The apple of the apple isle is lush in spring with green grasslands and blankets of cherry blossoms, all tied together by the glittering ribbon of the Huon River writes Alex Carlton. This is your essential guide to spending a perfect weekend in Tasmania's Huon Valley.
PM | The apple orchards, roadside produce stalls, boutique restaurants and wineries of the Huon Valley are scattered along either side of the tranquil Huon River and it’s all a 30-minute drive from Hobart. If you’re arriving in the afternoon, call in to Willie Smith’s Apple Shed for a taste of any of its core range of ciders, including the flagship organic variety, plus limited-release seasonal ciders.
Their nuanced blends of galas, fujis, pink ladies and the “secret weapon” Fréquin Rouge – a classic variety from Normandy – mean every style produced is layered with character. Then wind your way along the Cygnet Coast Road – keep an eye out for black swans gliding on the river – to Cloud River Farm at Petcheys Bay. If you order in advance, owner Nat Donkin will have your fridge stocked with a cheese and smoked salmon platter for dinner, including local wine, bread from Summer Kitchen Bakery (21 Marguerite Street, Ranelagh; 03 6264 1323) and her homemade jams and spreads – plus you can pick your own veggies from the rambling garden to add to your feast. Nat and her husband, Mark, can even direct you to the best spots to eat oysters straight from the rocks in the river across the road or where to put a line in for flathead. Fall asleep to the sound of quolls and Tassie devils snuffling round the fruit orchard on the back doorstep.
AM | Either whip up breakfast yourself – there’ll be plenty of eggs on hand from Nat’s chooks – or take a leisurely drive to the other side of the river and call into the roadside Little Black Fridge (0409 626 452), on Britcliffes Road just outside Geeveston, which baker April Matusik stocks with retro cakes and cookies. “Spring is when all my favourite fruits start coming back into season,” says Matusik and she suggests you get there early to snap up her roast strawberry and buttermilk cake that she makes throughout the warmer months.
The Fridge operates on a friendly honour system; help yourself, scan your card and you’re sorted for snacks for the 50-minute drive to the tiny southern town of Dover, to take a guided kayak tour of historic Port Esperance. Matt Wardell from Esperance Adventures will lead you around the smooth waters of the bay and share the region’s Aboriginal and European history, as well as its place in Tassie’s salmon industry.
PM | If you’re very organised, you’ll have booked one of SBS’s Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans’ legendary shared feasts at Fat Pig Farm. You’ll also have to be lucky – Saturdays sell out fast. But there’s still a ton of good food all over the valley. Try a ploughman’s plate at gallery-meets-picklery Harvest and Light, piled high with owner Cassy Faux’s handmade pickles, preserves, local cheeses and veggies. Or there’s pastries and Turkish tea from café Cinnamon and Cherry (3416 Huon Highway, Franklin; 0419 410 845). Afterwards, a wooden-spoon-carving workshop accompanied by a jazz soundtrack and homemade cookies at Phoenix Creations will leave you with a beautiful, natural – and useful – souvenir. In the evening, chef Lachlan Colwill – formerly of Hentley Farm in the Barossa Valley – turns on a spectacular vegetarian farm dinner at Port Cygnet Cannery , using whatever’s fresh from its market garden and orchard.
AM | Wander up to Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet for breakfast – from nasi goreng to eggs “benny” or saffron-poached pears with labneh, pistachio and oat crumble. Then get your tote bags ready for some shopping, such as richly glazed vases and bowls from Ian Clare Studio Potter and roadside produce stalls overflowing with eggs, berries and flowers. Before heading back to Hobart, pick up a bottle of prized pinot noir from the Sailor Seeks Horse cellar door, which has tastings in a cavernous but welcoming warehouse space.