Travel- places

10 Tasmanian wineries with a great drop and worth a stop

Australian Traveller

The route

We start in the Coal River Valley wine region and then continue along the Derwent River. Then travel further south through Huonville, Ranelagh and Cygnet.

When?

Even in the height of summer, the wineries and the route itself were not too busy. In fact, we were the only ones at almost all of the wineries, although a lot of them were setting up for weddings.

Tips for tasty tipples

Many of these wineries charge a $5 tasting fee that is refundable if you make a purchase. You don’t need to worry about getting the bottles you buy home as most places will ship (for a fee) even if you include bottles from other establishments.

The top 10

1. Puddleduck Vineyard
My number-one pick for friendliness. Puddleduck has a quirky gift shop, selling every duck item you can think of, a huge dam that serves as a duck pond and lots of ducks, of course.

Go for: The annual fundraising duck race in March and the Reverse BYO picnic, where you bring the food and the wine is supplied.
Signature wine: 2012 Bubbleduck sparkling.
Personal pick: 2014 sauvignon (Fume) blanc.
Where: 992 Richmond Road, Richmond

2. Frogmore Creek
Frogmore Creek produces four labels: Frogmore Creek, Meadowbank, Stormy Bay and 42 Degrees South. I came here eight years ago for a wedding and the winery is just as lovely as I remember it. There is an interesting wooden floor upstairs that tells the story of wine including smelling pots for different varieties.

Go for: Sweeping water views in the vines and a relaxing beverage on the outdoor deck.
Signature wine: 2010 Frogmore Creek Evermore riesling.
Personal pick: 2014 Meadowbank Mardi sparkling.
Where: 699 Richmond Road, Cambridge

3. Pooley Wines
Pooley Wines is a slickly marketed establishment. The cellar door is located next to the family private residence, a beautiful sandstone farmhouse.

Go for: The authentic old sandstone stable that serves as the cellar door and the premium pack specials.
Signature wine: 2012 Family Reserve pinot noir.
Personal pick: 2010 Family Reserve cabernet merlot.
Where: 1431 Richmond Road, Richmond

4. Derwent Estate
The old falling-down farmhouse at Derwent Estate has a beautiful view of the Derwent River from its back verandah.

Go for: Cider made the wine makers’ way and to see fossils collected on the estate grounds.
Signature wine: 2011 Calcaire chardonnay.
Personal pick: 2014 pinot gris.
Where: 329 Lyell Hwy, Granton

5. Stefano Lubiana Wines
This established winery is very popular with the locals and when you step inside you can understand why. It features a fireplace, Italian food and sparkling wines. We even had to line up for a tasting!

Go for: A look at the famous dog featured in the Wine Dogs book series and the Osteria.
Signature wine: 2005 Stefano Lubiana vintage brut.
Personal pick: 2012 Stefano Lubiana merlot.
Where: 60 Rowbottoms Rd, Granton

6. Nandroya Wines
Nandroya’s cellar door is simple and to the point, only making pinot noir and sauvignon blanc cool climate wines.

Go for: The back-to-basics cellar door and view of the mountains.
Signature wine: 2012 sauvignon blanc.
Personal pick: As above!
Where: 262 Sandfly Road, Margate

7. Home Hill Wines
This winery was recommended to me by a local and I was glad that I made the stop. Home Hill has a new large flash cellar door with fountains at the entrance.

Go for: Alpacas and the feeling of being right in the heart of the Huon Valley.
Signature wine: 2005 Home Hill pinot noir.
Personal pick: 2013 Home Hill sylvaner.
Where: 38 Nairn Street, Ranelagh

8. Panorama Vineyard
The view at Panorama lives up to the name at this vineyard!

Go for: The picnic and BBQ facilities and the view overlooking Huon River.
Signature wine: 2003 Reserve pinot noir.
Personal pick: 2011 tempranillo.
Where: Cygnet Coast Road, Cradoc

9. Hartzview Vineyard
Found off the beaten track and in a forest, Hartzview Vineyard is known for its ports, fortified wines and liqueurs. The tasting room has custom-made stained glass windows and old ceramic port bottles.

Go for: A Heritage Pickers Huts self-guided discovery walk and the toy box that keeps toddlers amused.
Signature wine: 2008 Reserve pinot noir.
Personal pick: 2014 pinot rose.
Where: 70 Dillons Road, Gardeners Bay

10. Gasworks Cellar Door
If you don’t have time to get out of Hobart and visit some wineries, come here. You can try all different varieties of wines from all over Tasmania at Gasworks. Purchase up to 12 tastings of all different sizes, but be careful – I accidentally got 3 x 100ml glasses, a lot of wine to drink after a full weekend of wine tasting!

Where: 2 Macquarie St, Hobart

Searching for turtles in the land of rum

Two years ago, I put in a request to volunteer at Mon Repos Turtle Centre in Bundaberg. I had recently become unemployed and thought that spending some time with these beautiful and wise animals might be good for my soul, and my head. Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit right about the same time and they weren’t taking on any new volunteers.

So when the opportunity presented itself to visit Mon Repos in January 2022, I jumped at it. The trip did not disappoint.

Mon Repos Turtle Centre is part of Queensland National Parks and is run by rangers as a turtle research, protection and education facility. This means that tours are cheap and they are run ethically, with as little disturbance to the animals as possible. Nesting season runs from November to March and tour groups are held from 7:30pm to 2am.

On my Trst night at Mon Repos Turtle Centre, I was concerned at having to stay up until 2am, but was determined not to leave until a turtle event occurred. I waited three hours and Tve minutes before my group was called.

We headed down the beach on dark paths, over shadowy dunes, to meet Ranger Elisha, who had found a nesting Loggerhead turtle. We all approached cautiously, forming a semi-circle behind the nesting turtle. Ranger Elisha explained that once the turtle has laid her Trst 30 eggs, she was committed, and would not be scared away by people, while she continued to lay the rest of her eggs – up to 120 in total. Our turtle was at the end of her Trst breeding season and this was her fourth clutch of eggs!

It was an amazing sight to watch this turtle lay her eggs, although it did feel a little intrusive, like I was watching a friend give birth to a human child. I was surprised at how big she was at 102cm, and can’t imagine how hard it would have been for her to go from gliding through the water to lugging her large body Tlled with eggs up the sand. The best part was watching her \ick sand over all of the kneeling children as she covered her eggs. “Don’t get too close,” she seemed to say.

We let her Tnish laying, then watched, as much as you watch a turtle on a dark beach at night, make her way back to the waves and disappear back into sea.

I left the centre feeling mystiTed and privileged to have been able to see such a miraculous, yet commonplace, activity for Mon Repos beach.

The next day, I decided to take a tour of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery. Although I am not a rum drinker, the tour was fantastic. It was well run by friendly tour guides and interesting to see all the facets of the rum making process.

Bundaberg came up with the idea of making rum when they had left over molasses from the sugar cane reTning facilities. What a brilliant solution! I got to taste molasses from the enormous and hot room that it was stored in, and it tasted good.

I learned that 96% of the rum made at Bundaberg Rum Distillery is sold in Australia. Of this, 50% is sold in Queensland. I guess it really is Queensland’s favourite spirit. Although not mine, I left with the cocee liqueur, which is only sold at the distillery door, and tastes like molasses; with a shot of cocee.

Determined to see hatchling turtles, I returned to Mon Repos Turtle Centre on my last night in Bundaberg.

This time, I only had to wait 35 minutes before our group headed down to the beach and saw 96 hatchlings emerge from underground. Gorgeous and magical doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.

We formed two lines on either side of the beach and watched as the tiny turtles made their way to the sea. The one on the bottom, who we named Lucky, struggled to make the trip. Being on the bottom, she had a mangy back leg, probably because all her brothers and sisters had been on top of her!

As Lucky Tnally made it to the water’s edge, I made a wish for her to the starry sky, that she make it to the current that would carry her away, and then back in 35 years to this very beach to lay her own eggs.

You never know, maybe I’ll be here then, to watch her return.

We are global travellers

Getting to Byron Bay

Located just two hours from Brisbane and 40 minutes from the Gold Coast, Byron Bay is an easy drive down the M1. If you are flying, Ballina airport is the gateway to Byron Bay with flights taking one and a half hours from Sydney, and just over two hours from Melbourne. 

When to visit Byron Bay for a weekend

Byron Bay is the perfect place to escape to when you want that little bit of warmer Queensland weather, without the jet lag. The best time to visit is September to November, when temperatures are not too hot and rainfall is low. 

The Byron Bay Surf Festival and the Soluna Festival are also in Byron Bay during this time, in September and October, respectively. The more popular music festival, Bluesfest, is in April, and Splendour in the Grass is in July.

Where to stay in Byron Bay

Byron Bay has many accommodation options to suit every budget. From backpackers, to renovated motels and fancy hotels. The region is well known for spa retreats, especially in the hinterland, with Elements leading the charge.

Elements was a little out of our price range, so we opted for the Japanese-inspired Azabu Retreat and Spa. Located a little out of town, just far away enough to be amongst the trees, but close enough to be a Uber ride away from town, Azabu was great for retreating from the bustle of Byron Bay and relaxing with a sauna, private spa in your room, and a hot stone massage or body scrub.

Day 1

Our first day of our Byron Bay itinerary began with a walk around Wategos lookout. This well-maintained coastal walk offers stunning views of the beautiful blue waters of Wategos beach from the cliff top. The view extends out to Julian Rocks, and ends at the iconic surfing spot, The Pass, where you can watch surfers jump off the rocks into the sea. You can also see Byron Bay main beach from here.

Heading back to Wategoes, we stopped at Raes for a well-deserved glass of wine. Raes is a much-loved institution at Wategos beach, perhaps because there’s nowhere else to eat at Wategos, maybe because the famous Hemsworth brother’s lived here, or most probably because both the view and the food are amazing. I had the Byron Bay stracchiatella and was not disappointed. You must come here if you spend a weekend in Byron Bay!

For dinner, our culinary journey started at Ember. An impressive steak house, it was a joy to eat at. We shared a wagyu steak, made especially for that purpose, and sampled the many delicious sides. The deserts and service, were great too, and will no doubt warrant a return trip.

Day 2

The next day, we headed to a must do on any Byron Bay itinerary, the whitewashed Cape Byron Lighthouse, which stands atop the most Easterly point in Australia. On good days, you can see whales, dolphins and even turtles in the shiny blue water from here.

It wouldn’t be a girl’s weekend without shopping, and so we did at the many boutique, chain and vintage shops that can be found in Byron Bay and on the outskirts of town. The variety of shops meant there was something for everyone, so no one went home empty handed.

In the afternoon, we went to The Balcony Bar and Oyster Co in town. An old favourite, the Balcony is still fantastic. The champagne, the oysters and the view over the main street can’t be beaten.

For dinner, we had booked Bang Bang, which is an excellent Asian-fusion restaurant with a variety of tasty dishes, perfect for sharing. The cocktails were inventive, and though not one usually for Asian-style desserts, they could not be faulted.

For a night out during a weekend in Byron Bay, The Beach Hotel is always a good bet for some live music and dancing. So we hit this popular spot, which is right on the beach and serves good pub food with many drinks.

Day 3

On our final day, we ventured further afield to Tallow Beach. This lengthy beach stretches out waiting to be conquered- a great beach walk to do on a non-windy day. Natural beauty at its best. You can also walk here from the top of the lighthouse I’m told.

For a final cocktail we went to newcomer, Loft, across the street from the Balcony, which is certainly worth giving a go. The cocktails here were great and the modern décor is made for those Instagram shots.

By the end of the girls’ trip, a ramen from Japonaise Kitchen was the only thing that could revive me. Authentic Japanese food served in a cute inspired eatery that had a line of people out the door, so it must be good right?