there are also dozens of small producers including Holyman/Stoney Rise, Delamere, Holm Oak, Moores Hill, Winter Brook and Goaty Hill that are well worth a detour from the East and West Tamar Highways that run either side of the river.
Bell and Gong at Longford, Swinging Gate Wines and Cabbage Tree Point Wines are among the newest names.
Expect to find stellar chardonnays, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, rieslings and pinot gris — and sparkling wines that the locals like to boast are second only to those of Champagne.
Josef Chromy Wines, with its superb tasting rooms and restaurant overlooking the vines and a lake, is among the easiest wineries to get to; it is just a short drive from both downtown Launceston and Launceston Airport in the suburb of Relbia.
Tasmania's East Coast is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it is also home to several outstanding wine producers, including Freycinet, Spring Vale, Milton, Devil's Corner, Gala Estate and others.
The East Coast’s fresh, locally-grown produce is famous (including the seafood) and the East Coast Wine Trail is a new route designed to further add to the region's reputation.
The Freycinet National Park, jewel of Tasmania’s East Coast, is around a 2-½-hour drive from both Hobart and Launceston, and occupies most of the beautiful Freycinet Peninsula, which is known for its granite peaks and spectacular beaches.
Wineglass Bay has been named as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the area is a favourite with day trippers, walkers and climbers. Diving and snorkelling are also popular.
The seaside village of Swansea and the hamlet of Coles Bay (the entry point into the National Park) are summer hotspots.
Visitors gravitate towards the beaches with crystal-clear water and lookouts such as the Cape Tourville lighthouse.
The East Coast is also home to several outstanding luxury resorts, and to some of Tasmania’s finest boutique wine producers. The Farm Shed in Bicheno always has at least five local wines available for tasting or by the glass, and sells more than 50 wines from 19 different producers, large and small.
Freycinet Marine Farm has a farm gate sales outlet where visitors can buy oysters, mussels, scallops and abalone, which can be enjoyed on the deck, or taken away.
The high-end Palate restaurant at Saffire serves up multi-course degustation dinners or a la carte options that showcase the best of Tasmania.
There is plenty to discover on the Tasman Peninsula, south-east of Hobart including Port Arthur, a quaint village best known for the well-preserved penal colony buildings of the nearby Port Arthur Historic Site.
The area is known for natural attractions including dramatic coastal rock formations and towering cliffs, and for gourmet drawcards including William McHenry Distillery and the local produce served at long lunches at the Lavender Farm.
The Port Arthur Historic Site was established in 1830 as a timber station. Its dark history contrasts with the beauty of the surrounding area.
Port Arthur Lavender Farm serves local treats including lavender chocolate and lavender ice-cream, while the gift shop has a large selection of Tasmanian-made products.
Also, don’t miss out on the Bangor Wine Shed, overlooking the water at Dunalley. It is a cellar door, farm gate shop and restaurant in one — and specialises in local oysters.
Spirit lovers will want to pop in for tasting at both the Nonesuch and McHenry distilleries, while Bream Creek Farmers Market promises produce direct from local farms. It is held on the first Sunday of every month.
Set on the Tasman Peninsula, NRMA Port Arthur Holiday Park can be found one hour and 20 minutes from Hobart and is central to the region’s major attractions including the Port Arthur Historic Site.
There are no camping options in the city itself, although Adventure Parks has fully equipped sites in the suburbs of Risdon Vale and Mornington.
The Seven Mile Beach Caravan and Cabin Park is another good option as a base, located just 15 minutes from Hobart's CBD and close to the airport. www.hobartcaravanpark.com.au.
Truffle Lodge, on the banks of the River Derwent in the Derwent Valley, offers luxury 'glamping' experiences during the summer months. It is styled to resemble a bush camp.
The Huon Valley Caravan Park in Huonville is in a quiet level area around 1km outside the biggest town in the region. It has 28 powered sites and 30 unpowered sites on the banks of the Mountain River. It is part of a working farm and is dog-friendly, but dogs must be on a leash at all times.
Check out the Old Bank (a swish B&B with its own cafe), the vegetarian Red Velvet Lounge and the rustic Lotus Eaters’ Cafe. All three showcase locally farmed produce.
Tamar Valley: Among the best caravanning bases is Greens Beach Caravan Park; dog-friendly and right on a popular swimming beach. There is a golf course next door.
At George Town, The Pier Hotel Campground, and Low Head Low Head Tourist Park are both popular.
Freycinet Coast: Camping inside the Freycinet National Park is extremely popular in summer and autumn and spaces are allocated by ballot in August each year. Swansea, Coles Bay and Bicheno all have a wide range of accommodation, from rental shacks to resorts. www.parks.tas.gov.au.
Swansea Holiday Park offers both powered sites and cabins. www.swansea-holiday.com.au.
Tasman Peninsula: Port Arthur Holiday Park is set in 40 acres of lush grounds and accommodation options include water-view cabins and ensuite sites. Caravan and camping sites are private, each with wood barbecues. www.nrmaparksandresorts.com.au/port-arthur.
Lime Bay State Reserve is far more rustic, but suitable for tents and caravans. Facilities include toilets, limited picnic tables and fireplaces but you must bring your own water and firewood.