If you know where to look, who to ask and don’t act like a pretentious latte snob, you’ll find all of those top ten, must do before you die, bucket list items in a compact, user friendly location. It’s called the Tamar Valley. It’s just outside of Launceston and has all of the creature comforts you need; coffee, mobile coverage, ATM, wine, beer, food, crazy banjo folks who stare at you then follow you to your accommodation and steal your underwear while you sleep…uuumm, no that last part is actually Snowtown . It even has those little extras like people who don’t produce weapons when you cut them off in traffic, roads that a GPS won’t have you driving off a jetty and jeepers – no two-headed loggers cum miners that eat Greens for breakfast and drive unnaturally high riding 4WDs exclusively. You’ll be pleased to know it doesn’t have drunk mums and dads collecting their kids from the Kids Club or fat Intercontinental types in speedos…much.
OK so there’s a slight lean toward food, wine (the Tamar Valley Wine Route is one of the top ten in the world), arts, cider, produce and all things boozy: heard of Boags for instance? You don’t drink beer you say, what about cider – at a cellar door, just ‘cause it’s trending right now and you can say ‘I don’t drink beer, but oh, I do enjoy organic cider’. Well, you can. And you can have it with black truffles if you want, and feijoas (I don’t know what they are but you can have them) or Sumatran Sipangan Bolon Ritual coffee. Arneis? Yep, we’ve got that too. You can even pat the dog who locates the truffles, have a taste of the ‘trufferies’ home made ice-cream, infused with black truffles. Go on, check it out – Tamar Valley Truffles for the truffles obviously and Tamar Valley Foods for the Ritual coffee. Arneis is only available at Holm Oak – Google it, now.
Abalone are conveniently packaged for you so you don’t have to dive for them, although that is quite fun, or deal with the creatures crawling along your bench. Honey is available around every 10 kilometres that you drive, the kind that isn’t portion controlled on the breakfast buffet, the kind that oozes out of a bee’s backside (yes, it’s true and chickens eggs too apparently) real, genuine golden nectar. Olive oil, four times better than the standard set by the International Olive Oil Council – that’s important.
Now, if you’ve indulged and thoroughly feeling like a flipper-less seal, you might need to burn off a few wheels of cheese. Park the car at Gravelly Beach and walk around Swan Point, along Paper Beach and through to the Supply River. You get a free education on 19th century colonial establishment, bushranging, flour milling and even get to stand where a guy called AH carved his initials into the rock at the falls – ‘A H 1804’. Graffiti took somewhat longer in 1804, none of this you-keep-a-lookout-while-I- tag scenario – it’s endured over 200 years in solid bluestone and might take some scrubbing off with a high pressure cleaner. If you’re really unlucky, someone else might be paddling in the pools amongst the falls and you can actually drink the water – I know.
More burn you say? Get yourself to Greens Beach – and walk leisurely to Nudist Beach, walk mildly around West Head, wildly all the way around the headland and along to Badger Head – go absolutely insane and take a tent, sleeping bag, stove, some of that abalone and salmon you found with a bottle or three of Pinot Gris and walk to Bakers Beach – the Coastal Traverse.
Stay amongst the marsupial types on their lawns, yes lawns, all manicured by thousands of tiny teeth. If you wanna glamp it, use the toilets, water, fire places, firewood, visitor centre and the small kiosk. If it’s all too much and you break a fingernail or get your $8000.00/pair boots dusty, call mummy to come and get you OR walk back the way you came – regretting those last two glasses of Gris the night before….
Punished enough, let’s ratchet things down a notch. Not punished enough? Right – bouldering in the Cataract Gorge – if you rock hop from Duck Reach to the Third Basin you’ll definitely need respite. Respite can take many forms however I personally like spa respite, closely followed by something with a deck, a view and let’s splash out – a solarium; that’s fancy talk for a glassed walled room, not a tanning bed turning you terracotta. Choose from one of many valley holiday accommodators; my personal favourite has a teppenyaki bar and a coffee machine the size of Uluru – see if you can find it. For something same, same, but different – contemporary 1920’s. ‘’But that style of accommodation has been flogged like an Ascot steeplechaser’’ I hear you cry. So let’s compare then – Manor Estate; check, conservatory gym; check, Tennis court; check, Bicycles; check, Telescope, laundry, conservatory spa, kitchen, library, sitting, dining and drawing rooms; all check. Oh and broadband, claw foot baths, log fires, private gardens, 7kms of walking tracks – it’s B&B but not as we know it, it’s how we like it. This one is just outside of Beauty Point – and there’s another dozen where that came from.
‘’You’re missing the point, all I want is a bed for the night, I’m gonna blow all of my hard-earned on ‘stuff’. Plenty of cabin parks, hotels, cottages, pubs, motels, villas, self contained units, tepees and even a resort. You’ll need to call a lady called Marion about the tepee and you might even find out about the Hoona Hut or the Ying Yang toilet; I’ll let you discover them.
I’ve kept you waiting long enough; and the news is not good. Since the Beaconsfield Mine itself is now closed, a large proportion of 4WDers have migrated south for the Winter. The good news is you can stand on top of THE 1500 metre deep mineshaft in the comfort of the heritage centre. Mining is sooo passé. So let’s try one of the 5 golf courses, Meerkats watching you much down a muffin in the cafe at the local Zoo, echidnas sharpening their quills on your Blundstones, again at Beauty Point or watching the cheeks redden on your kids faces when you tell them ‘’The Daddy seahorse has the children darling…..”
Did I mention arts? It’s like a trip down sideshow-arts-alley, with all due respect to sideshows. Porcelain, stoneware and ceramics that are functional, yes you heard, you can actually use it. No longer will it ask you to dust it or protect it from the cat knocking it off a mantelpiece. Pastels, oils, acrylics, watercolours, prints, tonal impressions, landscape, figures, still life, charcoal, even weird-ars@d body impressions (OK that last one is in my private studio) If you’re inclined, why not commission yourself as a fine art nude in black and white? Want the perks of the Byron Bay writers festival without the Byron or the Bay – Tamar Valley Writers Festival should scratch that itch as will Artentwine – 4 weeks of music, art, performances, sculpture and all things ‘arty’ throughout the community in October.
Where else could you get a beer snuggie? It’s essentially a beer cosy – a hand crocheted and felted stubbie holder. Yeah, I’m dubious too but the ‘keeps your hand from chillin’ and your beer from warmin’ tag is kinda important in Tassie.
Completely diverging , I’d like to thank the Stoney Creek Nation, part of the first Tasmanians, for putting up with pompous colonials, bushrangers, European diseases, the modern world in general (in particular Pauline Hanson) and for their generosity. For what is a prime piece of real estate, to have that built on by some dude who stole a loaf of bread in 1784 without even asking, is truly altruistic. Where I read this quote I cannot recall however – “This is a place cared for by people who understood the land, its flora and fauna. They relocated according to the seasons, walking along well-worn tracks, hunting and harvesting fresh foods that were cooked or eaten au naturel (sic). Early European medical visitors considered the first peoples to be in excellent health.” These people and their ancestors were here 40 000 years ago, imagine life 40 000 years from now? E.T will be putting a pergola up on your lawn and you’ll say aaaahhh…….
I’ll stand by for litigation to commence…..