With some of the world's finest hand-crafted goods to choose from, it is no wonder that so many visitors to the island state enjoy shopping in Tasmania.

And while trekking through the wilderness is always a fun activity, spending time browsing through artisan stores can be just as enjoyable.

Whether you have a passion for wilderness photography, wood crafts, wool products or unique holiday mementos, you are sure to find the perfect keepsake.

Among some of the top shopping destinations is the Design Centre of Tasmania in Launceston. This retail outlet specialises in wood craft and buyers can find anything from giant Huon pine clothes pegs to designer ornaments made from locally sourced myrtle.

The city of Launceston is also home to the Pinot Shop, which specialises in boutique red wines, including 'big island' vintages and premium international varieties.

If you are in Hobart, adjacent to The Henry Jones Art Hotel is Art Mob, a local art dealer popular with the discerning, with its aboriginal art sets and exhibitions. Next door is another dealer of fine wood designs who will ship all over Australia.

There is also a cafe on hand to help you unwind after spending the day exploring these fine collections.

Over at Salamanca there are shops galore and two delis which cater to the gourmet traveller in search of produce or home-made treats that you can share with friends and family over a tasty meal.

Design Centre Launceston

Pinot Shop Launceston

Natalie Puantulura artwork Art Mob

Art Mob Aboriginal Fine Art Rachael

Yidumduma Bill Harney painting Art Mob

Salamanca Shopping Area - fresh fruit market and deli

Salamanca Shoping Precinct

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A small family run boutique organic sheep cheesery in Southern Tasmania last week won “Champion Cheese” at the Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy show, with their Sapphire Blue.

Significant? Lump together 360 different cheeses – cow, goat, sheep and buffalo from all over Australia and subject them to a panel of judges. Subjectively, objectively curate their evaluations. Inject the fact that historically it is very rare for a “Non-Cow” milk cheese to win this award … And yes, this is an amazing feat for a small Tasmanian enterprise.

Sapphire Blue is the signature cheese of Grandvewe Cheeses – a small sheep cheese farm in southern Tasmania just a short distance out of town in the Huon Valley at Birchs Bay. Made using the famous Penicillium Roqueforti, and released between 3 & 4 months of age it is a distinct and sometimes unusually flavoured blue with an underlying ewe’s milk derived sweetness. At times this cheese show hints of smoked meat on the finish –a characteristic of small amounts of brevi.

Sapphire Blue is made from 100 percent sheep milk and using traditional Roquefort techniques. The Royal Sydney Cheese and Dairy Awards is the highest agricultural award in Australia and it has the most experienced judging panel. This year it welcomed third-generation French affineur Hervé Mons as the international judge for the Cheese and Dairy Produce Show. You can imagine that his take on a classic French style cheese would be very discerning.

Open 7 days from 10.00am to 5.00pm, excluding Christmas Day, one more to add to your itinerary.

Sheep at Grandvewe Image credit About The Food

The team and the winning cheese - image credit The Mercury/Richard Jupe

Grandvewe Composite Image Image credit (parts) Joe Shemesh

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King Island has a reputation for fine-dining, with some of the best dairy and seafood produce in the country.

And visitors are encouraged to taste the rich selection of creams and cheeses that are synonymous with the name King Island – one of the strongest brand associations in Australia.

If you prefer seafood then a short trip to the main town of Currie will not fail to disappoint even the toughest food critic, as some of the state's best known chefs serve everything from in-season crayfish to hearty meat pies. 

But great food and hospitality are not the only attractions that lead so many tourists to visit the North West of Tasmania.

The island's rocky coastline is home to more than 70 shipwreck sites – a fact that may surprise some until they come face-to-face with the strong westerly winds that sweep through the region and are affectionately referred to as the Roaring Forties.

In recent years, these sites have gained popularity among scuba divers, who get to enjoy exploring an important part of the state's marine history as well as reconnecting with nature.

Travelling to the island is made easy with regular air services from the mainland and Tasmania.

King Island Product Range on Plate

King Island grazing producing fine dairy products

Giant kelp and its byproducts are one of the main industries - it shows up in icecream and cosmetics amongst other things

Yellow Rock Beach King Island

One of the enduring visuals of the King Island brand

Currie Harbour King Island Australia

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The Devonport Food and Wine Festival is on again this year, with the month-long celebration of food, wine and local produce opening its doors to the public from March 1 to March 31.

And the event that is known to have something for everyone is preparing to wow audiences with an action packed program.

Visitors can talk with local growers and gain tips on how to make their favourite meals during one of the many demonstrations that will take place during the festival. Sign up to their facebook page!

A number of guest chefs will be on hand to guide foodies through the ins and outs of fine dining and share their love of quality ingredients.

Last year guests were treated to a special display on how to 'drive their barbeque' by top Tasmanian chef Nigel Squibb, who also guided a popular segment on kids in the kitchen.

Cooking classes are also on the menu, and this year will feature Tetsuya and Sally James, giving visitors the chance to try their hand at making household favourites, as well as new and exciting recipes as instructed by these top Australian chefs.

If you plan on visiting of an evening, you may like to gather a group of friends together and sample some of the regions best wine over a delicious dinner.

The festival is the umbrella event for a whole lot of happenings, so mark the ‘Taste The Harvest‘ Food & Wine event on Sunday March 11th at Roundhouse Park into your calendar.

But these are just some of the activities on offer for visitors to the city of Devonport, which is often described as one of the major cultural centres on the Tasmanian north coast.

Holidaymakers and food enthusiasts making their way to the food festival may also consider visiting the area's many tourist attractions.

The nearby Art Gallery has a large collection of artworks, ceramics and prints that showcase the city's rich history, while the Maritime Museum delves into its shipping past.

Visitors to the Devonport Food and Wine Festival in Tasmania can find this year's full program in the Friday – 24 Feb – edition of the Advocate.

Taste the Harvest banner - part of the month long Devonport Food & Wine Festival

Taste the Harvest food - part of the month long Devonport Food & Wine Festival

Taste the Harvest dessert - part of the month long Devonport Food & Wine Festival
Taste the Harvest produce display  - part of the month long Devonport Food & Wine Festival

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They say that the best way to get to know a place is to spend time with the locals, and it seems that this old saying rings true in the island state. Especially in a place known for its friendliness.

Whether you are travelling with family and friends or exploring the four corners of the state on your own, it is always a good idea to make sure you have a great place to spend the night and unwind after a day spent sightseeing.

And while there are hotels and lodges that provide visitors with creature comforts, homestead and farm stay accommodation in Tasmania is becoming increasingly popular.

Visitors can expect to experience the real Tasmania and gain first-hand knowledge of the day-to-day running of rural farms when they stay at the award-winning Beachside Retreat – a cattle property with ocean views – or Taras Richmond Farmstay, and out beyond New Norfolk – Heimat Chalets and Curringa Farm.

Enjoy early morning starts, stock round-ups and reconnecting with nature over a hearty family meal made with the finest produce in a rural setting.

Along with share accommodation, each of these properties feature self-contained cottages available for those who prefer privacy.

Backpackers may find that a trip to Icena Holiday Retreat is the perfect way to discover the north-east region of Tasmania.

Entry to Taras Richmond Farmstay

Currringa Farm Stay Balcony with hills and pasture

Heimat Chalets Farmstay Accommodation

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Sea kayaking in Tasmania is more than just a popular sport or pastime; it is also a great way to see another side of the island state and its idyllic coastline.
This is especially true for holidaymakers visiting the east coast, where sandy white beaches stretch into the sunset and cooler waters make paddling that much more enjoyable.
And if you are feeling like dipping your toes into the ocean this summer, then it might be a good idea to start planning your journey now.

There are a number of tours on offer that cater to beginners and professional kayakers, which makes it an activity that is suitable for all ages.

At Freycinet National Park, visitors can soak in the natural beauty of the pristine waterways and spend time relaxing in one of the island’s most popular destinations.
Other well known sites include Wineglass Bay and Honeymoon Bay, which are famous for their private beaches, native flora and fauna, and secluded setting.
Kayakers visiting these locations may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of dolphins, schools of exotic fish or even some rare species of birds.

Depending on the time of day, it is also possible to watch the sun set into the ocean on a twilight paddle or spend your time exploring the many hidden coves and beaches that make this area so unique.
Kayak tours help to take the hassle out of organising one of these trips by providing expert tips, guided tours and professional equipment and there are a number of places where visitors can book these services.

It is best to plan ahead if you would like to go on one of the many available tours as a group in order to make sure there are enough places for all intending kayakers, as well as nominate a preference for the length of time you would like to dedicate to paddling.

Other locations for this exhilarating pass time are the South West National Park, Port Arthur and around Hobart’s harbour and the River Derwent.

Inner harbour sea kayaking Hobart

Sea kayaking

Sea Kayaking at Ketchem Bay South West

NorthEast Coast Kayaking

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If losing yourself to the sound of calming wind chimes or fluted music while having a hot-rock massage sounds like your idea of a relaxing holiday, then it may be time to visit one of the many destination spas in Tasmania.

Individuals and groups wanting to unwind with nature will find it difficult to look past the total body pampering that is offered at wellness clinics and retreats across the island state.
And with a range of different spas to choose from it is easy to find a venue that suits your unique needs.

The region has a long history of providing the best in healing treatments and alternative therapy, which dates back to the 1800s when the island made a name for itself as the 'sanatorium of the south'.

Hot spots to add to your itinerary include the Harmony Hill Wellness and Organic Spa Retreat in Margate, Hidden Cove Day Spa Retreat in Tinderbox (both a short distance from Hobart), Endota right downtown, Mud Club in Launceston, the Spa at Saffire, at Lost Farm – Barnbougle and the Waldheim Alpine Spa at Cradle Mountain Lodge … the last two forming a perfect ‘coast to alpine’ experience.

Depending on where you choose to go there is also the option of turning your treatment into a peaceful weekend getaway.

Busy mums juggling work pressures and family commitments can often be found taking some much needed R&R away from their routines.

An activity that is also a favourite at luxury spas, is brides looking for a quiet place to soak up and relax in the warmth of companionship of besties before the big day.

With other retreats located all over Tasmania, visitors can pass as much or as little time as they like having therapeutic beauty treatments.

A number of the spas are also eco-friendly, which means that you can feel good about indulging in valuable time away from the hassles of daily life while also helping the environment.

Spa at Saffire East Coast

Spa at Cradle Mountain Lodge

Lost Farm Spa at Barnbougle

A Relaxing Spa Treatment is good for the Soul

Harmony Hill Cottage Spa

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If you love the idea of stepping back in time to the way things used to be – with the exquisite architecture and an atmosphere that feels unchanged for centuries – then Tasmania is your ideal Australian holiday destination.

Home to some of the country's great mansions, the island state offers a deep insight into how the early colonialists lived.

With a small population, strong community spirit and isolation from the mainland, Tasmania has managed to capture its heritage and preserve many of the historic elements that make it what it is today.

Wherever you go you will discover amazing examples of Georgian architecture – some open to public access and others owned privately – all telling the story of original settlers and their desire to build a beautiful home away from home.

Rare colonial buildings and objects of historic significance are scattered throughout the island and protected by the National Trust Tasmania.

Some of the highlights include Clarendon – an iconic mansion of Australia – and the rare 19th century whaling family home named Runnymede.

Visitors can use the Tasmanian Heritage Guide Membership to navigate the region and experience the timelessness of the region armed with the necessary knowledge.

Wall alongside Lark Distillery in Hobart

The superb Customs House Hobart at night

Ross Tasmania midlands

Narryna Heritage Museum Hobart just off Battery Point

Colonial Home image credit - Carole Bradford

Clarendon House

Buildings Downtown Hobart

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If you are thinking of travelling to Tasmania this March, why not start planning your trip now?

With such range of activities and events on offer, taking time to organise your travels ahead of time will lead to time-savings in the long run. Better yet, that planning may uncover hidden gems along the way.

Whether you are keen for adventure or wanting to learn more about the world you live in, there is always something on offer suitable for all ages.

Among the many cultural attractions you may stumble across in the city of Hobart is the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery's renowned Islands to Ice exhibition.

As part of the museum's permanent collection this display was first opened in March 2006, but has since grown in popularity to the point where it is a favourite among both locals and visitors.

It is also a free activity, which is no doubt an attractive feature for people on a tight budget and looking for ways to save money without missing out on any of the city's main sites. It’s also a great cool day pass time.

Described as a journey across "wild sapphire oceans", the exhibition showcases stunning imagery, photographs, installations and artefacts which help people discover the south of Tasmania and learn more about little known but awe inspiring places such as Antarctica.

In addition to enjoying the natural beauty of these regions, many of which are still relatively untouched by human hands or development, there is also the chance to gain an insight into the people and mythology.

Lifting the veil on what for many people is still an unknown wilderness, the ‘Islands to Ice’ exhibition is one of an exciting list of Tasmanian cultural events that help visitors discover the beauty of this unknown Continent.

Islands to Ice exhibition

Islands to Ice exhibition - diagram of Antarctic ice

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We hear of distinctive new accommodation coming on line from time to time and this immersive new retreat measures up to the description “distinctive”.

In the Far South of Tasmania, the forest parts to reveal a spectacular open buttongrass plain. Buttongrass Retreat immerses you in comfort, surrounded by native grasslands and mountain views. Australia’s southern most accommodation has just been built at Ida Bay by Michael and Paul of Huon Bush Retreats.

The modern 2 bedroom self-contained cabin is a true eco-experience with 12 volt solar electricity and hot water, wood heating and it is free from distractions like TV and in-room phones. Inside, the rooms are spacious. Every window brings a new picture. Little touches include DVD and CD players with iPod dock, telescope, selection of native flowers, wood fired bakers oven and a reading nook beside the living area.

Outside, the buttongrass moorland abounds with wildflowers and bird life. At night, you might be lucky to have a visit from an owl, possum, Tasmanian Devil or spotted quoll. The outdoor bath is a great place to enjoy a glass of wine under the stars.
Exclusive occupancy of the entire property gives you peace and privacy.

Adjacent to the Ida Bay Historic Railway and just 20 minutes drive from the southern most end of the road at Southwest National Park, this is the perfect place to base for exploring the natural beauty of Tasmania’s Far South. Walk from your door to Southport Lagoon or short drives will take you to the trail-head for many other walks.

Refer to web site www.buttongrassretreat.com.au for more information and bookings.

Buttongrass Plains and Adamsons Peak in the distance

Private Deck, Tub and the peak in the distance. Total Peace

House viewed from a short walk away with native flowers (Banksia)

Comfortable Living Area

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