Of all the places in the world I could have been born, that I could have grown up in and planted roots in I would have chosen none other than the beautiful Tasmania (or perhaps maybe Sydney if I’d been blessed with millionaire parents that could afford space for my ponies and I in Surry Hills).
If you don’t know about this little treasure it’s a tiny island (bigger than some countries) that sits slightly below Melbourne and above Antarctica; which you can certainly feel in winter. There are few of us, with only about 500, 000 living on the island, an interesting contrast to the 1.5 million visitors that pass through each year. Tasmania is both sparse and dense country, with endless beaches, mountain, rivers and fields. We boast night skies that look illuminated by fairy lights and the hopeful chance to see the Aurora Australis (the southern version of the northern lights!). Our air is the cleanest this world over and the food straight from the earth that tastes perfectly as it should.
Like most young Tasmanians I grew up with an eye to get out, to bigger fields, to taller buildings. Now, at 25 and on the other side of the world I dream of being back on my tiny island, surrounded by mountains and my beloved animals. Tasmania is not for you if you’re into big cities and bright lights but if your into nature, food and relaxation welcome to ultimate bliss.
Hobart is the states capital and sits on the beautiful Derwent river coming to an end in the city’s vibrant harbour which hosts the weekly Saturday Salamanca market selling art, crafts, clothes, vintage goods, food and various other nic nacs making it the perfect place to purchase some local souvenirs and enjoy a Saturday brunch either at the market or one of the many cafes in the area. Other highlights of the city deserving mention are; Mt. Wellington, the beautiful and seasonally snow dusted backdrop which is the perfect (and free) vantage point of the city and harbour with many walking trails worth exploring. Visit the Cascade brewery on the way down to taste a Tasmanian staple and head to MONA, which I can truthfully say is the most spectacularly innovative museum and art gallery I’ve visited to date. Be warned some of the art can be confronting and explicit, heavily outweighed by the myriad of stunning contemporary and ancient art. The building itself is an architectural wonder with its sandstone façade build into the cliffs upon the river; destined to eventually erode away. Try and find your way here around the festivals of Mona Foma and Dark Mofo held every summer/winter.
For a day trip head down the Derwent Vally through New Norfolk, making sure to stop in the historic Tinwald for morning tea before browsing the many high quality antique shops. Then, head along the river to the Salmon Ponds; the oldest in the southern hemisphere for a picnic lunch in the gardens. As night rolls around find a seasonally focused restaurant such as Smolt at Salamanca to sample the states best.
In the north you find the smaller ‘city’ of Launceston, my home town, set upon the Tamar River. Here the must see is the Cataract Gorge where us locals spend our summer in the cool waters of the basin to escape the sun and keep active on the various walking trails. Tour the Tamar Valley wine region for world class drops and visit Boags Brewery, for again, another sample of our great local beers, then around the corner call in to Garden Of Vegan for breakfast/lunch/dinner everyday for the best food you will ever eat. If you’re here on a Saturday visit the buzzing Harvest Farmers Market for beautiful Tasmania produce and hospitality. From Launceston visit the various northern beaches, Liffey Falls and Cradle Mountain to get your beach/walk/nature fix. My personal treasure is Perth (20 minutes from Launceston) river for a summer picnic (or meal at Phoenix and the Wolf) and swim in the gently flowing river.