My Highlights of Northern Tasmania
An unexpected but marvellous bonus to dating Tom has been the opportunity to explore quite a lot of Tasmania. There are of course places I haven't included and places I have yet to explore, but this is my first adventure guide - the Northern Edition - featuring some cute shops, where to get the best coffee, some stunning mountains and, of course, aaaall the food. I've intentionally focussed on places that source locally and ethically wherever possible/are committed to sustainability and environment preservation.
City of Launceston
Launceston is a quiet, small and hilly town, and while it doesn't boast the hustle and wide array of activities that Melbourne does, it sure does have a few gems and some lovely spots worth visiting.
Probably the best well-known spot is The Gorge, a scenic spot with some great walks around it and a cool albeit slow chairlift that gives you a great view over it. Look out for a few of the peacocks wandering around. Rather than dine at the cafe here, I'd recommend holding out for Sweetbrew in the city. Excellent coffee and is on a street with some other gorgeous shops like Et La Mer which stock wonderful Tassie-made goodies as well as Melbourne-based designers. You're also not far from City Park, which is nice to wander through and also features monkeys from Launceston's sister city in Japan, Ikeda (yes, v random). My fave shop though is Ecoco. I basically want to turn this shop into my home. Every time I go in there's always some delightful picture hanging on the wall, some beautiful homewares, locally-made jewellery and more beautiful homewares. My bank account doesn't thank me and I ain't mad about it. After having a lil peruse I'd suggest driving along the Tamar Valley route, where you can explore some lush wineries and enjoy the pretty views. Segue into food...
If you decide to go a little further out of Launceston, the Rosevears Hotel is a cosy and delish lunch overlooking the Tamar River. Can highly recommend the Market Fish. If you'd rather stay in town, Burger Got Soul is the only place for your burger fix - or Bento Sushi does some damn good gyozas and cooked tuna rolls. Tom will eat 3 of the fried chicken sushi rolls "they're that good". For a cheap dinner feed you can check out The Royal Oak near city park, but my favourite place is hands down Geronimo. This would rival some of the best places I've been to in Melbourne; it's delicious and creative without being overly obnoxious. Think local oysters, interesting veggie share plates, and apple pie cocktails served in custom-made drinking wheels.
Brunch and coffee would definitely be Sweetbrew (as mentioned above), but I also really like Inside Cafe - for the coffee (not so much the food as it's quite pricey for what you get/not as delish as sweetbrew) and the cute shop next to it stocking a lot of cool Tassie-made clothes, toys, skincare, beauty products and cards.
I haven't included a "stay" section here because I've been fortunate enough to only ever stay with Tom's parents, but lemme know if you want a recommendation and I'll get you some local insight.
A small but special mention to this quaint and charming village. For brunchy/lunchy goodness look no further than the Ingleside Bakery - a spot outside in the courtyard is perfect if it's sunny, or on colder days enjoy being near the wood fire and more mouth-watering baked goods and Tassie produce on the shelves than you can poke a stick at. Evandale also hosts Sunday morning markets which are FAB. Really cute with plenty of stalls to taste and peruse second-hand books and local crafts.
A Taste Trail
The first time I came to Tassie with Tom, he took me on this great day adventure which was fun and of course totally deliiiish. An excellent day trip that covers some of Tassie's best produce and unique places.
About an hour out of Launceston to the North-West, we came to Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm. This is every raspberry lover's dream. All the food and drink at the cafe is based around and infused with raspberries; the coffee, the cake, the salads... and all the raspberries are grown within a few metres, which although you can't pick from yourselves, you can sample and taste it all before you buy (which is what you want anyway right!?). You can even get raspberry scented socks. Scented loungewear, of course I have a pair.
Driving another 15 mins you can't miss the cheese utopia that is Ashgrove. Here you will find not just the cheese equivalent to Willy Wonker's Factory, but also fresh milk, cream and ice-cream. It's worth stopping in even if it's just to sample the lavender infused cheese.
If you're not stuffed already, continue on to Anvers Chocolate and sample some of the weekly rotating flavours of their in-house chocolate, or grab one of their insanely good hot chocolates - they have both traditional and flavoured ones like chilli. You can also have a little mosey around the factories and learn some of the history behind their chocolate making processes. Now even if you're like me and could eat for days, this is a good opportunity to give your tastebuds a break and head to Latrobe. Reliquaire is home to an enormous and eclectic range of basically everything - from toys, puppets and puzzles through to antique furniture, dolls and masks. It's kind of like a curated boutique shop, museum and knick knack collection all rolled into one building.
This wouldn't be an adventure guide without including my favourite natural northern spots for exploring and marvelling at nature (if you read that sentence in a David Attenborough voice then you're my spirit animal). Liffey Falls is an absolutely gorgeous rainforest walk and waterfall spot that I've been to a few times; mostly with Tom but once when ma fam came down as pictured. It's an easy one hour walk in summer or winter even if you're like me and stop to take pictures every two seconds or take your shoes off to walk on the track because it looks so soft. It was nice for the 5 metres before I couldn't feel my toes.
And the best till last. This was our most recent trip, which brought out my inner mountain goat and Tom learnt I meant it when I said I could spend hours in a spa bath. While technically considered in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, Cradle Mountain is at the Northern End and forms part of the Overland Track. While we didn't do the 6 night hike, we covered a solid 15k.
As we were celebrating an anniversary, we splurged and booked into the beautiful Cradle Mountain Highlanders. Walking up a private bush trail to the cabin gives you the first sign of it being a beautiful experience. And then you come to the cabin and I spent the next 5 minutes as the heart eyes emoji. It's all gorgeous, hand-built timber, cosy wood fire, lush bed and a spa with a view. There are local lavender bath salts and fairtrade tea. #priorities.
Each cabin is secluded but conveniently within walking distance to the Visitor's Centre, so we made use of the shuttle bus (included in your park day pass) that takes you into the actual park. Brad at reception was so welcoming and lent us scrabble and cards, and even gave me an extra bag of lavender salts to bring home (legend). The housekeeping is light, which was perfect for us (mainly because it means towels don't get washed unnecessarily). I cannot explain how luxurious and lovely it felt after a 15k hike to come back to a spa bath. We drank tea and played scrabble in front of the fire. Couldn't have asked for a better or more comfortable stay.The simple website and pictures don't do it justice, and while we stayed in a two-person one, I hear excellent things of the bigger cabins as well.
The main event!! As I mentioned we got the shuttle from the Visitor's Centre into the park, but got dropped off at Ronny's Creek - one stop before the main (and most popular) one, Dove Lake. We then walked from Ronny's to Crater Lake which was super lovely, and then continued up to Marion's Lookout. Although steep to get to from Crater Lake, it was my favourite part of the whole walk. The views are breathtaking (quite literally actually because it's windy AF) and you get to take in Cradle Mountain itself, Crater Lake, Dove Lake and Lake Lila. Then we continued to walk to Kitchen's Hut, basically the base of Cradle Mountain. You can go up Cradle but we decided against it given we were in sneakers and it's v steep (like scrambling-up-500-metres-of-rock steep). So instead we opted for a different incredibly steep but much shorter descent down to the Dove Lake Circuit. Seriously this is not for the faint-hearted. It's about an 800 metre descent of almost abseiling... but you get down another section of the park much quicker than walking the safe way so ya know, pick your own adventure...Once down we made our way round the lake which was scenic and pretty the whole 5k round.
I loved this route because you do the harder parts first when you have the most energy and it's less busy on the parts of the trail that are harder to navigate than the Dove Lake Circuit. Dove Lake is a much easier walk and what a lot of people opt for, but if you're up for it I cannot recommend the hike we did highly enough, especially if you've got the time.
I haven't included an "eat" section here, because we didn't eat out at all - we brought all our own food which I strongly suggest if you ever do this trip - especially if you have access to a well-equipped kitchen like we did. Lower costs and easier for us gluten-free peeps. Plus who doesn't want leftover pizza for breakfast.
Leave us a comment if you've got some other North Tassie suggestions or places that you love to go to! And gold star for you if you got to the end of this hefty travel guide x