A Long Weekend on… the East Coast of Tasmania

In the second installation of our long weekend itinerary series, we introduce you the beautiful home of food, wine and views: the East Coast of Tasmania.

Article by Phoebe Tully

Craigie Knowe Vineyard. Photography by Puddlehub.Craigie Knowe Vineyard. Photography by Puddlehub.

This gourmet food bowl of a region is home to some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world – Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay and Bay of Fires – as well as stunning seaside vineyards and vibrant towns. This long weekend itinerary up the East Coast of Tasmania is filled to the brim with wine, food and views – exactly what you want from a few days in one of the cleanest, greenest parts of the country.

A particularly energetic time to visit will be during the Great Eastern Wine Week from 9 -18 September, where over 60 food and wine events will showcase the region’s best producers. Tickets are now on sale. Find the full program at greateasternwineweek.com.au

Getting There

There are regular flights to Hobart from most other capital city airports. A direct flight on Virgin from Sydney will get you into Hobart at 9.05am on a Friday morning, which is perfect for giving you as much time as possible to explore.

The East Coast is not serviced with transport options, so you will need your own. Hire a car at the airport if you’ve secured accommodation, or consider renting an RV from family-owned Cruisin’ Motorhomes. There are plenty of places to park an RV along the way.

Freycinet Marine Farm
Freycinet Marine Farm. Photography by Puddlehub.

Friday

10.30AM

About an hour outside Hobart is the beautiful seaside town of Orford. Take a slight detour and stretch your legs along the two kilometre cliff-side walk that connects East Shelley and Spring Beach.

Continue your walk a little further to Spring Bay Distillery’s Spring Beach distillery for a tasting and tour. Their VIP experience includes a personalised tour and flight of three whiskies, including one tasting straight from the barrel ($50/person). Basic tours and gin tastings are free. Booking ahead is recommended.

12.30PM

In Little Swanport, stop for lunch and coffee at Me & Mum’s, a local sandwich bar. There’s plenty of gourmet wraps, sandwiches and pies to choose from, but we can’t recommend the homemade pork and apple sausage rolls enough.

Touring the Boomer Creek Vineyard. Photography by Big Shed Studios.
Touring the Boomer Creek Vineyard. Photography by Big Shed Studios.

1.00PM

After lunch, drive five minutes to Boomer Creek Vineyard, a single site three hectare block overlooking Schouten Island and the Little Swanport estuary. Current varieties grown are Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with all fruit handpicked. At the cellar door, enjoy a platter of local Tasmanian delicacies.

2.00PM

Visit Tasman Sea Salt for their Salt Sommelier experience ($75/person): a tour of their innovative clean energy saltworks, followed by tastings of their sea salts and mixes.

The immersive tour provides an introduction to this innovative Australian company. Learn how they use naturally occurring energy to harvest pure sea salt flakes, through a production process that is the only one of its kind in the world. Afterwards, dive into the world of sea salt – find out about the importance of sea salt, how it impacts flavour and the way we taste food, and why this humble mineral has been responsible for the rise and fall of empires.

4.30PM

An hour’s drive from Tasman Sea Salt, check into your room at Freycinet Lodge. Nestled into Freycinet National Park and overlooking the blue waters of Great Oyster Bay with the Hazards mountain range as your backdrop, there’s a full range of accommodation options to suit most budgets – from the Coastal Pavillion ($959/night) with its outdoor bathtub and sensational ocean views to the Bushland Cabin ($389/night) with its private balcony.

7.00PM

Book into a private dinner by the bay ($430), where your waiter will escort you to your table for an exclusive dining experience, nestled among the native bushland and overlooking Great Oyster Bay. As the sun sets, relax into a candle-lit evening filled with four mouth-watering courses of locally sourced produce and a bottle of fine Tasmanian wine.

Alternatively, do dinner yourself with an early evening takeaway seafood hamper from Freycinet Marine Farm, or one of the three restaurant options at Freycinet Lodge.

Wineglass Bay Cruise. Photography by Saskia Smith.
Wineglass Bay Cruise. Photography by Saskia Smith.

Saturday

8.30AM

Rooms at Freycinet Lodge include a complimentary a la carte breakfast.

9.30AM

Wineglass Bay Cruises offers a 4.5 hour cruise of the waterways surrounding Freycinet National Park, from Coles Bay to Wineglass Bay. Check-in is by 9.30am with the cruise itself from 9.45am until 2.30pm. Tickets for the Vista Lounge ($175) include a ploughman’s lunch alongside floor-to-ceiling views of the bay and a spacious outdoor deck. Tickets for the Sky Lounge ($290) include morning tea, lunch and beverages. Enjoy local oysters, cheese and wines with direct access to the Captain’s bridge and private viewing deck.

Spring Vale Wines. Photography by Puddlehub.
Spring Vale Wines. Photography by Puddlehub.
Milton Vineyard. Photography by Rob Burnett, courtesy Tourism Tasmania.
Milton Vineyard. Photography by Rob Burnett, courtesy Tourism Tasmania.

10.30AM

Alternatively, have a bit more of a sleep-in and enjoy some vineyard hopping.

Milton Vineyard’s cellar door includes a wider variety of wines than is commonly found in this region. As well as Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, you can find handmade Syrah, Pinot Gris, Tempranillo and Gewurztraminer.

Spring Vale Vineyard is a small fifth generation family-owned vineyard. The small and intimate cellar door is housed in an old stable, which was built by convict labour in 1842 and is now heritage-listed.

Proudly a Halliday Five Star winery, Gala Estate Vineyard is another small family-run estate. The cellar door is open by appointment only, and offers three tastings: white label ($10/person) with five new releases, black label ($15/person) with five rare Estate wines, and The Reds ($15/person), a vertical Pinot Noir tasting.

Craigie Knowe is the oldest vineyard on the East Coast. As well as a cellar door, there are two vineyard tours on offer – one is a longer tour of the vineyards, lunch and a tasting of all current releases. The “mini” tour is shorter, and includes a tasting platter instead of lunch. Bookings are essential for tours.

The Devil's Corner cellar door. Photography courtesy East Coast Tasmania.
The Devil's Corner cellar door. Photography courtesy East Coast Tasmania.

12.30PM

Aim to arrive at the architectural award-winning Devil’s Corner cellar door in time to enjoy lunch with a spectacular view. As well as the immersive wine experiences, guided tastings and takeaway wine sales, Devil’s Corner plays host to Tombolo Freycinet (renowned for their woodfired pizzas) and Fishers of Freycinet (for farm fresh seafood dishes). Find a seat on the sun-drenched deck, and consider how great it would be if they offered accommodation too.

2.00PM

Claudio Radenti had worked in wine both on the mainland and in Europe for a decade before he met Lindy Bull, and moved back to Tasmania to run the family-owned Freycinet Vineyard.

2.30PM

Take a break from the wine and explore something else unique to this part of the world. East Coast Natureworld sits amongst 150 acres of natural parkland and lagoons, and is a strange but wonderful experience of Tasmania’s unique animals, birds and reptiles – from a stroppy wombat named Brutus, to Tasmanian Devils (surely one of the strangest animals to exist), Forester kangaroos and Spotted Quolls.

4.00PM

Check into your accommodation at White Sands Estate. The relaxed lodging betrays the real gem here: access to a secluded beach that for all intents and purposes is private, as it’s only accessible through the Estate. There’s also a tennis court, a lake for canoeing, a 15 acre trout lake, and a cinema.

6.30PM

On-site is also Ironhouse Brewery, with four handcrafted brews, Ironhouse Distillery, known for its whisky, brandy and gins, and Ironhouse Vineyard. Enjoy dinner in the restaurant, or a beachside picnic of cheeses, wines and breads you’ve collected throughout your day.

Great Eastern Wine Week
Photography courtesy Great Eastern Wine Week.

Sunday

9.30AM

Enjoy brunch at Raida, a modern Australian restaurant with an unexpected Japanese influence. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu showcases Tasmania’s amazing seasonal produce in dishes such as tamagoyaki (a Japanese rolled omelette with pan-fried mushrooms, bacon, pickled vegetables, salsa and kewpie) and avocado on Sugar Ant Ridge’s sourdough, served with a poached egg and finished with furikake and pickles.

11.00AM

Visit the Pyengana Farmgate Café, home of one of Australia’s most famous heritage farmhouse cheeses. Relax on the scenic deck with a gourmet platter and matching Tasmanian wine or beer (or at this point, maybe just a coffee) while soaking up the picturesque farm setting. Watch the cows come and go from the dairy and savour this idyllic country paradise. See the cheese maturing on the shelves in the cellar below the café where it develops flavour.

Pyengana is a two hour drive to Launceston Airport, or three and a half hours back to Hobart.

A Long Weekend in… Tenterfield, New England

To start our new long weekend itinerary series, we introduce you Tenterfield, full of heritage-listed buildings, local produce and extraordinary national parks.

Article by Phoebe Tully

Car driving down a scenic country road in Tenterfield.A scenic drive through Tenterfield in the New England area of Northern New South Wales. Photography courtesy Destination NSW.

A historic town in the rolling New England region on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, Tenterfield is home to superb wilderness and a growing foodie focus. Known as the “birthplace of Australia”, it’s the town where Sir Henry Parkes made his famous 1889 speech calling for Australia’s federation, but has continued to gain popularity as a tree change destination, thanks to the influence of locals such as Annabelle Hickson and Mandy Reid.

To start our new long weekend itinerary series, we wanted to take you away from the usual hotspots and introduce you to a new part of the world, full of heritage-listed buildings, local produce and extraordinary national parks. Tenterfield is known for snow-capped mountains in winter, the most stunning display of colours in both autumn and spring, and mild summers. A perfect destination all year round.

Getting There

Tenterfield is an eight-hour drive north of Sydney and around three-and-a-half hours south of Brisbane. The closest regional airports are in Lismore and Clarence Valley, where you can hire a car.

A stop along the way of the Mount Mackenzie Scenic Drive. Photography by Sera J Wright.
A stop along the way of the Mount Mackenzie Scenic Drive. Photography by Sera J Wright.
Mount Mackenzie Scenic Drive. Photography by Sera J Wright.
Mount Mackenzie Scenic Drive. Photography by Sera J Wright.

Friday

10.00AM

Start your long weekend with the spectacular Mount Mackenzie Scenic Drive and a Thermos of coffee. Taking only an hour, it’s a beautiful showcase of the town’s surroundings. Follow the signs for the Tourist Drive Number 9, and travel through granite country where you can see the Doctor’s Nose, Small Bald Rock (a tiny version of Bald Rock, the largest exposed granite monolith in the southern hemisphere) and Draining Rock, the second largest exposed granite rock in the region.

The drive culminates at the Mount Mackenzie Scenic Lookout, almost 1,300 metres above sea level, providing some of the best views in the Northern Tablelands. It’s the perfect place for a summer picnic, or some winter snow-spotting. To the north, you can see Girraween National Park in Queensland. The rock on top of a mountain, just before the edge of the tableland drops into the Cataract River to the right, marks the Woollool Woolloolni Aboriginal Place, a sacred site in Basket Swamp National Park.

12.00PM

Soak up the superb countryside views on a self-guided tour of Tenterfield’s wineries, heading about an hour out towards Reedy Creek Estate’s cellar door where you can taste your way through its wines and digestifs, or grab a bottle of the Prosecco to enjoy later. With prior notice, they also offer Italian pasta lunches, which is perfect considering it’s already lunch time.

After lunch, make a detour off the New England Highway to visit 2 Wild Souls in Torrington, which makes sparkling honey mead, using a traditional natural fermentation process that helps retain the qualities of the honey blossom. Head back to Tenterfield via Cherrydale Orchards, where you can buy some cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums through the farm gate during harvest season (early November through to late February).

The outdoor French tin bathtub at Mirumiru Bubbletent. Photography courtesy Mirumiru Bubbletent.
The Captain Moonlite Bubbletent at Mirumiru. Photography courtesy Mirumiru Bubbletent.
The Captain Moonlite Bubbletent at Mirumiru. Photography courtesy Mirumiru Bubbletent.

3.30PM

Check into your accommodation. Nestled in acres of farmland, Mirumiru Bubbletent provides a magical place to unwind and recharge. Soak away the everyday in an outdoor bubble bath, take a serene stroll among the gumtrees or enjoy a glass of bubbles at sunset. Each glamping tent has a transparent roof, providing a full night-time star gazing experience from the comfort of your bed.

6.00PM

Family-owned and -operated Deepwater Brewing hosts a weekly pizza night at their brewery door on Fridays only. Pizza is available between 5.00pm – 8.00pm and the menu changes each week – keep an eye on their social media for updates.

9.00PM

Run yourself a bubble bath back at Mirumiru Bubbletent and take in the view.

Saturday

6.00AM

Now you’re familiar with the area by land, it’s time to see it by air. Take a breathtaking tour of Tenterfield and surrounding villages with Rosenhof Hot Air Balloon. Tenterfield is located in a natural amphitheatre, one of only a few in Australia. This means it’s actually quite warm up there, and worth the early morning wake up.

The Rosenhof Hot Air Balloon. Photography by Sera J Wright.
The Rosenhof Hot Air Balloon. Photography by Sera J Wright.
The Rosenhof Hot Air Balloon. Photography by Sera J Wright.
The Rosenhof Hot Air Balloon. Photography by Sera J Wright.

8.00AM

After the balloon ride, you can have breakfast at the Rosenhof German Heritage Café for breakfast – or a schnapps! Whatever mood takes you.

9.30AM

The Tenterfield Soundtrail was put together by world-class radio producers in collaboration with a local school. Hear stories of the ghosts in the jailhouse, German brass bands and Peter Allen’s manna from heaven in this audio guided heritage walk. You can also visit the Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts, now a National Trust museum, where the speech that propelled the Australian colonies towards federation in 1901 was delivered. The fascinating Tenterfield Railway Museum is in the 1886-built Tenterfield Station. And of course, no trip to Tenterfield is complete without a visit to the Tenterfield Saddler, home and business of George Woolnough, Peter Allen’s grandfather and inspiration for his famous song.

11.30AM

If you visit on the third Saturday of the month, ensure you visit The Farmers & Producers Market at the Presbyterian Church between 8.00am – 12.00pm. With everything from freshly baked bread and croissants to organic produce to handmade crafts, the markets provide a unique lens of the town. Choose something delicious and local for lunch, and enjoy on the front steps.

Alternatively, The Courtyard Cafe is located within the historic Sir Henry Parkes School of Arts Building and serves breakfast through to lunch until 3.00pm. Enjoy lunch outside in the leafy courtyard when the weather is good.

1.00PM

Spend the afternoon indulging in some retail therapy. The Corner Life & Style Store and Café offers fashion, jewellery and homewares, as well as a café to ensure lunch by the fire. Find antiques, homewares and Allpress coffee at The Potting Shed.

At Manual Arts Dept Studio, David and Carol design sustainably-sourced timber wares, using hardwood from family-owned sawmills and independent suppliers. Pick up a handcrafted vase or monogrammed cheese board, which should live as long as you do. At Peak Vue Studio, Kylie Heidrich combines traditional techniques of pottery so every ceramic piece is slightly different. From her beautiful studio she crafts tableware, vases and bottles, jewellery and a range of soy candles. She also crafts a legendary Christmas ornament collection each year.

4.00PM

Just out of town is the Bald Rock Summit Walking Track, a 3.2 kilometre loop that takes between one and two hours. It’s the largest exposed granite monolith in the southern hemisphere, and you can climb it the easy way or the hard way; The Bungoona Walk is the slower, more gradual route and includes walking through huge boulders and up staircases made of stone. The Rockface Walk involves a steep climb from the base to the summit, and is best for confident walkers.

Either way, aim to see the sunset from here – you won’t regret it.

6.00PM

A short drive back to Tenterfield and you can sample more wines and craft beers from the New England region at the Commercial Boutique Hotel. If the weather is good, pull up a seat on the alfresco deck, and if it’s not, cosy up in front of one of the four Art Deco fireplaces. The Commercial also offers eight boutique rooms, restored from the 1940s, for the perfect in-town bolthole.

Men enjoying hot beverages at the Commercial Boutique Hotel in Tenterfield.
The Commercial Boutique Hotel, Tenterfield. Photography courtesy Destination NSW.

Sunday

8.00AM

A precinct of likeminded businesses, Manners & Co is a local family-friendly, dog-friendly co-op in town. As well as gluten-free Bad Manners Donuts, it is home to an artisan bakery and a community stall with locally grown honey, flowers, fruit, vegetables, nuts and flowers. You can sit around the fire with a coffee and a pastry from The Little Bread Shed and watch as the locals ride up on their horse for morning tea.

The firepit at Bad Manners, Tenterfield. Photography courtesy Bad Manners.
The firepit at Bad Manners, Tenterfield. Photography courtesy Bad Manners.

9.30AM

Filled up on carbs and coffee, it’s time to make your way to Boonoo Boonoo National Park where famed poet Banjo Paterson proposed to his sweetheart Alice Walker back in 1903. He popped the question at the Falls Lookout, where you can still see the mighty, 210-metre tall waterfall cascade down into the rainforest gorge below. Surrounding the waterfall are easy to reach walking tracks, swimming holes and picnic spots. Pack your swimsuit and tackle the 6.1 kilometre River Walk, which takes you through eucalypt forest and past the river, where you may see wallabies and kangaroos grazing. Allow for between three and four hours each way.

3.00PM

On your way out, ensure you visit Captain Thunderbolt’s rock hideout to see where Australia’s longest roaming bushranger, Thunderbolt, hid from the police and held up Cobb & Co Coaches as they travelled the ranges. Marvel at the fact that we Australians are still so enamoured with thieves.

On your way home, if time and direction allows, head south through Walcha. Just 51 kilometres off the New England Highway the free open-air gallery of more than 50 sculptures, ranging from wooden figures to abstract metal creations, is well worth the detour.