Ranelagh, a delightful English-style village, has most of Huon Valley's major historical buildings.
The Huon Valley, which follows the Huon River, grows apples, berries and hops. As you drive through, it's common to see stalls selling fresh fruit from the many orchards.
The gracious Matilda's of Ranelagh is an 1860s Victorian home. The home, its adjoining oast house and gardens are listed by the National Trust. Until recently they had been in the Frankcomb family for five generations. The Mountain River flows along its southern border before flowing into the Huon.
Current owners Pamela and Don Turnbull fell in love with the property and its 22 rooms while on holiday from their winery/restaurant in Western Australia. They were delighted when the then-named Clifton came up for sale. As it was far too large for them and the Goldie Gang (their five golden retrievers), they decided to transform it into a bed and breakfast and re-name it Matilda's after their vineyard, Matilda's Meadow. Visitors love being greeted by the official meet and greet team: Roxy, Pinot, Daisy, Blossom and Molly.
Restoration was a long and loving affair. The Turnbulls found all sorts of interesting bits and pieces, including an 1863 shilling and an 1873 penny.
There are three guest suites downstairs, all with queen beds. The Blue Room overlooks the English-style gardens, which grow masses of azaleas, roses and rhododendrons, oak and ash trees. The Matilda Suite overlooks the historic oast house and gardens and has the added luxury of a spa. It was originally a drawing room and is where Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed afternoon tea during her visit to Tasmania in the 1950s. The Oriental Room has facilities for the disabled and, like the rest of the house, displays antiques and treasures collected from around Australia and on international travels.
On the first floor, walls were removed to create two large attic rooms: Roxy's Retreat and Pinot's Retreat. All rooms have ensuite facilities and bathroom floors are comfortably heated. Matilda's also has central heating and air-conditioning.
Guests are warmly greeted with a platter of local cheeses and a glass of Matilda's Meadow wine, grown in Denmark, Western Australia. The drawing room has an open fire and is the perfect place to meet other travellers, have a game of cards and enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
Breakfast is an experience to remember. Local produce is beautifully prepared: eggs, bacon, breads, preserves, honey, fruit juices, tea and coffee. A Turnbull invention is the Tassie breakfast, an English muffin spread with a little cream cheese, topped with Huon smoked salmon, then softly scrambled egg, fresh dill and parsley. The Turnbulls love to see their guests start the day feeling satisfied and well-fed.
There is a good choice of restaurants not far from Matilda's for lunch and dinner.
The Tahune Air Walk, which is virtually a treetop walk, is just 40 minutes away. Hartz Mountains National Park is an easy drive and there are lots of apple, pear and cherry orchards, wineries, trout fishing and river cruises along some of the world's most beautiful waterways nearby.