Delicious dining at Derwent River

Delicious dining at Derwent River

If the recent popularity of culinary competitiveness on the box has got you hungry for a more adventurous menu, then you'll love what the great southern state has to offer. This is particularly true along the Derwent River, where there's been a recent resurgence in dining popularity among locals and tourists alike.

Getting there

Arrive at Hobart Airport on Friday and head over the Derwent Bridge north, bypassing the city of Hobart, on the Brooker Highway. Follow the signs to Berridale, an easy 30- to 40-minute drive from the airport.

When you get there

Moorilla Winery in Berridale is the perfect venue to begin your weekend Derwent degustation. They've got an award-winning kitchen on-site, and the best thing about The Source Restaurant — apart from the panoramic river and mountain views — is that they encourage diners to eat outside the regular conventions of traditional three-course meal. Want to start with dessert? Go on, you know you want to.

Saturday

Drive north from Berridale where you'll pass the Cadbury's chocolate factory standing on the banks of the Derwent at Claremont. Just don't stop the car, as the visitor centre is curiously only open to the public on weekdays.

Avert your eyes from the desolate northern suburbs of Hobart until you arrive at your destination, the picture-book surrounds of the Derwent Valley, where you'll find The Agrarian Kitchen nestled in a 19th century Lachlan schoolhouse.

Throw on an apron, roll up your sleeves and channel your inner hunter-gatherer; this is sustainable farm-based cooking at its most fun. Your day begins at 9am, gathering your own ingredients from the vegie patch, and you'll roll out of there at around 4.30pm after enjoying a full gourmet lunch paired with boutique Tasmanian wines and ales.

Perhaps due to the MasterChef phenomenon, or simply because of the stellar line-up of tutors, (class leader Rodney Dunn, one-time food editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine, was trained under Tetsuya Wakuda) and The Agrarian Kitchen's classes are solidly booked out until early 2010.

If you're hungry for something a little different, head to New Norfolk's riverside Bush Inn. Many have claimed the "Australia's oldest pub" title, but the Bush Inn is officially noted as the longest trading pub in Australia, having been recognised in 1976 by Guinness World Records. Apparently even Dame Nellie Melba enjoyed a quiet brew by the open fireplace. Settle in and soak up the history with a frosty local beer and a basic pub meal. Phone (03) 6261 2256.

Sunday

So, you've blown all your cash on fancy accommodation and boutique cooking classes, but cheap eats are easy to find if you've got some local knowledge and a sense of adventure.

After good quality food and service? Head south. You've seen all there is to see in the Derwent Valley, so hit the road early and keep on going until you get as far south as Blackmans Bay Beach.

Have breakfast at The Beach. This aptly-named establishment is always packed with the locals. Try the gut-busting slow-roasted tomato on corn fritters with sautéed mushrooms and poached eggs with rocket and a balsamic reduction. Got a sweet tooth? The Beach offers a killer waffles and blueberry pancake combo.

Sundays were made for driving, so jump back in the car and head further south where the River Derwent transforms into the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, a foodies' paradise.

Stop along the way at The Red Velvet Lounge for great coffee, South Country Cyder (self-proclaimed as the world's most southerly cider bar) for a sample, Grandvewe Cheeses to try the divine homemade mutton sausage and taste some whey, and brave the treacherous cliff-top drive to Hartzview Vineyard for the ports and liqueurs.

What to bring home

Stock up on all the great ingredients you'll need to recreate a slice of Tassie at home. Locally made cheeses, Tasmanian leatherwood honey and as many bottles of punchy Tasmanian pinot noir as you can stuff into your luggage.

Barilla Bay Oyster Farm is on your way to the airport, and will pack a box of fresh Tasmanian oysters for you to take with you back to the mainland.

You'll no doubt also bring home a few excess kilos on the thighs after discovering the delights of the Derwent.

Where to stay

Moorilla Pavilions is a little pricey, but certainly worth every dollar. The villas are fully self-contained with Smeg kitchen appliances so you can put your newly acquired culinary skills to the ultimate test.

Not too far away from The Agrarian Kitchen you'll find Woodbridge on the Derwent, a small boutique hotel in a restored convict-built mansion where, once you've checked in and taken in some of the scenery from the Pavilion, a sumptuous three-course meal is on offer for $95 per person (that is, if you're still hungry).

If you'd prefer to spend more of your holiday cash on wining and dining than a plush hotel experience, then a good budget option is The Junction Motel.

Got any other suggestions? Share your insight below.

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