50th Birthday Trip to Tasmania: Some questions

Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:25 PM
  #1  
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50th Birthday Trip to Tasmania: Some questions

Sorry in advance for the long post! I have researched most of the previous posts on Tasmania and have been able to put together a draft itinerary based upon the great advice offered to others.

I am traveling at the end of November to celebrate my 50th birthday. I will be traveling solo in Tasmania. I was able to get a great airfare through Cheap Tickets, but it restricted me to flying in and out of Hobart. My main interests are food, wine, seeing wildlife, hiking, wine, Australian history and, of course, wine! I realize I need to do quite a bit of driving, which I am somewhat apprehensive about (driving on the left and all). My schedule also accommodates my reluctance to drive at night and not driving after wine tasting.

Here is what I have so far:
Day 1 - Arrive Hobart approx 10 AM from Melbourne. Drive to Launceston or someplace into the Tamar Valley.
Day 2 - Do the Bridestowe Estate Lavendar tour with Tiger Wilderness Tours. Perhaps catch another tour of wineries in afternoon. Night in Launceston/Tamar Valley
Day 3 - Drive to Swansea. Take a winery tour through a tour operator or private guide and/or just visit this area by car. I fell in love with the web site for the Piermont Retreat, so that is where I would like to stay.
Day 4- Day at Freycinet National Park.
Day 5 - Drive from Swansea to Bicheno. Do penguin tour and spend night in Bicheno.
Day 6 - Drive to Port Arthur. Visit area and take Ghost tour. Spend night in Port Arthur.
Day 7 - Drive from Port Arthur to Hobart airport for 10:30 AM flight.

My questions:
1. Would I be better off staying someplace in the Tamar Valley, closer to the wineries and just visit Launceston on my way to Swansea on Day 3?
2. Does anyone have a recommendation for a place to stay in Bicheno close to where the Penguin tour starts? My budget is probably about $200-250 AUD.
3. Google maps says that Port Arthur is about 1 hour from the Hobart airport. Is that realistic to spend the night there instead of Richmond or Hobart? I would really like to do the Ghost tour the night before I leave.
4. Any recommendations on a place to stay in Port Arthur?
5. Any recommendations on tour companies or drivers/guides for any of the wine regions?

Thank you!
shadowcat is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 03:01 PM
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Because Launceston is only about a little over two hours from Hobart I think you can adjust things to get the most of your trip. Firstly you can take the road from Hobart Airport through Richmond ( because that is a must see place) and from Richmond via a secondary road to connect with the Midland Highway further up near Ross ( another must see place) - I think it cuts in there or perhaps cuts in earlier than there near one of the other little villages along the Midland Highway. So in other words give yourself the whole day to amble about seeing places on the way. Perhaps stay overnight at Woolmers Estate near Longford which is just south of Launceston or at Evandale leaving going through the Tamar Valley till the morning.
Make sure you go the road to Swansea which goes through Scotsdale because the other roads are boring in comparison - therefor you will come out at St Helen's then you will go down the east coast to Swansea. Are you mainly going to the Tamar Valley for the wineries? If so there are many more in the south and you do not have to go there for wineries - for instance there are many wineries around Richmond as well as the Huon Valley. I feel you are missing out of some really wonderful areas of Tasmania i.e. Hobart itself, Huon Valley, Mt Field National Park etc etc. Yes you can stay overnight at Port Arthur but as the Hobart Airport is on the Port Arthur side of Hobart well away you would not even come close to Hobart. So if you let us know why you have chosen what you have chosen perhaps we could better help you.
LizzyF is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 03:12 PM
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Thank you for such a prompt reply, LizzyF!

Well, I really wanted to see the Bridestowe Lavender farm, as well as the Tamar wine region, but I understand what you are saying. It seems such a long drive to see that one place and bypassing other areas. Part of the reason to drive to the north was that originally I had also wanted a day trip to Cradle Mt., but quickly realized there was no way to fit that in.

With my interest in food and wine, and understanding that there are lots of wineries in Richmond and Huon Valley, what places would you recommend in those areas?


shadowcat is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 04:42 PM
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You could drive from Hobart Airport to Cambridge and then up to Richmond ( a 15 minute drive ) and en route are some lovely wineries - one being Meadowbank Winery. Richmond itself was built mainly by convicts and has the oldest bridge in Australia there. The Old Gaol is worth visiting too and ask about the Ghost tours there in Richmond because they too have them. The Richmond Bakery is a nice place to stop for a coffee and a purchase of some rather nice Aussies pies - they may even have scallop pies in then.
The Huon Valley is home to quite a few wineries as well. If you start at Margate at Brookfield Winery and continue down the Channel Highway till you get to Woodbridge ( having stopped for the detour in Kettering for Heron's Rise winery - I think that is the name ) In Woodbridge you can turn right and take the road over the hills whereupon you will come to a turn off to Hartzview Winery - apart from wine they make and pretty nice Apple Mead as well. On reflection though, you could have continued down the Channel to Birch's Bay ( about 5 klms ) to the Sheep Cheesery which also has wines for the tasting as well as the cheese. Then back to the road that goes to Hartzview winery. Continue from Hartzview and down into the Huon Valley - turn right there and pick up the road to Panorama Winery but stop in Cygnet at either the Red Velvet Lounge or the Bottom Pub ( nearer the water) for a nice meal, suggestions about wines etc. From Panorama Winery continue into Huonville and find the road to HomeHill Winery - you can also get nice meals there too. From there drive down the right side of the Huon River, through Franklin to Geeveston and take another right turn out to the Tahune Airwalk but en route take some of the lovely hiking trails you will see. There are many places to see and to stay in the Huon Valley and surrounds depending on what you like in terms of style of accommodation i.e. water views, right on the water, bush retreats, Heritage Listed old houses etc etc. Leave most of your directional planning till you get to Tasmania because there are some really good free maps of these areas you can pick up at the airport when you arrive - The Huon Valley, The Heritage Highway, The Convict Trail, The River's Run etc etc. Also there are many lovely trails for walking on and around Mt Wellington which is right behind Hobart and which has wonderful views. The River's Run map will show you the things to see and do en route to Mt Field National Park which is about the easiest Wilderness area to get to and again great hiking areas and plenty of wild life in and around the falls. Probably one of the tours you should take is either the boat trip from Eagle Hawke Neck en route to Port Arthur ( a must see ) which goes around the bottom of the Tasman Peninsular and generally encounters wildlife OR the boat trip that goes around Bruny Island off the Channel area/Huon Valley and which also generally encounters wild life, I have had personal experience with the latter but not the former. If you decided to stay on Bruny Island there is a Penguin rookery there too but I have even seen them in the water around the wharves in Hobart. This probably gives you much more of what you want to do and see than what you had ideas of. You inerary spent a lot of time going through areas with less interest than what I have set out. If its possible you should always aim to be in Hobart for a Saturday and the Salamanca Markets and get a real feel of the town because it is a lovely town/city too.
LizzyF is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2008, 06:17 PM
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shadowcat-

If you do make it to the Tamar Valley, you might consider staying at Rosevears Estate - we stayed there and really enjoyed the lodging, the area and the easy access to the wineries and fruit farms of the Tamar Valley.

www.rosevears.com.au/

Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 23rd, 2008, 06:25 AM
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Thank you, LizzyF! What great and detailed suggestions! You have outlined a great itinerary!

Melnq8, Rosevears Estates looks amazing. How was the restaurant?
shadowcat is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2008, 04:37 PM
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shadowcat -

Unfortunately, the restaurant at Rosevears was closed during our stay, so we weren't able to try it out (we were there over Easter weekend - lots of closures).

We had a good meal at the nearby Rosevears Waterfront Tavern though.

Incidentially, we saw lots of birds and wildlife while staying at Rosevears.

If you like Cab Sav, you'd do well to pop into Velo Wines on A7 near Legana (Tamar area).

Other things to do in the Tamar Valley area -

We really enjoyed picking our own strawberries at the Hillwood Strawberry Farm (they make some nice wines, jams and vinegars too).

OOPS - not sure about strawberry picking in November though.

We also visited the Tamar Island Wetlands - Tamar is the longest estuary in Australia (70 km) and home to a fascinating assortment of birds.

Low Head Lighthouse and George Town (Australia's oldest town) are also near Tamar Valley.

And of course, the lavendar farm and all those wineries...

The drive on A3 from Scottsdale to Launceston through the Blue Tier and Weldborough Pass Scenic Reserve is one of my favorite drives in TAS.

I'm not a big fan of Launceston (much prefer Hobart), but I like the area surrounding it.

TAS is a fantastic place to visit - have a wonderful trip.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 24th, 2008, 05:41 PM
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You have been given some excellent suggestions, and I must second the recommendation for Home Hill Winery in the Huon Valley as a "must" for lovers of good food and wine. If you are going to visit there, definitely do so when you can enjoy the restaurant also. They are only open for dinner Friday and Saturday nights and most Saturday nights at that time of year will be booked out with wedding functions as it is a very popular venue. If being in that area on a Friday night won't fit in, you can always do lunch on another day.
Peppermint Bay is another worthwhile stop for a meal, over at Woodbridge, and this part of the valley is very pretty also. You are well advised also to attend the airwalk, even for the lovely driving between Huonville (a good base to the far south) and all that lies along the Huon Highway heading south. The Huon trail is divided into two distinct sections by the river as I think has been mentioned. Heading directly south means you have to drive back up the same road to Huonville again - but it is well worthwhile and there is a lot to see along that highway. The other side of the river can be done either coming into the Huon or leaving - as you wind through the countryside just taking the long way back to or from Hobart. That said, you may not have the time to stay in the valley overnight but mores the pity!
To find the best places to go, get a Huon Trail map when you arrive, but you can see the details here:
http://www.huontrail.org/
The reputable places are listed on their map and it is very easy to follow.
You mentioned the lavender farm, so if you like flowers do yuorself a favour and visit the Stonehouse Gardens and The Scented Rose - both will be spectacular in November and both are located in the Huon. The gardens in southern Tasmania are lovely in spring anyway but those two are well worthy of a mention. Stonehouse is close to Home Hill and the Scented Rose is located on the other side of the river and could be incorporated into a journey through the vineyards and such that were suggested in an earlier post.
Salamanca market and Richmond are definitely must see items on a trip to Tassie and so trying to incorporate both into your itinerary will be well worth the effort. I love Launceston and the north also, but the south has plenty to offer and since you are flying in and out of Hobart it makes sense to spend more time in that immediate and surrounding area to better maximise your travelling minutes. I know that only in a perfect world would you have the unlimited time to achieve all these things, but pretty much anything can be done from Hobart and the Huon Valley is far less remote than people would have you believe if you stick to the actual valley.
Happy travelling!
Blackjack4 is offline  
Jun 24th, 2008, 09:55 PM
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Just one point that I do object to with the Peppermint Bay Restaurant is that they are apt to cancel a small booking if they have a lot of people on their launch coming in for a meal and that has stopped me ever going back there again because that is what happened to me - although it is a lovely spot and the food is nice as far as I am concerned if a restaurant does not cater for the locals then I will not recommend them at all. I would prefer to go to Fleurty's Restaurant/Cafe which has farm fresh food and is only about 5 minutes further south - has lovely views too as it far cheaper as well.
LizzyF is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 07:15 AM
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Thank you all for the information. I think you have convinced me that I need to adjust my initial plan and take advantage of the proximity to the Huon Valley. The web site that Blackjack4 directed me to also has a LOT of good information. It also had a link to LizzyF's recommended Fleurty's Cafe and I see that they also have an eesential oil distillery, along with Dutch Irises!

I did notice that on the web site Fleurty's says that the cafe is open Wednesday through Sunday. Would most wineries and restaurants be open only during limited days and hours at that time of year?

I need to review and revise my itinerary. I will post back with more questions, no doubt!
shadowcat is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 03:09 PM
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I "think" that the opening hours which are advertised at the moment for Fleurty's Restaurant are for the present winter months. However if I remember, I will phone them today and ask if that will be the case in November. There are a lot of places who take advantage of either closing over part of the winter months or at least reducing the opening times, I too have my holidays at this time of year and do not open or advertise much either.
LizzyF is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 03:32 PM
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I dare say that Fleurtys and other places will open for more extended hours during the warmer months. Most of the food providers will close or drastically reduce hours in the winter. Fleurty's is nice too and has a popular following. Don't be put off Peppermint Bay though - double booking issues can happen anywhere and the one way to enhance the experience would be to take their Launch! They are a vastly popular establishment and the majority of the local population love the place, as do the tourists. The location is fabulous and the food is great, the staff are courteous and friendly - they are very highly regarded. That said, you can't go everywhere! The wineries should be open most days in November, it will be dinner that may be limited (as in the case of Home Hill - Friday and Saturday nights only) but lunch shouldn't be a problem.
If you base yourself in Huonville for your time in the valley, you will easily reach all attractions on both sides of the river, allowing a full day for each side with an overnight stay in between. It is so close to Hobart, and that is another wonderful place all on it's own that deserves more time. But I don't want to confuse the situation! I am sure you will enjoy Tasmania however you do it.
Blackjack4 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 05:40 PM
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As I expected - when I called them they said that the times are their winter times and they also will be closed the whole of July. They will be open every day again from 10 - 5pm in September.
I have to disaggree with Blackjack about the limited dinner options in the Huon and surrounds. I love eating at the Bottom Pub in Cygnet ( the one nearest the water) , the Snug Pub in Snug, The Huon Manor restaurant in Huonville, The Margate Pub, Brookfield winery in Margate for lovely food and last but not least Pear Ridge Restaurant in Margate which is owned by a Frenchman and whose food is really excellant - Sunday nights being the best when you can get Main meal and dessert for $19 Au. I would endorse staying in Huonville but for the fact that its a pretty uninteresting town to stay in, there is nothing particularly pretty about it either and you can certainly do much better than Huonville.
LizzyF is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 06:13 PM
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I didn't say there were limited choices in the Huon - I said the wineries may be limited for dinner opening - as in the case of Home Hill who don't open every night. The Huon is certainly an area where the choices are NOT limited, but I was answering a direct question and I am sorry if it has confused you.
No, Huonville isn't a terribly pretty town actually, particularly with it's growth in recent years but my meaning was that it is central to both sides of the river - it is right at the opening for touring either side. There is also everything one needs and is a good base that way, plus the immediate area has more accommodation choice (depending on personal taste). It is also easier to get to various restaurants, regardless of which side of the river they are on. Many towns in Tassie have their merits, it was just a suggestion for convenience given the time limits. The Huon Manor is an excellent restaurant and one I can't believe I forgot to mention - and it's located in Huonville, no less.
Pear Ridge I had heard as being "average" so I am interested to hear such positive feedback on that one. Margate places are probably Ok but then you are not really in the Huon Valley, you are over at the channel. Basically, everyone is different and the same restaurant will give differing experiences to different people. If one listened to every whinge on a forum like this none of us would ever go anywhere.
You will find that people tend to "eat their way around Tassie" and the food is great generally. I am sure you will love it in any case and what fun to pick and choose the parts you will go to!
Blackjack4 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2008, 10:20 PM
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Well, Lizzy and Blackjack have certainly sold me on the Huon Valley. I've been there twice, but seems I missed more than I saw. Third time's a charm, no?
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 27th, 2008, 07:23 PM
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Oh, shadowcat! You're going to love Tasmania; DH and I were there in October 2006 and would head back in a flash. Thanks to Lizzy's great info, we loved Fish Frenzy in Hobart. It's a very informal restaurant right on the pier. I ate an entire order of fish and chips and haven't been hungry since!

There was another restaurant we found when we were driving back from the airwalk, but I cannot remember the name. It was in an repurposed courthouse by the side of the highway, and the name had a legal ring to it. Maybe Lizzy will chime in with its name.

You are going to love Piermont Retreat. We were there for one night and definitely could have stayed longer. Try Kate's Berry Farm for breakfast. It's very close to Piermont.

Please tell us about your trip when you return!
Betsy is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 08:42 PM
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The restaurant in question is called the Petty Sessions and is located at Franklin (lovely town just south of Huonville) on the river side of the Huon Highway. The views are nice there if you can eat on the verandah at the back.
Blackjack4 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 07:18 AM
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Thanks, Blackjack.
Betsy is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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You are all giving me so much great information, I feel that I surely will be eating my way around Tassie! Ah, so many restaurants, so little time!

Well, it finally the weekend and I can work on my itinerary again. During the week I am busy earning the $$ for all the wonderful food and wine in OZ.

Betsy, I am glad to hear you enjoyed the Piermont Retreat. I am really looking forward to seeing it AND the Berry Farm!
shadowcat is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 08:24 AM
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What a great way to spend your 50th! I, too, am very interested in Piermont Retreat, but have been somewhat put off by the negative reviews on Trip Advisor. I'm thinking about it for next Christmas, so do let us know if you enjoyed your stay.
oliverandharry is offline  

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