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Sunday 28 July 2019

Exploring the best of Tasmania - by bus and boat

Choices; choices.

We are sitting in front of a roaring log fire in the lounge at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. The wilderness setting is a quintessentially Tasmanian experience.

We must decide whether to attend a wine tasting accompanied by a range of gourmet cheeses, or to venture outside on a guided night tour of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park to look for wombats, wallabies, possums, pademelons and a Tassie Devil or two.

A couple of days earlier we had been taking in the impressive views of Hobart’s fishing fleet from the Grand Chancellor Hotel faced with a similar dilemma.

Should we explore the many gourmet charms of Salamanca market, head out for a walk along the Hobart Rivulet or perhaps enjoy a glass or two of local wine at one of the Tasmanian capital’s many boutique bars.

And a couple of days later who would have to select between a climb to explore the iconic volcanic plug known as The Nut in Tasmania’s north-east, or settle in for the chance to sample several of the Apple Isle’s growing number of artisan whisky producers.

This is a tour which you need both an inquisitive palate (Leatherwood honey anyone, or perhaps a seafood buffet overlooking Strahan Harbour?), and a solid pair of walking shoes.  

Unlike many bus tours, APT Touring’s eight-day seven-night Cradle Country exploration (Tour code: RTHL8) is all about personal decisions. If you want to explore the remarkable flora and fauna there are several open-air opportunities, if gourmet treats are more your style then you have no shortage of opportunities.

Given Tasmania’s winding country roads and the plethora of wildlife on those roads at night, a luxury bus tour is a very good way to explore the isle, with highlights including a chance to explore the dramatic untouched wilderness of the Tarkine and plenty of opportunities to peel away from your fellow travellers should you be needing some “me” time.

A spa treatment, perhaps, or a helicopter ride over Dove Lake?

The tour uses some of the best accommodation in Tasmania, including the new and impression Peppers Silo Hotel in Launceston, and takes in wine and food highlights including a wine tasting followed by lunch at the beautiful Josef Chromy winery, which offers stunning lake and vineyard views.

There’s time for a tutored wine tasting, that gourmet lunch (pan-roasted local boarfish with South Coast octopus, perhaps, followed by Leatherwood honey parfait), and a stroll around the grounds.

All meals on tour (and most are included) offer a choice (usually three mains and three desserts), along with some vegetarian options.

Our group picked a cruise on the brand-new luxury river explorer Spirit of The Wild to Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River in wild western Tasmania is its highlight – with chances to get off and explore the former Sarah Island convict settlement and the natural beauty of Heritage Landing’s rainforest.

But even this half-day cruise has a gourmet element with morning tea (snacks included local Ashgrove cheese and pepperberry tarts with onion marmalade) and a buffet lunch featuring local seafood (ocean trout with myrtle butter sauce), as well as free pour wines from some of Tasmania’s best names, including Stefano Lubiana, Holm Oak, Derwent Estate and Cape Bernier.

We feasted greedily while taking in some of Australia’s most spectacular wilderness. The Spirit of the Wild switches to a silent electric motor when on the river.   

Every day, whether you are enjoying a chocolate tasting at Anvers in Latrobe, or a bush picnic with Ghost Rock wine and local cakes, is a celebration of Tasmania’s local produce.

Both our driver and tour guide have the knack of making us feel completely at ease, whether we want to follow the itinerary or strike out on our own. There is plenty of free time and only on one day do we feel fatigued by the kilometres we’ve covered.

Every day offers authentic Tasmanian experiences; as someone who has lived in Tasmania for a decade, I learnt a lot and had fun, too. I particularly enjoyed two new experiences; the hundreds of colourful murals in the town of Sheffield and a Tasmanian craft whisky tasting at the Angel’s Share in Stanley (others in our group headed off to feast on local crayfish).

APT is a family-owned operation that has been in business for 90 years so they know what they are doing. The tour offers a comprehensive introduction into Tasmania’s natural wonders and compelling history (from lunch at an old logging pub at Derwent Bridge to a stroll in the beautiful Mount Field National Park).

A longer Apple Isle tour (Tasmania Complete RTH12) is also available.

For details or bookings call the APT reservations team on 1300 655 965, or visit 

The writer was a guest of APT and this story first appeared in Selector Magazine. 

1 comment:

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