Northwest Tasmania is a region of contrasts where luxury, culture and innovation align seamlessly with the intrigue of the uninhibited wilderness, fertile country and rugged coastline. Experience the cleanest, greenest weekend away the country has to offer.
Drive north from Hobart
Airport on the Midlands Highway to Launceston
, where your weekend begins.
When you get there
Stop off on your way to the north-west and hang your hat at the opulent Quamby Estate
in Launceston. Built in the 1830s and inspired by British army barracks from the Indian Raj, each room boasts different modern European furnishings. Get an early night; there's lots to do tomorrow!
On your way from Launceston
, drive through the National Trust-listed town of Deloraine
and drop into one of the local craft galleries and poke around for a garish handcrafted souvenir. As the home of "Australia's largest working craft fair", you're sure to find a little knitted cover for whatever your heart desires.
From Deloraine, drive north to the port town of Devonport and keep driving west along the northern coast of the state. In wild weather, the beaches are churned into a frenzy, and the drive along this route is exhilarating. When the weather is fine you'll want to stop the car and dip your toes in the Bass Strait. Just be aware that the beaches aren't patrolled in most areas and the surf can be quite unpredictable.
If you're lucky enough to be on the north-west coast between the end of September and late October, make a stop at the tulip farm at Van Diemen Quality Bulbs at Table Cape. The nearby town of Wynyard holds a fun festival called the Colours of Wynyard, celebrating the tulip blooming season which includes cocktail parties, yacht races and fireworks. Regardless of whether the tulips are blooming, Table Cape and Wynyard are still worth a visit for the views from the headland of the cliffs and surrounding area.
Not far away sits the town of Stanley and its famous "Nut". The Nut is a 143m-tall flat-topped volcanic formation that sits jutting into the ocean. It was discovered in 1798 by explorer Matthew Flinders, who very technically described it as, "a cliffy round lump resembling a Christmas cake". Climb it, walk all over it, catch the chairlift to the top and take in the sights. Just don't get blown off the top on a windy day. It's a long way down.
Not just famous for the Nut, Stanley is also the birthplace of Tasmania's only Australian prime minister, Joseph Lyons. His birthplace is open to the public, and there is some interesting information on display about his life before entering politics. History buffs will also love Highfield House, the site of the first European settlement in northern Tasmania.
For a long lazy lunch, head to the award-winning Stanley Hotel Bistro for locally produced gourmet sausages, plump Bolduans Bay oysters and whole smoked rainbow trout out on the deck.
You'll probably see all the glossy brochures in the area promoting the Dismal Swamp tourist attraction, which isn't far from Stanley. Due to disappointing visitor figures, Forestry Tasmania renamed Dismal Swamp to Tarkine Forest Adventures, but I'm afraid the experience still lives up to its former name dismal. Don't waste your time.
You've come so far, so why not now drive to the upper north-west corner of the state through the town of Smithton to pay a visit to Marrawah Beach. The isolated surf here is legendary, and those brave enough travel here just to experience getting dumped by record-breaking waves. Marrawah is just as significant for its important Aboriginal historic sites. You can see carvings and art along the coastline at Sundown Point and Mount Cameron West. The artworks are widely recognised as the most intricate examples of Tasmanian Aboriginal art ever discovered.
Stay in a cottage at Kings Run for the ultimate Marrawah experience. The nocturnal wildlife in the area are incredibly lively after dark and Kings Run operate small personalised tours to show the natives in action including strictly regulated feeding of the local Tasmanian devil population.
Get up and hit the road early for the drive to Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm
it can't be beat for breakfast. If you love raspberries then you're in the right place raspberry muffins, raspberry yoghurt, and homemade raspberry jam all appear on the menu.
However, stray from the traditional stuff and try a country breakfast with eggs, bacon, toast and raspberry sausages. If you think raspberry sausages are unusual, then you're obviously yet to experience the oddly popular menu item: Morning Craving banana, cheese, bacon and raspberry jam pancakes.
It's a long way down south back to Hobart Airport, so try and get away around noon, just take it slow and make a few essential stops along the way:
Nearby Hawley House sells wine from their cellar door at the neighbouring Gingerbread House yes, it's as kitsch as it sounds, but the wine on offer is stellar and the cafe does a decent wild game and mountain pepper pie.
House of Anvers in Latrobe, just south of Devonport, has won several peoples' choice tourism awards in the last few years and is well worth a visit. Established by a Belgian who was astonished at the quality and flavour of Tasmanian butter and cream, the House of Anvers has been producing chocolate since 1989. Take a tour of the facilities for $2 and spend up big in the retail store.
Ashgrove Cheeses is a little further south, near Elizabeth Town. Drop in for a chance to taste the variety of cheeses produced here and learn a little about the cheese-making process.
The Honey Farm in Chudleigh is part museum, part retail honey paradise. Learn about the bees that create the dozens of varieties of honey on offer and choose from the range of honey-infused candles, waxes and skincare products for sale. The Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm is a handbag staple.
What to take home
Take home delicious honey, cheese, chocolate and wine from the fantastic north-west. See if you can pick up a daggy souvenir fridge magnet from the Nut in Stanley too.
Where to stay
Self-contained waterfront accommodation is available at Birchwood on the River
Basic cabins and camping can be found at Arthur River Cabin Park near Marrawah.
Or enjoy a stay at the secluded Beachside Retreat with views over Stanley.
Got any other suggestions? Share your insight below.