Separated from Australia by the 150-mile-wide Bass Strait, Tasmania is a land apart—a place of wild and beautiful landscapes, friendly and gregarious people, a pleasantly temperate climate, wonderful wine and food, and inviting accommodations.
The Red Feather Inn (www.redfeatherinn.com.au), in northern Tasmania near the city of Launceston, epitomizes the quaint country hideaway. Amenities include freestanding baths and plump chairs that invite guests—14 maximum—to unwind with a glass of wine from the nearby Josef Chromy (www.josefchromy.com.au) estate. Built by convict labor in 1842, the Red Feather is popular for cooking lessons that showcase the garden’s herbs and vegetables and local farm produce.
At the modernistic Meadowbank Estate (www.meadowbankwines.com.au) near Hobart, floor-to-ceiling windows open to nearly 20 acres of vineyards overlooking the Coal River Valley. The restaurant’s second-story tasting room, where a floor mural by artist Tom Samek retells the history of Tasmanian wines, is a hub of Hobart’s social and artistic life. In keeping with the islanders’ penchant for irreverence, Meadowbank offers a course in oenophile pretensions, after which participants receive a Certificate of Wine Snobbery.
Even if you are not staying at the Lenna of Hobart hotel (www.lenna.com.au), the tastefully restored circa-1874 colonial lodging in the heart of Hobart, the views of the harbor from the penthouse make it worth a visit.
The newest, most lavishly conceived property on Tasmania is the $29 million Saffire Freycinet (www.saffire-freycinet.com.au) resort on the northern shore of Great Oyster Bay. Opened last June, the property contains 20 handsomely appointed suites set in secluded bushland within Freycinet National Park. The resort is surrounded by wildlife and beautiful scenery, and activities range from guided walks to kayaking. The main lodge, which looks like a stingray when viewed from above, houses an excellent restaurant and a lounge.
The resort’s architecture makes the most of its spectacular natural setting with floor-to-ceiling windows that let you whale watch without leaving your suite. An especially memorable experience is the boat ride to nearby Schouten Island, with dolphins escorting the boat and hundreds of seals greeting guests upon arrival.
Schouten is one of 334 islands in the Tasmanian archipelago. The miles of uncharted labyrinths riddling its interior serve to remind visitors that however civilized and comfortable, Tasmania remains a wild and charismatic land.