Seven Unexpected Things You Can Do and See in Tasmania
From visiting a seahorse farm to breaking taboos at a museum dedicated to poo.
May 17, 2019
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Tasmania is famous for its heritage-listed wilderness, exquisite pinot noir, epic art festivals and, of course, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). But, are you sure you know everything there is to know about the little island off the big island — also known as the Apple Isle? Beyond the magnificent snow-capped mountains, wild rivers, wineries and landmarks, there's a stack of unexpected adventures to be had — and Tassie's wintry sights make them all the more special.
Are you aware that Tassie is home to a museum devoted to poo or a farm devoted to sea horses? Or that there's a village that's precisely like one you'd find in Switzerland? Strap in and get yourself to Tassie this winter. There's a whole slew of curiosities to discover.
IMBIBE AT A WEEK-LONG FESTIVAL DEDICATED TO WHISKY
Every August, in the dark depths of winter, Tasmanians warm themselves up during Tasmanian Whisky Week. Running from August 12-18 this year, the celebration of local drops takes over the entire state with tours, tastings and special events, like film screenings, cocktail parties and chef feasts — all whisky-inspired, of course. Among the highlights are bus tours of Tasmania's remote distilleries, a progressive dinner across four of Hobart's top restaurants, a whisky-fuelled twilight sail down the River Derwent and Shene Estate's 200th birthday party. Check out the rest of the program over here.
SEE THE SOUTHERN LIGHTS
Stargazers, great news — there's no need to travel all the way to Iceland or Norway if you're keen to view one of the sky's technicolour ballets. Australia has our own, and Tassie is the best place to see it. The Aurora Australis, aka the Southern Lights, might not get as much press as its northern counterpart but it certainly is just as beautiful. There's no telling when the stunning spectrum of light is likely to appear, but your safest bet is to head as far south as possible. There's also a handy Facebook group that reports on possible activity, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on that, too.
FOLLOW AN UNDERGROUND RIVER (AND SEEK OUT GLOW WORMS)
Deep in Mole Creek Karst National Park in Tasmania's central north are more than 300 limestone caves, caverns and sinkholes. However, just two are easily accessible, one of which being the Marakoopa Cave, an underground world of stalactites, stalagmites, crystals, serene pools, babbling rivers — and the biggest glow worm population found in a publicly accessible cave in Australia. Also, look out for the Tasmanian cave spider, a special type of creepy crawly that's learned to live without light. Tours of the cave go for 45 minutes and depart several times a day.
VISIT A SEAHORSE FARM
You'd have to spend a lot of time snorkelling to get up-close to a seahorse. But, at Beauty Point on Tassie's north coast, there's Seahorse World, a farm where you can meet loads without even getting wet. From big-bellied ones to bright orange pacific seahorses (also known as giant seahorses), you'll wander through the mysterious Cave of the Seahorse, find out how such a farm operates and stroll through the Wonders of the Southern Ocean Aquarium. While here, you can also catch a glimpse of teeny-tiny baby seahorses — which are about the size of a thumbnail — and hold a fully grown one in the palm of your hand.
TAKE THE MOST SCENIC BATH OF YOUR LIFE
This tub takes scenic bathing to a whole new level. Perched on a private deck at Thalia Haven, it overlooks incredible views of Great Oyster Bay on Tasmania's charming east coast. Even in the nippy winter air, not much can beat soaking in a bubble bath with such views and a glass of wine in hand. Sink into the steaming depths of this tub and lose yourself in a dreamy sunrise or, by night, endless stars. To try it out, you'll need to book a stay at Thalia Haven, an ancient stone dwelling set on 130 acres of woodland on its own private peninsula — with its own private beach. There's room for up to eight guests, so you can take a bunch of friends with you, too.
STROLL THROUGH A SWISS VILLAGE
Head to this magical spot and you could easily believe that you're in Switzerland — particularly when you're in the depths of Tassie winter. Found within Tamar Valley Resort, Grindelwald village, built in the 1980s, is a replica of a Swiss original — think enchanting houses with oversized eaves, window shutters and bright flower boxes. In between admiring the uber-kitsch town, its architecture and manicured gardens, warm up in the chocolate cafe where you can feast on handmade truffles, or take a stroll around the village's sparkling lakes and take in the crisp country air. This wonderland lies a 20 minutes' drive northwest of Launceston and is the perfect pitstop before heading to Tamar Valley's many vineyards.
TALK FREELY ABOUT POO AT A POOSEUM
Anything you've ever thought, questioned or wanted to say about poo is fair game at the Pooseum, "where talking about poo is not taboo". You'll find this paean to the mighty number two in Richmond, a village 30 minutes' drive northeast of Hobart. The exhibition covers poo of all shapes, sizes and types. And you're bound to discover a few things that'll come in handy at your next trivia night — from the poo cheese that Sardinians consider a delicacy to the rising popularity of poo facials in Australia.
Top image: Shene Estate by Samuel Shelley.
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