“We all know Mona is the lure, but we’ve got so much to offer outside of that, we just need to get smarter about how we shout it from the rooftops!”
Alicia Peardon and husband Justin Arnold (above) are the young couple behind one of the north-west’s most popular and successful wineries: Ghost Rock Vineyard. Originally from Victoria, Alicia joined Justin in the move to Tasmania’s north west where the couple joined Justin’s award-winning family vineyard at Northdown.
Before her move, Alicia worked with British TV chef Jamie Oliver as the chief executive officer of The Good Foundation, which runs Jamie’s Ministry of Food in Australia. Alicia and Justin put their advertising, marketing and PR skills (honed in Melbourne) towards launching the commercial winery and Hundred Acres food and wine centre. Justin takes care of the wine (it has been twice crowned Tourism Tasmania’s Best Cellar Door) and Alicia runs the food side.
This week, Hundred Acres, in collaboration with Brown Bear Eatery, will launch a week-long pop-up restaurant: Hundred Bears, that also coincides with the month-long Devonport Food & Wine Festival and the 16th Australian Masters Games.
Alicia’s finger is firmly on the pulse of north-west Tasmania’s burgeoning food and wine scene (she is also a member of the Cradle Coast Authority’s tourism committee), and we recently caught up with her ahead of the launch of the pop-up restaurant.
1 What does a perfect day in the Cradle Coast look like to you?
Hitting Hawley Beach for a long stroll and a swim with the family and dogs, followed by breakfast at Brown Bear Eatery (Miandettta) is my idea of a good start to the day. Usually there is lots happening at Ghost Rock that keeps us busy and takes us in many directions but if not, a drive into the wilderness or visiting some farm gates is my idea of fun. Next on my hit list is to Wings Wildlife Park and the Tarkine Drive. A good day always involves a meander around Hill Street Grocer in Devonport checking out the latest and greatest and a Tasmanian wine on the deck as the sun goes down in summer is seriously one of life’s greatest pleasures.
2 What do we do best on the North-West corner of the island?
Well the thing is, our little corner of the state has got it all – from nature and wildlife, to outdoors and adventure, history and heritage, arts and culture, events and of course we produce some of the best produce on the planet. So it’s really hard to single out one. But here is a left-of-field one: we make the best wine. We are an unlikely suspect, as we are not in a major wine region, but we’ve got the best growing conditions, a maritime climate and rich fertile soils which makes exceptional quality fruit. Don’t believe me – try a Ghost Rock wine.
3 Where can we improve?
Giving people genuine reasons as to why people should head to the north-west corner of our state is crucial. We all know Mona is the lure, but we’ve got so much to offer outside of that, we just need to get smarter about how we shout it from the rooftops! Never under-estimate word of mouth!
4 What would you like to see more of? And less of?
I’d like to see more chefs come to the area and subsequently more restaurants. Good chefs are hard to find and it surprises me to no end, because we’ve got the most amazing produce in abundance, plus the cleanest air and purest water. It’s just a no-brainer for any chef to have a real crack at it. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of really good things happening in and around the north west in the food scene, but I’d love to see us become the Mornington Peninsula of Tasmania!!
5 If you could swap your life for a day, who would you switch it with?
Well I’ve seen Jamie Oliver’s life for day in the fast lane and quite frankly I’d rather pass on that lifestyle, so I’d nearly say my dog Daisey. I’m seriously coming back in another life as a vineyard dog!!!
6 Where is the Cradle Coast’s most romantic location?
Well I’m biased of course, but nothing beats a romantic lunch for two in our Cellar Door with sweeping views across our vineyard, the rolling patchwork hills and Bass Strait, grazing over the local artisan produce and downing a bottle of our Ghost Rock Catherine Sparkling or Rose. BUT … I’d also say Cradle Mountain has the money shot!!
7 Would you like to share any hidden gems?
I’m a rule of three type of girl – so here goes:
- Seeing the penguins is seriously cool. You don’t have to battle hundreds of other tourists to see them and if you go down to Hawley Beach on dusk, they literally nearly walk over your feet! Don’t forget to take a torch with red cellophane.
- I love the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory at Parramatta Creek – they do everything exceptionally well and its one of my favourite places in Tasmania. I take everyone there.
- The World Heritage Area on the West Coast just completely blows my mind and I can’t wait to get back their to discover and learn more. It’s a magical place and well worth the drive and a few days to explore.
8 What makes you most proud of being a Tasmanian?
There is nothing like it anywhere in the world. It truly is a unique place and we are so lucky to be able to live here, doing what we love.
9 What do you miss most when you are away from home?
Clean air, pristine water on the beaches, incredible scenery (everywhere) and good quality produce.
10 You’re marketing the Cradle Coast in 30 seconds, what’s your elevator pitch?
If you think you’ve planned enough time, double it, cause there is so much to see and do. Cradle Mountain, West Coast/Strahan and Stanley are the big ticket items. But to really immerse yourself eat and drink your way along the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail and meet the producers and personalities behind the scenes. And finally, come to our island state on the Spirit of Tasmania – bring the car, the boat, the kids, the dogs and kitchen sink if it will give you more time here. It’s worth it!