We last visited the Apple Isle in Summer about 5 years ago so this trip would be a little different in terms of climate. Last time we spent about 2 weeks going round the coast and someone else did the driving. It was a great tour and there were only 4 of us on it so it was very personal and we chose it because it had a food focus .This time we had our own wheels and our own timetable and it was up to us to find those little foodie outlets...how did we get on?
It gets weirder. He starts talking to Steve about the weather which is all well and good but then the chat turns to Stonehenge and crop circles and aliens. Then the conversation veers towards literature and I am drawn into Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy discussions! Not your every day taxi ride chatter for sure.
We stayed at Customs House Hotel which is on the waterfront and is effectively a pub with rooms. It was great value for money - $180 per night including breakfast for two. We weren't expecting any luxury but it was clean, serviceable and yes there was some noise but we figured that would be the case and it didn't really disturb us. The room was ready before check in time so it was great to unload our stuff and head back out.
We had made good time from landing to arriving in the city and we headed to Small Fry for lunch. We'd seen some television coverage of this small eatery and were keen to give it a go. We sat at the bar, watched the chef in action and thoroughly enjoyed our meal. We went with the two special dishes - the ham and barley soup and a minute rump steak with potato nest. The soup was like comfort in a bowl and we could be eating it in a country farmhouse. The steak transported us to a Parisian bistro with it's glaze, tartiflette (cheesy potato nest) and fresh, crisp apple and leaves salad. We also headed into sweet stuff territory and the chocolate brownie Steve had and the canele I had were both hits.
After lunch Steve and I headed to Lark Distillery to enjoy some gin and whiskey and we parked ourselves there for the rest of the afternoon. Our friends Sam and Christian were also in town for Sam's birthday and a quick text message later, they had joined us! The afternoon was really about a few snifters of whiskey and gin, some beer, some wine, a cocktail for me and some good old chat. And after a brief break to freshen up for dinner, we reconvened at Peacock and Jones for Sam's birthday dinner.
Saturday was about Salamanca Market in the morning where we bumped into Sam and Christian before they headed to Mona. We continued to mooch around the area and had a look at the Aurora Australis that had docked. It's an Australian research and supply ship that goes out to the Antarctic. We discussed jumping on that but figured it was a long way to go for an afternoon! Instead we a found ourselves on the 12:00 ferry to Mona. We hadn't planned on going as we'd been before but given it was looking like it was going to rain it seemed to be a good place to go. Plus I found out that there was a table going at The Source Restaurant there which I'd heard good things about.
We had a delicious meal at The Source and had a walk round the actual art gallery too. We got through it pretty quickly and found ourselves on the same ferry back to Hobart as Sam and Christian.
Steve and I had dinner plans at Aloft which was close to our hotel and we enjoyed an interesting meal there.
The next morning was when the next leg of our trip began. We picked up our hire car in the morning, loaded up and we were on the road...
We drop in at Frogmore Creek for a bit of wine tasting. The russet leaves on the vines are so pretty. We first came across this winery at one of the Private Dining Room events where we enjoyed their dessert wine but they are so much more than that one offering. Apparently the restaurant is pretty good too...next time...
We also visit Shene Distillery. Steve had read about this place after it won a double gold for its unfiltered gin. It really is just a wooden shack in the grounds. You can book tours online but we weren't that organised. The gentleman that served us was super friendly and actually took us into the distillery for a quick look so we kind of had a mini tour. And the unfiltered gin is delicious and unique. The filtered stuff is pretty good too but more run of the mill.
Third stop is a brewer cum cattle farm. We were there more for the beer than the beef though. Two Metres Tall is another little outpost we saw on TV, well Steve saw but it was also recommended by Chayse at O.My Restaurant when we visited as he served us one of their products.
As we drove closer to our destination the weather closed in and it became greyer and moodier; all very atmospheric as we made our entry to Pumphouse Point.
In 2004, the lease is secured by the current owner and work begins on restoring it as accommodation. It takes over 10 years of work before Pumphouse Point is open to residents. Sympathetically and stylishly restored it's a privilege to be able to stay there and enjoy the hospitality and the surroundings. The surroundings are beyond the ability of man to create and Lake St Clair and the national park is breathtakingly beautiful in all different weather and Pumphouse Point as a place to stay just enhances that.
Our first night there we put our feet up literally and enjoyed the honesty bar in the lounge area in front of the fire.
The next day was another beautiful day of autumnal sunshine so we made the most of it. After breakfast we took a walk around the area surrounding Pumphouse Point and explored a couple of spots by the water as well as the pontoon where the rowing boats are tied up. We didn't get in one though. Instead we drove 10 minutes to the Lake St Clair Visitors Centre and completed a few of the shorter walks that start and end there combining them to make them a bit longer. We didn't spot any platypus but we did enjoy the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere. Such perfect weather for walking we were really surprised we didn't bump into another soul until right at the end of the walk back at the Visitors Centre.
As we were out and about we also took a brief drive to The Wall which is a remarkable piece of art. The artist Greg Duncan has carved some beautiful scenes into wooden panels. Undeniably there is craftmanship, talent, artistry, labour, skill and heart, lots of heart in this work. Greg does not allow people to take pictures so I can't show you how wonderful it is but you can see his website and if you're in the area, it would be a huge shame not to pop in. It costs $13 entry but it's worth it. There's a bar to buy a drink if you want to peruse with a whiskey, wine or beer and I also spent some time on a comfy sofa in front of the fire flicking through his books learning about the story behind this.
Lunch was at the local pub and then the rest of the day was spent enjoying more aspects of Pumphouse Point.
The next day was pretty miserable with rain and grey skies so we holed up indoors and moved from bed to sofa and back to bed, raiding the in room larder for sustenance and the honesty bar in the lounge for liquid indulgence. Much better to be inside admiring the shades of grey of the lake...
After 3 nights it was time to move on so on our last morning we had an early breakfast and it was back on the road...
Next to Get Shucked is the Bruny Island Cheese Company which also has a brewery so we try some cheese, enjoy an afternoon coffee, beer for Steve and continue on. The Bruny Boathouse is a cute little unit with beautiful views of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Satellite Island. Throughout our stay we enjoy the views out of the window.
The next day is a little grey but we still head out. Steve has read about a walk that goes along a beach and up called the Fluted Cape. We underestimate this walk! It's a hefty hike up a very tall cliff and then back down again which gets a little hairy for me as the track veers close to the edge in places! And then back along the beach. So much for a short little walk Steve! We rest for sustenance at Get Shucked for our second day oyster fix and back up the walk with a climb up 10 flights of steps to a lookout with views down what is called The Neck which is a long narrow strip that connects the North and South of Bruny Island.
The next day we're greeted with blue skies and sunshine. Given we had a strenuous day previously we decide to explore the rest of the island in the car. We pop in at Adventure Bay and spend a brief moment admiring the beautiful white sand beach. We pick up some supplies at the store for dinner and enjoy a platter for lunch at the winery. We back up the platter with delicious oysters at Get Shucked. They do amazing steamed ones with lemongrass, miso and other delicious ingredients. So gooood!
And that's our little stint on Bruny over. The next morning we pack up and head on out.
We had a bit of time so we decided to drive to Sorell which is about 20 minutes from the airport. It's a small town close to a lagoon and our friends Rachel and Tim have recently bought some land there with a view to build. We decided to have a sneaky peek.
Lunch before our flight was at Barilla Bay. After 3 days of oysters, we needed our fix. It was a good lunch - great chowder but we preferred the oysters on Bruny Island. I think we've been spoilt now and the bar is well and truly high.
Our flight was at 4pm so after lunch we headed to the airport to return the car and it was homeward bound.
Our Tassie trip was peaceful and relaxing with lots of fresh air, oysters and down time. We were blessed with some mild weather and really saw rain and sunshine. The rain didn't dampen our spirits and it was quite nice to see some of the surroundings with a wet lens.
Tasmania is a pretty special place so I don't doubt we will be back. Maybe not Hobart; as nice a city it is, the pleasures of Tasmania lie out of the city and it's so easy to get on the road and reach those places.