With cheap flights available to both Launceston and Burnie, travel editor Winsor Dobbin suggests some northern Tasmanian highlights.
WINE AND DINE
One of Launceston’s finest restaurants can be found inside one of the city’s best addresses. Celebrity chef Massimo Mele (a one-time Ferragosto headliner) highlights local Tasmanian produce at the Grain of the Silos eatery inside the Peppers Silo Hotel.
The Silos were four towers that were built side by side on the banks of the Tamar River in the 1960s to house wheat. The Silos sat empty for years – despite their stunning setting – until local developer Errol Stewart turned them into a luxury waterfront destination in 2018.
On the Grain of the Silos’ menu look out for local specials like garfish from Low Head; super-fresh George’s Bay clams; padron peppers from Mele’s own garden, and stunning charcuterie from Boucherie Tasmania and Fork It Farm.
“The quality of Tasmanian gourmet produce is improving all the time – and it is fabulous to be able to showcase it to both Tasmanians and visitors alike,” says Mele. “I’m constantly making new discoveries.”
It is certainly worth combining dinner with an overnight stay. The staff have grasped the meaning of hospitality and you will be well looked after from reception to the restaurant. Dog lovers missing their own pets might want to take Archie, the canine concierge, for a walk.
The 10-level hotel features 108 guest rooms with a boutique vibe, including 52 inside the barrels of the former silos, undercover car parking, conference facilities and an integrated lobby and reception space. The restaurant turns café for lighter snacks during the day.
Amenities on-site include a gym, day spa, child-minding facilities, hairdressing salon, function centre and private dining rooms. The hotel overlooks the nearby Seaport; Royal Park with its barbecue area, play space, skate park and outdoor exercise equipment, boardwalks and sealed paths; the Tamar River Basin and Cataract Gorge. It is also just a short stroll to the footbridge that links to the city centre.
Peppers Silo is located at 89-91 Lindsay Street, Invermay, Launceston. www.peppers.com.au/silo
Cedar Cottage is a perfect couple’s retreat tucked away in a bush setting outside the northern Tasmanian hamlet of Meander. Eco-luxe Cedar Cottage has been almost fully booked since it opened late last year, a tribute not only to marketing skills, but also word of mouth.
Sarah Williams, the woman behind this two-bedroom getaway, is a marketing dynamo who has travelled widely – hence all the bases are covered when it comes to life’s little luxuries.
A lot of thought has gone into the vibe here; it is rustic but with all modern comforts like super-sharp German kitchen knives, binoculars to check out the local bird life of kooparoona niara/the Great Western Tiers, and USB recharging slots in each room. There is also free unlimited wifi, Netflix and Stan for anything you have been meaning to binge watch, along with a small library.
Located just minutes from World Heritage wilderness, potential activities include fly fishing, bushwalking, river sledding, horse riding, canyoning, caving, cultural tours and other adventures, or just kicking back and enjoying the tranquillity.
There is an excellent house manual full of useful suggestions and local tips.
Gourmets can stock up at Launceston’s famous Harvest Market, on the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail and the Deloraine-Latrobe Produce Loop, with handcrafted local chocolates, cheeses, smoked salmon, truffles, honey, raspberries, ice cream, craft beer, cider with boutique wineries and distilleries all close by.
The property is self-catering but coffee beans, sugar, a selection of teas, and hot chocolate, milk, spices and herbs: black peppercorns, rock salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, chili flakes, chili ground, smoked paprika, bay leaves, oregano and turmeric, olive oil, balsamic and white wine vinegar are all provided.
In summer, enjoy the veranda and cooking on the outdoor fire pit, and grab vegetables and fruit from the organic cottage garden (the tomatoes and berries were outstanding). Guests can unwind in that hot tub on a private deck facing the mountains, look out for curious wildlife and take in the pristine beauty of an uninterrupted night sky.
In winter, both beds have electric blankets and there is reverse cycle air conditioning.
The feel is rural, cosy and comfortable. Prices from $395 per night. See www.cedarcottagemeander.com/
CHEAP AS CHIPS
The Pod Inn in Launceston brings a budget touch of Japan to Tasmania with its capsule living spaces and shared bathrooms. Often, all you need is a bed, wifi and bathroom facilities.
The first capsule hotel in the world opened in 1979: the Capsule Inn Osaka but in Australia pods are a relatively new phenomenon.
My plastic Superior Side Entrance Capsule Bed was relatively spacious for one person but would be a little tight for two – although at $60 a night you save a fair amount of cash.
The capsule is well equipped with room to easily slide in and out through the card-controlled sliding door. You are provided with a comfortable mattress, comfy pillows and quilts. There is a dimmable ambient light, laptop desk, a safe to lock up your valuables, reading lights, air conditioning, USB charger port, power point, back-lit mirror, smoke detector and coat hooks.
A locker space and towel is provided to each guest.
There is also an on-site noodle bar eatery. See www.podinn.com.au/
Gourmets can join wine and food expert Peter Bourne for a gourmet tour of the Tamar Valley from April 20-24. Bourne will lead an expedition through some of the region’s most exciting wines and produce.
Fed by the fresh waters of the Esk and Tamar rivers, the region has created a fertile valley of vineyards famous for its chardonnay, aromatic whites, pinot noir and sparkling. Delamere, Apogee and Josef Chromy will be among the wineries featured as the tour soaks up the serenity of the Tamar region.
Bourne is a former Wine Communicator of the Year award winner. For details see www.renaissancetours.com.au.