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Thursday, May 29, 2008
The tiny frontier town of Tarraleah is almost in the exact centre of Tasmania. It is on the edge of two World Heritage-listed sites — the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. If you love outdoor wilderness adventures, it is easy to reach from Hobart — but even in summer, it's ideal to take some warm clothing.

Tarraleah, meaning Forrester kangaroo in the local Aboriginal language, is host to a huge range of Tasmanian flora and fauna. It's home to platypus, quolls, wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devils and echidnas. They all wander around the town in the evening, and some say there are Tasmanian tigers there too. The lyrebirds in Tarraleah forest can mimic 25 different sounds.

The town's central lodge was built in the 1930s for hydro engineers and company directors overseeing the 1600 European workers who developed the hydro electricity scheme. When automation arrived in the 1990s. Everything went into gentle decline, and Tarraleah virtually became a ghost town until a Melbourne fisherman, looking for a shack, inadvertently bought the entire town.

Fortunately, investors saw its potential and now Tarraleah is back on the map, and winning international tourism awards to boot. The entire town of 1920s and '30s wooden homes has been restored as an elegant wilderness resort.

The Art Deco lodge has been taken back to its original elegance and is now a contemporary and luxuriously comfortable nine-bedroom luxury hotel, as well as being a showcase of Tasmanian art and craft.

Some rooms have fireplaces and private balconies, and all are deliciously decorated. King beds have silk coverings, there are cosy Tasmanian mohair throws, and huge bathrooms with heated floors and spa baths that glow in the dark!

Wildside Restaurant serves the freshest Tasmanian produce and has won international recognition from Condé Nast for fine dining. Scallops and highland lamb with wild black mushrooms, King Island blue crepes with Tasmanian fish, followed by apple tart or Swiss chocolate fondue are some of the dishes which have made the restaurant a wonderful venue.

A 6m-high wall of more than 300 carefully chosen wines and 170 fine malt whiskeys are available to enjoy in the restaurant or Library Bar.

Breakfast is cooked to order — sausages and local eggs, fresh mushrooms, wilderness honey and organic jams and a range of bread get you going for the day.

Trout fishing, lake kayaking, mountain biking and walking through the beautiful bush are good ways to work off some of that superb food.

The Cottages at Tarraleah, hand built by local craftsmen in the 1930s, have also been restored and are self-contained one- to three-bedroom holiday cottages. They contain original Art Deco pieces and contemporary Tasmanian works.

The Scholars House, once the schoolhouse, has been converted into two-storey apartments. They have a queen bed upstairs, bathroom and sitting area downstairs.

Hans Naarding is Tarraleah Lodge's nature guide. He is a zoologist, has worked with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and is the last man to have seen a living Tasmanian tiger. Hans' passion is birds and he has named 80 species in Tarraleah. On top of all that, Hans has sailed solo across half the world!


Two hours north-west of Hobart.


Tarraleah Lodge accommodation starts at $590 a night for two. Stays include a four-course gourmet dinner for two, pre-dinner glass of estate wine, cooked-to-order breakfast, use of the hilltop hot tub, golf and night wildlife walk. It operates between September and June. The Cottages start at around $200 with a minimum two nights' stay. The Scholars House is around $150 a night.

Hans Naarding and his colleagues run regular night walks from the lodge which are complimentary to guests. Half-day tiger hunt tours are $160 per person. Three-hour Breakfast Bike Rides to see platypus and breakfast in the bush are $75 per person.

For further information

Tarraleah Lodge
Wild River Road
Tarraleah 7140
Ph: (03) 6289 0111
Fax: (03) 6289 0136

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