Southern Tassie: a Winter Break

by Janette Bishop

This article about a winter getaway in southern Tassie has been
written for Think Tasmania by Janette Bishop.  She and husband Chris own
Beachside Retreat West Inlet in Stanley in the state’s north west.
Janette could have written about her own backyard; but she chose to share her
holiday experience in the Huon Valley region instead.  And we love that
Tasmanian spirit of networking and co-operation.  So please enjoy!

Luxury Accommodation Hideaway in the Huon Valley

Our first three days were spent at Woodbridge Hill Hideaway, in one of the four eco-friendly cabins perched high on the hillside overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island.  Created artistically from Tasmanian timbers, luxuriously and beautifully furnished, including superb stained glass windows, this accommodation is magnificent.  The views of southern Tassie from the spa bathroom, with sliding windows opening up to the panoramic view below, are amazing.

Southern Tassie - Woodbridge Hill Hideaway
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Woodbridge Hill Hideaway, luxury accommodation in southern Tassie

Every comfort has been thought of; Nespresso coffee machine, generous breakfast provisions, wines to purchase and a large deck with barbecue to cook your own.  The complimentary WiFi was appreciated.  Best of all was the beautifully built, enormous, well heated indoor pool, which you can book all to yourselves.  It had of course, the usual magnificent panoramic view, which we were getting quite used to by now and swimming 10 to 12 lengths of the pool a day, was a lovely way to hopefully shed some excess kilos.

Southern Tassie - Huon Winter Break
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A winter break in the Huon Valley in southern Tassie at Woodbridge Hill Hideaway

We finally dragged ourselves away from the views and spent a little time exploring southern Tassie: Kettering and Oyster Cove.  We were amazed at the sheltered marina, absolutely packed with luxury yachts and craft of all shapes and sizes.  This is definitely the place to go, if you are looking for a mooring or boat to purchase.  I hastily moved on my better half; he was fairly drooling.

Southern Tassie - Oyster Cove Marina
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Winter break: Oyster Cove Marina, Kettering in southern Tasmania

We regretfully left this lovely hideaway and our amiable hosts, Fintan and Ruth.

  • HOT TIP: Book via the online system on their website, as the owners
    lead very busy lives and are hard to track down.  Take your bathers.

Bruny Island: a Highlight of Southern Tassie

The 15 minute ferry ride from Kettering to Bruny Island was a pleasant experience, departing approximately every hour and costing $28 return for a vehicle and two passengers.  The southern Tassie island has a rich history, spectacular landscapes and delicious produce and was formerly inhabited by the Nuenanne band of Aboriginals for thousands of years prior to Abel Tasman arriving in 1773.  The last full-blood aboriginal Trugannini was also born here in 1803.


 

Leaving the ferry we passed a smokehouse and cheese factory, where we were looking forward to tasting the local delicacies, but unfortunately they were both closed during August; a reason to return.  The penguin rookery and lookout at the Neck, with it’s spectacular view was our next stop.  We did not linger, as we were expected at our next destination and did not want to keep our hosts waiting.  We passed through the small towns of Alonnah and Lunawanna on our way to Labillardiere Estate, on the Cape Bruny Lighthouse Road.

Southern Tassie - Bruny Island Ferry
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The Bruny Island Ferry transports cars and passengers to and from Kettering

As this is a private, gated 1500 acre wildlife property, arrangements were made for the electronic gate to be unlocked and our hostess Allegra Biggs Dale was waiting.  Our home for the next three days was Chez Discovery, a solar and diesel generated, environmentally sensitive abode, set in a clearing with views to Great Taylor’s Bay and D’Entrecasteaux Channel.  Two bedrooms, a spacious lounge and well equipped kitchen with gas cooker, laundry and modern bathroom more than supplied our needs.  Breakfast can be provided.

Southern Tassie - Chez Discovery, Bruny Island
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Chez Discovery (Labillardiere Estate) on Bruny Island in southern Tassie

Allegra and husband Adrian have lived at Labillardiere for 20 years, after foregoing exciting places like the Middle East, Maldives and Asia.  They are delightful people and will proudly show you the natural features of their property; the birds, forests, wetlands and of course the petit orchids, of which Allegra now has a book to her name.  Adrian’s hobby is his seven metre amphibious craft, ‘Aquila’ Sealegs, which is in full survey and available for tours for up to six passengers.

Southern Tassie - Allegra & Adrian, Labillardiere Estate, Bruny Island
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Allegra & Adrian from Labillardiere Estate on Bruny Island with their Aquila

Southern Tassie - Aquila Sealegs
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Allegra with Adrian’s hobby: Aquila Sealegs, Bruny Island in southern Tassie

Regretfully, the windy conditions were not conducive to either a trip in Aquila or the Bruny Island Cruise, so we made the decision to revisit Chez Discovery and Bruny Island in the autumn, when hopefully the weather will be more favourable. A pleasant stay with interesting hosts.

  • HOT TIP: Let Allegra know your arrival time for scheduled entry
    via the electronic gate and take plenty of provisions with you.
    Internet connection is available.

Back to Basics for a Winter Break

We disembarked Bruny the same way as we came and spent a leisurely morning driving onto our next winter break destination, Huon Bush Retreats, stocking up on food, en route.  The roads were very quiet and we only passed one hire car with tourists, all morning.  The retreat is situated in an extensive private habitat reserve, at the end of a narrow, steep, winding, 4km gravel road and has a range of self contained cabins, tipees and campsites.


 

Our compact studio cabin, had a small kitchen/dining space, lounge and sleeping area, bathroom with shower and a composting toilet.  It was basically furnished, had 12 volt electricity and no TV or mobile phone coverage.  If urgent, we could have recharged our computer at reception, but decided to wait.  The surrounding bush was alive with wildlife which would enter your cabin uninvited, if a door was unintentionally left open.

Southern Tassie - Bush Wildlife
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The bush is alive with wildlife in southern Tassie (Photo by Dan Fellow)

We decided to visit Cockle Creek and Recherche Bay the following morning, which we thoroughly enjoyed.  The rain clouds cleared to shafts of sunlight, as we walked to the waters edge at the Whale Sculpture; a pod of dolphins appearing momentarily in the bay.  Pure magic and well worth the trip, over a sometimes waterlogged track.  Thank goodness for the Land Rover Defender; it was reassuring to know that we were not likely to get bogged!

  • HOT TIP: Attempt the steep mountain road before dusk.
    Make sure your computer/shaver etc., are fully charged.
Southern Tassie - Recherche Bay
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Recherche Bay, one of the most southern Tassie places you can visit

A wonderful, well-written article about southern Tassie, and we’re very pleased Janette decided to share with us.  Choosing to holiday-at-home proved beneficial for the Bishops, too.  After their winter break, they returned to the Beachside Retreat West Inlet in Stanley without any sign of a winter “mainland flu”.  Refreshed and devoid of any travel-related stresses, they have a renewed appreciation for southern Tassie after a 20-year break between visits.

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Map: Southern Tassie