What can I do in the Tamar Valley?
Lavender House – The Perfumery –
Also known as Now Organics you can watch Louis through the glass in the manufacturing area to make sure he’s not substituting lavender with purple stench blossoms. You could probably also tell this from the aroma produced……anyhoo, Frances and Louis have over 70 different species of lavender on site ensuring an all-year-round bloom of flowers. Offering the obligatory bear, Larry the Lavender variety, and you can’t say they don’t have a sense of humour with such products as Shearer’s Crook Back Bee-Balm (cause shearers secretly love lavender) and the Bushie’s All-Purpose Bee-Balm means even working guys & gals get to indulge. It’s not all fun n games however with obviously perfume, salves, natural remedies, toiletries and body care products mostly containing, funnily enough, lavender. http://www.noworganics.com/
Get Outdoors –
Why would I walk when I could spend the entire contents of the reserve bank of Australia on a bike (just the frame) and ride around the region? That kind of answers itself so get out there and walk people! There’s walks ranging from wussy, normal, mild and wild walks from Launceston through to Bass Strait – Tamar Wetlands is a flat boardwalk through birdlife, islands and other flora and fauna, Notley and Holwell Gorge will provide you with enough photographs to start your own wilderness calendar – of note Brady’s Tree at Notley and Tree ferns (aptly named) the size of…trees at Holwell Gorge. There’s a link walk that you can do in sections or all in one – Gravelly Beach to Supply River. If you wanna get crazy, pack a bag and walk from Greens Beach right through to Bakers Beach. There’s even a couple of more urban short walks at Windsor Precinct and the Beaconsfield to Beauty Point trail, but that’s the wussy stuff. Drop into the visitors centre in Exeter, they’ll match a walk to suit. http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=400 & http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=236
You’re not gonna find Noosa or Bermuda standard beaches here, which is good, because then you’d have to fight your way from shore to water like a shopper at a boxing day sale. In the mid reaches you’ll find pebble styled beaches; these have the good bits with picnic areas, water closet (a 20th century term for a loo), shops nearby and cool stuff like fishing pontoons and at Gravelly Beach, BBQ, skate park, play area, coffee and infant friendly play stuff; you can lock them in. In the Greens Beach/Kelso area is where you’ll find your regulation, run of the mill beach – sandcastles, surf and user-friendly stuff like sand and water. There’s around 12km of usable silica, all with a nice gentle slope into the water for the kidlets. In the West Head area you’ll find rock platforms, 5k’s of uninterrupted beach with some cool dunes to play in and very few people to share it with. If you’re inclined, there is a nudist beach – cameras not welcome. http://www.northerntasmania.com.au/top-list/tamar-valley-top-picnic-spots/
Ever been to an artist’s studio and been preached to esoterically and looked down upon until you either buy something, at which point relations improve dramatically, or leave? Me too, however because the folks on the Tamar Valley Arts Trail have had good dose of Tas-main-knee-an learnin’ they’ll be engaging, articulate and welcoming without the snobbery. Felt, oils, ceramics, photography, pottery, dolls even bonsai form a part of the region’s art trail. It’s a chance to find out what makes them tick in their natural environment, chew the fat and gain an insight into why they all walked across the Batman Bridge together (see the website) without getting run over. Personally I’d be tempted to have myself smeared in oils, pastels, charcoal and outfitted like an Greek God, then have a commission done in black and white as a fine art nude – but that’s just me. http://www.tamarvalleyarttrail.org.au/
…teach a man how to fish and…( you’ll probably never see him again) The Tamar is home to Australia’s longest navigable estuary, so naturally you’d expect there to be fish in it. Thankfully there’s a bunch of piers, jettys and pontoons, most with signage about what you’ll catch and the usual rules n regs about what not to do. At certain times of the year you’ll hook into Kingfish, Tailor, Mackerel and everyone’s favourite, Australian Salmon. It’s also a haunt for BIG snapper, pike, couta, flathead and whiting but none, I repeat none, of the locals will divulge their secrets (and I’m one of them) on where and how to catch them, so best have a chat to the local tackle shop where they’ll steer you in completely the opposite direction, so they can keep their standard of fishing awesome. No BS!
Food & Wine –
We’re creating a good theme here; beaches, art, bushwalks and now food and wine? It’s a symbiosis that’s sublime, the mecca of Tasmania’s brand and you will not be disappointed. If you like your nosh in the clean, green and pristine category with a sprinkle of eco, organic and carbon-friendly then you’re in the right place. Many award winning and internationally recognised wines and cellar doors are all waiting for your visit. Tetsuya Wakada stated that Australia did not produce quality Merlot, until he tried Grey Sands and that’s the tip of the iceberg. What’s different is that in the valley you can engage with the folks behind the counter – they’re interested in your conversation and will impart their story upon you – take Michael Wilson the cycling legend at Velo; Giro d ‘Italia, Tour de France and Olympian, or self-confessed survivor of ‘Frisco ’67, Mark Semmens at Marions Vineyard and the beautiful story behind Wines for Joanie. They’re all articulate, engaging and have a wicked sense of humour – unless you just want to use the toilet….. http://www.tamarvalleywineroute.com.au/
OK, I forgot to include the food – the wine distracted me. If I told you there were of 60 food operators and outlets in the valley you’d call me a liar, but this comprises the cool gourmet outlets, wholesalers and farm producers, many of which have retail shop-fronts. To make life even easier there are things like bakeries, cafes, hotels, restaurants and cellar doors that offer Tasmania’s best produce. Ask the chef and they’ll tell you exactly where the food was sourced from – in a lot of cases from the dirt right outside of the venue. With a range that extends to truffles, abalone, honey, cherries, pork, salmon and even olive oil you can over-indulge with confidence. Personally, I like to combine the food and wine together, or for a slight twist, combine a locally produced Vodka with my own hamper and throw the car keys into the river; just search gourmet+tamar. http://www.australiantraveller.com/peoples-choice-2014/best-food-region-tamar-valley-tas/
Glengarry Bush Maze –
NO, I’m not going to say it’s A-mazing. Remember when you last solved a maze on paper? I bet you started in the middle and worked your way back. No such luck here, you’re on your own and you can’t cheat – try not to think about Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Tactile games, puzzles and family fun that doesn’t have an ‘i’ in the title, require a charger or ask you post or become it’s friend to engage (a Tripadvisor review wouldn’t hurt though) Tea, coffee, cake and lunch for mum and dad – outdoor fun for the kids – yes, outdoors. Warning: you may come into contact with things like air, grass, leaves, plants and animals – if that’s all too icky then ask mum and dad if these things existed in their day and compare it to that block world game you keep playing. http://www.glengarrybushmaze.com/
Greens Beach, Exeter, Riverside and even Grindelwald offer that level of frustration that only comes from a little white ball, the size of a plum, that somehow deviates 90 degrees from where you intended it to go. My favourite is the 19th hole, and if it’s not obvious I can’t play golf from the above, then you haven’t seen my wicked right slice. There’s a course to suit all players in the Valley and should suit all levels of skill. If you know what an agricultural heave, a tired kangaroo or a gynaecologists assistant is, then grab your clubs and mosey on down. http://www.golftasmania.org.au/club-info
Tailrace centre –
My kind of holiday/day off from the kids. With a product called kids paradise (aka parents paradise) the kids can go nuts while you pretend to read the paper and go to sleep on the deck. Great views, floor to ceiling glass to let the sun in and did I mention kids paradise?! Themed games rooms for the kids, jumping castles, sports areas, table tennis, crazy bike things that keep the little ‘uns entertained for hours – supervised I might add – while you have coffee No.2 and sample Chef Phil’s next award winning creation. Did I also mention it’s 5 bucks for the kids – what costs $5 these days?!?!? Nuthin!
Gem & Stone Creations –
Not just limited to gems and stones (although you can get them!) – jewellery, minerals, crystals and well, gemstones all in one convenient location. There’s a kids corner for the junior collector, lapidary material (petrified manfern – cause they scare easily) it fits into that gallery-museum-jeweller-collectable-rock-mineral category that is so rare these days. http://rediscovertasmania.com.au/listing/see-do-launceston/gem-and-stone-creations/
Tamar Visitor Centre –
Crazy retirees ready to make your holiday epic? Yep, that’s the Tamar Visitor Centre. They’ll kill me for saying this but its service, old-school style. Award winning for that very service, the team at the TVC will make sure that you know what you’re doing in the valley and right around Tasmania cause that’s probably what you came in for, right? Good old fashioned brochures, maps, souvenirs and that all important local knowledge and booking service. Chuck out your tablet, pad, mobile and other navigation devices – it’s all built in to these androids of the tourism world and they’ll impart their sizeable knowledge upon you (or they won’t get paid) to make your holiday memorable. It’s like an organic Tripadvisor that doesn’t grunt at you from behind a counter, locked into a social media battle over exciting things such as ‘wassup’ – THEY WILL ACTUALLY TALK TO YOU AND ASK YOU QUESTIONS – like, can I help you, how is your holiday going or yes, I can give you the correct information. If you’re a silent traveller then good luck with that. 03 6394 4454 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevallyn Power Station –
What John doesn’t know about Tasmania isn’t worth knowing – from the time the earth cooled and the dinosaurs came, he can tell it all. More specifically, he can take you on a tour of the Trevallyn Power Station. Located in a suburb of the valley, this baby pumps out 90 Megawatts of juice – enough to keep your device charged until the year 3006, but it’s the behind the scenes stuff that John highlights. John will tell you that there’s 28 cubic metres of water per second chugging under your feet – great in a kayak (but not in a power station) and all of the BIG stuff required to run a power station. A classic example of renewable energy, which is so on-trend right now, it’s cool to see that water can run a city without the risk of a meltdown – unless it all freezes of course.
Seahorse World –
As mentioned copiously throughout the site, Seahorse World has, well lots of seahorses, hundreds of thousands of them in fact. You’ll experience the full behind the scenes look at various species of these mini-steeds – farming and breeding, feeding and hands on cuddles with a live seahorse. I wouldn’t recommend this with the hermit crabs or giant sea crabs but hey, it might get you a zillion hits online if you can capture Uncle Wayne’s finger being lopped off by Harry the hermit crab. Cool stuff – seahorses can change colour, Dad has the babies, sometimes over 1000 at a time; ouch, they’re classed as a fish (not a horse, funnily enough) and their closest relation is the mermaid, true! (not really) They come in various ‘models’- bullneck, flat-faced, pygmy, knobby, sad (sniff), false-eyed and my favourite, the hedgehog. http://www.seahorseworld.com.au/
Tasmania Zoo –
With 100 different species you’ll be the envy of your friends when you tell them you’ve rubbed noses with a cotton eared marmoset, tickled an American alligator (not recommended btw), checked your eyesight after seeing the miniature donkey, steer, pony and goat and had lunch with a meerkat. That last part is the coolest, you can literally sip your latte as those cute ‘lil meerkats drool over your muffin in the Meerkat Munchie Cafe. To be honest they don’t actually drool over your muffin, just drool watching you eat your muffin. Put the brown back into your smalls when you encounter the velocoraptor (that’s fancy talk for fast dinosaury thing), as I did on my first tour after standing to close to the speaker. Devils, penguins and meerkats fed daily (and no, not to the dinosaurs)http://www.tasmaniazoo.com.au/
Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Centre –
What else can I say that I haven’t already said? (assuming you’ve just read the attractions page) Ripping about $3 billion dollars worth of gold out of the ground has left Beaconsfield with an historic and modern mining legacy. Olde Worlde mine buildings, artefacts from thousands of feet underground plus the more modern HUGE stuff like a 2.7 metre high, 700kw (about 940 horsepower) winder to enter the mine and a 4 metre round cooling fan suggests that miners enjoy their Tonka toys. The museum prides itself on the interactive displays; work the world’s largest apple peeler, write a letter with ink and pen just like great-grandma used to, send yourself a telegram (the 20th century Facebook) and pan for gold. If you find some, I want half….. http://www.beaconsfieldheritage.com.au/
Platypus House –
The Turducken of the animal kingdom, these furry quackers (they don’t quack, or do they?!) get the royal treatment at Platypus House. Fed on every tour, photographed and splashed around social media it’s surprising the amount of people who have never seen one. Only a pane of glass separates you from them as they munch on yabbies and earthworms while one of the well educated guides tell you they store fat in their tail, like a camels hump, and are one of a select few venomous mammals. Bizarrely, they belong to the same lineage as echidnas which is kinda ironic given there’s a family of them living in the same building. Yep, one has webbed feet, fur, duck-bill, beaver-tail, sat-nav in its bill, poisonous spurs and lays eggs – the other is covered in miniature javelins, has an ant-eaters nose, walks on its elbows and eats ants. Fact – Tasmanian Devils will eat echidna spines as well as the echidna! Ouchie! http://www.platypushouse.com.au/
Grindelwald complex –
With a Chocolate Cafe, gift and clothing shops, golf course, bakery, paddle boats, bar, bistro, accommodation and the world’s largest jumping pillow the hills are alive with the sound of music, Swiss music. Set on 150 acres this Tamar Valley Resort or Grindelwald as it’s known locally, does resort, Tasmania-Swiss style. Family friendly and kiddie-centric its perfect for mum and dad to wave from the Alpenrose Lakeside Bar while they kids lose their lunch on the giant pillow, chase the ducks, canoe across the lake or just not annoy their parents for 20 minutes. Day spa, health club, sauna, indoor heated pool and with mini and 9 hole golf there’s something for everyone – everyone who likes their spa, golf, pool and sauna with a touch of Swissiness. http://www.tamarvalleyresort.com.au/
Given colonial history goes back to the late 1700’s and the first nation somewhere between 30 – 40,000 years ago you’d think there would be a wealth of history in the valley. The Letteremairrener looked after the West Tamar for a significant portion of recent history – there are relics of middens and some coastal evidence but little else. From 1806 the Yorktown settlement took off, but not for long. There are a few Georgian era dwellings, but most are privately owned, a couple of churches, mining and industrial history, a few halls and taverns. If you scratch a little deeper you’ll see Supply River, Auld Kirk, Yorktown, the Anderson and Rebecca Monuments and a truckload of maritime history, but it’s either only in print or at the bottom of the Tamar.