Tantalizing Tasmania - An Australian Gem

Written by  Maxine Albert

ASIA Australia
As I gazed at the Hazard Mountains across Great Oyster Bay, the rays of the setting sun cast a glorious glow on the pink granite peaks of the range above and the azure sea below. Sitting by the fireplace, a glass of wine in hand sure felt like heaven to me. Welcome to Saffire, Australia’s luxurious coastal resort perched on Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula where pristine air, unspoiled nature and gastronomic cuisine are the order of the day. The water is so pure yielding seafood so sublime, it’s not surprising that Australia’s top chefs move here.

Saffire Freycinet (www.saffire-freycinet.com.au), a member of Luxury Lodges of Australia, is an architectural marvel shaped like a manta ray. In a place with such exquisite surroundings, 20 stunning suites that fan out from the main building with floor to ceiling windows seem nestled in the verdant landscape. Interiors done in dove gray, beige and splashes of burnt orange along with neutral timber and stone blend with the environment. King size beds with plush linens, locally crafted furnishings and deep tubs that call out for bubble baths create a sumptuous sanctuary.
A main focus at the resort is the food, and it is extraordinary. Guests are treated to an endless parade of culinary delights. Everything is locally sourced, seasonal, organic with the freshest ingredients. Even the daily changing lunch salads with Tasmania’s renowned produce taste remarkable. Dinner at elegant Palate Restaurant, romantically lit in the evening, is a gourmet feast with standouts like Tasmanian trout, char-grilled lamb and artisanal cheeses. I can never get enough of the
juicy oysters.


When not delighting your palate, there’s a host of open-air activities. You can hike the famous trails, drink in the picturesque views along the Wineglass bay Lookout Walk then trek down to the iconic bay, stroll the secluded sandy beach, kayak, canoe, bird watch, spot whales from a boat, quad bike and stargaze under the clear Southern night sky. A visit to the adorable Tasmanian Devils in an open range enclosure, part of Saffire’s program to protect the animals from a widespread disease, is a guest favorite. I still dream about my visit to the local marine farm. Clad in waders, I shucked and ate mouth-watering oysters while sipping champagne at a perfectly set table, right in the bay.  
I topped off a day immersed in resplendent nature at their spa. Here, a massage using hot stones handcrafted from the pink granite of the Hazards Mountain Range was pure Tasmanian Bliss.


Pumphouse Point (www.pumphousepoint.com.au) located in Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness in the Central Highlands offers travelers a unique experience. A 1940 Pumphouse in the middle of Lake St. Clair, a former hydroelectric plant, and the Shorehouse that previously housed offices have been converted to a cool 18-room hotel. Both buildings are tricked out in Tasmanian oak, copper and brass with nautical flourishes. Large windows open to dramatic views of the glacial mountains and the cobalt blue lake. Cozy rooms and suites are highly atmospheric; the sound of the wind blowing as the waves crash against the rocks in the water below make for romantic evenings. The locale is ideal for hiking in the surrounding myrtle forests, boating, fly fishing and sampling Tasmania’s superb food and wine.

   
Hobart, Tasmania’s capital beside the Derwent River, is known for its creative crafts and burgeoning art community. Fashionable Salamanca Place, peppered with old sandstone warehouses restored as galleries, studios and hip cafes hosts a vibrant market on Saturday. Nearby Battery Point, a historic district, charms with its narrow lanes and colonial-era cottages. Majestic Mount Wellington, the city’s backdrop, offers hiking and cycling trails as well as sweeping views. Mona, known as the world’s most far out museum, is chiseled into an escarpment on the riverbanks. This 3 level subterranean playground houses a changing collection of fantastical art and objects. After a heady visit, I lunched on local oysters at the museum’s chic Wine Bar. Get a real taste of Hobart at its scenic waterfront, buzzing with old pubs, excellent restaurants and friendly Tazmanian locals.
www.discovertasmania.com.au

Getting There
Virgin Australia offers service from the US to Australian cities, and also domestically within the country. Passengers fly on one of the carrier’s partner airlines to Los Angeles for flights to Sydney or Melbourne where they connect to a two hour flight to Hobart. The airline features excellent food, fine Australian wine, a large entertainment selection and an attentive staff. Seats in business class are spacious and lie-flat which makes a big difference on long flights. www.virginaustralia.com

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