I was lucky enough to be one of the Tasmania Specialist travel agents selected to partake in a famil (familiarisation) in Tasmania. I nominated the North West as my destination as I knew it was a foodie heaven and had a stunning rugged coast so I really wanted to check it out for myself.
It started with the Spirit of Tasmania overnight ferry from Melbourne to Devonport. As far as ferries go, this had to be one of, if not, the best ferry I’d ever been on. Not to be compared with cruise ships of course as the cabins are extremely basic and the entertainment is limited but considering it’s only 1 night, it was more than adequate. There is a kids play area and an xbox area and even a cinema which is very affordable. We, however, opted for a glass of Tasmanian wine and to listen to a cover’s band – a nice way to finish the evening.
After an average nights sleep, breakfast at the Laneway cafe was just what the doctor ordered. The venue is a bit funky and the menu has all the classics but with a modern twist. Using high quality, local, organic ingredients, it’s definitely worth the stop.
After breakfast, a leisurely walk around Mercy Bluff and the Tiagarra track.
Next was a tour of the Hellyers Road Distillery on a fully guided whiskey tour. While I’m not a fan of whiskey myself, it was interesting to hear about the process and history of that particular distillery and the best part was the delicious lunch we had afterwards. You can check out the menu online but as we were a group they had organised an amazing ploughman’s type platter with all sorts of local ingredients!
Historic Highfield Site in Stanley was our next stop. This is where the European occupation of North-West Tasmania started in 1826. You can have a look through the original buildings that are still being carefully restored but to me the real beauty of the place is the location. It has magnificent views of the Stanley Nut (see the photo at the top of this blog) and some beautifully maintained English style gardens which make it an ideal wedding location. The Nut is actually the remains of an old volcano and although we didn’t get an opportunity, you can climb it – you will need to be fairly fit though as it is quite steep.
The main street in Stanley is also worth a stop – it’s like stepping back in time with the beautifully maintained historic buildings. It won’t take you long to explore but you can pick up some local handmade arts and crafts while you are there.
Our accommodation and dinner for the night was at Tall Timbers in Smithton. We were fortunate to stay in the Lakeside Apartments which were fantastic. The rooms were very spacious, warm and cozy (it was late June and freezing outside) with views over the lake. As you can see in the image below, it’s a beautiful and peaceful spot and the perfect place to explore the Tarkine forest from. The restaurant is fine dining meets small town bistro so it really caters for everyone and the chefs have worked hard to ensure that local Tasmanian ingredients are showcased on the menu. Cape Grim Beef is raised just up the road so it’s only natural for that to be a big feature on the menu and I highly recommend it!
The Tarkine forest joins up with the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area which covers 100,000 hectares of rugged Tasmanian wilderness. They say the Tasmanian Tiger still exists somewhere in that forest but nobody has found any proof. We drove through this area on our way to the “Edge of the World” (Tasmania’s Westernmost point). The rugged coast gets hammered by winds and waves and you can see the convergeance of waters from the Arthur River and the Southern Ocean.
There are a number of tours and walks that you can do around the Tarkine Wilderness area including photography tours, river cruises, helicopter tours and there’s even a 110m slide through the forest at a place called Dismal Swamp!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore the Tarkine as it was time for us to head back the way we came.
Our next stop was Makers Workshop in Burnie. This is a great space for creators of all kinds. Inside you will find Creative Papers who do a handmade paper tour experience which is a lot of fun. We laughed a lot and got to take home some unique handmade paper made from assorted materials including kangaroo poo! The prices are very reasonable so worth the stop! We had a grazing platter spread in the cafe afterwards which was more Tasmanian deliciousness – I was feeling thoroughly spoilt by now.
It’s worth noting here that Burnie is the perfect place to turn off to Cradle Mountain. Unfortunately, that was not on the itinerary for us but I do highly recommend that you include Cradle Mountain on your North West Tasmania itinerary as it’s a stunning part of the world with some great walks to explore.
The next stop was Spreyton Cider Co. which is 10 minutes outside of Devonport. This is a great venue on a beautiful day where you can relax and enjoy a flight tasting. Spreyton grew apples for 90 years before they started making apple juice and then 13 years later they began experimenting with fermentation. You can call in for a tasting and hear the full story. They even do a ginger beer which is fantastic too.
Our next stop was to check in to the Gateway Hotel Devonport which was our hotel for the night. The rooms are modern, clean and comfortable. The location of this hotel could not be better – it’s right in the heart of Devonport, close to Laneway cafe that I mentioned earlier and Market Square as well as being only 6 minutes drive from the ferry terminal and 10 minutes drive from the airport.
Market Square is home to Providore Place – a market hall that comes to life on a Friday evening with food trucks and pop up venues, live music and entertainers. On Sundays it becomes a market showcasing local produce – a must visit for any foodie!
Market Square is also home to Southern Wild Distillery. I’m sure there are a few gin fans out there who have been thinking, where’s the gin in this story? Well here it is. A local award winning distillery, Southern Wild does gin tastings in person but they have also created virtual tastings due to COVID19 so you can pick up a bottle from your local bottle shop and do a tasting with the experts! I’m not a gin drinker myself so I’m not going to go on about that but the gin drinkers I was with spent a lot of money so that’s probably a good sign! It was however, interesting to hear about the process and the strawberry liqueur that they created was very nice!
Our dinner that night was another spot in Devonport that you need to check out for a meal – Mrs Jones. The venue has excellent views over the Bluff and Bass Strait and the food is fine dining using local North West Tasmanian ingredients. Combine that with the excellent service and you will be in foodie heaven!
Speaking of foodie heaven, The next day took us to House of Anvers in Latrobe is where you can satisfy your sweet tooth with all things chocolate. Set in a house built in 1931, you can watch the chocolatiers hard at work creating handcrafted works of sugary art and even do a tasting too.
While you are in foodie mode, you also need to head to Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm in Elizabeth town (around 25 minutes from Devonport). They have milk, butter, ice cream, cream but most importantly, cheese! They mostly focus on English style cheeses but you’ll also find a few different varieties in there. Most importantly, they offer tastings and tours. Be sure to try the Amaze Balls – they are like cheese balls but made from real cheese! I spent way more on cheese than I probably should have but it was worth it.
There is a myriad of food and beverage delights all throughout North West Tasmania – far too many to mention in one blog and more than our famil allowed us to get to but I highly recommend checking out this area as it often gets neglected on a Tasmanian holiday but if you don’t go, you are definitely missing out.
If you’d like more direction or help planning your Tasmanian holiday then please get in touch – I’d love to help.