Tasmania – the gourmet island
While food is always an important part of travel, in Tasmania it’s an integral enhancement of the visitor experience. People want to visit (or move to) Tasmania because it’s such a pristine environment with clean air and no overpopulation.
Indeed, no matter where – or when – you go, any trip to Tassie will provide some great meals and lots of fresh local produce.
To show how it works, we took our tastebuds for a trip with AAT Kings around the whole island on its 12-day Perfect Tasmania Guided Holiday. It starts in Hobart at the renowned Salamanca Markets that are held each Saturday.
Here you’ll find excellent fruits and vegetables that sadly aren’t the most suitable purchases for a visitor without a kitchen and a fridge. However, you’ll also find the famous Tasmanian leatherwood honey with its distinctive flavour.
Any tour in Hobart has to take in the remarkable recreation of Mawson’s Antarctica hut that stands just off the waterfront. Reading of Mawson’s privations (at one stage of his solo trek the soles of his feet fell off) may bring on the need for a strong drink.
The waterfront of Hobart offers a far more peaceful view than the bustling harbours of other capital cities
Fortunately, the Lark Distillery stands just next door. Tasmania is producing some of the world’s best whiskies and this is a good place to see which best suits your taste.
In Salamanca Square you’ll find the Tassal shop and here you can buy some Tasmanian farmed salmon packaged for travel. Smolt restaurant next door gives you a good sampling of Tasmania’s great new culinary scene.
While in Hobart you may wish to head out to the beautiful old Cascade Brewery at the base of Mt Wellington. There’s a whole craft brewery scene in Tasmania too – and you could use the search for the perfect brew as the basis for a Tasmanian holiday.
The Cascade Visitor Centre hosts historic displays, merchandise and a lovely restaurant
Heading across to Strahan on the West Coast you’re really heading into the beguiling Tasmanian wilderness. Strahan is a small Tasmanian fishing community that resembles communities that existed elsewhere in Australia, before they were modernised and gentrified. Here the main street has a dock on one side, with fishing boats and tourist boats bobbing alongside, and Hamers Hotel on the other. I recommend you head over the hill to nearby Letts Bay where you’ll find what must be Australia’s most perfectly preserved fishing village. It’s a confusion of tiny shacks clustered along the coast with not a fence to be seen.
The Museum of Old and New Art contains a fascinating mixture of works by many different artists
Going north from there you can visit the beautiful alpine area of Cradle Mountain. The whole 161,000-hectare park is within the grand Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, but you don’t have to cover it all.
The two best day walks is the circuit of Dove Lake, a two-hour circuit of alpine exploration under the spires of Cradle Mountain, or the hike up to the summit of Cradle Mountain, a good solid day of clambering over large rocks to a spectacular viewpoint.
There are several excellent short walks, too. The walk through the rainforest to a waterfall from the visitor centre is wheelchair accessible. If you have less than an hour, take the Enchanted Walk – the boardwalk follows a stream, there’s a pretty waterfall and you have a chance of seeing wallabies and maybe a wombat. A slightly longer walk leads to beautiful Knyvet Falls.
On the way from Cradle Mountain to Launceston you may wish to stop in at Hellyers Road Distillery near Burnie for a tasting of another great single malt whisky.
The lake at the base of Cradle Mountain is perfectly serene, and the walk around it offers plenty of sightseeing
Next you might like to visit Ashgrove Cheese at Elizabeth Town. A few years ago I developed a serious addiction to its wild wasabi cheese. The wasabi is grown locally and the leaves rather than the root are used so there’s a flavour of wasabi but not the heat. Seek it out.
For something really special, seek out the products of Shima Wasabi that started near Launceston and now supplies the best restaurants across Australia.
Why not head down to the Bridestowe Lavendar Café for some tasty ice-cream?
Likewise, Tasmania has a thriving truffle industry in the winter months. One of those who supplies Australia-wide is Perigord Truffles at Grove, south of Hobart.
You might wish to save some space for a Boag’s beer in Launceston. The Tamar Valley north of Launceston has many vineyards supplying some of the best cold-climate wines in Australia.
On the AAT Kings Perfect Tasmania itinerary, the itinerary aims for Freycinet Peninsula after leaving Launceston and eventually leads back to Hobart. The first stop is Bridestowe Lavender that has been operating in Nabowla since 1922. Here you will have one of Tasmania’s – perhaps Australia’s – most unusual taste experiences. Choose between the lavender milkshake or the lavender ice-cream.
It’s often said that you should experience some countries, from Italy, India and France – even Ireland – through their cuisines. You can do that much closer to home by simply travelling across Bass Strait.
What’s your favourite culinary highlight in Tasmania?
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Image credits: (feature) Moorilla Tasmania; (in-text) Cascade Brewery, Bridestowe Lavendar Estate.