Tasmania truly is a winter wonderland, from the drama and beauty of the season, to its vibrant festivals and warm, welcoming cellar doors. Winter’s chill is the perfect opportunity to rug up and explore, and there’s no better excuse to linger by a roaring fire to taste some of the region’s exceptional wines. Here at Holm Oak, we’re open daily through winter from 11am to 4pm, and you’re always welcome to cosy up to the fire for a tasting flight of pinot noir while you enjoy a platter of local salmon, cheeses and more. But, along with Tasmania’s impressive array of wineries, there are numerous events and places to lure visitors of all ages and interests to our beautiful island state in the cooler months. So, to whet your winter appetite, here are our top 12 picks to consider for your itinerary.
Dark Mofo, 6-23 June, Hobart
A festival that now attracts visitors from around the world as well as interstate, Dark Mofo is not just a thought-provoking and avant-garde program of art, music, theatre and performance (and even a Nude Solstice Swim in the chilly waters of Sandy Bay!), but a true ‘people’s festival’, during which Hobart’s streets are transformed into places of celebration, feasting and fun for young and old.
Festival of Voices, 28 June-14 July, Hobart and East Coast
Now in its 15th year, the Festival of Voices has cemented its reputation as Australia’s foremost choral music festival. For two weeks, singers gather from across the globe to perform and take part in classes and workshops. From community choirs of thousands, to intimate concert performances, this is a wonderful event for music lovers of all tastes and ages.
Chocolate Winterfest, 11 August, Latrobe
A winter’s day devoted to all things chocolate – what’s not to love? Take part in chocolate-making workshops, chocolate-based sculpture and cake-decorating competitions and, of course, taste to your heart’s content at this high-spirited community event, just 10 minutes’ drive from Devonport in Tasmania’s north-east.
Junction Arts Festival, 4-8 September, Launceston
This five-day event has been running for five years, and is described as ‘an intimate festival of extraordinary experiences in unusual spaces’, showcasing Tasmania’s talented creative community. Centred around Prince’s Square, the festival hub is the Fountain Bar, where the state’s top musicians, bands and cabaret artists perform. Here, too, you can savour a range of Tasmanian produce and wines, while the kids also get their share of fun with shows at Junction’s Little Devil.
Bay of Fires Winter Arts Festival, 8-10 June, St Helens and East Coast
The East Coast’s foremost arts event is predominantly based around the town of St Helens, but stretches from Four Mile Creek through St Marys, Scamander and Binalong Bay. Here, art in all its manifestations is celebrated – from painting and sculpture, to music-making. The festival is launched with the announcement of the winner of the $20,000 Bay of Fires Art Prize, and the weekend continues from there with a series of activities and events for art lovers young and old. Don’t miss the Arts Trail, where you can combine exploring the region with meeting local artists, who open their studio doors to share their time and talent. You’ll even have the chance to snap up a bargain at ‘studio door’ prices.
The Grumpy Piper, Launceston
For many, winter means a warming snifter of whiskey (or whisky!), and where better to indulge your single-malt sensibilities than at The Grumpy Piper. This whiskey bar boasts some 275 local, Scottish, Irish, Japanese and other world styles, as well as whiskey-based liqueurs, plus a range of craft beers, meads and more. Add to that the quirky Bagpipe Museum, and this is one definitely worth checking out.
Hinton Bay Kitchen, Hillwood, Tamar Valley
Jane Bissett, former owner of the River’s Edge Café in Longford, runs this cooking school out of her home situated on the Tamar Valley Wine Route, north of Launceston. This idyllic spot, which Jane describes as ‘Tuscany-on-the-Tamar’, enjoys views of the Tamar River and surrounding vines, and is the perfect place for taking time out to learn a new skill or some new recipes, before settling down to eat your creations by a roaring fire.
Buttons Brewing, Ulverstone
Open to the public on Friday (4-6pm) and Sunday afternoons (2-6pm), this independent, family-owned craft brewery offers visitors the chance to taste its range of small-batch beers, as well as limited-release prototypes that are only available at this cellar door.
The Agrarian Kitchen, Lachlan, Derwent Valley
This award-winning cooking school and organic farm (the first of its kind in Tasmania) brings the paddock-to-plate philosophy to life and to the table, both in the cooking classes it offers and at its more recently opened restaurant, the Eatery, just up the road. Rodney Dunn, chef and former food editor at Gourmet Traveller, and his wife, Séverine Demanet, have transformed this 19th-century schoolhouse into a food-lover’s paradise, where rare-breed pigs and chickens, goats, geese and bees thrive.
Pump House Point, Lake St Clair, Central Highlands
The ‘new kid on the block’ in Tasmania’s portfolio of luxury, lodge-style accommodation, Pump House Point, situated on the World Heritage-listed Lake St Clair, is a spectacular restoration and reinvention of a former industrial site built by the State Hydro Electricity Scheme. For lovers of nature, photographers, fishers, walkers and anyone who seeks a luxurious escape in pristine surroundings, this is your ultimate retreat.
Thousand Lakes Lodge, Central Plateau
Just 90 minutes’ drive from Launceston (two hours from Hobart), you’ll find this welcoming retreat in the heart of the Central Highlands World Heritage Area. In this tranquil alpine environment, native wildlife and flora abound. Visitors are likely to come across quolls, Tasmanian Devils, wombats, Swift Parrots and Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagles and more on their wanderings, be it by bike, on foot, or by boat. Trout fishing in the West Lakes, for Tasmania’s famous wild brown trout is an experience not to be missed.
Cradle Mountain Lodge, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
There’s accommodation – and activities – to suit a range of budgets and tastes, and its situation in an alpine wilderness region means visitors can experience the best that winter in Tasmania has to offer. As well as terrific food and wine offerings, magnificent walking trails and stunning scenery, the Lodge offers indulgent treatments-with-a-view at the Waldheim Alpine Spa.
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