Usually, my trips to Tasmania are to visit family and friends. However, on my last sojourn I carved out time to be a tourist as well. Wherever you travel in this fabulous and picturesque state, you’re bound to find hidden gems along the way.
After arriving in Launceston I headed straight to Osmaston, a farming community on the backroads between Westbury & Deloraine. Tip 1 - You don’t have to keep to the highways!! There is a great maze that you can do in Westbury if you need to stretch your legs. Deloraine is a fabulous town that has some great eateries and some quirky stores so it’s well worth a stop. A great place to get some lunch, try Mumma Buzz Café and Takeaway, out on the back deck you will have a beautiful vista of the Western Tiers.
Travelling from Deloraine to Marrawah on the Far North West Coast, I made sure that I timed my drive to stop in at the House of Anvers near Latrobe for a scrumptious brunch. Tip 2 - Do not miss this!! House of Anvers has the best chocolate truffles you will find and is also close to Angove Cheese. Latrobe also has some great little shops and museum and is also home to the Axeman’s Hall of Fame.
When at Marrawah, I highly recommend a stay at the Marrawah Beach House with superlative views of the beach and Mt. Cameron West / Preminghana. Throughout Tasmania you will see places and sites with two names, the anglicised name and the indigenous name. Preminghana is one of the most important indigenous rock art sites in Tasmania and recently, a petroglyph was returned from the Hobart Museum to its original site. A great outcome for both the Tasmanian Government and the elders of the area. Tip 3 - Spend a couple of days here and unwind. A great spot to visit is the Arthur River or “The Edge of the World”. This is a wild and rugged place with no land between this part of the Tasmanian Coast and Argentina. You can also do a cruise on The Arthur River to gain insight into the history of the Tarkine area and its flora and the fauna.
It was then time to leave this beautiful, pristine area. The fishing village of Stanley is worth a visit to view The Nut and also visit Highfield House. Rather than lunching in Stanley, I did a little side trip to Dip Falls which is a great example of basalt formed rocks and rainforest. Taking the Mawbanna (Big Tree) turnoff, it’s only about 25 km drive. Tip 4 - Stop in at Blue Hills Honey for lunch for one of the best burgers!! You can also buy different types of Honey and some really tasty mustards. From there, it was then onto Burnie.
Burnie is an up-and-coming area with some great things to do and see. There is the Little Penguin Observation Centre right on the waterfront, located at the western end of West Beach. Around dusk, from September to March, little penguins waddle noisily ashore to nest in their burrows. Every evening during the season, Friends of Burnie Penguins offer free interpretative tours for visitors, it’s well worth taking advantage of this. Another great thing to do is to visit the Hellyers Road Distillery located about a 10-minute drive from the centre of town (that is if you like your single malts!!) They have a great cellar door with tastings on offer and are also known for their exquisite cuisine. A wander around Burnie Park is also worth a stop. Originally it was a private garden, but is now available to the public.
It was then time to hit the highway for the longest drive of the journey, Burnie to Hobart. Tip 5 - Don’t forget to stop along the way. You can still travel the highways and make little detours. My sister is a big fan of Josef Chromy Wines and the cellar door is located just off the highway at Relbia near the Launceston Airport, so I had to make a stop. They have a great selection of Tasmanian wine varieties, and the restaurant is top notch. The story behind Josef Chromy is an interesting one and I would urge you to do a little research on his story before visiting, he was truly a remarkable man.
There are many little towns dotted along the Midlands Highway. Campbelltown has both antique and specialty shops to visit. There is also a self-guided walk of the Convict Brick Trail, which highlights the history of the convicts building roads, bridges and houses for the well to do. These colonial buildings have been very well preserved and are well worth a visit.
My next stop was Ross, home to the best scallop pie from the Ross Bakery. Ross is a great historic town and possibly best known for the Ross Bridge, the Female Factory and the Tasmanian Wool Centre. No visit is complete without popping into The Little Lolly shop for some homemade delights.
Every time I go to Hobart, a visit to MONA is a must. The exhibits are always changing, and it is an absolute feast for the eyes. Tip 6 - Take a return 25-minute ferry trip from Brooke Street Pier and allow yourself at least 4 hours. Download the MONA app which gives you an explanation of the exhibits. After you get off the ferry and climb several steps, you are at the entry of the museum, take the lift down to the bowels of the structure and wind your way back to the top. The structure itself is a wonder. Anyone with a civil or structural engineering background will be appreciative of the efforts in making this museum.
After the Museum visit, you can also take the time to avail yourself of the fabulous onsite microbrewery, Moo Brew, or dabble in the Morilla Estate Winery. If it’s a beautiful sunny day, try the Pilsner or Pale Ale or if you are more a wine drinker, try the Morilla Praxis Sparkling Riesling. On the weekends, you will quite often have live bands playing which is a nice touch. I don’t mind a bit of jazz on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
New Norfolk is a town that I never tire of visiting. Tip 7 - For antique and tourist shops, their weekend is Tuesday and Wednesday. There are a number of antique stores in this little town and you can pick up some great bargains. One of the highlights of this area is the Salmon Ponds Heritage and Hatchery, I would suggest a couple of hours if you have the time. A visit to Willow Court Asylum is interesting and if you’re a true foodie, the Agrarian Kitchen Eatery is a Cooking School and Farm where you can sample some of the great local produce and wines. This will reopen in 2022 as they are relocating from their family home to their existing restaurant premises. If you need a place to stay, try Tynwald Willow Bend Estate. It’s tucked a little out of the way but the grounds are beautiful with its 1830s architecture. Be careful when you book as they have rooms with or without an ensuite.
It was time to head back north before flying home to Brisbane. Oatlands is an interesting little town just off the main Highway. Tip 8 - Stop and smell the roses. Lake Dulverton is located at the northern end of town and is a tranquil spot with a well-maintained walking path for a relaxing stroll and scenic views. The Lake teams with bird life so take time to sit and observe. It's best at dusk or dawn if that fits in with your itinerary. The growing cygnets are also a must see between October and December.
Rather than keeping to the highway, once again I detoured to Niles, heading past Franklin Manor and making my way to Evandale. Evandale has some of the most beautiful late Georgian / early Victorian architecture and is home to the National Penny Farthing Championships. The Sunday market is also quite a drawcard. You should not miss High Street, one of the most beautiful streets in all of Australia with its historic buildings. You can also find a handful of historic buildings at the intersection of Russell Street and High Street. Here you'll find the Clarendon Stores built in 1836, an antique saddler's shop from 1840 and the 1836-built Prince of Wales Hotel. You can grab a detailed local map to take a longer walk through town to experience more of Evandale's rich architecture.
My family visit with a spot of tourist on the side had come to an end. The biggest tip of all, you don’t have to stick to the highway and normal tourist routes to find the hidden gems. They really are everywhere.