Lush hills, picturesque vineyards and winding roads and rivers make northern Tasmania’s Tamar Valley and its wineries one of Australia’s most breathtaking regions. It is also a surprisingly convenient weekend destination to reach, just a short flight from mainland Australia’s east coast to the sleepy town of Launceston and a much shorter drive (approximately 20 minutes) from there to the heart of the valley. If a relaxing and rejuvenating break is what you’re after, you’ll find it complete with good food, great wine and some very scenic excursions. Here are our top recommendations.
Where to stay
A shimmering hill covered in native bush creates the perfect backdrop for Relbia Lodge, a sprawling four-bedroom retreat 10 minutes drive from Launceston. Relax in the living room, an aesthete’s dream with its polished-concrete floor and high ceiling, or unleash your inner chef using the well-equipped, open-plan kitchen. Retreat to the spacious bedroom to enjoy a peaceful sleep, or sink yourself into the oversized bath (large enough to fit two), with a glass of bubbly.
Venture outside and you’ll see a placid lake with a dinghy hanging from its wharf – seemingly purpose-built for an Instagram shot. The paddock next door also offers great photo ops thanks to its herd of curious sheep (no matter how quietly you go about your business, they will make a beeline for you by the dozen).
SEE ALSO: 11 Perfect Weekend Getaways in Tasmania
Where to eat
Breakfast at Inside Café
For a small fee, you can ask Relbia Lodge to supply a hamper with a great selection of fresh, regional breakfast supplies. But if you can’t be bothered making your own, make your way instead to Inside Cafe – an old warehouse space that now operates as an excellent eatery in Launceston. The chilli eggs, with harissa, sambal and crisp shallots, or the sourdough toast with cultured butter and locally made jam are good places to start.
Lunch at Josef Chromy restaurant
This renowned eatery is not only one of the best vineyard-dining experiences in Tamar Valley, it is also just a short walk from Relbia Lodge so it’s perfect if you’re keen to enjoy some of the region’s top drops with your meal. Visit during the day to make the most of the restaurant’s sensational setting – sweeping vineyard, hill and lake views – and the delicious lunch menu, which might include golden nugget pumpkin roasted to sweet softness with sheep's cheese and cabbage; or Scottsdale pork belly served with celeriac, nori and greens.
Dinner at Stillwater
Long-standing Launceston favourite Stillwater is still one of the best places to dine – thanks partly to its stunning riverside location, but also because of the delicious menu. Housed in a building dating back to the 1830s, it’s here that you can enjoy timeless classics such as perfectly cooked Cape Grim beef as well as inventive creations like smoked eel groquettes with a garlic emulsion.
SEE ALSO: All the Best Places to Eat in Launceston
What to do
No trip to the scenic valley is complete without an exploration of some of its vineyards and cellar doors. Plot your own course by visiting tamarvalleywineroute.com.au for an overview of the region, plus suggested routes and touring maps. Or, opt for one of the organised tours with companies such as Prestige Tour Tasmania's half- or full-day Tamara Valley Wine Tours or Valleybrook Wine on Wheels.
Visit the gorge
Located a mere two-minute drive from the centre of Launceston, Cataract Gorge is one of Tasmania’s most beautiful outdoor experiences. Access it via the pathway that skirts along the cliff face with front-row views of the South Esk River and arrive at the lush lawns, where peacocks and wallabies fearlessly prance around in broad daylight. Take the chairlift, lace up for a bush walk or enjoy the spectacle from one of the on-site eateries.
This article was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.