In February, Issy – a Business Development Manager with the Globus family of brands – experienced our Cosmos ‘Tassie Quick Bite’ tour. Below she shares her foodie’s guide to the bites and brews of the Apple Isle.
I’ll be honest with you: I had never considered Tasmania as a bucket list destination. Growing up, I was lucky to have many family holidays around Australia and this was the only place that we didn’t get to. I had always planned to get there later, so I was fortunate enough to go in February of this year. I’m a big foodie, so seven days on the Cosmos ‘Tassie Quick Bite’ itinerary spent eating and drinking my way along the east coast of the Apple Isle certainly piqued my interest (and my appetite)!
Days 1 – 2: Hobart
Landing in Hobart on day one, it was clear that Tasmanians and I are alike. We live to eat. Our hotel was central to more restaurants and wine bars that I could count. After a warm welcome drink with our Tour Director, we were free to wander and explore them all. Tourists had started to return after lockdowns and Tasmanians were enjoying fewer restrictions, so it was tough to get a table. Our Tour Director recommended booking ahead!
Our first full day was an early start. After our gourmet hotel breakfast, our Tour Director Steven escorted the group to the famous Salamanca Markets.
This year marked its 50th anniversary and is host to so many local growers, brewers, distillers, and craftspeople. The photos don’t do it justice, as it was a feast for the eyes (as well as the stomach).
After purchasing some snacks and souvenirs at the markets, our group continued its culinary journey via coach to the famous Bruny Island. I started to regret my indulgent breakfast and constant grazing earlier that day. Thankfully, Steven took us on a walk through the rainforests and beaches to get our appetite back up. He taught us about the history of the island and quenched our thirst for learning. We stopped for drive-through oysters at “Get Shucked,” the best fish and chips at the award-winning, ecologically friendly Pennicott Wilderness Centre, and capped it off with a whiskey tasting before the ferry and drive home. Dinner was at leisure, so a few of us chose to carb-load for the next day with pasta at Maldini Restaurant.
Day 3: Hobart
I know what you’re thinking: how can one person be hungry after all that food? Like many people, I always have room for dessert – so day three started with a chocolate-making demonstration at Federation Chocolates. Maurice and Helen warmed us up with hot chocolate before showing us how it’s made. From bean to bar, their fair trade supply chain and locally made goodies are not just delicious but ethical, too.
We rode that sugar high onto our next destination: Curringa Farm. Located in the heart of the Derwent Valley, the 750-acre farm is used to grow crops of seeds to sell to produce farmers around the world. The owners, Tim and Jane, also run a 3.000-strong herd of sheep that munch on the spent crops once they’ve seeded.
One interesting part of their operations? They have dedicated the remaining part of their land to native conservation efforts. Tim explained that the conservation area was a way to monitor the “health” of his farm. If the native animals and plants are happy, the crops will be too. Our group were shown the seed growing process, herded up for a sheepdog demonstration and treated to a barbecue lunch in the farmhouse.
Day 4: Hobart – St Helens
One of the best things about travelling Tasmania on a coach tour is that you don’t need to worry about Ubers or public transport, especially to reach some of the more remote, yet still unmissable, stops. Old Kempton Distillery was one such place. Our charismatic guide explained the whiskey distilling process to us. It takes a minimum of two years for whiskey to mature, while the best ones take between 5-12 years before they’re ready to knock back.
The distillers need something to drink and sell in the meantime, so they also use their facilities to make gin. It takes less time and there are so many varieties that they can experiment with. We sampled a lot – the highlights were a 10-year-old whiskey, a colour changing gin and for some of the steelier group members: the White Dog. This is the colourless unaged spirit before it turns into whiskey. It was flammable! The designated (I mean, coach) driver was entertained by how merry we were on the hour-long drive to lunch.
Days 5 – 6: St Helens – Launceston
Our arrival at Scamander meant a breath of fresh sea air and a drastic change in landscape. We went from the dry, arid highland farms down to the coastal rainforest areas. This change in climate meant a change in cuisine. Over the next two days, our group were treated to jams and preserves with scones at Eureka Farm and fresh cheeses at Pyengana Dairy. One item on the menu which I wasn’t expecting was lavender! Known for its scent and relaxing properties, the clever growers at Bridestowe Lavender Farm have found a way to turn it into a gelato which went down a treat!
Several days of indulgence meant that our culinary adventures were catching up to us. Exercise came in the form of an amazing walk along the Bay of Fires in St Helens. We burned off the chocolate, whiskey, and other treats by hopping along the fiery red rocks and wandering through the town.
Our group were surprised when Steven mentioned we were on the home stretch to Launceston. The trip had flown by so quickly it felt like we had only taken a nibble, rather than a bite, of Tasmania. Our last culinary stop was at Pipers Point Winery for a tasting of the region’s famous sparkling wines and pinot noir. As the wine flowed, so did the stories from the group about our favourite experiences. We all agreed on one thing: seven days was not nearly long enough to explore Tasmania and we will all come back for seconds!
I am so grateful that I could travel to Tasmania with Cosmos. It was an incredible way to restart my travels after years at home. There are many more stories I could share with you, but I wouldn’t want to put you into a food coma. My only regret? That I didn’t go sooner. This tour served so many delicious and indulgent experiences in a short amount of time.