Image credit: Adam Gibson
Drop in for a top drop1/21
Owners Chanel and Ricky put the opening of Havilah (pictured), their cosy bar and wine shop, down to “a love of food, wine and Launceston”. The drinks list is global but local drops are repped to the hilt. In fact, on Sundays Havilah becomes a cellar door for Ricky’s Two Tonne Tasmania label. If Havilah isn’t intimate enough, head to Bar Two, a cool hole-in-the-wall wine and gin bar tucked into a CBD arcade.
Explore the neighbourhood gorge2/21
Quick trivia question: how many cities have a river gorge on their doorstep? We don’t know either but we’ll accept “not many”. A spectacular expanse of wilderness just a 15-minute walk from the CBD, Cataract Gorge has hiking trails to suit all fitness levels, the world’s longest single-span chairlift, a suspension bridge and a swimming pool for the warmer months. Walkways are fenced and paved but the rapids below are still wild and free.
Image credit: Hot Air Balloon Tasmania
Go where the wind takes you3/21
The biggest challenge at this time of year is rising before the sun but what a pay-off. Look on as your ride from Hot Air Balloon Tasmania inflates then clamber aboard and let that nippy breeze carry you over a patchwork of vineyards, green pastures and farmhouse roofs. Of course, it didn’t happen if it’s not on Instagram so each balloon is equipped with a GoPro. Hungry? A buffet breakfast awaits earthside.
Sleep in a waterfront silo4/21
When plans were drawn up for a new hotel on the banks of the Tamar River, the grain silos it would be replacing were deftly folded into the design, adding rough-hewn industrial curves to the clean, modern spaces of what is now Peppers Silo Hotel. There’s a fab restaurant and day spa on site and the glorious waterfront to explore (you can take Archie, the hotel’s resident Labrador, with you; he’s the good boy snoozing in the lobby).
Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Take a fun dive into Van Diemen’s Land5/21
Once daggy, then decrepit, now dynamic, Penny Royal – an adventure theme park drawing on the state’s history – is now thriving thanks to Tasmania’s wine and tourism king Josef Chromy, who bought the site next to Cataract Gorge in 2014. With gold prospecting, ziplining and a “haunted” island, it’s kind of for kids but grown-ups aren’t forgotten with a toasty wine bar, a pub and Alida, the site’s new mod-Oz restaurant.
Image credit: Chris Crerar
Self-isolate (for fun)6/21
The mission of premium aviation outfit Unique Charters is to blend the thrill of flying with personalised food-and-wine experiences. Take a chopper and a loved one to the exclusive Swan Island off the northern Tasmanian coast, for instance. Find a possie on the sand or amid the island’s convict ruins and tuck into a hamper loaded with local produce. Questions have been popped in less memorable places.
Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Do it for the kids7/21
What used to be a bleak industrial precinct is now Riverbend Park, a massive outdoor playground next to Peppers Silo Hotel. There’s a dizzying number of things to have fun with – including swings, sandpits, a water-play area, musical instruments and full-sized sports court – but the biggest drawcards are the Sky Walk and Confluence Net, two of the largest pieces of play equipment in the country.
Image credit: Tamar Valley Truffles
Tour Tamar Valley cellar doors8/21
Making the most of a region stitched with grape vines and home to dozens of cellar doors is best done with a dedicated driver in tow. Take a small-group tour of the Tamar Valley with companies such as Prestige Tours to taste wines you won’t readily find elsewhere (local pinot noir and an open fire, anyone?). If time permits, drop into Tamar Valley Truffles and Turner Stillhouse. As the latter’s sign says, “Let the fun be GIN.”
Learn where bubbles come from9/21
Lunch at the acclaimed Josef Chromy winery is a no-brainer. So why not turn up earlier and learn how sparkling wine is made? The Art of Sparkling experience is a fascinating, fun and hands-on stroll through the process of bubbly production (with tastings, of course) that ends with lunch and a bottle of bubbles you’ve blended yourself to take home. If your nose is a little pink when you leave, blame it on the winter chill.
Image credit: Anjia Blair
Dine at Launceston’s finest restaurant10/21
Winter is truffle time in Tassie and nobody makes better use of the delicacy than Craig Will, chef and co-owner of Stillwater. Whether shaved over scrambled eggs or enhancing a steak on the dinner menu, the truffle heralds winter at this fine-diner. Make an occasion of it and stay at Stillwater Seven (pictured), the well-appointed rooms upstairs.
Visit regional Australia’s largest museum11/21
For a small city, Launceston has some impressive art, history and natural-science collections on display at Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery. The museum in Inveresk is a vast space filled with everything from buggies to bushranger artefacts (there’ll be no eye-rolling from the kids, with dinosaurs, a Tasmanian tiger exhibit, planetarium and interactive science display). The gallery, in a separate location at Royal Park, features colonial paintings, ceramics and textiles.
Image credit: Natalie Mendham
Tee off on a world-famous course12/21
Just across the river from the fabled Dunes golf course, 20-hole Barnbougle Lost Farm is appearing in serious rankings around the world (it’s currently placed as the third best public-access course in the country by Golf Australia magazine). Constructed on even steeper sand dunes than its sibling, Lost Farm follows the dramatic topography of the northern Tassie landscape. The latest addition? Bougle Run, a short but sweet 14-hole course on the dunes between Lost Farm’s front and back 9.
Image credit: Chris Crerar
Savour topnotch beef and seafood13/21
Stillwater’s Craig Will has another eatery in the city, one that bills itself as “Tasmania on a plate”. Black Cow Bistro takes pride in dishing up free-range, grass-fed local beef devoid of hormones and antibiotics, though impressive seafood offerings (including kingfish sashimi and chargrilled tiger prawns) and innovative veggie sides lift it out of the carnivore-only zone.
Image credit: Tom Paolini
Start the day with freshly baked pastries14/21
If you’re going to establish a pastry temple, a butter factory is a smart place to start — and winter is a brilliant time to visit. Every day of the week, the Tasmanian Butter Company’s on-site eatery and café, Bread + Butter slides fresh pastries and sourdough bread out of its ovens and onto the shelves, where they don’t have time to get comfy. Factor it into your visit to Harvest, the Saturday produce market.
Image credit: Flow Mountain Bike
Go mountain biking15/21
Whether it’s a flat and easy cycle around Launceston’s waterways for an hour or two, the popular and more challenging Trevallyn Reserve near Cataract Gorge or multi-day adventures for experienced mountain bikers, Mountain Bike & Rock Climbing Tasmania will deliver a bike to your hotel, shuttle you around with your own wheels or take you on guided tours so you don’t have to waste time on pesky maps. Beginners welcome.
Eat local, local-ish and local-est16/21
Don Cameron, owner of Launceston’s must-visit Mudbar, was an early adherent of the paddock-to-plate movement (diners have been savouring ingredients from the family property, Mudbar Farm, for years). At Timbre Kitchen (pictured), a 15-minute drive north at Vélo Wines in Legana, chef Matt Adams changes his menu weekly based on, among other factors, what’s harvested in local backyards. We hope for your sake he’s made shepherd’s pie. It’s simple food done incredibly well.
Succumb to market forces17/21
Selling everything from apples to arabica coffee, gin to gelato, Harvest produce market is Launceston’s most popular Saturday-morning activity. Join the queue at Ritual Coffee (it’s always long but the coffee is good and the welcome warm) then, thawed out and caffeinated, have a chat to the farmers over tables groaning with fresh seasonal produce. Shopping done, pick up brekkie from a food van and pull up a pew with the locals.
Get outta town18/21
A mere 15 minutes out of Launceston (and not far from the airport) you’ll find the beautifully preserved historic town of Evandale. Stroll the impossibly pretty main street, past (and into) the bakeries, antique shops and old pubs that line it. If crowds aren’t your thing, maybe avoid Sundays when the weekly bric-a-brac market draws people from near and far and you’ll also have more chance of scoring a seat for a beer and a bite to eat at the popular Clarendon Arms Hotel.
Image credit: Gourlay’s
Go home with snowballs19/21
Not the real things, obviously, but coconut- and chocolate-covered balls of marshmallow deliciousness that locals have savoured (and kept secret) for decades. As one fan puts it, “You just want to bury your face in them.” Along with acid drops, snowballs are among the best-selling items at Gourlay’s old-school confectionery shop in the city. The company has been making sweets here since 1896 and still uses the equipment and methods it began with.
Image credit: Design Tasmania/Dianna Snape
See what Tasmania is made of20/21
Design Tasmania, a non-profit showcase of Apple Isle craftsmanship, has the silent aura of a cathedral and much within its stark white walls to worship. The wood collection (pictured) rules – with 80 pieces on permanent display – and a pop-up store has glass, ceramics, homewares (including merino throws from the local Waverley Mills) and furniture to buy instore and online.
Image credit: Getty Images