Imagine a highway where every turn has a more jaw-dropping view and every stop guarantees an outstanding taste of local delicacies. Got it? Well, you’ve just taken your first step on Tasmania’s Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail.
There’s so much food, wine and more to see in Tasmania’s North West, it’s worth allowing a few days and a leisurely drive to discover it in full. You’ll want to stop frequently, linger longer and explore those out of the way trails, so do it.
Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail
The online Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail will help you select which places take your fancy and plot out a path. I took their Launceston day trip and extended it along the Bass Highway to overnight at Stanley. It’s a trip I would recommend for the scenic beauty as well as the food.
Fly into Launceston and spend a little time exploring the city. The Sebel Launceston has spacious rooms, great bathroom products and a self-catering kitchen setup.
Start your Tasmanian food experience in Market Square Restaurant on the ground floor as they showcase fresh local produce from the Tamar Valley and have regular local food dinners. A four-shot flight of local single malt Tasmania Whisky is a great way to warm up.
Bright and early, I head west out of Launceston along the Bass Highway towards Devonport. I navigated my trip with my iPhone, or you can use a GPS.
41 Degrees South Salmon and Ginseng Farm in Red Hills is about an hour’s drive down the road through picturesque rolling green landscape. From the highway, there’s still a way to go before you reach the farm. I had a few nail biting moments wondering if my directions were wrong, but eventually the farm reveals itself.
Meet the owner Ziggy Pyka and stroll through the wetlands with a self-guided tour learning about the fish farm, ginseng plantation and aquaponics. You’ll need to work up an appetite for a hot smoked salmon swampwich or a rillettes platter and you can taste before you buy.
The lure of succulent raspberries had me back on the highway heading to Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm near Elizabeth Town.
They say the chocolate coated raspberries are addictive and I now understand why. There’s something about the soft, sweet tartness of the fresh raspberry with the hard crunch of the cold chocolate which is simply irresistible.
Of course, I didn’t stop there – raspberry beef sausages and raspberry golden syrup dumplings were waiting to be tasted and washed down with raspberry tea. You won’t leave here with empty arms after surveying the raspberry themed goodies for sale.
Back on the A1 Highway, Ashgrove Farm Cheese is 9km further west. It’s a family-run business where the 700 strong herd grazes around the factory which produces classic and niche cheeses, such as wasabi and lavender varieties.
Check out the wide selection of local products in their shop, taste their cheeses and take some home with you. Say hello to the friendly cows in the car park, but as the sign says, don’t feed them. They are sculptures, silly!
Check your GPS for directions to Spreyton Cider Co, which takes Tasmania apples and pears grown on the family farm or in the Mersey Valley, and turns them into hand-crafted, bottle-fermented cider.
Cider maker Damien Viney will pour you a flight of five ciders to taste so you can choose which ones to take home. Take a walk through the apple orchards, both new and old, and soak up the Tasmanian sunshine.
The drive on the Bass Highway to Cable Station Restaurant & Accommodation will take you through Burnie and along some stunning stretches of coast line to Stanley.
There’s much to do here – walk Stanley’s cute, heritage streets, climb the 152 metre high Nut, sample the local scallops or Cape Grim beef, walk along Tallow’s Beach and tour the colonial regency Highfield Historic Site.
High on the hill and surrounded by farmland overlooking Bass Strait, Cable Station Restaurant and Accommodation is an award-winning restaurant located in a former telecommunication centre circa 1936.
I had the three-bedroom Tasting Trail Technician’s Cottage to myself so it was a night in front of the fire enjoying the house speciality – wood-oven roasted Stanley crayfish, local scallops and more from the restaurant’s kitchen.
Don and Charlotte Monk and their border collie Leroy will make you feel at home. The accommodation includes a maxi-bar stocked full of local produce, gathered from the same places I visited on my journey.
It would have been fun to extend my trip from here and head further into Tasmania, but instead I was back on the Bass Highway to Burnie to take a whisky walk at Hellyer’s Road Distillery.
It’s not about walking a straight white line but rather touring with whisky distillery with the chance to bottle your own and see the casks maturing on the racks.
There are three single malt whiskies made here. Lunch was a whisky-marinated scotch fillet burger followed by whisky fudge.
Cradle Coast Olives
At Cradle Coast Olives near Abbotsham, Tony and Carol O’Neil describe their cabinet as filled with an ‘embarrassment of awards’. Cradle Coast Olives has taken out the ‘Best Boutique Oil’ award at the Australian Olive Oil awards for five out of the last seven years.
The olive farm started out as a retirement project but their acclaimed oil products have turned this grove into a three generational business. The drive to the farm will take you off the beaten track into a blissful rural landscape.
Ghost Rock Vineyard is a boutique vineyard with a cellar door where you can sip wine and gaze out over the vineyard, which was one of the first to be planted in the coastal region of northern Tasmania.
Located about 10 minutes’ drive outside Devonport, Ghost Rock has new Winery and Interpretation Centre launching soon.
Just a short walk from Launceston’s town centre, Peppers Seaport Hotel overlooks the Tamar River. Built on an old dry dock, the hotel has a nautical theme with balconies that take in the best of the marina views.
On the ground level, Mud Bar’s menu reflects chef Jordan Guy’s travels with a little bit of Europe, Asia and Australia and draws from the executive chef’s own farm.
It’s simply great food.
Their slow-cooked rosemary cassoulet of Driver’s Run lamb with white polenta, tomato, mint and mizuna was lick-the-plate stuff.
If you are in the area on a Saturday, take a short walk to the Harvest Launceston Farmers Market. It operates from 8.30am to 12.30 pm in Cimitiere Street and you’ll find everything from meat and seafood to bread, jams and oils.
I spent three days exploring the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail and it was not enough. You could spend a week here and still have plenty to explore. Start planning your adventure now.
Kerry Heaney was a guest of Tourism Tasmania