Creatively Belle: Belinda Stinson has written this article for Think Tasmania about her imminent Tassie holiday. She’ll have her handcrafted jewellery at the Tasmanian Craft Fair, and we couldn’t be more impressed with her enthusiasm for the Apple Isle.  This is her story.

Creatively Belle - Belinda Stinson

Belinda Stinson, Creatively Belle (photo supplied)

Creatively Belle: In Love with Tasmania

by Belinda Stinson

I think I fell in love with Tasmania even before I set foot on it’s rich, fertile soil. Family would call to tell me to switch channels to a holiday show featuring it. I cut out newspaper travel guides and saved them in a holiday dream box. I finally took a holiday in 2006 and immediately went south. I didn’t care that it was May and all the mainlanders were telling me it would be freezing. I bought a polar fleece jacket!

So south I headed on the Spirit of Tasmania from Sydney* and I felt like I was a six-year-old on an excellent adventure. I sailed under my beloved Sydney Harbour Bridge and giggled like a school girl. I sailed out of Sydney Heads and felt my spirit sing out “here I come!” to Tasmania.

I didn’t even have a formal plan for my two week holiday. I’d been too busy in the weeks leading up to my escape. All I had was accommodation booked for my first night in Devonport and an abundant source of faith that travelling in the off season would mean getting accommodation would be easy. Luckily, I was right.

The next two weeks of touring around Tasmania had me falling in love repeatedly every day. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

  • I saw a platypus in the wild within minutes of quietly looking
  • I ate so many great meals that I discovered a new love for food
  • I took photo after photo of stunning views from the side of the road
  • I spent hours talking with friendly locals who shared treasured secrets about the best places to explore
  • And I refreshed my spirit

Last year during my May dash to Tasmania I discovered the Makers Workshop in Burnie, soaked up the atmosphere and dreamed of being part of something like that myself. This May I moved into a Pop Up Meet the Makers style venue and opened my first little shop in a charming heritage sandstone building in the heart of Sydney’s Rocks.

For six months I’ve been a shop keeper and a permanent Rocks Markets stall holder with my Creatively Belle jewellery and worked constantly. Now I’m being rewarded with another little escape to Tasmania and this time to the Tasmanian Craft Fair. Dreams do come true.

Creatively Belle - Touring Around Tasmania's North

Touring around Tasmania (photo supplied)

Tasmanian Craft Fair

Last May during my quick flying break down to northern Tasmania I got talking with locals in Deloraine about their big craft fair and loved the sound of it. So while I had missed the cut off date for applications I did manage to book into a community venue in the old Gunns building (opposite Woolworths), a newly opened arts and craft centre. I had a really lovely time with the other makers in the venue and getting to meet so many locals.

I was one of the first off the mark for sending in my application for the Tasmanian Craft Fair 2011 and was thrilled to be accepted. Creatively Belle will be in Venue 8, stall 827 and will have a range of show specials happening too, because I think part of the excitement of coming to a show is to get extra special value for your shopping. I’ve been making new designs for necklaces, earrings and bracelets, including some one off pieces for the Limited Edition range.

Creatively Belle - Handcrafted Jewellery

Handcrafted jewellery: Creatively Belle (photo supplied)

For me, having an opportunity to see if I can make a living from my craft in Tasmania is a way to further explore my dream of one day having a little farm with a creek with a local platypus and some Tassie Devils rumbling around. It’s also a great chance to meet more locals and start forming friendships and understanding the local culture better.

Creatively Belle - Tassie Devil

Tasmanian Devil (photo supplied)

Exploring Mole Creek

Last year I stayed at the Mole Creek Hotel with spectacular views of the Western Tiers, ate my fill with delicious and affordable dinners each night and slept like a log. I was quite late booking accommodation last year and it was the really helpful team at the Deloraine Tourist Information Centre who stepped up and found a room just perfect for me.

I spent the day after the show exploring the area, finding beautiful flower gardens at the B&B, charming crafts in the local shops and off searching for platypuses with local photographer Matthew Rowe of MTR Photography and his beautiful daughter.

It was time out this city girl really needed and I’m planning on catching up with Matthew and the platypuses this trip.

Creatively Belle - Mole Creek Gardens

Gardens in Tasmania (photo supplied)

Creatively Belle: In Love with Tasmanian B&Bs

It’s a bit of a family joke how much I love staying in B&Bs in Tasmania. Every trip I’ve stayed in a range of B&B’s across the state, from Launceston to Hobart; Swansea to Burnie and this trip I’m staying at Geoff Woods’ Glendalough  in Deloraine for the Craft Fair.

Friends of mine have stayed there before and raved about how lovely it is, so I’m thrilled to be able to stay there this year.

Creatively Belle - Tasmanian Bed and Breakfast Gardens

Belinda Stinson: Tasmania (photo supplied)

Touring Around Tasmania

Every trip to Tassie I go walking and exploring, mostly planned, sometimes by happy accident and always falling in love with the fauna and flora. Last year I took a wrong turn between Devonport and Launceston and ended up at Narawntapu National Park and fell in love instantly. I was meeting a friend for lunch so had to keep going so it’s on my short list for this trip, but so too are the Alum Cliffs, Meander Falls, Liffey Falls, The Nut at Stanley and Ben Lomond. Well, maybe not such a short list.

I’ve also been thinking about revisiting Cradle Mountain and Cataract Gorge. Maybe I really need a month of touring around Tasmania! My walking guides include Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks, Monica and John Chapman’s Day Walks Tasmania  and a Visitor Guide to Tasmanian National Parks and Reserves. I got caught in my first snow storm last May at Cradle Mountain and went back the next morning to a winter wonderland!  Just beautiful!

Creatively Belle - Cradle Mountain Tasmania

Tasmania: Cradle Mountain (photo supplied)

Belinda Stinson: Addicted to Tasmanian Honey

You can never have enough honey! I use it in my green tea, in cooking, on toast and in sandwiches. I even have a teaspoon of it instead of sitting down to demolish a block of chocolate (which I’ve been known to do).

I just love honey and Tasmanian honey is one of my favourites. I’ve brought home jars of it on the plane but I bring home pots of it with the car. Last trip I bought a 1.5 kilo pot of Cradle Mountain Honey and this time I think it will have to be two or three pots! I’ll be going to the Honey Farm at Chudleigh and then back to visiting Lilly the Wombat at Trowunna Wildlife Park at Mole Creek.

Creatively Belle - Tasmanian Wildlife Park Wombat

Lilly the Wombat: Tasmania (photo supplied)

My Tasmanian Checklist

While honey is top on my things to bring home, so to is a stash of chocolate coated raspberries from the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm, fudge from the House of Anvers, probably another case of wine and whatever else takes my fancy at the Craft Fair!

I think it’s really important to shop with small local businesses in regional areas. You get great designs, produce and goodies and your money goes to work immediately back into the community. So I’m armed with a shopping list and will be getting a chunk of my Christmas shopping done at the Craft Fair.

Last year I bought a beautiful glass bauble that I loved so much I had to get mum another present. I’m looking out this year for handcrafted Tasmanian wood pieces, lavender soap and moisturiser and some lampwork glass beads. I’m always looking to add to my personal collection of these.

Thanks to Belinda Stinson of Creatively Belle for sharing her thoughts about Tasmania and the Craft Fair (and all these fabulous photos) with us. We love to promote local business owners at Think Tasmania, but Belinda’s passion and knowledge of all things Tasmanian has completely blown us away! You can follow Belinda via Facebook: Creatively Belle Designs or Twitter: Creatively Belle. And of course, if you’d like to meet Belinda in person, visit stall 827 in venue 8 at this year’s Craft Fair in Deloraine (Nov 4-7) and say hello!

NB: the Spirit of Tasmania no longer sails from Sydney* but there are daily crossings of Bass Strait from Melbourne in Victoria to Devonport.