Early morning walks along the Derwent River, seeing my first platypus in the wild, a great day at MONA, and stumbling across an amazing gin and whiskey distillery are my stand out memories of my first trip to Tasmania last weekend.
We were in Tasmania for just 48 hours, but managed to pack a lot in. Staying outside of Hobart in New Norfolk was a good choice. It’s a quiet and very ordinary town, but with beautiful rural surrounds and the wide slow Derwent River running alongside the small brick and weatherboard houses. We had a lovely long country walk each morning, exploring the cliffs along the Derwent, waterland areas that reminded me of Stanley Park in Vancouver, and a gorgeous community garden.
New Norfolk is close enough to Hobart that it was easy to squeeze in a trip to the famed Salamanca Markets on Saturday morning before exloring the intersection of new and old art and clever curatorial choices at MONA, followed by a gorgeous lunch at the onsite restaurant The Source. Late in the day, we visited the salmon farm near New Norfolk and wandered the grounds in the last hour before closing. This time of day was a good choice, because we were lucky enough to see a platypus swimming upstream in the creek through the property. Platypuses will spend up to 10 hours of the day swimming, rising to the surface for a rest every minute, before duck diving again. They can dive and resurface uo to 80 times an hour, and eat up to half their own bodyweight every day while swimming. We were told we were very lucky to see our platypus as apparently it is rather rare to spot them in the wild.
On Sunday New Norfolk was a great base from which to explore the Tasmanian Distillery Trail, with the stand out distillery being the gorgeous Shene Estate. They only have tiny roadside tasting shed, but with it’s historic stables, this is a stylish venue for a celebration. The morning we were there, they had hosted a wedding the night before and were just getting ready for a morning tea. Despite the fact that they were busy, distiller Damian Mackey and his wife Madeleine were kind enough to give us a quick tour of the distillery, showing off the gin and whiskey stills and giving us a peek and sniff inside the stills and showing us their latest barrels. The Mackeys will be releasing a new Shene Estate Whiskey under their Mackey label in early 2017.
Stayed at: Woodbridge on the Derwent, New Norfolk
Ate at: The Source, Osteria, Coal River Farm
Explored: Mona, Salamanca Markets, The Tasmanian Distillery Trail, Coal River Vineyards
Region Highlights: Hobart, Coal River Valley, Derwent Valley