Discover the hidden delights of Tasmania's foodie trail
Tasmania is fast becoming Australia's foodie state, with amazing restaurants and producers showcasing gourmet treats. Here's where you can find the best the Apple Isle has to offer.
- June 2018
For a tiny island on the bottom of the world, Tasmania packs a mighty punch when it comes to delicious produce. Maybe it’s the clean air, pure waters and temperate climate that make it a dream foodie destination. But the best way to find out for sure is to hit the road and discover the tastes of Tasmania and explore the best food trails for yourself.
Let’s start in the north. Devonport, one hour’s drive from Launceston airport, is the bustling gateway to the North West Coast, and the first stop on what’s known as The Cradle to Coast Trail. Southern Wild's Dasher + Fisher gins seem to have distilled the Tasmanian wilderness into a bottle. The distillery produces three distinct gins, using botanicals from the forest, the sea and the fields. Its cocktail bar has a cool industrial feel.
Take the DIY approach and stop off at the city’s Hill Street Grocer. Fill your basket with Tasmanian cheeses, smoky free-range ham (look for Mount Gnomon), crusty Pigeon Hole Bread and Tasmanian Butter Co. butter. Add a couple of bottles of Henry’s Ginger Beer, a handcrafted non-alcoholic brew made with fresh ginger and lemon.
Twenty minutes south of Devonport you’ll find Barringwood Estate and the Tuckshop Van, a vintage orange caravan in the vineyard. With a nostalgic, milk-bar inspired menu that serves classics such as jaffles, Aussie-style burgers and schmiko rolls (an updated version of the iconic Chiko Roll), all made in-house and showcasing the great local produce. Head outside with one of the impressive platters laden with local cured meats, terrines and seafood with a bottle of pinot gris and take in the views across Bass Strait.
Head south east along the Bass Highway through lush green fields. Stop off at Sassafras and check out the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory, a sunny plantation-style room serving good coffee and a tempting menu featuring local produce. The provedore section does Tasmania proud with its eye-popping range of local cheeses, butter, charcuterie and whiskies, vodka and gin.
Further south, take the turn-off to Launceston and, on Saturday mornings, head to Harvest Launceston Market. It’s home to the freshest seasonal produce; think crisp apples, sweet berries, free-range pork, organic dairy, artisan breads and single-origin coffee.
Saint John Craft Beer Bar offers 14 taps pouring innovative beers, plus more than 170 bottled brews. BYO food for lunch or enjoy good nosh out of the food van around the back at night.
At Velo Wines on the Tamar Valley highway, chef and goat farmer Matt Adams’ Timbre restaurant feeds local punters, families and snack-seekers alike. Enjoy simple, modern food while overlooking the pastoral views of the Tamar Valley.
Vines and views
Next, head through the golden hills of the Fingal Valley to The Great Eastern Drive. You’ll be pulling over regularly for selfies in front of breathtaking beaches and rugged coastline, but it’s also home to some of the state’s finest vineyards.
Get your bearings at The Farm Shed East Coast Wine Centre in Bicheno. Offering tastings and sales of 48 wines from vineyards between Triabunna to north of St Helens, it’s a sampler of Tasmania’s east-coast wine region. The Coffee + Wine Bar is open daily for breakfast and lunch, with wine-sipping snacks such as warm olives, spiced nuts and grazing plates. Devil’s Corner Vineyard is perched high on a hill with stunning views over Moulting Lagoon, the majestic Hazards mountain range and the Freycinet Peninsula. Slick, black shipping containers create a tasting room, oyster bar and a café offering wood-fired pizza and gelato. Pick up a glass, something to eat and climb the tower made from a stack of upended shipping containers for an eagle-eye view.
Head inland down the Midlands Highway to the Derwent Valley and the tiny village of Lachlan for a paddock-to-plate experience at The Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School. Grab a basket and secateurs and harvest fresh produce, perhaps milk a goat, or collect eggs, then head back to the kitchen with your bounty. Enjoy the fruits of your labour, washed down with a Tassie wine or two.
Before you reach Hobart, take a drive along the hedge-lined roads of the Coal Valley, dotted with vineyards, orchards and convict-built villages. Pick strawberries at the Coal Valley Farm, eat inside its modern, country restaurant and take home cheese and chocolate made on site.
The town mouse
If you hit the bright lights of Hobart on a Friday night, follow your nose to Street Eats @ Franko in Franklin Square. The smell of charcoal wafts in the twilight air and people stretch out on the lawn listening to local bands. Strictly Tasmanian-made produce is on offer here. Try grandma’s Thai-style fishcakes or chargrilled spare ribs, then satisfy sugar cravings with loukoumades from Georgia’s Kuzina. The Spirit People serve cocktails with liquor from the state’s best distilleries, mixed with handmade bitters, syrups and tonics.
If you want to dig deeper and discover Hobart’s delicious secrets, book a walking tour with Gourmania Food Tours. Bring your walking shoes (and stretchy pants) and eat your way through local cheeses, sensational cool-climate wines, fresh seafood, buttery pastries and more.
A leisurely drive to the Huon Valley, 30 minutes south of Hobart, takes you through orchards that follow the trout-filled Huon River to the quiet township of Cygnet, a highlight on any food-lover’s list. Head to Pagan Cider, set in an old cherry-packing shed, for an array of tasty ciders made from locally grown apples, raspberries, cherries, pears or quinces. There’s a food truck on site overlooking the orchard.
Locals queue out the door of Cygnet Woodfired Bakehouse for sourdough breads, chocolate-chip biscuits, salads and fruity gelato (try the white peach or the mulberry).
A visit to the Huon Valley should include Fat Pig Farm. Matthew Evans of TV’s Gourmet Farmer fame and his wife Sadie Chrestman run a mixed farm of Wessex saddleback pigs, a market garden, two dairy cows and assorted chickens. Their restaurant and cookery school hosts a long-table lunch on Fridays, made with ingredients sourced from the farm. Take a farm tour (gumboots provided) to see the impressive gardens and orchard, and feed the cute little piglets. Knock out sausages, pickles or pasta at the cooking classes, a full-day affair that includes hands-on experience, a tour and a massive lunch.
For more hands-on experience, head to the Tasman Peninsula for a gin-making workshop at McHenry, Australia’s southernmost whisky distillery. Bring your own botanicals if you like, learn the fascinating distilling process, then take home your bespoke bottle of gin.
The best advice for any Tasmanian tour is to carry plenty of coins; some of the best food discoveries might be found along the roadside. Look for humble roadside stalls with hastily painted signs peddling new-season apples, honey, bread, berries and gin. Leave your money in the honesty box and drive away with the true taste of Tasmania.