For a summer treat close to home, a Tasmanian getaway combines a world-class retreat, a murky past, sensational scenery, fine wines and a gourmet adventure all to be savoured in the wild.
Infamous and Iconic
Lists and more lists, from bucket to iconic, it seems that the world’s ‘best of’ have all been reduced to a Top 10 or Best 6 in this hungry age of fast travel bites. So it was no surprise to discover that Wineglass Bay’s shimmering lapis lazuli-hued water and collar of vanilla sand was nominated by US magazine ‘Outside’ as one of the world’s top 10 beaches. Beautiful it certainly is and popular attracting more than 300,000 visitors each year but this once secret and pristine place on Freycinet Peninsula has an infamous past that started when two French brothers named Freycinet were sent by Napoleon on a research expedition to Tasmania in 1802.
Standing on what’s quickly become a crowded viewing platform overlooking a perfect arc of silica sand, it’s hard to imagine that from 1820, Wineglass Bay was one of thirty-two whaling stations that operated during the Humpback and Great Southern Whales’ migratory season. Prized for their blubber that produced the black oil essential for lighting England’s Dickensian streets, it’s the blood that ran from this rugged, dirty work that gave this pristine place its name.
Wineglass to Wine Glass
Located on Tasmania’s east coast, Freycinet National Park is equi-distance from Tasmanian cities Hobart and Launceston. Driving north from Hobart on the Tasman Highway, the coastal road meanders past tiny coves and straggly eucalypt trees before the wonderfully named Hazards mountain range rises imperiously over Freycinet’s distant golden, honey-drizzled shoreline. It’s the season for walnuts and wine and we pull into Freycinet Vineyards, a boutique operation that produces hand-crafted silky-smooth pinot noir.
The following morning, exchanging one wine glass for another, we join a small group for a soft adventure trek that follows the Isthmus Track away from the shoreline and up through the hinterland where some of Australia’s unique fauna including quolls, wombats, echidnas, wallabies and possums can be spotted feeding at night. Tasmanian Thornbills are singing brightly and we pass a couple of Kookaburras settling a territorial dispute in noisy fashion. As the hypnotic sound of water gradually recedes silence surrounds us, our footfalls softened by a carpet of Sheoak pine needles.
Bush Kitchens Rule
Crossing the isthmus and breasting a sand dune, the broad stretch of Hazards Beach spreads impressively before us. In times past, the Aboriginal people of the Great Oyster Bay nation came here to hunt and harvest nature’s bountiful seafood platter. A two kilometer walk to the beach’s southern end and we discover that the region has an extraordinarily rich bounty of seafood waiting just for us. Arriving at a bush clearing overlooking a secret cove, a splendid gourmet luncheon table, set with white linen and sparkling glassware, stands on a timber platform under a canopy. The parade of freshly cooked food that emerges at a steady rate from the tiny bush kitchen is nothing short of miraculous. Opening with Spring Bay scallops, Great Oyster Bay oysters (what else?) and baby abalone from nearby Swansea, there’s freshly baked herb bread and local olives, crayfish and mussels served in a delicious tomato and chilli broth. Local barbecued quails on asparagus, fillet of beef and salad leaves are followed by sweet berry summer puddings crowned with a dollop of King Island double cream.
Glasses of Tigris Sauvignon Blanc glint in the afternoon light and as the lunch winds down, where better to drink a toast to a bottler of a trip in the wilds of Tasmania……
Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Qantas and Tiger Airways all schedule flights between Australian capital cities and Hobart and Launceston. Or you can take the slow option (and the car) on the Spirit of Tasmania which travels from Melbourne to Devonport. www.spiritoftasmania.com.au
Freycinet Lodge nestles at the foot of The Hazards mountains within Freycinet National Park. For bookings go to www.freycinetlodge.com.au
Wineglass to Wine Glass Tour
An intimate experience for a maximum of 8 people www.about-australia.com/tours/wineglass-to-wine-glass
For general tourism information visit www.discovertasmania.com.au
Tags: abalone, boutique, crayfish, Devonport, echidnas, fine wines, Freycinet Lodge, Freycinet National Park, Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet Vineyards, gourmet adventure, gourmet luncheon, Great Oyster Bay, Great Oyster Bay oysters, Hobart, Isthmus Track, Jetstar, King Island, Kookaburras, Launceston, mussels, Pinot Noir, possums, Qantas, quolls, seafood platter, soft adventure trek, sparkling glassware, Spirit of Tasmania, Spring Bay scallops, summer treat, Swansea, Tasman Highway, Tasmania, Tasmanian Thornbills, The Hazards, Tiger Airways, Tigris Sauvignon Blanc, Tourism Tasmania, Virgin Australia, wallabies, walnuts, white linen, Wine, Wineglass Bay, Wineglass to Wine Glass Tour, wombats, www.2onthewing.com, www.about-australia.com/tours/wineglass-to-wine-glass, www.discovertasmania.com.au, www.freycinetlodge.com.au, www.spiritoftasmania.com.au