Tasmania – The land where fairytales are created

Marc Casolani writes: Tasmania has so much to offer with such little distance to cover, this truly is a traveller’s dream

I know that everyone talks about New Zealand being the land with magical landscapes and the kingdom of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, however I feel that Peter Jackson could have easily included Tasmania as another location for his set. The Aussies don’t call this place a mini New Zealand for nothing, I mean you have everything that’s majestic about the planet all within 90,758 km² and to get one over on New Zealand, there is also an abundance of wildlife.

One of the areas that I’ve been to and lived in for quite a while is the Northern Midlands. In my eyes this place stands out for its unique waterfalls, lakes, farmland, caves and gorges. Not to mention some really quaint small villages with friendly residents that curious travellers thrive on. The main spots to visit in this area are Evandale, Cressy, Campbell Town, Oatlands, Longford, Paotina, Liffey Falls, Meander Valley and Cataract Gorge. All of these places are within a maximum of one hour travelling distance, making it possible to visit most of these places in a day if you are pressed for time.

The fresh waters from the Great Western Tiers run through Cataract Gorge, all the way down to the large town of Launceston. On calm days, it is possible to trek right down around the gorge’s rocky sides and all the way down to the waters edge. You can make a day out of it, wining and dining at a fine dining restaurant, a café or simply enjoying a swim in the open air swimming pools or a picnic on the Basin lawns. When heavy rainfall comes and lasts more than a few days, Cataract Gorge becomes a hostile environment. Deadly rapids transform the serene landscape and floods of up to 15 metres have wiped out two major bridges in the past. Home of the Tasmanian tiger that became extinct in 1936, Cataract Gorge is a display of the power of Mother Nature.

Another place to visit, and this is probably my favourite area, is Liffey Falls. Located in the west of the Northern Midlands, Liffey Falls is home to the Tasmanian Devil as well as other wildlife. Its backdrop would be where the Great Western Tiers mountains end to the north, and just below the falls you will find the quiet little town of Liffey itself where sheep graze and a cottage in the middle of nowhere has dozens of gnomes and Shrek guarding its front paddock. The area is great for hiking, camping, offroading and when it is 30 degrees, or over, which may happen one month a year, it is great for bathing in the cascading waterfalls. These falls are a truly magical sight that make you feel like you have entered a mythical world.

Other locations to explore would be the Mountains of the Great Western Tiers that are past Paotina, another small village on the mountain overlooking the entire Northern Midlands and is a great place to go and have some fresh tea. If you are driving just look out for the huge number of wallabies and pademelons, another wallaby-like marsupial, that come out at dawn and dusk. They are a wonderful sight but that’s not the only reason you should be on the look out for them as they can cause considerable damage to a car!

If you are taking an easy day and just want to visit some heritage sights and try some local food and drinks then the country villages of Longford, Evandale and Oatlands are the places to go. These areas have some wonderfully designed cottages, both old and new, most of which have been turned into distilleries, pubs, hotels and museums. The drinks of choice would be whiskey and beer, both of which are proudly made in Tasmania. Boages Draught for beer and Sullivans Cove for Whiskey have been highly rated. With regard to food, you should ask for wallaby meat if you would like to try something new and if not then I can easily recommend dishes from the local livestock. Pub food is the way to go here, and if seafood is more to your fancy, then drive by Cressy and Longford, where fishing is more than popular and check out the local catch of the day.

Tasmania has so much to offer with such little distance to cover, this truly is a traveller’s dream.

Getting there and around

Emirates offer regular flights between Malta and Melbourne. Flights departing from Malta on 7 September and returning on 21 September were priced at €1,374 including tax at the time of going to print.

You can then get to Tasmania by sea through the Bass Straits, landing in Devonport. Alternatively you can fly into Launceston, which is located just north of the Northern Midlands, or fly into Hobart, which is about two hours to the south. From these areas I would recommend hiring a car unless you bring your own from the mainland.

Although there are tourist packages available that offer bus tours, the small size of Tasmania makes travelling around on your own the best course of action.

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