Tasmania is full of endless historical towns but hidden gems can be missed if you don’t do your research.
When ‘mainlanders’ plan to travel to Tasmania they often focus on the midlands and southern areas centered around Launceston and Hobart. Little do they know about the treasures further up in the north-west area.
North West Tasmania
When taken off the normal tourist tracks you are transported into a magical world of tall ancient luscious tree ferns where you inhale nature’s aromas, travel into the historical mining industry and see how the miners’ families survived in harsh conditions. You may see fauna that consists of venomous snakes and spiders, wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devils, or flora sprouts of colourful fungi as you walk the groomed tracks.
Your imagination is expanded. Questions asked about the uniqueness of the indigenous peoples, the settlement of convicts and settlers, and of course the never-ending debate about sightings of the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine). For someone who decades ago was a local, I am still discovering treasures in this diverse region.
My recent experience travelling to NW Tassie in a Covid world
I had flown to Melbourne for Christmas and normally I fly into Burnie airport as it is located near the small town of Wynyard, closer to the historical towns of the north-west. But this time I flew into Devonport a 35-minute drive to where I was staying near Burnie.
Launceston also offers direct flights from most major Australian cities and it takes around 1 hour 40 minutes by car to Burnie which is a good place to start your NW Tassie trip. Hiring a car is the best way to travel in Tasmania.
Traveling in a Covid world, I checked the Tasmanian government guidelines as each state has its specific requirements and are regularly subjected to change.
72 hours before departure it was necessary to register online for my QR entry code from eTasTravel https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/travellers-and-visitors. I also downloaded the CheckInTAS App.
On arrival all passengers were subjected to a temperature check, facial ID scan then a final scan of my approved QR code including questions on places I had previously visited. Greeters were required to stay outside of the small building while passengers collected their baggage. It was seamless and efficient.
Facemask wearing in airports and on planes is mandatory and after visiting Victoria it had become my norm. Although masks are freely available at the airports, I make my own reusable to spec as they are comfy and breathing unrestricted.
When in the port city of Burnie, my favourite place to dine is The Bayview’s Restaurant & Lounge Bar which overlooks the Bass Strait. Their menu offers a superb flavoursome Tasmanian cuisine with an accompanying wine list to match.
Also located down the main drag, Wilsons St is Banjo’s Bakery Café, famous for their Tasmanian Scallop Pies.
Places I visited
It has been a year since visiting Tasmania and this time the focus was on my amazing special birthday surprise. Family members organised a trip to Tall Timbers, Smithton, Tasmania, and although we didn’t stay in the 4 Star Rated luxury accommodation, my family had organised a breathtaking 4WD Guided Tour into The Tarkine, Tasmanian Tiger Country Tour, that took us into the heart of the supposed extinct thylacine region.
Guided by resident historian Robert Saltmarsh we were comfortably driven to multiple spectacular sites that included safe walks through unique flora, towering green trees, flawless rainforests, and a beachfront ride to view ancient rock carvings.
Our customized tour included Trowutta Arch, Rapid River, Sumac Lookout, the Edge of the World, Lake Chisolm, Julius River Reserve, view of the stunning Petroglyphs at the dramatic coastal Sundown Point Reserve (Laraturunawn) near the mouth of the Arthur River, and Marrawah a surfer’s delight.
Morning tea is included and you choose your preferred lunch package. We indulged in a generous premier gourmet lunch made up of Tasmania products and wines. We had a sensational day.
On our one-hour drive from Burnie to Smithton, we passed spectacular Stanley and The Nut. This is a fishing town that must be included in itineraries.
Waratah, built on top of a waterfall, developed into a mining town when tin was discovered by James “Philosopher” Smith at Mt Bischoff in 1871. This scenic town lies on the edge of the Tarkine wilderness.
It’s about a 50-minute drive from Burnie and the first port of call for a cappuccino and bite to eat must be Waratah’s Roadhouse. New owners Jess and Candi are warm and friendly. Their opening hours are 6.30 am to 7.30 pm – woo hoo as few small towns offer these extended hours, perfect before you walk to the gushing waterfall close by.
Next door is St James Church Gallery and History Centre, open Saturdays & Sundays. Owners Anne Dunham and Tony Schmidt regularly showcase the history of the area and local identities and host an annual ANZAC exhibition. Their never-ending locally crafted Wave of Remembrance Poppy Flower mat is beautiful.
Anne, who happens to be my sister and a local artist, has her creations for purchase. Her most recent is handmade and personally named Tasmanian Drop Bears. They are a hit with locals and interstate visitors. Another specialty is her Magic Fungi, slumped glass mushrooms embedded in rock. There is an array of crafts and history books from local townsfolk and items can be ordered online.
For accommodation, there are several local places to use as a base, including a caravan park. It simplifies access to bushwalking tracks, partake in tours through the rainforests and old mine sites, or, you quietly meander around the township visiting more historical sites.
Departing NW Tasmania
Due to Covid restrictions at the time, I flew directly from Launceston to Brisbane, but not without a slight diversion to the classified Georgian village of Evandale, originally a military post in 1811. It is about 20 minutes from the airport and reminds me of an old English village.
I shouted my sister a tasty lunch at the Clarendon Arms Hotel that features memorabilia, internal murals and convict walls built in the 19th century. We chose to sit in the beer garden under trees that held un-encountered stories.
The best thing about NW Tasmania
It’s simple, yet full of wealth. Fewer people, a sense of isolation, an escape where remoteness forces you to forget about time and you become one with nature. It is where the air smells pure, the rainforests wild and the unadulterated seas tend towards bipolar.
See you next time!!
#DiscoverTasmania , www.discovertasmania.com.au, www.atn.com.au/tassi/nwtasmania-roadmap.htm
#northwesttasmania , www.discoverthetarkine.com.au
#WaratahRoadhouseCafe #StJamesChurchGalleryandHistoryCentre @AnneDunhamGlass
Tasmanian Tiger: Precious Little Remains, produced by Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania
Ruth Greening holds a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Psychology & Philosophy. Before retirement, she worked for over 40 years in the corporate world in Melbourne and Brisbane and progressed into senior management positions and project roles for both private industry and government.
In her 70th decade, she continues in casual roles as a freelance writer, model, and actor participating in small movies, TV commercials and User Generated Content.
As a grandmother, she is known as Nanny Babe to her grandchildren and writes from a Baby Boomer perspective on her blog www.nannybabe.com. An avid crafter Ruth actively participates in sewing, crocheting and knitting.
While she continues to pursue her artistic passions, Ruth is dedicated to maintaining her health and fitness as she ages by attending the gym, dancing and walking and thrives on mentoring others.
Connect with Ruth or our moniker Nanny Babe; nannybabegengp.blogspot.com.au/