Exploring Hobart and Launceston in winter is an adventure like no other.
The natural beauty of Tasmania’s captivating scenery makes for an adventurer’s paradise. The island’s two biggest cities are just a stone’s throw away from epic mountain ranges and otherworldly landscapes. But the state’s food and wine offerings are also unparalleled. While most people fly into the bohemian city of Hobart, the city of Launceston, with its elegant historic streetscapes, is an equally appealing option.
The northern Launceston region offers country charm, animal encounters and great food. Take the kids to Seahorse World and Platypus House at Beauty Point, an hour’s drive north of the city, before heading on a Northern Forage road trip. Follow the food from paddock to plate, stopping at farmgate stalls and cellar doors.
In Launceston, stay at the new boutique Hotel Verge. The well-appointed, contemporary rooms have an industrial feel thanks to exposed concrete ceilings and timber details. The hotel also boasts Diverge Restaurant, which serves modern cuisine with distinctly Tasmanian flavours. In the Tamar Valley stay at Domescapes in Swinging Gate Vineyard. At these private geodesign domes enjoy sublime stargazing while indulging in local produce.
In Hobart, start the journey at Mona, the Museum of Old and New Art. The whimsical multi-tiered museum hosts a quirky collection of provocative art, a selection of eateries and even a winery and brewery.
A new wave of wine bars and restaurants has taken over Hobart, from its rooftops (Aura) to its courtyards (La Sardina Loca). Seek out the fine food at intimate but casual Hobart favourites Fico, Dier Makr or Templo. Alternatively, head out of town to Port Cygnet Cannery in the Huon Valley or Agrarian Kitchen in the Derwent Valley.
A throng of new hotels has opened up in Hobart. Near Salamanca Market, Vibe Hotel has water views, an indoor pool and a fitness centre. Its Belvedere restaurant specialises in paddock-to-plate menus showcasing the rich bounty of local foods.
Out and about
Fit walkers can take up the challenge of the Sea to Summit Walk and power their way along the Derwent River with Walk on kunanyi. Along the way, take in Cascade Brewery, Junction Cabin and Organ Pipes Track to reach the pinnacle of Mount Wellington for spectacular views.
You can also explore the dramatic and diverse beauty of Tasmania via a scenic flight with Tasmanian Air Tours. The tailored helicopter tours also offer food, wine, whisky, gin experiences and a beach picnic.
The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival (16-17 July)celebrates the region’s apple-picking history. Traditionally, this is the season to ward off evil spirits from the orchard in order to bring on a bumper crop, and here is where you will find locals dressed in pagan finery, fabulous food and cider from Willie Smith’s Apple Shed.
Hobart’s Festival of Voices (30 June-11 July) is a celebration of the power of voice through songs and stories. The festival will feature performers of contemporary, choral and cabaret voices.
At Hobart’s newly opened small restaurant Van Bone, set in the rolling hills of Marion Bay, you’ll have an unbelievable dining experience. The set menu of up to 14 courses uses locally sourced produce from small-scale organic farmers and vegetable gardens. Van Bone employs the ancient method of fire to power its wood-fired oven and charcoal grill.
Out and about
Just a short stroll from Launceston’s city centre, you’ll find a slice of wilderness at Cataract Gorge – take a ride on the scenic chairlift. Visit Hollybank Wilderness Adventures for treetop ropes courses, Segway tours, ziplines and mountain biking – all just 20 minutes’ drive from the city centre.
And south of Launceston, explore Josef Chromy vineyard by bicycle on a Ride the Vines tour.
Food and wine
Tour the Tamar Valley Wine Trail north of Launceston to some of the island’s well-known wine-making vineyards with tastings at the cellar doors of Jansz and Clover Hill.
On Saturday mornings, Launceston hosts a Harvest Market where you can meet the locals and browse the stalls selling some of Tasmania’s finest local produce. Lunch on unusual and mouth-watering dishes such as the “greeky” lamb in steamed bao buns.
For the golfers, embrace the Scottish Highlands feel (and chill) as you swing your golf club at Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links, about an hour’s drive north-east of Launceston. There are three spectacular courses overlooking Bass Strait.