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Disappointment Bay, King Island – Photo: Kramer Photography - Above Down Under

SUMMIT TOPPING IN TASSIE’S NORTH WEST

   

Pack your boots and your lunch – it’s time for two days of mountain climbing.

In need of some mountain air? North-west Tasmania is home to some of the freshest air on the planet. There’s no better place to clear your head, soak up the longer days and summit a peak or two. We’ll be sure you’re well fueled with the region’s wholesome goodness on your mountain mission.

DAY 1

If you’re starting in Devonport, all good adventure days begin with a delicious packed lunch. Pop into Hill Street, a providore packed with soft cheeses, crusty breads and all manner of walking snacks. From here, head for the rolling hills of Sheffield. Grab a coffee (Fudge’n’Good Coffee if you like your coffee with smooth fudge) and take a wander through the streets of this mural-blanketed town. The World of Marbles and Emporium are must visits. You might even like to have a tinker on the outdoor piano on the main street.

 

On the drive to Sheffield, Mount Roland is a commanding presence. This is your first climb and is about 50 kilometres drive south west of Devonport. The walk is a solid six hours (11km) by the time you stop, turn around, and gasp at the views out across Bass Strait more than once. We suggest climbing up the face. It’s a steeper ascent, but more breathtaking. For a cruisy, but longer descent, take the southern route and gentler grade back down. Keep in mind though, this does require a car shuffle.

Madsen Retreat

From Mount Roland, wind your way along the coast to Penguin for your overnight at Madsen Hotel. If you have time, divert to the old Bass Highway between Ulverstone and Penguin. This iconic stretch used to be the main highway and hugs the coastline so intimately you could almost cast a line from the car.

At Madsen, perhaps the penthouse is in order with your own private balcony and free standing spa to relax those weary legs? Tonight, get your fill in Penguin. This seaside town boasts a little of Spain. Fuel up on the Latin flavours of El Perro, a sweet little tapas and cocktail bar complete with authentic Sangria.

 

DAY 2

Rise early to the sun over Bass Strait and head for the letter box. The Letterbox Café serve up delicious hot breakfasts from 8am (The Renaissance Café is also a delight). High five the ‘Big Penguin’ on the main street, or at least get a selfie with him (obligatory!) then pull on your boots for summit two. Today’s climb is Mount Gnomon, around 8 kilometres south of Penguin in the Dial Range. It’s an easier walk than yesterday, taking only around an hour of effort for some stellar views.

The walk begins quite steeply, but later veers north and enjoys a gentler gradient. A lookout offers views across to Mount Duncan and the tumbling valley below. If you’re up for an extended venture, continue along the ridge to Mount Dial. Up top, views spill out across the strait, back along the North West coast towards Devonport and you’ll be able to spot Mount Roland, yesterday’s conquest.

Follow your morning walk with a visit to Mount Gnomon Farm. Meet Guy – he breeds rare breed free range pigs on the property. Contact the farm directly if you’re keen on a ‘secret life of pigs’ tour and staying on for lunch. Ethically-raised meat in their dining room is one special treat. Alternately, you can often catch them at the Cradle Coast Farmer’s Market at the Ulverstone Wharf each Sunday, 8.30-12.30.

After the walk, pop in to Wings Wildlife Park at Gunns Plains. It happens to have the largest collection of Tasmanian wildlife in the country. That’s around 150 species, ranging from up close encounters with our Tasmanian devils to meerkats, monkeys, plus an aquatic centre complete with albino rainbow trout. Lunch is available at the park.

You’ve reached new North West heights. Now, complete your North West adventure by heading underground. Gunns Plains Caves is close by (as is Preston Falls for those who enjoy a good waterfall) offering the chance to dip below the surface into a limestone cave with permanent stream. Glow worms, platypus and even freshwater lobster might surface for a greeting.

For the athletic enthusiasts, take a peek at The Dial Sports Centre. It will be hosting a number of events during the Australian Masters Games in October. But for you, with many kilometres covered, there’s no need to run laps. You’ve just completed North West Tasmania from summits and depths few may encounter. Reward yourself with afternoon hot chocolate from Ulverstone’s Thirty Three Cups and a divine slice of cake. Or two.

LINKS:

http://www.themadsen.com/

http://wingswildlifepark.com.au/

http://bushwalk.com/wiki/index.php/St._Valentines_Peak_Track

http://www.tasmania.australiaforeveryone.com.au/mt-roland.htm

https://www.facebook.com/letterboxcafe?rf=461949507267753

Words: Alice Hansen, Pictures: Tourism Tasmania

10 Questions – Ben Milbourne

“After many years abroad and getting access to the best produce the different destinations have to offer, nothing compares to the produce from the North-West Coast of Tasmania.” – Ben Milbourne

Pre-2012, Ben Milbourne, the teacher from Tassie’s north-west, expressed his passion for produce in the privacy of his own home, that was until he decided to throw his apron into the ring for a little TV cooking show called MasterChef Australia.

Since joining the 2012 competition, which his good friend Andy Allen won (Ben took fifth spot), he has gone on to feature on his own TV show Ben’s Menu, he’s paired up with mate Andy Allen for  SBS’s Andy and Ben Eat Australia (in addition to culinary jaunts to Spain and Mexico, also with SBS), as well as penning books The Tasmanian Trail  and Mexican Craving. He’s the patron of social enterprise Produce to the People and an ambassador for all things food in Tasmania, he’s husband to Sally and dad to their two children (is there more than one of him!?).

While he did not return to take up his spot at the front of the classroom, Ben’s heart is still in teaching. From his home in Tasmania’s North-West, Ben is in the throes of opening a restaurant and cookery school, as part of Devonport’s Living City redevelopment.

 

We caught up with Ben and fired 10 questions at him.

1 What does a perfect day in the Cradle Coast look like to you?

Having a family day; taking the kids for a bike ride along one of the coast’s bike tracks, hiking through bush trails and heading out for a bite to eat at one of the family friendly cafés, wineries or provedores. My Dad’s always been a keen fisherman (although he hardly catches anything!) so if it’s a crystal-clear day, taking the kids out on the boat with him is always a fantastic way to spend a day, then my wife would head out among the bush trails with her horse.

2 What do we do best on the North-West corner of the island?

It’s both a blessing and a curse that the people on the coast are humble. After many years abroad and getting access to the best produce the different destinations have to offer, nothing compares to the produce from the North-West Coast of Tasmania. North-West Coasters are not good at singing their own praises – and this is one of the things I love about our producers. But, with produce so amazing, we should be telling anyone who will listen. I see that as one of my jobs when I’m out promoting the state.

3 Where can we improve?

Promoting our corner of the state! Turn left off the Spirit for your holiday. We have all you need! We can also improve on how well we market ourselves as individuals. Everyone who resides on the coast should be talking up the coast’s virtues.

4 What would you like to see more of? And less of?

I’d love to see more people supporting cafes, clean and safe playgrounds and see some of the proposed bike paths come into fruition. It would also be good to see the general public have more faith in ourselves.

5 If you could swap your life for a day, who would you switch it with?

Collingwood Captain Scott Pendlebury who has a perfect job of captaining the best team in the AFL.

6 Where is the Cradle Coast’s most romantic location? 

I love the quaint town of Stanley. I’ve been there with my wife and kids and it’s the perfect small town to have a weekend away. Hike The Nut, explore the quaint cottages, Highfield House and shops, eat at one of the great restaurants, play at the beach – Stanley has it all!

7 Would you like to share any hidden gems?

Almost too many to mention but the most enjoyable day I had recently is riding around the bike path through Hawley/Shearwater/Port Sorell.

8 What makes you most proud of being a Tasmanian?

I’m proud of my home state for the fresh produce, it’s clean, green image, spectacular landscapes and the friendly, down-to-earth people.

9 What do you miss most when you are away from home?

I’m away too often and I miss my family and local fresh produce the most.

10 You’re marketing the Cradle Coast in 30 seconds. What’s your elevator pitch?

Imagine a place with pristine air, towering rainforests, gushing waterfalls, beaches that run for kilometres and fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood and protein straight from the farmer to your plate. Too good to be true? That’s north-west Tasmania.

 

Get set for a heart-pumping island adventure

 

Give yourself two days of heart- pumping adventure in Tasmania’s north west.  The Spirit of Tasmania will sail you, your car and your bike right to where the action is.  Launch in Devonport at sunrise and drive along the coast to Penguin.  The Penguin Mountain Bike Park, once an old speedway, gives way to bushland at the base of the Dial Ranges.  Try your skills on the wooden structures including ‘corkscrew bridge’ then power through the old forestry trails around the ranges for as long as you can hack it.

There’s no need to wipe the dirt from your brow.  You’re only as old as you feel!  Zip around the rolling green hills to Tasmazia and the village of Lower Crackpot. This popular tourist attraction will spark your wonder, so be prepared to get lost on foot in the eight mazes and gardens and finish up with a pancake in your belly!

About 10 minutes from Sheffield you’ll discover Mt Roland Quad bikes.  Swap the pedal for the metal in devil country.  No experience is necessary to fire up the automatic 4 x 4 motorbikes and cruise along like a local; deep into pristine sub-alpine forest, across farmland and over rocks, hills and more often than not, MUD.

Do you have the nerve to wander off the walking tracks into the depths of Tasmania’s world heritage wilderness with Cradle Mountain Canyons? Imagine surrendering to the elements in Lost World Canyon, abseiling into unforgettable pools and the lesser known nooks of Dove Canyon or Machinery Canyon, far away from the crowds of more popular Cradle Mountain trails.  This award-winning tour company takes eco-tourism to a whole new level, catering for thrill seekers and spirited families or groups.

Words: Lucy Taylor

Photos: Cradle Mountain Canyons, Heath Holden

Old meets new in creative seaside hub

 

City renewed

A 35-minute drive from the Spirit of Tasmania in Devonport or just 20 minutes from the airport in Wynyard, discover the creative hotspot that is Burnie. Your first port of call is the glowing geometric structure in prime position overlooking West Beach – the Makers’ Workshop. Chat to the helpful staff in the visitor information centre to help plan your stay, sample the locally-made cheese in the tasting centre or stay longer for lunch in the cafe. Wander around the life-size paper mache people and take a hands-on paper-making tour to discover how the city’s industrial past has merged into an artisan experience. Then you can not only see art and craft on display and purchase something special to take home, you can watch makers creating on site and chat to them about their work.

Artistic hub

From the Makers’ Workshop it’s a short, picturesque walk along the boardwalk to the city centre. On the way you must take a detour into the Burnie Regional Art Gallery, a world-class facility boasting an ever-changing range of exhibitions. During the city’s premier event, Burnie Shines in October, you can see the creations of not one but six feature artists this year. Work from the emerging North-West artists, who are all studying at the UTAS School of Creative Arts, will be on display from October 21 to November 5. The gallery will also host TASART, the most prestigious event on the North-West’s arts calendar, from September 23 to October 14, and works from the Burnie City Council Youth Art Challenge from October 9 to 15.

Step back in time

Next walk just up the road for an immersive experience of what the city was like over 100 years ago. At the Burnie Regional Museum you can walk down a street as it would have looked during the Federation era, with each store based on an actual business that existed in the town, packed with fascinating artefacts, memorabilia and tools of the trade. Entry is $8 for adults and $5 for concession. The temporary exhibitions are free to everyone. Currently on display is The Advocate Gift, a celebration of the local newspaper’s donation of more than one million photographic negatives to be preserved.

Patch of paradise

After exploring the city it’s time to jump in the car for a 10-minute drive to discover the stunning Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden. Created by volunteers over the past 35 years, wander or be driven in a buggy through the 11ha nature amphitheatre with its 22,000 rhodos and other plants, as well as waterways and bridges. Once you’ve worked up an appetite stop for an afternoon snack in the tearooms, which are now open daily until December 24. An event you must not miss is the Cherry Blossom Festival, on October 21 from 10am to 3pm. You will feel like you have been transported to Japan as you walk among the blossoming cherry trees, watch taiko drumming and martial arts performances, take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony and enjoy the bonsai and ikebana displays. There will also be stallholders offering local food and beverages for you to enjoy or take home. Entry is $10 for adults, $8 concession and children under 16 free.

Highlights from the 2017 Burnie Shines Program:

  • The Coastal city will be humming with live music during the festival throughout October. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album, there will be a tribute show at the Burnie Arts and Function Centre on October 7. The Otis Room, The Point and The Chapel will feature a host of performances throughout the month and The Burnie Music Society presents Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 The Musical. To top it all off Skyfields at West Park will feature Australian music legends the Hoodoo Gurus for the Australian Masters Games after party on October 28.
  • There will be plenty of delicious local food and beverages to keep the revellers happy. The Chapel will hold an evening dedicated to enjoying Tasmanian whisky with Heartwood’s Tim Duckett on October 14 and a long table feast on October 21. Experience a coffee brewing session at Infuse Coffee Roasters on October 14 and 21. Go behind the scenes and tour the Hellyers Road Distillery then enjoy dinner in the restaurant between October 19 and 28.
  • For the families there is the McGrath & Co Burnie Show on October 6-7, the Emu Bay Lions Club Giant Book Fair on October 14 and 28, Picnic in the Paddock at Guide Falls Farm on October 22, Australia’s premier 10km road race the Burnie Ten on October 22 and the 321Go Kids’ Race on October 29.

 

Words: Claire Turfrey

Photos: Claire Turfrey, Catherine Gale-Stanton 

Bloomin’ beautiful North-West

Table Cape Tulip Farm

Whether you’re flying into the Burnie-Wynyard airport or driving along the beautiful coastline from Burnie, you can’t miss the imposing landmark that is Table Cape. Projecting out into Bass Strait, with its sheer sides and flat top, its rich volcanic soils make prime farming land. Take the short drive through the lush paddocks to experience the explosion of colour that is the Van Diemen Quality Bulbs Tulip Farm in spring.

From late September through to mid October the fields transform into a rainbow of dozens of varieties of tulips, sweeping down towards the lighthouse perched on the edge of the cape. The largest field in the southern hemisphere where you are welcome to tiptoe among the tulips to your heart’s content is the perfect spot to grow your Instagram followers with your enviable snaps. Then join in the farm’s celebration of the flowering season at the bush dance, Tunes in the Tulips and activities for children.

In 2017 the fields will be open from September 22 till October 23, 9am to 4.30pm. Entry is $12 adults, $10 seniors and concession, $8 students, children 16 and under free.

Wynyard’s big party

After your visit to the tulip farm head back down into Wynyard where on October 14 you can party with the locals at the town’s premier annual event, the Bloomin’ Tulips Festival. Make your way to the picturesque Gutteridge Gardens on the banks of the Inglis River, browse the stalls for some tasty local produce to eat and drink then find a spot to sit and listen to the live music. For a stunning view of the tulip farm you can hop in a helicopter for a scenic ride, or why not take part in the colour fun run. To keep the kids happy there are roving entertainers, face painting and rides, all topped off with a fireworks display at 9pm.

History and horticulture

The following weekend venture further west along the stunning coast to the quaint fishing village of Stanley, nestled under the imposing volcanic outcrop know affectionately as The Nut. Brave the chairlift or take the steep trek to the top for the amazing view. Then take a walk along the beach or wander through the boutique shops before heading up the hill to the historic Highfield House, once home to the chief agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company. Built in the 1830s, the elegant Regency building is surrounded by a large ornamental garden, convict barracks, barn, stables and a chapel. On October 21, the site will again host the Circular Head Garden Spectacular, where you can enjoy floral works of art, plants, food and wine, children’s activities and interesting guest speakers, including crowd favourite Tino Carnevale from ABC’s Gardening Australia.

Tips for taking some top Instagram photos at the tulip farm:

  • Don’t forget your background when you frame your photo – perhaps try to incorporate the lighthouse or even pieces of farm equipment to add interest.
  • Try using different angles – crouch low and shoot down between rows of flowers.
  • Utilise depth of field and perhaps pick out an individual flower to focus on – sometimes a single differently coloured tulip will be mixed into a row.
  • Get your friends and family involved; tiptoe through the tulips, strike some poses, throw little children into the air – have some fun!
  • Golden hour – the hour following sunrise and before sunset – is optimum for beautiful pictures. While you may not be able to access inside the property at these times you could find a good vantage point just outside. But please be careful if you are near any roads!

Words: Claire Turfrey

Photos: Claire Turfrey, Jessie Watson/Tourism Tasmania

Cradle Mountain is calling

FROM HOBART TO CRADLE MOUNTAIN – AN EPIC, DELICIOUS ROAD TRIP

Pack up your car and hit the Heritage Highway. You’re off to the mountains of North West Tasmania. Driving time is over four hours from Hobart to Cradle Mountain, but this roadie is best enjoyed slowly … punctuated with plenty of tasty turn offs. We’ve got them covered for you, from ginseng stops to truffle farms, craft brews to sharp cheeses.

MORNING DRIVE

Time your drive to arrive at Red Hills around lunch time, three hours from Hobart. Only in Tasmania will you find a ginseng and salmon farm combo. At 42 Degrees South Salmon and Ginseng Farm, the petite café serves up sandwiches like the Wetlander, packed with hot smoked salmon and juicy ‘41er’ salmon burgers. Take your time exploring the wetlands, feed the fish and find out about Ziggy’s fascinating operation. Stock up on ginseng, honey, spices and nougat.

AFTERNOON TREATS

After lunch, call into Ashgrove Cheese. It’s hard not to miss with its ‘colourful cows,’ just north of Elizabeth Town. There’s all manner of cheese here from wild wasabi infused (well matched with beer) to traditional cloth matured cheddar. Watch the cheese makers at work as you pick out your faves. The Ashgrove Bush Pepper is made with Tasmanian native pepper, foraged from our forests.

Remember how the wasabi cheese goes well with an ale? Next stop is Railton where you’ll find Seven Sheds Brewery. Drop in here for a late afternoon sip, the tasting room and hops garden is open until 5 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Perhaps a Kentish Ale, named among Australia’s top 20 beers by the Weekend Australian a few years back takes your fancy? Give a nod to the topiary on the main street and continue to Cradle Mountain, about an hour away.

MOUNTAIN EVENING

Tonight is about getting cosy in the highlands. Crisp mountain air, hearty Cape Grim steaks and comfy lodging are on the menu. If you arrive in time, The Sanctuary at Waldheim Alpine Spa might tempt with its spa, Tassie sparkling and chocolate dipped strawberries. After dinner, fire up your flashlight and meet the locals… Bennetts wallabies, wombats and perhaps even a Tasmanian devil. An alternative to mountain lodging is Eagles Nest Retreat near Sheffield, that’s if you like the sound of an outdoor spa and watching the sun’s final glow against Mount Roland.

EARLY CRADLE RISE

Fuel up on brekkie and take a brisk morning walk around Dove Lake or even power up Marion’s Lookout for elevated views of Cradle. Before leaving the Cradle area, pop into the recently revamped wilderness gallery, open from 9 am. Follow this up with a well-earned feast at Truffledore. Although truffle hunts run only June to August, get in touch with owner and host Jen for a gourmet truffle lunch. You might also get to meet Chicken, one of her truffle hunting dogs, who has been known to gobble $500 in truffles when heads are turned.

NORTH WEST SIPPING

Drop into Spreyton Cider and Emilia Wines, a little slice of Tuscany, back in Spreyton. Continue on to Devonport where new doors have opened. Let George Burgess take you on a gin-tasting journey from mountain to meadow to sea at Southern Wild Distillery. The former food scientist turned distiller loves sharing a little of his North West backyard in every bottle. Continue your stylish ‘watering hole crawl’ with a visit to Empress Craft Beer, Devonport’s latest addition to the bar scene with over 200 beers on offer.

COASTAL VINEYARD VISIT

On your way back south, complete your regional sojourn at Ghost Rock Vineyard. Former Devonport boy, Justin Arnold has returned to home turf with his family to head the vineyard. Outstanding Pinot noir, sparkling and all served with views down to the ocean. Time your trip to coincide with their Hundred Bears Popup Restaurant, 20-27 October.

From Ghost Rock, it’s about three hours back to the capital. We didn’t get round to Cradle Coast Olives with their award-winning olive oil, or Blue Hills Honey in the far North West, harvesting organic Leatherwood from the Tarkine’s edge. That just means you’ll have to stay a little longer.

LINKS:

Cradle To Coast Tasting Trail

41 South Tasmania

Ashgrove Cheese

Seven Sheds

Eagles Nest Retreat

Cradle Mountain Hotel

Cradle Country Truffles

Spreyton Cider Co

Emilia Wines

Ghost Rock

Hundred Acres

Empress Craft Beer

Empress Craft Beer Facebook

Cradle Coast Olives

 

Words: Alice Hansen

Photos: Tourism Tasmania, RACT