Tasmania’s Tarkine Forest Drive is a newly sealed road that has opened up Tasmania’s North West to travellers. It’s a scenic drive past lighthouses on rocky cliffs, wonderful food, wildlife experiences, friendly towns and enthusiastic people who are passionate about their region. One town that sticks in my mind is Ulverstone Tasmania, a picturesque spot west of Launceston where rolling hills are dotted with cattle.
Sharing a meal with Mathew Waller
With an ambitious vision of providing a shared-dining experience, Mathew Waller took on a big gamble when he opened Pier 01 in November 2012. Overlooking the water front, Pier 01 in its two years of serving patrons, has become an award-winning restaurant and café.
‘Let’s bring back the dining experience, one from the paddock to the plate. We work as a team with local suppliers, most of those boutique. I encourage all of us to experiment.
Chefs don’t just pop into a kitchen, they know where their produce comes from. We often know the primary producer personally. People want more than food, they need more; they need to know the connection,’ says Mathew.
Mathew’s passion for food resonates as we dine on an entrée of cured petunia ocean trout. He explains his menu changes with the seasons.
Wagyu Whisky Beef Burger is a favourite. It’s a lip-smacking dish of local Wagyu beef served with lettuce, cheddar cheese and triple smoked shaved bacon, slow roasted tomato and Pier01’s herb and chilli scented coleslaw in a sourdough bun.
It comes with hand-cut wedges, tomato relish from Hellyers Road Whisky (if you have time this distillery is worth a visit too) and roasted garlic aioli. Simply divine!
Lemon curd, poached apples, kiwi fruit, oat and coconut crumb, honey and ginger gelato, dugar clouds, mint oil are combined to make Mathew’s special spiced chai pudding. It’s definitely my favourite desert.
The design of the restaurant encourages diners to be social. The timber bar is made from beams recycled from the original 100-year-old plus pier shed. Ulverstone was one of the main produce shipment ports since it was first settled.
Most of the furniture in the modern rebuild with floor-to-ceiling glass views of the river is rescued, reclaimed or recycled. Everything from the view to the food provides something to talk about.
Pier01 is open from Wednesday to Sunday and it’s advisable to book as the restaurant is popular for private functions.
Walking on the wild side with Will Wing
Will Wing’s favourite animal is the Tasmanian devil. His choice differs greatly from his grandfather, Colin, the boss of Tasmania’s largest wildlife and animal park, Wing’s Wildlife Park.
10-year-old Will looks set to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps to be the eighth generation of the Wing family to champion the cause of Tasmanian wildlife.
Tasmania has both the smallest and the largest carnivorous marsupials alive today in Australia.
The largest, the Tasmanian devil, has the personality of Jekyll and Hyde. It can be cute and cuddly one minute but as soon as you introduce food to it you have a hissing beast you’ll want to run away from.
The Wing family moved to the area in 1874. For more than 150 years they milked cows.
‘We gave that up five years ago, more and more people wanted to come and see the animals so what started out as a small friendly tourist attraction has now grown into a much bigger one,’ says Colin Wing.
Colin and Megan Wing run the park. They employ enthusiastic locals whose daily routine includes a range of tasks, from feeding and nurturing the animals to serving coffee, snacks or lunch in the café (by the way the Buffalo Burger is delicious).
Tasmanian devils are a drawcard at the park, which also has over 150 species of wildlife, from relaxed kangaroos to sleeping koalas, to inquisitive meerkats.
There are numerous birds, reptiles, ponds of fish (a treat for the children when the food is thrown in but be warned of a huge splash from the feeding frenzy) as well as a wildlife nursery for cute and cuddly baby animals nursery.
The road to the park is a scenic drive that passes thorough farms and forests. The George Woodhouse Lookout is a good spot for a photo stop.
If you’re wondering if Will be the next Wing to walk in his grandfather’s footsteps and make caring for wildlife his life’s passion then do drop in and have a chat to him.
At the moment this young man lives in his grandfather’s shadow and is absorbing information like a sponge. There’s a good chance you’ll bump into Will at the park, especially during school holidays. If you do see him please say hello from me!
Wings Wildlife Park is open from 10am to 4pm or by appointment.
Café and Accommodation
The café serves light meals and snacks. We recommend the Buffalo Burger.
The park has accommodation with on-site cabins (named after the old timers of the district), backpacker units and powered and unpowered camp areas.
Did you know?
The size of a Tassie devil and its marking can vary greatly? Mostly due to diet and habitat. Tassie devils are mostly nocturnal but you can also see them during the early morning and late afternoon, as we did on a Woolnorth Tour. Of course, you’ll get to see them any time of the day at Wings. Night tours are conducted on Thursday nights.
Five more things to do around Ulverstone
1- Visit Leven Canyon for spectacular views of the gorge
2-See the Little Penguins each night at Lillico Beach
3-Visit the Ulverstone History Museum
4-Take a cruise on the Leven River
5-Explore Gunns Plains Caves