Looking for a luxury country escape? Snuggle up under a designer goose-down duvet while gazing at lush paddocks filled with plump Jersey cows; wander around vineyards and visit cellar doors; play a round of golf or go fishing. Here are some ideas on what to do in Tasmania, and luxurious cottages, inns and B&Bs to stay in while enjoying the countryside.
Read on for five stays to get you started.
[email protected] Stanley, Stanley
Much more than just a B&B, the three-suite @VDL Stanley was the former blue stone Van Diemen’s Land Company Store.
Built in 1843 on the peninsula that juts into Bass Strait, it has been transformed into chic boutique lodging with water views from every room.
Guest suites are stylishly furnished, with custom-designed furniture such as plush chocolate-coloured suede lounges, pillow-topped mattresses and designer goose-down duvets.
There are nice little extras like movie and music libraries, snacks in the Munchie box mini bar, chocolates at turndown and newspapers delivered each morning.
The self-contained two-storey apartment has floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
The Stanley Hotel nearby was named ‘Best Bistro’ by the Australian Hotels Association a few years ago. On the menu is a list of dishes prepared from fresh local produce, such as Tasmanian crayfish and grilled ocean trout from Macquarie Harbour.
DO: Discovered by Bass and Flinders in 1798, and named after the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Stanley, the historic town of Stanley sits at the foot of a flat-topped rocky outcrop or volcanic plug called The Nut.
The path or the chairlift leads to the top of the 152m headland, which has fantastic views of the coastline.
Historic sites in and around Stanley include the childhood home of Joseph Lyons (Australia’s prime minister between 1932 and 1939) in Alexander Terrace and historic cottages and pubs around the wharf area.
You can learn about the area’s history at the Discovery Centre Folk Museum or browse craft shops and galleries for timber, metal and glass pieces, paintings and hand-made jewellery. Take a tour of Highfield Historic Site, which has a homestead, workers’ cottages, barns and stables built in 1837 for the Van Diemen’s Land Company.
BEST FOR: History lovers.
2-The Lodge, Tarraleah
Foot massage, madam? More champagne, sir? Dreaming of your own chef, butler and wilderness guide? This Tarraleah temple of luxury has won several Australian travel and tourism awards.
Originally built in the 1930’s, for Tasmania’s pioneering hydro-electricity officers, The Lodge at Tarraleah is a showcase of luxury. Its location, on a highland plateau ridge, overlooks hectares of wilderness. Think gourmet dining, fly fishing, golf and wilderness walks. And a library bar with different kinds of single-malt whiskeys.
Guest rooms are luxuriously decorated with original Tasmanian art, silk-filled doonas, specially designed king-size beds, Tasmanian mohair throw rugs and enormous indulgent bathrooms with spa baths and heated floors. Some have fireplaces and private balconies.
DO: The Lodge is a destination in itself. There’s a stunning cliff-top spa and a list of activities are mostly nature based. The property has platypus, Tasmanian devils, wombats and quolls and over 80 bird species.
There’s kayaking, walking and mountain biking to flying a warbird with an ex-military fighter pilot.
Fancy a spot of golf? Take off in a helicopter to Barnbougle Dunes for the day. There’s no shortage of other things to do in northern Tasmania either. Helicopter flights also offer access to secret lakes, remote coastlines, ancient forests and stunning views.
As a fishing lodge, the location is ideal. There are over 30 lakes and six streams within a 30-minute drive. This patch of Tassie is rainbow trout, salmon and brown trout heaven.
BEST FOR: Anglers, luxury lovers.
3-Red Feather Inn, Hadspen
Only a short drive from Launceston, the historic sandstone charm of Red Feather Inn will transport you to the countryside of provincial France. The inn’s Georgian architecture, built with convict labour in 1842, accommodates up to 14 guests (children are not encouraged).
Rooms and suites are rustic, simple and elegant. Most have charming garden outlooks, impressive modern bathtubs and sandstone mantelpieces hand carved by the convicts that built the inn.
The elegant French provincial-style Library Suite has a chic sitting room with a sofa bed that folds out. The hay loft is now a stylish two-storey loft-style accommodation with a bedroom upstairs and bathroom on the ground floor. Unique recycled wire installations commissioned from local artists hang on the walls and there’s a selection of artistically mismatched French café chairs around the dining table.
DO: If you love cooking then the Red Feather Cooking & Lifestyle School is a getaway worth pursuing. Red Feather Inn owner Lydia Nettleford, who trained at the cordon blue cooking school in London, and Lee Christmas, a qualified chef who was once the personal chef of the Governor of Victoria, run master classes focus on techniques inspired by provincial French cooking. It’s not far from Launceston, where the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday morning.
Cooking classes include smoking and curing, cooking lamb and hogget, and the art of making perfect pasta.
A signature master class is the celebrer le cochon (celebrate the pig), which teaches traditions practiced in small villages around France where families butcher and preserve home-reared pigs.
Students learn how to break down a free-range Wessex Saddleback into a variety of cuts, and learn to make sausages, salami and bacon as well as cook some traditional French dishes that would have been shared on the day with the villages that participate.
BEST FOR: Foodies and chefs.
4-The Peninsula Experience, Dover
Planning a luxury getaway with a small group of friends? The Peninsula Experience is luxury three-bedroom house in Tasmania’s far south comes with 101ha of bushland and superb coastline. Each bedroom has a king-sized bed with high-quality linen and modern decor.
The well-equipped kitchen and roomy dining table is designed for entertaining.
Dover is home to a fishing community where fresh crayfish, abalone and many types of wild fish are caught in the southern waters.
Atlantic salmon is farmed and harvested in Esperance Bay. And the Dover Grocer, in the main street, stocks a choice of local southern produce.
The lounge and dining areas are also roomy, and there’s a timber deck perfect for alfresco dining in summer. There’s a heated outdoor jacuzzi and, at night, the grassland around the house teems with bandicoots and wallabies.
DO: Well-marked walking tracks on the private peninsula highlight different aspects of the area’s ecology. The 360° views of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, the Huon River and across Port Esperance Bay to the snow-capped mountains of the Hartz range are magnificent.
Dover is a sleepy southern town. This may be a lesser-known region of Tasmania but there are plenty of things to do around Dover. Attractions include the Tahune AirWalk, which is a nature-based walk in the Tahune Forest Reserve high among the treetops.
Hastings Caves is an impressive cave with 40 million-year-old stalactites, columns, shawls, straws, stalagmites and the helictites are sure to impress.
The dolomite caves were discovered in 1917 by timber workers. The Thermal Springs nearby have natural springs pool where you can soak in 28°C spring water all year round.
BEST FOR: A getaway with friends.
5-Quamby Estate, Hagley
If living like a lord in the “Parliament House of the North” sounds like your cup of tea you’ll like Quamby Estate.
The countryside is a tranquil escape of rolling hills and lakes. The tag came about because the 64-hectare estate was the home of Tasmania’s premier Sir Richard Dry in the 1860s.
The entrance is a sweeping laneway, lined by impressive hawthorn, poplar and elm trees. The estate has a manicured golf course that offers glimpses of Ben Lomond.
Accommodation is in a 1830’s homestead, where French doors open onto a flag-stoned veranda with turned timber columns and balustrades.
Each of the homestead’s 10 rooms is uniquely decorated with original art and restored furniture. Rooms are chic and luxurious with oversized timber-floored bathrooms, lavish white bathtubs and king-size beds.
DO: There’s a lot to do around the area. Lordly activities include golf on the estate’s nine-hole golf course, fly fishing and country drives.
Quamby is in the heart of Tasmania’s wild trout country with midland streams and remote rivers perfect for stalking brown and rainbow trout.
A drive in the country offers a chance to explore. A guided tour of Marakoopa caves reveals secret creeks, stalactite formations, stalagmite gardens and glow worms.
The townships of Deloraine and Westbury are filled with historic architecture and antique shops. A worthwhile day trip following the Tamar Valley Wine Route is a scenic drive along the Tamar River, past orchards, pastures and forests and into the heart of Tasmania’s premium sparkling-wine region and home to well-known labels such as Jansz, Pipers Brook and Arras.
BEST FOR: Couples, golfers, foodies.