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Dinner with David – a MONA experience in Tasmania

One of Australia’s unlikely superheroes is David Walsh, infamous creator of Australia’s most celebrated private museum – MONA – in Tasmania. Full of quirky, unexpected art, wouldn’t you like to pick his brains to see what makes him tick?

So why not have a private dinner with him and take him to task? Sure, he’s a terrible conversationalist—what with all the art and astrophysics chat—but the rest of this experience should be incredible. Dinner With David, one of the Cultural Attractions of Australia includes a ridiculously lavish private degustation in Mona’s chef’s hatted Source Restaurant. Mona has been known to make the tables out of humans, but that can not be guaranteed. Needless to say, David will also raid Mona’s legendary wine bunker for some game-changing wines.

Aside from dinner with the nerd, this experience also includes the best of everything Mona has to offer   — private jet transport from anywhere in Australia, luxury accommodation in Mona’s 5-star onsite Pavilions, a guided tour of the museum with Mona’s head curator, as well as a VIP tour of Moorilla Winery with the winemaker.

David may invite you play him at tennis on Mona’s not-so-private court at the museum entrance. Avoid this, his serve volley game is too strong.

Included:
  • Private jet transfer from anywhere in Australia
  • Two night’s luxury on-site accommodation (Mona Pavilions)
  • VIP museum tour
  • VIP winery tour
  • Private dinner and wine degustation at The Source Restaurant with David Walsh
  • Lunch in Faro (bar and restaurant)
  • Access to all bookable art experiences
  • Breakfast in the Source restaurant
  • and pretty much anything else you might want or can dream up!

 

Expedition cruising through Southwest Tasmania’s World Heritage Area

Imagine the tranquility of a place so remote that you can only get there by foot, boat or light aircraft. In Tasmania’s Southwest, Port Davey is such a place. This remote wilderness area is a Marine Nature Reserve and forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s three times the size of Sydney Harbour and one of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet, with wild rivers, quartzite peaks and extensive waterways.

The best way to explore this area is by purpose built boat. With no roads in or out, the journey starts with a spectacular flight from Hobart across the densely forested Southwest National Park to Melaleuca, a remote locality consisting only of a couple of buildings.

Upon landing you will be taken by tender through the mirrored waters of the inlet to your ‘boutique floating hotel’ the Odalisque, the base from which you will explore the untouched South West.

The itinerary

The itinerary will be tailored to your interests and daily shore excursions will see you totally immersed in the wilderness. It’s all about “getting your feet wet”. During your unforgettable time, you’ll explore narrow winding waterways lined with Huon pine by jet boat, hike to mountain-top vantage points where it feels like you can see over the edge of the world, picnic on remote beaches and soak up the serene views from the deck as you cruise past sea caves, rock arches, blowholes and rocky islets. You could be one of the very few to witness the islands of Maatsuyker, cruise the Davey River gorge, wander the buttongrass moorlands or beachcomb the white sand of seemingly endless beaches.

Looking across Port Davey

 

The Vessel

Tasmanian owner Pieter van der Woude’s custom-built twenty-metre expedition cruise vessel is designed for the comfort and safety of guests. Cruising with a maximum of 10 guests overnight, the Odalisque has three private cabins, a comfortable entertaining and dining area and three spacious outside decks for sightseeing, photography or sunset barbecues. The galley consists of a contemporary spacious kitchen with an island bench, sofa seating and large open windows to relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery or watch the chef cook up a storm. The open plan saloon area allows panoramic views, has plenty of lounging capacity and a large dining area for a leisurely dining experience. A true boutique floating hotel, it’s perfect if you’re eager for adventure but not so keen on roughing it.

What’s so special about this region?

The Port Davey Marine Reserve was created to protect an extraordinary underwater world. In Bathurst Harbour a very unusual marine environment has been created by a deep layer of dark red-brown, tannin-rich freshwater, which overlies tidal saltwater. The tannins restrict sunlight penetration to the top few metres, limiting the growth of marine plants. In their place live colourful and delicate marine invertebrates, including sea pens. In the clearer marine waters of Port Davey – away from the influence of the freshwater tannins – a more typical Tasmanian underwater world exists. Diverse kelp forests and abundant fish thrive beneath the surging Southern Ocean waves. This Marine Reserve forms part of the Southwest National Park, and is surrounded by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area encompasses a greater breadth of values than any World Heritage property on Earth. Of 1052 sites in the world which are recognised as World Heritage areas, Tasmania is one of only 35 sites that satisfy both cultural and natural heritage values. But even more impressively, the area satisfies seven of the ten criteria, including unique human culture and history, wilderness, plants and wildlife, and geology. Only one other site in the world (located in China) equals this number and none exceed it. There’s a lot to explore; Tasmania’s World Heritage Area comprises 1.38 million hectares, or about 20 per cent of the entire State.

 

Talk to Alquemie to incorporate this remote part of Australia into an itinerary.

 

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Pepperbush Adventures in Tasmania

Arno Moulin, one of Alquemie’s Australia specialists recently spent a week travelling all around  Tasmania. One of the highlights of his trip was a visit with Pepper Bush Adventures.

Pepper Bush Adventures offer unique and exclusive wildlife experiences throughout Tasmania, trips to the Tamar Valley to sample delicious Tasmanian food and wine and as well as secluded beaches in the Bay of Fires and visits to visit ancient forests and spectacular alpine mountain peaks.

He said his time spent with Pepper Bush Adventures was one of the best wildlife experiences ever! Below is a summary of his time with Pepper Bush in his own words….

Craig picked us up from Peppers Seaport in Launceston at 12:30pm– within 10 minutes we were driving through the glorious Tamar Valley; being autumn the colours were beautiful.  We enjoyed some commentary about the wine region – which produces most of Tasmania’s wine!

We headed for Ben Lomond – Tasmania’s second highest peak. On the day the weather was foggy so we were unable to see the amazing views; but the drive was a fun adventure in itself on a 4WD only road. On the way up Craig discussed at what points above sea level different trees grow – which is more fascinating than it sounds! Once at the top the land is baron and rocky – which is an amazing contrast over the lush green hills and dense forest landscape surrounding the mountain. We then saw Tasmania’s only ski slope and a few eerie looking chalets – here we also saw a few Bennet’s Wallabies.

We then continued our way to the Quoll Patrol area and kept stopping on the way to visit ‘the bush supermarket’ – here Craig would pick pepper bush leaves and other kinds of berries & eucalyptus and provide commentary about the flora – these were then be used as ingredients for dinner!

On arrival at the property we enjoyed a 20 minute stroll around the property on our way to the ‘shack’.  The walk is very beautiful through a forest plantation – and we saw more wallabies!

After our stroll we were then greeted with the MOST amazing cheese platter ever at the shack. On the platter we found smoked wallaby, lots of different Tasmanian cheeses, different styles of pastes like pear & quince – but the best bit was the freshly warmed bread with Tasmanian truffle oil!

Sitting across the camp fire enjoying a glass of Tasmanian wine and devouring the cheese platter – we were in awe of the surrounding landscape! This is pristine wilderness at its best!

The toilet is a drop loo – but well maintained and has a pretty awesome view!

Next course was wallaby meatballs – which were super tasty. Craig is an ex-butcher and it is easy to tell he only uses the best meat. The Tasmanian salmon was cooked right in front of us on the camp fire oven – with pepper bush leaves and lots of other yummy bush ingredients, the flavours and smells were wonderful!

Once the sun went down suddenly we started seeing wildlife coming out from the forest onto the surrounding paddock. Within about 15 minutes we were greeted by wallabies, possums (common Brushtails), quolls (honey coloured and black ones) and lots of pademelons! In the distance we also spotted a few wombats. At times they were only 1 metre away from us. Craig would then shine the torch allowing plenty of opportunities to take photos.  For the next hour Craig provided commentary on the wildlife and discussed the habits of quolls and wallabies. There were probably about 200 animals around us within a vicinity of 100 metre radius. Everywhere we looked – they were everywhere!!

We got back into the vehicle and within 5 minutes we were out again spotting platypus in a pond just up from the shack! This is a very rare and amazing experience to see these weird animals in the wild!!

On the drive back we were buzzing with excitement from seeing all the wildlife and a bit of red wine warming our tummies – it was talk talk talk! We arrived back at Launceston at about 10:00pm – of course in summer this is much later.

Over the course of the day we saw:

  • Platypus!
  • Kangaroos / Bennet’s Wallabies / Pademelons
  • Wombats
  • Quolls (we saw at least 6!)
  • Possums

 

Discover the Wild West Coast of Tasmania

Would you like to breathe the world’s freshest air or stand amongst 2000 year old trees? A new Tasmanian experience allows you to do just that, with an easy day trip from Hobart to discover the Wild West Coast of Tasmania.

Departing from the outskirts of Hobart, a 50 minute scenic flight takes you over the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, one of the most remote areas in the world, towards Tasmania’s Wild West Coast. Landing in Strahan – a harbour-side village on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, you’ll board a luxury catamaran and embark on a journey to the Gordon River, part of Tasmania’s UNESCO Wilderness World Heritage Area. The area is steeped in history and is full or stories from its convict and pioneering past.

Initially heading out for a peek through ‘Hell’s Gates’ at the mouth of Macquarie Harbour you’ll cruise to see local salmon and trout farms that deliver some of Tasmania’s freshest seafood products around the country.

From there, you’ll head up to the Gordon River through one of the world’s most pristine temperate rainforests where you’ll get to walk amongst the giants of the forest – ancient Huon Pines.

Wild West Coast of Tasmania
Cruise the through Tasmania’s UNESCO Wilderness World Heritage Area.

 

After a chef prepared lunch you’ll stop to learn about Tasmania’s convict history at Sarah Island – a former Macquarie Harbour Penal Station with a reputation as one of the harshest penal settlements of all the Australian colonies. Operating for just 11 years between 1822 and 1833, Macquarie Harbour Penal Station took the worst of the worst convicts as the chances of escape were “next to impossible”. Conditions on the island were so bad that in 1824 a prisoner named Trenham killed another convict in order to be executed rather than face further imprisonment there. (source: wikipedia) The 2008 film ‘The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce’ was inspired by one of Sarah Island’s escaped prisoner’s tales of resorting to cannibalism to survive.

After visiting this interesting historic site you’ll cruise back to Strahan for some free time before your return scenic flight to Hobart.

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Maria Island Walk

Why we love the Maria Island Walk

Summer is a wonderful time for walking in Tasmania – days should be sunny and warm, rain rarely falls on the east coast and nights are cool and star studded (the clear skies are perfect for star gazing).   Maria Island (pronounced Mar-aye-a) is an island national park and a natural wildlife sanctuary with historic ruins, sweeping bays, dramatic cliffs and peaks and tall woodlands and this is why we love the Maria Island Walk, one of the Great Walks of Australia.

Friendly Eastern Grey Kangaroos seen on the Maria Island Walk
Friendly Eastern Grey Kangaroos seen on the Maria Island Walk

In addition to the island being one of Tasmania’s great bird watching hot spots (11 of the state’s 12 endemic species can be seen here), wombats, wallabies, kangaroos as well as pademelons and Tasmanian devils are frequently seen.  The waters around the island are a Marine Nature Reserve and are regularly visited by whales, dolphins and seals.

Relaxing in the wilderness on the Maria Island Walk
Relaxing in the wilderness on the Maria Island Walk

Flush with awards (the walk has earned more Gourmet Traveller awards than any other product around the globe) here are 7 reasons why this walk is one of our favourites:

  1. Operating in a national park means all aspects of the walk are eco-friendly
  2. This is a great walk for wildlife spotting and for exploring different habitats
  3. The walk can be easy or moderate.  Without the side-trips the walk is an easy 25km over 3 nights / 4 days; add-in the side-trips and the challenge becomes 43km, some of it quite steep.
  4. The walk is owner operated – not that Ian Johnstone hosts every walk, but he does run the business and is very passionate about what he does.
  5. The walk is easily combined with two of our favourite Tassie destinations – Hobart & Saffire (perfect for a little indulgence after a few days of walking).
  6. During the height of the season the walk operates almost daily so it is an easy fit into a well-planned itinerary.
  7. Food glorious food … Tasmanian produce is some of the best in the world so enjoy delicious meals and a glass of wine each evening.
Maria Island walk - The Dining Hut, with a well earned bottle of red waiting on the table...
Maria Island walk – The Dining Hut, with a well earned bottle of red waiting on the table…

The walks operate in groups of 10 guests and two guides, they include transfers from / to Hobart. For those walkers who prefer not to carry the normal 5-8kg pack, The Maria Island Walk is now offering a “pack-free” experience, where guests’ gear is transferred between camps each day so they only carry their lunch, water, camera and jacket.

A cute Common Wombat seen on the Maria Island Walk
A cute Common Wombat seen on the Maria Island Walk.

Maria Island 2 night Winter Escape experience (May to September)

Winter is also a beautiful time to visit Maria Island. In groups of up to 8 guests guides will show you the island’s beauty and history and amazing wildlife. And then each night, in the warmth and comfort of Bernacchi House, a rare, heritage listed house dating back to 1880. Enjoy a delicious candlelit dinner with fine wines while your guides amaze you with their many fascinating stories of Maria Island. And after the night’s banquet take a stroll on to veranda and marvel at the millions of stars and the fragrance of the lavender garden below.

This really is an experience not to be missed.

 

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