Tasmania’s Treasures in Five Days
October 27, 2014
My vision was to set off on a private five-day luxury tour of Tasmania, exploring the best that the island had to offer. Given that the state has been ranked fourth in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Regions list for 2015, a fifth of the island is world heritage listed, and that its splendour has been praised from coast to coast by the likes of Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, and more recently, J.K. Rowling (proud owner of a magnificent Tasmanian estate) and the Crown Prince of Denmark (husband to one of the islanders), five days was an ambitious timeframe.
After researching and prioritising, I settled on an itinerary which would see my partner and I flying into Launceston in the north, hiring a sports car from Overdrive Car Hire, visiting remarkable Eagles Nest Retreat for two nights and then winding our way down the east coast to the recently established and already widely awarded Library House in Hobart.
These destinations were a fitting framework for our journey, but the expedition would not have been complete without visiting the island’s key wilderness sites and enjoying the most sought-after experiences along the way. In the north, we included a walk to majestic Cradle Mountain, in the east we scheduled a trip to exquisite Wineglass Bay and in the south we organised an opulent seaplane and yachting adventure with Hobart Yachts.
The final result was an unrivalled Tasmanian itinerary. One that showcased serene, natural landscapes by day and unique luxury venues by night. One that spoke of adventure and comfort. And one that I believe will leave all those who follow in our footsteps with memories that they will treasure for a lifetime.
DAY 1 – ATTACKING THE ROAD AND EMBRACING THE WILDERNESS
Upon arriving in Tasmania, we were greeted by a friendly representative from Overdrive Car Hire who chauffeured us from Launceston Airport to a luxury car depot. From here we were handed a welcome kit, GPS device and the keys to our pre-booked and patiently waiting red Audi TT.
As we set off for Eagles Nest Retreat, I immediately put the Audi’s turbocharger to the test and discovered that the car feels exactly how it looks: both graceful and aggressive. The leather interior, crisp speakers, powerful acceleration and responsive handling made every stretch of the road a delight. Our driving experience was also enhanced by the impeccable service from the Overdrive team, who not only offered us more exotic car options (such as a Porsche Boxter S and a BMW Z4 Roadster), but who were also professional and helpful throughout the duration of our journey.
After travelling for approximately 90 minutes, past Eucalyptus trees, green meadows and the occasional Kangaroo, we arrived at Eagles Nest Retreat. From the moment we set eyes upon this extraordinary destination, we felt like we had entered a dream. Our unique private residence was too architecturally astounding and the views of the mountains too spectacular to be set in reality. It was as though perfection itself had somehow been obtained in this remote untouched corner of the world.
Des, founder of the establishment, explained to me that it was the location, which inspired him to launch the retreat. “When you come here you have your own garden of Eden”, said Des. This sentiment has been echoed by other visitors, including celebrity actress Laura Michelle Kelly, who visited while working on The Goddess and exclaimed, “This place is heaven.”
What is it then that makes Eagles Nest Retreat such a standout luxury destination, drawing wedding couples, honeymooners and celebrities from all corners of the globe?
First and foremost, the property contains only three villas or “nests” in an exquisite setting, providing an unparalleled private sanctuary.
Secondly, each self-contained villa is a state-of-the-art custom designed and built residence. The nest that we stayed in for example, Nest II, was designed by the founder’s daughter and her husband (Sheree and Stuart Kent) and boasted a 4-metre floor-to-ceiling glass window, which framed picturesque Mount Roland, a modern kitchen with an expansive countertop island (which has featured in numerous television cooking series), three inviting bedrooms, an upstairs reading loft with a magnificent view, and a large private pond, visited frequently by the local platypus.
Thirdly, the interior details of the nests are truly unique. Our nest contained an Asian wing, which exhibited handmade silks and a traditional bamboo shower, and an African wing, which led into a comfortable outdoor shower. Rare objects and furniture from Asia and Africa also adorned the interior, adding further authenticity to the themes.
Finally, the service at Eagles Nest Retreat is in a class of its own. Upon arriving we were met by Des who provided us with fresh eggs, a splendid Eagles Nest Retreat Pinot Noir and several other local delicacies. The extended team members were also outstanding, including the private butler, who once served the Queen of England, the chefs, who prepare a customised menu in your very own kitchen, and the massage therapists, who visit the nests and deliver a treatment designed to your individual needs in a space that suits you and your partner best.
DAY 2 – MOUNTAINS, MASSAGES AND MOUTH-WATERING CUISINE
Once settled into Eagles Nest Retreat, it was time to discover nearby Cradle Mountain. Best known as the starting point for Australia’s famous Overland Track, the mountain’s rugged landscape and pristine lake are essential inclusions in any Tasmanian itinerary. Visitors who consider the six-day trek a little demanding will also be pleased to discover more reasonable hiking options available, including a trail around Dove Lake or short scenic routes in the surrounding ranges.
After completing a pleasant walk, my partner and I returned to our car and headed back to our nest, located approximately an hour away. Our pre-ordered professional massage therapist, Rumiko, was waiting for us upon our arrival and set up her massage bed in our requested venue: the upstairs Middle Eastern reading loft. Here, overlooking the mountains, with the scent of lavender and jojoba oils and the sound of gentle Japanese music, Rumiko delivered our indulgent full body massages.
Having also booked a private chef for dinner and pre-ordered our meals, we soon discovered that the delights of the day had really only begun. In the early evening, local culinary expert Cynthia Osborne arrived at our nest and began preparing a meal with regional and seasonal ingredients. Cynthia commenced our indulgent gastronomic affair by spoiling us with plates of corn pancakes topped with Tasmanian smoked salmon, chives, tomato and parsley, and a warm chicken salad with orange slices, Tasmanian walnuts and a honey and cinnamon dressing.
Our mains were equally thoughtfully prepared and included a tender Tasmanian steak and slow roasted lamb shanks, both served with delicious vegetables from Cynthia’s garden. As for the desserts, each spoon was sensational, whether containing the sweet pumpkin pie or the irresistible apple and berry crumble with walnuts, blueberries and fresh local cream.
Upon reflecting, the private dining experience was one of the highlights at Eagles Nest Retreat and I would unhesitatingly recommend Cynthia. Not only did she cook meals worthy of a leading international restaurant, but she also took care of the details, such as setting up a warm and intimate dining ambience so that we could make the most of our private culinary experience in the comfort of Nest II.
DAY 3 – FROM SUNLIT BAYS TO CITY LIGHTS
The knowledge that we would soon be exploring Wineglass Bay and staying at a best-selling author’s exclusive guesthouse in Hobart kept us from thinking about the otherwise devastating reality: today we had to leave Eagles Nest Retreat.
Our departure in the late morning gave us more than enough time to wind our way through the Tasmanian countryside to Freycinet National Park before sunset. Approximately three hours away from Eagles Nest Retreat, this national park is home to Wineglass Bay, the most photographed beach in Tasmania and ranked one of the top ten beaches in the world by Outside magazine. The bay is approximately 30 minutes away from the car park, but it is well worth the walk. Witnessing sunset in this spectacular setting is an experience that I believe everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
From Frecyinet National Park, we followed the coastal road south, arriving at Library House in Hobart approximately two hours later. Upon our arrival we were greeted and introduced to the establishment by Rowan Smith—musician, creative director, life partner to best-selling author Heather Rose and co-founder of Library House.
What was immediately apparent during Rowan’s tour were the creative touches that only an award-winning author and creative director partnership could have envisioned. For example, each of the five opulently appointed bedrooms was named after a well-known novel and featured a bookshelf stocked with other works from the same author. I later read in the guestbook that if a guest wished to keep one of the many books at Library House, Rowan and Heather would do what they could to source it for the guest.
With thoughtful details like these, a charming 1900 Federation design, modern enhancements by award-winning architect Andrew Williamson, luxurious interior elements and an outstanding location, it is little wonder why this new luxury destination has already attracted so much attention. No doubt, the recent recognition of the establishment as one of the top five new getaways by Virgin’s Voyeur magazine and as Best Indulgence Property Tasmania by Stayz Group mark only the start of many accolades to follow.
DAY 4 – TASMANIA BY AIR AND BY SEA
Waking up can be a challenge for anyone, but when you have a view like the River Wife room at Library House, you can’t wake up soon enough. The room is perched above Hobart and displays a panoramic setting of the charming city and the Derwent River. The space also boasts a Sleepmaker commercial grade mattress (an exceptionally comfortable model, found in select five-star hotels around Australia) and a wardrobe area, which leads out into a private balcony.
After showering in one of the three modern bathrooms and preparing breakfast with several included items, such as the finest honey I have ever tasted (Leatherwood Honey from the Tasmanian Honey Company), I gave myself the opportunity to explore the house more thoroughly.
Downstairs led me to the personal library collection of Heather Rose, two spacious bedrooms, a media room with an operational fireplace and an oversized lounge, dining and kitchen area with spectacular city views. This level also led down to a private garden with an orchard and herbs, which guests are invited to pick and eat at their leisure. Three further bedrooms, including the River Wife room, and a spa bath with breathtaking views of Hobart were located upstairs, completing the floor plan of this spacious designer home.
Visitors who expect the best will also be delighted to find the finest names appearing on products throughout the establishment. The cutlery is designed by Robert Welch, the crockery by Villeroy and Boch and the bathroom amenities are supplied by Aesop (one of Australia’s leading cosmetic companies). Further options are also available to enhance a guest’s stay, including a private yoga instructor and the delivery of pre-selected premium groceries from the nearby Hill Street Grocer (upon request).
Yet another highlight of the property is the location, which allows for a 15-minute stroll to the charming city centre. And for us, proximity to the centre meant convenient access to Hobart harbour, where our flying and sailing adventure for the day was to take place.
Organised by Hobart Yachts, our selected expedition involved flying out from Hobart’s harbour on one of Tasmanian Air Adventures’ Beaver seaplanes, enjoying remarkable views of the surrounds by air and then touching down near Bruny Island, where a 62-foot sailing vessel would pick us up.
After enjoying the views from the seaplane and landing gently in the remote bay, we were ferried to our yacht by Hobart Yachts’ owner, Mark Stranger. Previously a Forest Ranger and then a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania, Mark now dedicates most of his time to organising sailing adventures with fortunate visitors from around the world.
Upon arriving onboard, we were greeted by the extended crew, who served us glasses of local sparkling wine accompanied with Tasmanian salmon and caviar appetisers. The lunch that followed was nothing short of exceptional. Tasmanian terrines led into a chicken, walnut and quinoa salad, which preceded an extravagant charcuterie board and a Tasmanian salmon ceviche dish, served with local goats cheese. The salmon was particularly delicious, most likely due to the proximity of the local salmon farms, which we could see from our dining table on the yacht.
The sail itself, following the lunch, was both relaxing and refreshing, with my partner and I taking part in winching, wind watching and whiling away the time at the bow. As we passed Bruny Island and made our way back to town, the crew filled us in about relevant historical events, pointed out significant landmarks and discussed their upcoming voyages. Among their offers in 2015 is a flying and sailing option available to Port Davey in March. This remote region is only accessible by a 7-day hike, boat or small plane, and according to Mark, it will soon become as iconic a destination as Uluru and Kakadu.
Looking back, the sailing experience with Hobart Yachts was an enviable way to explore the beauty of this spectacular island and I would highly recommend Mark and his team. If actions speak louder than words for you, you may be interested to know that my partner and I are already considering joining Mark for a Port Davey sail in March.
DAY 5 – TIME TO SAY “SEE YOU LATER.”
Although today was the day we had to return home, we were not in a position to complain. Such is the sentiment when you have spent the best part of five days relaxing in opulence in the remote Tasmanian wilderness, indulging in a sophisticated luxury guesthouse and taking exhilarating drives, flights and sails.
Besides, with much of the island protected from further development, Tasmania’s beauty will not be disappearing anytime soon. So, upon departing, it was not “goodbye”, but rather “see you later”, as they say in Australia.