Things to see and do!
The River ‘n Valley – Where else in the world can you visit in one day: A lubritorium, a nudist beach, visit a nude photographer, see the world’s largest jumping pillow, visit a gravelly beach, see a turbo chook, pat a pig, see Australia’s oldest (colonial) graffiti, play in a museum where 13 million ounces of gold have been produced and had to pump 6 million litres of water per day to get it and drive along Australia’s longest navigable estuary….ummm, dunno…..no wait, the Tamar Valley!
Batman Bridge – Yes it’s the return of Bat-man in the form of a giant 91 metre high ‘A’. Little known fact – a certain butler on a month’s leave from a certain Manor in the 1960’s, let’s call him Alfred, put his engineering skills to work (he graduated with honours from MIT school of Engineering) by creating a cantilevered bridge over the Tamar River in honour of his boss. Or more plausibly, it may have been named in honour of John Batman who built a little schooner further along the river and founded Melbourne – you choose which is the best story. Put it on your ‘big’ list.
Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre – Come and Play? – Since when could you actually touch items in a museum? Don’t you love bollards, display cabinets, do not touch signs and security guards with side arms when you go to a museum? Well here, they encourage you to touch, turn, push, ring and get a hold of stuff. The museum prides itself on the interactive displays; work the world’s largest apple peeler, write a letter with ink and pen just like great-grandma used to or pan for gold. BIG stats here with literally tonnes of gold being produced, billions of litres of water pumped out, with shafts and mining activity under your feet that’s about 15 times as large as the town itself, it’s worthwhile checking the gravel in your shoes when you leave town, just in case.
Brady’s Lookout – The bushranger the ladies invited in. Who’s that pillaging my home, why it’s you Mathew Brady you saucy bushranger you, do stay…..The Fabio, Hugh Hefner or Casanova of the 1800’s Mathew Brady tore a new ‘a’ in the colony of Van Diemens Land in the 1820’s – transported for stealing a basket of bacon, butter, sugar and rice (probably a picnic hamper for his harem) he irritated the constabulary and at the same time rocked the maidens world with his dash and manners.
Gem & Stone Creations – Not just limited to gems and stones (although you can get them!) – jewellery, minerals, crystals and well, gemstones all in one convenient location. There’s a kids corner for the junior collector, lapidary material (petrified manfern – cause they scare easily) it fits into that gallery-museum-jeweller-collectable-rock-mineral category that is so rare these days.
Glengarry Bush Maze – NO, I’m not going to say it’s A-mazing. Remember when you last solved a maze on paper? I bet you started in the middle and worked your way back. No such luck here, you’re on your own and you can’t cheat – don’t think about Jack Nicholson in the Shining though. Tactile games, puzzles and family fun that doesn’t have an ‘i’ in the title, require a charger or ask you post or become it’s friend to engage (a TripAdvisor review wouldn’t hurt though) Tea, coffee, cake and lunch for mum and dad – outdoor fun for the kids – yes, outdoors. Warning: you may come into contact with things like air, grass, leaves, plants and animals – if that’s all too icky then ask mum and dad if these things existed in their day and compare it to that block world game you keep playing. http://www.glengarrybushmaze.com/
Grindelwald – If you’re into Lauterbrunnen, Lederhosen or the Duke of Zahringen, you’re about 14 000km’s off. This is Grindelwald, Tamar Valley style featuring its own lakes, mini-Matterhorn and a whopping great European styled resort where all of the houses built around the front of the lodge are Swiss themed. Kinda quirky but kinda…..Swiss.
With a Chocolate Cafe, gift and clothing shops, golf course, bakery, paddle boats, bar, bistro, accommodation and the world’s largest jumping pillow the hills are alive with the sound of music, Swiss music. Set on 150 acres this Tamar Valley Resort or Grindelwald as it’s known locally, does resort, Tasmania-Swiss style. Family friendly and kiddie-centric its perfect for mum and dad to wave from the Alpenrose Lakeside Bar while they kids lose their lunch on the giant pillow, chase the ducks, canoe across the lake or just not annoy their parents for 20 minutes. Day spa, health club, sauna, indoor heated pool and with mini and 9 hole golf there’s something for everyone – everyone who likes their spa, golf, pool and sauna with a touch of Swissiness.
Lavender House – The Perfumery – You can watch the manufacture through the glass in the production area to make sure they’re not substituting lavender with purple stench blossoms. You could probably also tell this from the aroma produced……anyhoo, Lavender House have over 70 different species of lavender on site ensuring an all-year-round bloom of flowers. Offering the obligatory bear, Larry the Lavender variety, and you can’t say they don’t have a sense of humour with such products as Shearer’s Crook Back Bee-Balm (cause shearers secretly love lavender) and the Bushie’s All-Purpose Bee-Balm means even working guys & gals get to indulge. It’s not all fun and games however with perfume, salves, natural remedies, toiletries and body care products, mostly containing, funnily enough, lavender. A good enough reason alone to visit the Tamar Valley!
Narawntapu – Aboriginal for Awesomeness (no, not really) 90 metre sea cliffs, aboriginal middens, Shane the Sheep, a Nudist Beach and incorporating a 5 kilometre long beach and views right along the north-west coast of Tasmania. At the lookout on West Head you’re basically standing on a 170 million year old chunk of rock that’s resisted the urge to turn into gravel. If you have the urge, (no, not turn into gravel) there’s the Coastal Traverse – Bring your camera.
Platypus House – The Turducken of the animal kingdom, these furry quackers (they don’t quack, or do they?!) get the royal treatment at Platypus House. Fed on every tour, photographed and splashed around social media it’s surprising the amount of people who have never seen one. Only a pane of glass separates you from them as they munch on yabbies and earthworms while one of the well-educated guides tell you they store fat in their tail, like a camels hump, and are one of a select few venomous mammals. Bizarrely, they belong to the same lineage as echidnas which is kinda ironic given there’s a family of them living in the same building. Yep, one has webbed feet, fur, duck-bill, beaver-tail, sat-nav in its bill, poisonous spurs and lays eggs – the other is covered in miniature javelins, has an ant-eaters nose, walks on its elbows and eats ants. Fact – Tasmanian Devils will eat echidna spines as well as the echidna!
Seahorse World – As mentioned copiously throughout the site, Seahorse World has, well lots of seahorses, hundreds of thousands of them in fact. You’ll experience the full behind the scenes look at various species of these mini-steeds – farming and breeding, feeding and hands on cuddles with a live seahorse. Cool stuff - seahorses can change colour, Dad has the babies, sometimes over 1000 at a time; ouchie, they’re classed as a fish (not a horse, funnily enough) and their closest relation is the mermaid, true! (not really) They come in various ‘models’- bullneck, flat-faced, pygmy, knobby, sad (sniff), false-eyed and my favourite, the hedgehog.
Tailrace centre – My kind of holiday/day off from the kids. With a product called kids paradise (aka parents paradise) the kids can go nuts while you pretend to read the paper and go to sleep on the deck. Great views, planet of glass to let the sun in and did I mention kids paradise?! Themed games rooms for the kids, jumping castles, sports areas, table tennis, crazy bike things that keep the little ‘uns entertained for hours – supervised I might add – while you have coffee No.2 and sample Chef Phil’s next award winning creation.
Tamar Island & wetlands – Bruno the Bull ran riot on it, one man’s sorrow created the Plough Tree, the Platypus II barge is now a part of it (ironic name since it sunk and is stuck in the mud) and now you can walk right through the wetlands to it. Thankfully Tamar Island shirked its original names of Pig Island and then Mud Island (obviously the tourism board did not want anyone going there) now is home to cool fauna such as Water Striders, the Common Jollytail, Banjo Frogs and Mus Musculus – the House Mouse.
Tamar Valley Wine Route – A clever bunch of characters….and aren’t they. For anyone who thinks that all wine has ever done for us is create drunk, legless, and inebriated folks pretending to be appreciating the finer things in life, well, you’re probably right. But here in the valley, at last count there are 32 vineyards all ready for your appreciation or indulgence as it may be. If you don’t want the designated driver tag, call Marcia, Terry or any of the local designated drivers, take a tour, and let your hair down.
Tamar Visitor Centre – Crazy retirees ready to make your holiday epic? Yep, that’s the Tamar Visitor Centre. They’ll kill me for saying this but its service old-school style. Award winning for that very service, the team at the TVC will make sure that you know what you’re doing in the valley and right around Tasmania cause that’s probably what you came in for, right? Good old fashioned brochures, maps, souvenirs and that all important local knowledge and booking service. Chuck out your tablet, pad, mobile and other navigation devices – it’s all built in to these androids of the tourism world and they’ll impart their sizeable knowledge upon you (or they won’t get paid) to make your holiday memorable. It’s like an organic TripAdvisor that doesn’t grunt at you from behind a counter locked into a social media battle over exciting things such as ‘wassup’ – THEY WILL ACTUALLY TALK TO YOU AND ASK YOU QUESTIONS – like can I help you, how is your holiday going or yes, I can give you the correct information. If you’re a silent traveller then good luck with that.
03 6394 4454 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Trevallyn Power Station – What John doesn’t know about Tasmania isn’t worth knowing – from the time the earth cooled and the dinosaurs came, he can tell it all. More specifically, he can take you on a tour of the Trevallyn Power Station. Located in a suburb of the valley, this baby pumps out 90 Megawatts of juice – enough to keep your device charged until the year 3006 but it’s the behind the scenes stuff that John highlights. John will tell you that there’s 28 cubic metres of water per second chugging under your feet – great in a kayak (but not in a power station) and all of the BIG stuff required to run a power station. A classic example of renewable energy, which is so on-trend right now, it’s cool to see that water can run a city without the risk of a meltdown – unless it all freezes of course.
Get outdoors – Why would I walk when I could spend the entire contents of the reserve bank of Australia on a bike (just the frame) and ride around the region? That kind of answers itself so get out there and walk people! There’s walks ranging from wussy, normal, mild and wild walks from Launceston through to Bass Strait – Tamar Wetlands is a flat boardwalk through birdlife, islands and other flora and fauna, Notley and Holwell Gorge will provide you with enough photographs to start your own wilderness calendar – of note Brady’s Tree at Notley and Tree ferns (aptly named) the size of...trees at Holwell Gorge. There’s a link walk that you can do in sections or all in one – Gravelly Beach to Supply River. If you wanna get crazy, pack a bag and walk from Greens Beach right through to Bakers Beach. There are even a couple of more urban short walks at Windsor Precinct and the Beaconsfield to Beauty Point trail, but that’s the wussy stuff. Drop into the visitors centre in Exeter, they’ll match a walk to suit.
http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=400 & http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=236
Arts – Ever been to an artist’s studio and been preached to esoterically and looked down upon until you either buy something, at which point relations improve dramatically, or leave? Me too, however because the folks on the Tamar Valley Arts Trail have had good dose of Tas-main-knee-an learnin’ they’ll be engaging, articulate and welcoming without the snobbery. Felt, oils, ceramics, photography, pottery, dolls even bonsai form a part of the regions art trail. It’s a chance to find out what makes them tick in their natural environment, chew the fat and gain an insight into why they all walked across the Batman Bridge together (see the website) Personally I’d be tempted to have myself smeared in oils, pastels, charcoal and outfitted like an Greek God, then have a commission done in black and white as a fine art nude – but that’s just me.
Beaches – You’re not gonna find Noosa or Bermuda standard beaches here, which is good, because then you’d have to fight your way from shore to water like a shopper at a boxing day sale. In the mid reaches you’ll find pebble styled beaches; these have the good bits with picnic areas, water closet (a 20th century term for a loo), shops nearby and cool stuff like fishing pontoons and at Gravelly Beach, BBQ, skate park, play area, coffee and infant friendly play stuff; you can lock them in. In the Greens Beach/Kelso area is where you’ll find your regulation, run of the mill beach – sandcastles, surf and user-friendly stuff like sand and water. There’s around 12km of usable silica, all with a nice gentle slope into the water for the kidlets. In the West Head area you’ll find rock platforms, 5k’s of uninterrupted beach with some cool dunes to play in and very few people to share it with. If you’re inclined, there is a nudist beach – cameras not welcome.
Fishing - ...teach a man how to fish and...(you’ll probably never see him again) The Tamar is home to Australia’s longest navigable estuary, so naturally you’d expect there to be fish in it. Thankfully there’s a bunch of piers, jetties and pontoons, most with signage about what you’ll catch and the usual rules n regs about what not to do. At certain times of the year you’ll hook into Kingfish, Tailor, Mackerel and everyone’s favourite, Australian Salmon. It’s also a haunt for BIG snapper, pike, couta, flathead and whiting but none, I repeat none, of the locals will divulge their secrets (and I’m one of them) on where and how to catch them so best have a chat to the local tackle shop where they’ll steer you in completely the opposite direction so they can keep their standard of fishing awesome. No BS!
Food & Wine - We’re creating a good theme here; beaches, art, bushwalks and now food and wine? It’s a symbiosis that’s sublime, the mecca of Tasmania’s brand and you will not be disappointed. Many award winning and internationally recognised wines and cellar doors are all waiting for your visit. Tetsuya Wakada stated that Australia did not produce quality Merlot, until he tried Grey Sands and that’s the tip of the iceberg. What’s different is that in the valley you can engage with the folks behind the counter – they’re interested in your conversation and will impart their story upon you – take Michael Wilson the cycling legend at Velo; Giro d ‘Italia, Tour de France and Olympian, self-confessed survivor of ‘Frisco ’67, Mark Semmens at Marions Vineyard or the beautiful story behind Wines for Joanie. They’re all articulate, engaging and have a wicked sense of humour – unless you just want to use the toilet.....
Food – OK, I forgot to include the food – the wine distracted me. If I told you there were of 60 operators in the valley you’d call me a liar but this comprises the cool gourmet outlets, wholesalers and farm producers, many of which have retail shop-fronts. To make life even easier there are things like bakeries, cafes, hotels, restaurants and cellar doors that offer Tasmania’s best produce. Ask the chef and they’ll tell you exactly where the food was sourced from – in a lot of cases from the dirt right outside of the venue. With a range that extends to truffles, abalone, honey, cherries, pork, salmon and even olive oil you can over-indulge with confidence. Personally, I like to combine the food and wine together, or for a slight twist, combine a locally produced Vodka with my own hamper and throw the car keys into the river; just search gourmet+tamar.
Golf – Greens Beach, Exeter, Riverside and even Grindelwald offer that level of frustration that only comes from a little white ball, the size of a plum that somehow deviates 90 degrees from where you intended it to go. My favourite is the 19th hole, and if it’s not obvious I can’t play golf from the above, then you haven’t seen my wicked right slice. There’s a course to suit all players in the Valley and should suit all levels of skill. If you know what an agricultural heave, a tired kangaroo or a gynaecologists assistant is then grab your clubs and mosey on down.