This article is sponsored by Cradle Coast Authority
When it comes to getting the best out of your holiday, no amount of endless vendor website research or old-hat city guides beat an on-the-ground, real time recommendation from a fellow traveller.
The rise of peer-reviewed websites like TripAdvisor have taken such recommendations to a new level, collating a veritable treasure trove of up-to-the-minute tips and tricks.
This has created a new level of transparency for accommodation offerings, wining and dining experiences and sight-seeing that has allowed the best to stand out from the rest.
One thing any savvy seasoned traveller knows is that appearances can deceive. Incredible hole-in-the-wall bars, under-the-radar restaurants or discreet accommodation that are easily passed by on first sight are now five-starred into the digital spotlight to receive the recognition they deserve.
Tasmania’s North West is positively brimming with such experiences. Cradle Coast is a region of hard-working hospitality fanatics, hell-bent on providing a gastronomic feast or home-away-from-home respite for visitors. And it’s all just an easy few hours scenic drive from major cities like Launceston and Hobart.
Here are some of the standouts in Cradle Coast on TripAdvisor.com.au in 2018.
1. Best food and drink experiences
Hellyers Road Distillery (4.5 from 269 reviews)
Burnie is home to Australia’s largest boutique distillery – Hellyers Road Distillery. The distillery has carved out a solid name for itself: in 2010, Hellyers Road was recognised by the Malt Whisky Association of Australia for producing the nation’s best single malt, and in 2012, the distiller released its first aged statement whisky – The 10 Year Original. More recently, the distillery was named 2017 Tasmanian Exporter of the Year.
A wonderful venue for family lunch in a discreetly sophisticated restaurant with stunning views and a classy atmosphere. We tried a variety of menu options and everyone raved about their food, from the Traditional Beef Whisky Pie to the Vietnamese Pork dish, the Lebanese Lamb Kofta, Smoked Salmon Salad & the Quiche. We shared a lovely Pinot Gris and the Chef’s daily loaf, topped off with sensational desserts. The staff were attentive and friendly and we indulged in some whisky purchases on the way out. After years in SE Asia which is a foodie heaven, we were very appreciative of such quality Tasmanian food. Well done & thank youCecilieMu, Kota Kinabalu, TripAdvisor.com.au
Whether or not you like the taste of whisky doesn’t matter much – the tour, known as the Whisky Walk, is a fascinating insight into the intricate science of creating liquor, and guests can enjoy samples of single malts as well as vodka and whisky cream liqueurs upon completion. The Whisky Walk also provides the opportunity for guests to pour and wax seal their very own bottle of Hellyers Road Distiller's Choice whisky – complete with signed Certificate of Authenticity, a perfect gift for dad.
When it’s time to sit down for a bite, guests are afforded generous rolling views over pastoral lands and the Emu Valley Precinct while they dine. Enjoy chef-prepared menu offerings including house smoked ocean trout bruschetta, a scotch fillet burger marinated in house whisky with bacon and beetroot relish or pumpkin and fetta croquettes served with romesco sauce and a roasted pistachio dukkah.
For more, visit www.hellyersroaddistillery.com.au
Ghost Rock Vineyard (4.5 stars from 139 reviews)
This family-owned winery is about one thing: “the wine, the wine, the wine”. The winery, which was Australian Winery of the Year Finalist - Winestate Magazine 2016, produces the sort of exceptional cool climate wines that Tasmania is famed for. The winery itself is as interesting as the product they create – nestled within the rolling patchwork hills with views across the pristine coastline of northern Tasmania.
The six vineyards at the winery produce french oak Chardonnay, vibrant Rose, crisp Pinot Gris, generous Pinot Noir, plush Riesling and more. Enjoy the complimentary wine tastings while you learn the fascinating insights of the drop, and round off the experience with a rustic meal. Enjoy offering like a wild fish and creamy sauce pie, or a house-made roasted mushroom toastie prepared with garlic and thyme, spinach and Tallegio cheese. Treat yourself with a flourless chocolate and Frangelico cake served with a dollop of cream to finish.
Enjoyed a wonderful Sunday afternoon late lunch at Ghost Rock recently and highly recommend this as a must visit destination on the Cradle Coast. We enjoyed the magnificent platter that other reviews have mentioned - full of local produce - and very generous in proportion. It was great to also be able to sample some of the Ghost Rock wines before making a purchase. Well worth a visit in the beautiful part of the world.Jetea, Melbourne, TripAdvisor.com.au
The ideal experience at Ghost Rock is a long lazy lunch on the weekend, considering the winery is located just an hour’s drive from Launceston. The Cellar Door at Ghost Rock has amassed a loyal following of return visitors thanks to the warm hospitality and strong loyalty to local produce so bookings are encouraged.
For more, visit www.ghostrock.com.au
2. Most interesting accommodation experiences
@VDL Stanley (4.5 stars from 137 reviews)
Within Stanley’s historic precinct and overlooking the deep blue water of Sawyers Bay stands a renovated bluestone warehouse known as @VDL Stanley. The acronym expands to Van Diemen’s Land as the building has functioned as a jail, customs house, dairy- and fish-processing factory before it was transformed into a boutique hotel. The carefully restored accommodation prides itself on a private, no-fuss approach to providing a home away from home for guests.
You just know when you park out front that @VDL is something 'special'. I can't begin to mention the gorgeousness of this place. The decor, the bathrooms, the bed, the view, the location .... right down to the musk sticks & licorice all sorts. We just LOVED our stay here & I wouldn't care if I never stepped out the front door for our whole stay. Whomever decorated this place, nailed it. So, so, special but then I've said that. Even bikes to ride around town. The devil is in the detail & every detail is covered. Just book it!AustraliaSummer, Australia, TripAdvisor.com.au
The intermingle of old world splendour and contemporary finishings create a unique accommodation experience. The spacious lounge is filled with chic armchairs and lounges, encased in rustic interior design including exposed beams, raw brick walls and artwork.
Choose from two large suites or an ultra-luxury king loft apartment, all fully fitted with deep bathtubs, coffee machines and mini bars. The loft apartment has a full kitchen perfect for preparing meals onsite, as there is no restaurant within the complex. Instead, explore some of the many local eateries @VDL recommends on a complimentary bicycle. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic getaway, or book the entire place for an occasion with the girls for an unforgettable weekend away.
For more, visit www.atvdlstanley.com.au
The Waterfront Wynyard (4.5 stars from 382 reviews)
It was 2003 and Melbourners Justin and Cyndia had grown tired of big city life. They decided to take a chance on purchasing a mid-century motel in Wynyard that needed some love. Fifteen years on and a thoughtful restoration has turned the accommodation into the warm and welcoming popular retreat it is today.
The award-winning Waterfront Wynyard is a retro motel nestled on the banks of the Inglis River. The 25 en-suite rooms all boast water views from their well-appointed accommodation which includes high speed internet and pet-friendly facilities.
Truly one of the best motels I have ever stayed in .. Great room wonderful staff glorious views initially booked 1 night but stayed 3 wish it had been much longer but onward travel bookings prevented a longer stay most definitely would stay again and recommend it to anyone travelling in north west TasmaniaArnold l, Brisbane, TripAdvisor.com.au
Take a short stroll to the riverside where you can purchase the freshest, off-the-boat fish or join a charter tour to catch your own lunch. A short drive away is Table Cape, home to a brilliant lighthouse, fossilised cliffs and plenty of natural splendour. Stanley is also located further west, where the penguins can be spotted playing, or the Nut can be conquered via chairlift or hike.
The Waterfront Wynyard is just twenty minutes drive from Burnie and two hours’ scenic drive from Launceston through the rolling landscape of the Cradle Coast region.
3. Best natural immersion experiences
Cradle Mountain (5 stars from 864 reviews)
No trip to Cradle Coast is truly complete without a day spent exploring the splendour of Cradle Mountain, a magnificent alpine landscape scattered with peaks, mirror-like glacial lakes and ancient magical forestry.
There are a few ways to hike the National Park of Cradle Mountain depending on your fitness level and allotted time frame. Embark upon the two-hour walk around the lake or spend the day tackling Cradle Mountain's summit. There are also a variety of shorter walks that pass through old-growth rainforest.
The Lake St Clair section of the park is perfect for those who want to take it slow, with leisurely lakeside strolls and longer forest walks twisting and turning through the area. Visitors in late spring and summer will observe colourful native wildflowers including waratahs, orchids, banksias, hakeas and leatherwoods.
Anyway you do it, ensure you end up at Dove Lake, a glassy body of water that seems to reflect a perfectly upside-down image of the iconic mountain behind it, a truly meditative experience.
For more, visit Discover Tasmania’s site
The Tarkine (4.5 stars from 41 reviews)
The Tarkine Forest Reserve is an expansive area of temperate rainforest and coastal heathland with a strong Tasmanian Aboriginal lifeblood. Although not an official national park, the Tarkine’s rolling landscapes, from glistening sand dunes to dense forestry to flowing rivers and dry arid rock provide an immersive natural experience. Say hi to the locals: you’ll spot platypuses, echidnas, wombats, bandicoots, possums and gliders - not to mention the famous Tasmanian devil and the state's other predators, the spotted-tailed quoll and eastern quoll.
There are plenty of ways to explore the Tarkine. Driving through the landscape is one option, but you could also consider canoeing, kayaking or river cruising through the waterways laced with blackwood and myrtle, cycling through the changing landscape, or exploring on foot. There are numerous walking trails from Arthur River and the nearby South Arthur Forest drive, including the Celery Top pine nature trail and the Balfour Track rainforest walk.
Took a daytrip up to Tarkine Wilderness. Just to breath the air was an experience. And the beauty. Huge tree ferns align the roadway, cattle grazing on greenest of green grass. And the silence. All in all so impressed. If you ever want to get lost here is where to do it. But only in summer!!!_elizabethhansen1959, Brisbane region, TripAdvisor.com.au
It’s humbling to observe the ancient Aboriginal sites of great archaeological significance, including the many shell middens, hut depression sites, artifacts and rock engravings. It’s clear the Tarkine is a deeply spiritual experience of connection to the land and to Tasmania’s rich indigenous history.
For more, visit www.discoverthetarkine.com.au
This article is sponsored by Cradle Coast Authority