Winter in Tasmania is beautiful – think crisp sunny days and cosy evenings spent snuggling up fireside with a glass of local wine and a platter of fresh local goodies. The scenery in winter can be even more dramatic than summer with backdrops of mist and cloud surrounding snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills.
Even better news is that Tasmania is just a short haul flight to get there – one hour from Melbourne and one hour 40 minutes from Sydney, so there’s minimal time spent at airports. It is perfect for a midweek break, long weekend or romantic getaway.
Tasmania is also the home of stunning accommodation that’s an attraction in itself and there’s a wide range of wineries, gourmet restaurants and dining experiences.
Easy to Drive
It’s easy to drive around Tasmania, so hire a car and get off the beaten track to discover your own gems. Often you will be the only one on a pristine beach where big waves roll thump the sands or follow a grassy trail to stunning mountain vistas.
My recommended Itinerary
A great itinerary is to fly into Hobart, spend a few days then head to Freycinet National Park and discover the delights and finish in Launceston that’s fast emerging as one of Tasmania’s hottest destinations.
Tasmania’s capital has it all. Located on the Derwent River, you’ll find interesting history, wonderful art galleries, exciting dining options and plenty of activities. There’s a trendy café scene and providores selling the best of the island state’s produce and quirky shops. Don’t miss the popular Salamanca Markets and head to the lofty heights of Mount Wellington with spectacular views and lots of walking and cycling trails.
Where to stay
Henry Jones Art Hotel is one of our favourites and has recently undergone an impressive $1.7 revamp that makes it even more appealing. Back in the 1830s it was the IXL building complete with warehouses and a jam factory but was transformed into a beautiful hotel, 15 years ago.
Located on Hobart’s Hunter Street waterfront area, the hotel design includes manufacturing machinery, metre thick sandstone walls, elegant interiors and a stunning glass atrium. Australia’s first art hotel has been transformed with an upgrade of all rooms and suites and the creation of a $20,000 Art Prize for Tasmanian emerging artists. The five-star boutique hotel’s 52 rooms and four decadent suites have been given a new look which makes it even harder to leave your room. But it’s the combination of artwork and history that makes this hotel even more special – and not just in winter.
Expect sleek modern designs that blend with original heritage features, as well as 19th-century sandstone walls that frame contemporary Tasmanian artworks. Traditional windows reveal views of Hobart’s harbour, city and mountains. Luxury fittings feature in every room, with comfortable king size beds draped in exotic silk covers and ottomans.
Step through the doors of the hotel and you will be wowed by stunning artwork that literally stops you in your tracks. The hotel is also an art gallery with more than 500 artworks by Tasmanian artists – each piece is available for sale. A daily art tour includes a walk along the hallways, exploring and interpreting the artworks and discovering the many stories of the IXL Jam empire and the Hobart waterfront. The tour is complimentary for guests and includes a glass of sparkling at the start of the tour. External guests are welcome at a cost of $20. Situated next door to the Tasmanian School of Art and with a full-time Art Liaison officer, Emine Lewis, the hotel will now further support the local arts community by offering a $20,000 art prize.
Landscape Restaurant and Grill
Dining here is an amazing experience that delights the senses. It features premium Tasmanian and Australian steaks as well as seafood of the closest providence, cooked predominantly on the wood-fired Asado Grill. The grill is fired up daily with a blend of Tasmanian hardwood and a selection of sherry, bourbon or port cask to give a unique flavour to the dishes. It is a modern, intimate space, surrounded by the iconic art of John Glover, with a sophisticated and elegant menu. Named Tasmania’s Best Restaurant by Australian Gourmet Traveller in 2017 it lives up to its reputation. Dining inside the historic walls of the IXL factory surrounded by the iconic art of John Glover is fabulous. Check out the display of personal steak knives reserved for VIPS and frequent diners.
Peacock and Jones
Enjoy relaxed dining at Peacock and Jones within the charismatic sandstone of the IXL building. An ever-changing a la carte menu features. It won silver in the restaurant category of the 2017 Tasmanian Tourism Awards.
Take time out for:
A walk along the beautiful waterfront around the Old Wharf and Constitution Dock. Buy some fish and chips and an ice cream and watch the boats come and go. Catch the sunset and sunrise from the heritage windows.
Freycinet National Park
One of the most beautiful places in Tasmania, the east coast Freycinet National Park boasts spectacular scenery, pristine beaches and blue waters. It was declared a national park in 1916 and is Tasmania’s oldest national park. The rugged granite Hazard Mountains are flecked with pink feldspar which gives the mountains a rosy tint making a mesmerising view.
Where to stay
Freycinet Coastal Pavilions
The iconic lodge that’s a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike has 60 cabins and stunning new coastal pavilions. Step inside and it is like you are cocooned in another world. Curved glass, floor to ceiling windows, warm Tasmanian timber and an outdoor bath – perfect for taking in those views, are some of the highlights. There’s a generous deck where you can sit and read and enjoy a local sparkling wine and refreshments presented on arrival. A king bed with a faux fur throw is perfect for snuggling and looking out at those killer coastal views. There’s a separate living area with a television and comfy lounges which are difficult to leave. You can also order a platter to nibble on – there’s a choice of seafood, cheese or charcuterie and breakfast is included– you can order a hamper or head to the main dining room. Before you retire to bed enjoy a nightcap and chocolate.
Head to the waterfront Bay Restaurant for dinner – but book ahead as it gets busy. The menu features lots of fresh local produce and Tasmanian treats including some of the best seafood plus an impressive list of Tasmanian wines. The east coast’s wine region provides superb cool climate wines, with Pinot Noir, the star. Many can be enjoyed at cellar doors scattered along the Great Eastern Drive. Menu standouts include the Melshell Oyster tasting plate with six oysters – natural with lemon, Bloody Mary and Kilpatrick- delicious. For mains try the Freycinet seafood paella with organic red quinoa, chorizo, clams, Spring Bay mussels, prawns, Tassal salmon, blue eye trevally with a sweet finale of salted caramel semifreddo. Enjoy a nightcap or a pre-dinner drink at the Hazards Bar and sit beside the roaring fire.
Tasmanian wine, whisky and gin tastings are available from 3.00pm daily.
Take Time Out For
Wineglass Bay Cruise
This is such a great day out on the water where you see fabulous beaches with the whitest sand and lots of bird and marine life. The 150-seat eco catamaran Schouten Passage 11 is a great way to see Wineglass Bay. A ploughman’s lunch is served featuring great local produce. There’s a great commentary throughout that shares the secrets and stories of the area.
Launceston is no longer just a quiet country town but is emerging into a cultural and foodie tourist destination. There’s a growing number of new vineyard cellar doors, fabulous new restaurants and a great cafe culture. There’s already established foodie events including Festivale, Effervescence and the weekly Harvest Market Community farmers’ market plus a burgeoning scene of vibrant and creative artisanal producers is developing.
Where to stay
Peppers Silo Hotel
Don’t expect the ordinary when you book into Pepper’s Silo Hotel. Archie, a sweet black Labrador who didn’t quite pass guide dog exams is the hotel’s ambassador. He sits in the lobby and enjoys a walk by willing guests. Dating back to the 1960s, the heritage building which spanned 35 metres high containing grain in four large silos is now a chic nine storey hotel. Creativity and design go hand in hand with the renovation of the King Wharf grain silos.
The silo barrels are now part of a state-of-the-art contemporary new hotel that’s quirky and oh so comfortable. It has sweeping views of the Tamar River, Cataract Gorge and North Esk. The hotel has 108 guest rooms, including 52 inside the barrels of the former silos, a restaurant and bar called Grain of the Silos. Photographs capture the history showcasing the original building and its significance to the area.
Our room has a slick decor with earthy tones inspired by the surrounding landscape tones and native flora with fabulous views.
The onsite restaurant, Grain of the Silos showcases Tasmania’s seasonal produce under the guidance of Food Director, Tasmanian-born chef Massimo Mele and Head Chef Peter Twitchett. Each dish is inspired by the producers who grew or crafted the ingredients – from fresh seafood sourced from the nearby coastal waters or beef and lamb farmed right up the road. Paddock to plate dining features fresh Tasmanian produce and the best seafood sourced from coastal waters. Standouts include chicken liver pâté, rhubarb and crusty bread, slow roasted lamb shoulder with pearl barley, celeriac, hazelnuts and chicory with a sweet finale of caramelized apple tart tatin with walnut ice cream. Other features include Woody’s Bar and the Silo Day Spa.
Take Time Out For
Just a short walk from the city centre, Cataract Gorge is a slice of wilderness right in the heart of town and Launceston’s star natural attraction. Peppers Silo Hotel provides striking vistas across this beautiful natural attraction, the next best thing to experiencing it in person.
Henry Jones Art Hotel Hobart www.thehenryjones.com
Freycinet Lodge www.freycinetlodge.com.au
Peppers Silo Hotel Launceston www.peppers.com.au/silo