Jan
20
2014

Head to Launceston between February 7 and 9, when the positively delicious annual Festivale is taking place.

This delightful event celebrates the best in Tasmanian food and wine – al fresco – in Launceston's City Park, so get ready to enjoy a day out in nature enjoying the finer things in life.

Check out the scores of stalls that set up at the event, offering gourmet food and delicacies, wine, beer and cider.

Then there are the live performances of dance, music and even street theatre by Tasmanians. It's certainly an occasion fit for the whole family.

Check out the kick-off event on February 7 at Pierre's Restaurant, where Guy Grossi, one of Australia's premier chefs who you might recognise from Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules, will host a lunch. Canapes, sparkling wine and lunch will be served and Guy Grossi will share his culinary experiences.

Be sure to grab your tickets in advance as this is one popular event, drawing the crowds from all over the island and even further afar. One thing's for sure, you don't want to miss out on the mouth-watering tastes on offer.

Festivale Wine in the Park setting - image credit: Visit Launceston

Food delights at Festivale - image Credit: Visit Launceston

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Jan
19
2014

You'll likely know about Tasmania's extremely significant convict heritage site, Port Arthur, which is located an hour and a bit outside of Hobart.

A former convict settlement, remnants of the society remain today. You can go to the site to explore ruins, buildings that are still in remarkable condition, and hear stories about how the facility operated. It's illuminating to see the rooms where these prisoners lived up close, and learn about how they dealt with harsh conditions. You can even partake in night-time ghost tours, which delve into the more spooky side of the compound's history.

Then there are the Port Arthur history plays. Now's your last chance to catch this year's summer series, which brings the history of the facility to life. Up until January 24, you can catch a live performance on site, with various sessions available throughout the day.

There are three short dramas on the billing, which are all written by Tasmanian playwrights. Each 20-minute short play engages with a part of Port Arthur's history. Best of all, access to the plays is included in the price of your entry ticket to the facility.

The three plays on show this month are The Man Who Threw A Stone, The Shingle Strike and A Boy's Life. These address hunger strike, bullying and other aspects of penitentiary life that were all too common during Port Arthur's operational years. The plays take place in the Separate Prison and outside behind the Penitentiary, so it won't be hard to suspend your disbelief.

Head to the extremely fascinating site of Port Arthur to check it out, and you'll see a whole new side of the compound's interesting and eerie history.

History plays at Port Arthur - Image Credit: Port Arthur Historic Site

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Jan
17
2014

It's time to leave civilisation behind and enjoy a break from technology at the Jackeys Marsh Forest Festival! This is taking place from January 24 – 27.

This bi-annual festival celebrates the environment, music and the arts and takes revellers out of mobile phone reception areas and into the natural world.

Bring the whole family along to the beautiful Jackeys Marsh Valley for two nights and three days of music ranging from folk to rock. Performers include the Zucchini Clan, Pete Cornelius and the DeVilles, Lawless Quartet, Siskin River and Grim Fawkner.

Where is Jackeys Marsh? It's located 16 km from Deloraine, and just under an hour's drive from Launceston and Devonport. If you plan to stay overnight, you can use the camping grounds that are divided into two areas – one for those seeking a family-friendly refuge and another for party animals!

Check out the forest walks, children's entertainment, workshops and fresh produce. Learn how to dance swing or the tango, sustainable living, drumming, yoga, tai chi and more.

If you think you might make some purchases during the event, be sure to bring along cash as there are no cash machines or facilities onsite.

All that's left to do is enjoy festivities!

festival logo

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Jan
15
2014

There's nothing quite like travelling through Tasmania's wild North West, with its abundant dramatic scenery, welcoming small towns and the true 'back to nature' experience it offers.

Whether you're on a solo trip, travelling with friends, a partner or with the whole family in tow, there's something for everybody in this beautiful part of Tasmania.

Here are some of the highlights of the region, including certain natural wonders and towns you'll find along the way.

Must-see sights of the North West: Latrobe

One of Latrobe's claims to fame is that it's the platypus capital of the world! You can see these creatures in the flesh at the Warrawee Forest Reserve. Head to the viewing platform to spot these playful animals, or take a guided tour where you can learn about these treasured Australian icons from the experts.

Be sure to wander the streets and lanes of Latrobe town, with its 76 heritage-listed buildings sure to impress. Stop by the House of Anvers Chocolate Factory, which hosts the annual Chocolate Winterfest in July – not to be missed by those with a sweet tooth.

For a healthier indulgence, check out the Cherry Shed where all kinds of this tasty stone fruit can be found.

Wood-chopping is also a beloved pastime of this town, and to learn about its heritage visit the enlightening Australian Axeman's Hall of Fame.

Latrobe is easy to get to as it's just a short 15 minute drive from Devonport.

The Tarkine

The Tarkine takes out the impressive title of Australia's largest rainforest. It is named the Tarkine after the Tarkiner Aboriginal people who once lived in the area. There are many remnants of their society throughout the rainforest, so why not explore and marvel at some of the history?

Visit the Pieman River where you can take a river cruise, go on a hike, nestle into some comfortable accommodation and enjoy your time right amongst nature.
Or you can embark on a cruise that travels back out to the coast on the Arthur River, giving you access to rugged and pristine beaches.

King Island

Off the North West coast of mainland Tasmania you'll find King Island. This wind-swept island is constantly buffeted by westerly winds, so make sure you dress warmly if you decide to visit.

There are plenty of things to do here, such as enjoy the fresh local seafood on offer, sourced from the surrounding ocean. Crayfish season is a particular highlight! Be sure to visit the King Island Dairy, with mouth-watering products such as cream and cheese available. Hang out at Currie, the town's main centre on the doorstep of a beautiful harbour.

The Lavinia Nature Reserve is another highlight, where you can spot wallabies, platypi, sea eagles and orange-bellied parrots, just to name a few of the species that call this reserve home.

You might even want to try your hand at a game of golf along the rugged coastline. Or perhaps you'd rather spend time diving, exploring sites of one of the many shipwrecks surrounding the island.

All in all it's is an incredibly serene place to spend time, so if you're looking to truly get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, make a beeline for King Island.

These are just some of the highlights of Tasmania's North West region, so why not jump in a car and start exploring?

Latrobe township and its picturesque Bells Parade. Image Credit:  Carol Haberle

Fungi near the Tarkine Wilderness Retreat - Image Credit: Tarkine Trails

The Tarkine, walking near Tarkine Wilderness Lodge - Image Credit: Tarkine Wilderness Lodge

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Jan
12
2014

If you like the idea of hang gliding but are not trained, try cable hang gliding. This is where the glide apparatus is connected to a cable that zips along at speed, so you get the sensation of hang gliding, without the need to control the equipment yourself.

In Launceston, you can cable glide over the Trevallyn Dam, above an 18-metre cliff with a 200-metre spell in the air.

Don't close your eyes out of fear – be sure to keep them wide open to take in the beautiful surroundings and see how far up you really are!

Once you've tried this activity, you're bound to want to do it again. In that case, head to the Eagle Hang Glider at the Huon River.

You'll be swept up from the forest floor, soar over the Huon River for 200 metres, 41 metres high in the air before you're brought back down to earth.

The equipment is completely controlled, so all you have to do is calm those nerves and enjoy the thrilling experience! Passengers can only fly solo, so it's a great opportunity to challenge yourself and push those boundaries.

If you are an experienced hang glider, you can get in touch with clubs on the island and try your hand at the activity on Tasmanian soil.

Ready_For_Take_Off

Eagle Hang Glider, Tahune - Image Credit: Tahune Hang Gliding

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Jan
10
2014

There's nothing like an afternoon spent at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart, so be sure to include it on your Tasmanian itinerary. 

These beautiful, landscaped grounds are home to a number of gorgeous and fascinating plants and trees, with some even dating back to the nineteenth century.

It's also a hub of conservation, history and heritage. Before Europeans arrived in Tasmania, the area was occupied by Aboriginal tribes and it is not hard to see why they chose this amongst others – easy access to the nearby river, sloping high ground and shelter spots.

Visitors are also able to explore the island's convict heritage at the gardens, with two walls built by Tasmania's prisoners from another time.

Then, of course, there are the gardens themselves. In particular, there are a number of themed areas that are a delight to visit.

The Japanese Garden, for example, was designed by Kanjiro Harada, a landscape architect from Yaizu in Japan, while the Chinese Collection showcases the local culture with the artistic use of rocks and traditional gardening practice.

There's also the Lily Pond, which was formed in 1840 in a true show of the Garden's longevity and enduring popularity.

Be sure not to miss the sub-Antarctic Plant House, which is inside a small, climate-controlled building. It's a collection of sub-Antarctic plants unique to the world, which would not be able to survive without man-made fogs and mists that mimic their natural environment.

This is just a sample of the many lush areas on show. Head to the gardens anytime, as they are open seven days a week year-round, including Christmas day. Explore the various sections and finish off your day by relaxing with a snack at the Botanical Gardens Restaurant.

Check out the calendar of events for the gardens too, as there are often other displays, open air theatre and song. Their facebook page is always a great place to start out before arrival.

Gardens and the entrance to the succulent house - image credit: RTBG facebook

Japanese Gardens at the Botanical Gardens - image credit: RTBG facebook

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Jan
09
2014

Not all visitors to Tasmania make it to Stanley, which is a shame considering what it has to offer. Make sure you're not a part of the crowd that misses out on this great town and work Stanley into your holiday itinerary.

When you arrive at Stanley, which is located to the far north west of the island, you'll notice this historic settlement is shadowed by what is known as 'The Nut'. This bluff is the remains of an ancient volcanic plug. This dramatic landscape is only one of the many spectacular features of the town. Make sure you don't miss a ride up the chairlift – or a good walk – to take in the panoramas of Tasmania and the ocean. Be sure to have your camera on hand.

When you visit the town, leave aside some time for the exploration of its beaches. If you've got the whole family with you, the kids will love to spend their days splashing in the waves and building sandcastles, while you can find refreshments at the nearby cafes.

Animals are also active in the area, so look out for seals, penguins and other sea birds. Inland, forested areas are also full of wonderful wildlife to keep an eye out for.

Another great place to visit is the Highfield Historic Site. This is a home and farm from the 1830’s, still standing proud today and owned and administered by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Department. Its position on the hillside means it provides stunning views, with Stanley township, the Nut and a whole swathe of Bass Strait in sight. Check out the traditional design and convict barracks, barns and stables – even a chapel. Spend some time wandering through the grounds, which were once, and still are a beautiful colonial era garden. Highfield has been called a time capsule of national significance. It is easy to see why.

You'll likely want to tell your friends and relatives how wonderful Stanley is, but don't spread the secret too far – this place is one of Tasmania's best kept secrets!

Highfield House Gardens - image credit: Ken Hawkey

Highfield House Stanley - image credit: stanleytasmania-dot-com-au

StanleyTasmania chairlift - image credit: wikimedia

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Jan
05
2014

Have you found yourself thinking lately about how nice it would be to get away from it all? Perhaps you've been caught up in the hustle and bustle of city life and would just like to get back to nature.

If that sounds like you, it might be high time to consider a trip to Tasmania to complete one of its 'wellbeing walks'. These walks are led by helpful guides, who can take you into a beautiful landscape where you can find peace and solitude.

You will spend multiple days out in the gorgeous wilderness or the best coastal settings in the world, where you will have plenty of time to reflect and rejuvenate yourself.

The walks include the Freycinet Experience, Cradle Huts, Bay of Fires and Maria Island walks.

Each offers spectacular natural beauty, not to mention the perfect environment for you to rediscover yourself amongst it all. These walks are all part of the 'Great Walks of Tasmania' series, so you know something truly spectacular lies before you.

Treat yourself to a walk through nature you truly deserve – you never know what you might find.

Walking in the Walls of Jerusalem - Image Credit: Great Walks of Tasmania

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Jan
02
2014

Launceston is a popular destination in Tasmania, and for good reason. It's full of exciting things to do and see, and is a particular heavyweight when it comes to history and heritage.

The second-largest city on the island, losing out only to Hobart, Launceston enjoys a thriving city scene.

Given it's such a fantastic destination, here are some of the reasons to see Launceston and a few of the activities you can sink your teeth into while you are there.

City life

Because Launceston is so compact, it's easy to walk to where you need to go. The central area is home to beautiful and elegant buildings, many of which have a significant heritage or interesting past.

There are also plenty of inner city parks that have been a part of the area for up to a century. These are extremely pleasant for picnics and are a great spot for the whole family. Bring along a rugby ball, a Frisbee or a set of backyard cricket and you've got the perfect set-up for a fun-filled afternoon.

Wander the boardwalk from Seaport to Inveresk, where you won't be disappointed if you're looking for a little bit of cultural stimulation. Check out the Queen Victoria Museum, which contains a number of significant artworks and exhibitions. Check out the colonial art, natural science exhibition, and interactive science centre for your young ones.

Wander more lanes of galleries, cafes and restaurants, of which there are enough to keep the whole family entertained for hours.

Launceston's natural wonders

While city life in Launceston is immensely enjoyable, so is getting back to nature!

Only a few minutes out of the central city is the incredible Cataract Gorge. Here, you'll find jagged rocks, steep cliffs and dizzying heights, which attract adventure seekers from all over the globe.

Whether it's rock climbing, canyoning, white water rafting, taking a ride up the chairlift or simply enjoy the parkland below, the Cataract Gorge has plenty to offer holidaymakers of all levels of daring.

Challenge yourself to one of the more adventurous pursuits, or use the Canyon as a relaxing place to get back in touch with your natural surrounds. Either way, you won't leave disappointed!

But if climbing up near-vertical gorges isn't for you and you'd rather sit back with a glass of wine, you have options!

The Tamar Valley is right on Launceston's doorstep, so you don't have far to travel to find some enchanting vineyards and wineries. For the wine aficionados out there, Tamar Valley specialises in cool-climate wines, in varieties such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer.

If you really love your wine, set aside a significant amount of time to explore this area. After all, there are more than 30 cellar doors for you to visit in 170 kilometres of the Tamar Valley – and you'll want to take your time enjoying every single drop!

Launceston is also the perfect base for your explorations of Narawntapu National Park, which is host to a stunning variety of wildlife. Head out at dawn or dusk for the best chance of seeing Forester kangaroos, pademelons, wombats and wallabies.

Keep in mind this is only a small slice of what's on offer in and around Launceston! The best way to find out what else can be discovered here is to come and see it for yourself. Launceston is only a short flight from Melbourne but at times it feels like a whole, refreshing world away.

Alexandra Suspension bridge cataract gorge

Seaport Dining Launceston

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Dec
28
2013

Cradle Mountain is one of Tasmania's most impressive attractions – and that's saying something, considering how many beautiful features can be found on the island!

Part of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, day after day could be spent at this beautiful location, exploring its many hikes, gazing at spectacular views or examining the stunning array of flora and fauna this park and mountain area is home to.

Because not every visitor has this much time to spend in the park, here are some of the highlights that you can squeeze in to however much time you have to spend exploring Cradle Mountain.

The must-see attractions of Cradle Mountain: Mt Ossa

Not far from Cradle Mountain itself is Mt Ossa, Tasmania's highest mountain, which stands at 1,617 metres high, or 5,305 foot. This rocky formation is a bit of a walk to get to, but for those seeking to conquer Tasmania's highest peak, it's well worth the challenge.

Make sure you go prepared and check the weather conditions before you head out. Give it a go during the summer, when conditions are more reliable and wild flowers are in bloom.

No rock climbing is required – instead, there's a marked track to the summit. Get going and enjoy a part of Tasmania that few people get to see a side of!

The Overland Track

The Overland Track stretches for 65 kilometres, and Cradle Mountain itself is found at its start.

The entirety of the walk takes around six days to complete, and offers magnificent scenery paired with a great physical challenge – after all, everyone needs to get out and about a bit more these days!

The track is renowned worldwide for being breathtakingly beautiful, which is no surprise, given the incredible variety of views it offers. From glacially-carved valleys to eucalypt forest, to ancient rainforest to alpine meadows and more, the landscapes this walk serves up can't be beat.

Head out on the hike with your family or friends and make a real trip of it. Think sharing stories by torchlight at night, lying back and looking up at the stars and enjoying a mug of hot chocolate, made the old fashioned way!

If you want to see even more, set aside a couple of extra days and include some of the bonus side-trips on your journey. Along the way, you'll see signs pointing to waterfalls and other gorgeous sights – why not walk these additional routes while you're here?

Be sure to set aside some time at the end of your walk to explore Lake St Clair. You can either catch a ferry across or take an extra day to walk around it and through the rainforest.

One of the best things about the Overland Track is that you can walk at your own pace and design your own journey. Freedom!

The wildlife

While exploring Cradle Mountain and surrounding areas, you're bound to come across some beautiful plant and animal life.

Keep an eye or an ear out for creatures like the Tasmanian devil, eastern quoll and spotted-tail quoll. You might even come across a platypus or an echidna, two extremely unique species!

The area's plants are also extremely diverse, including those with their origins from Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent. Look out for King Billy pine, deciduous beech and myrtle beech, to name a few.

Head to Cradle Mountain to discover some of these beautiful and fascinating features for yourself – you won't regret it!

Cradle Mountain as many people see it - moody and beautiful image credit: @graferrari (Instagram)

On the Overland Track taken by guide and Instagram user Alice Smick

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