The list of treats on the gourmet Tasting Trail reads like a luxe, well-stocked minibar.
Truffles, gelati and hazelnuts; olives, wine and whisky; honey, oysters and craft beer; salmon, cider and berries; pickled onions, kimchi and chocolate.
Stretching across northern Tasmania from Launceston to Smithton, the Tasting Trail is dotted with almost 40 stops at artisanal producers.
There’s a stop at a producer about every six kilometres along the trail, and the scenery is as delicious as the produce.
“What’s unique is that there’s a whole variety of food and wine in a small area,” says Bron Dance, of Meander Valley Vineyard, itself a stop on the trail. “Our tasting platters are filled with things from within a couple of kilometres of the vineyard, with Shelduck Farm and its oatcakes, and the 41 Degrees South Tasmania [inland] salmon farm with its salmon rillettes.”
This is no ordinary road trip. Tasmania’s north-west has some of the most fertile and productive soil in Australia. Volcanic in origin, it’s so red in places it almost glows with richness.
“When I was a kid, people in the district would say that kids who grew up on this dirt would be good runners or athletes because they’d grown up eating from the red dirt,” says Anna Terry, of the Truffle Farm, the producer of Australia’s first black truffle and another stop on the trail. “With truffles, we’re literally cultivating from that soil – it’s free-draining, nice and loose, and very red and rich.”
On average, there’s a stop at a producer about every six kilometres along the trail, and the scenery is as delicious as the produce. Bass Strait frames one side of the journey, with the mountains of the Great Western Tiers along the other.
Producers are typically located off the highway, giving travellers a reason to immerse themselves in the backroads and rural scenes that sustain the journey.
“More than half our visitors come from the Tasting Trail,” Dance says. “People love it – it shows them all these hidden gems they wouldn’t normally find.
“It’s pretty amazing to live in this area and have such beautiful landscape as well as the amazing producers. I think we’re the short-walks capital of Tasmania, so there are lots of waterfalls and bushwalks and really cool things that can mix up a day on the trail.”
Producers are typically small businesses, so the hands that picked the produce are often the hands that serve it. It’s a chance to taste, chat and learn about the climate, conditions and people who craft the flavours of northern Tasmania.
“I think it’s the people that make the produce so good,” says Terry. “This is a pretty special part of the world. The climate is ideal, and there’s a real sense of pride in the produce out here.”
Here’s a taster of the Tasting Trail.
Get a taste for this aromatic fungus at the Truffledore, an idyllic farm in Lower Barrington. Explore neat rows of black truffle trees alongside adorable truffle dogs, and meet some exotic chickens and sweet Jersey cows. Taste dishes imbued with earthy richness in the farmhouse restaurant.
The Truffle Farm is the home of Australia's first black truffle. Forage for French black truffles in the foothills of the Great Western Tiers and bite into a pizza laden with fresh truffle shavings.
41 Degrees South Tasmania
Take a self-guided tour of these innovative inland salmon ponds and the wetlands that filter them, stopping at the farm-gate shop for hot smoked salmon rillettes and ginseng spice.
Step into splendour at La Villa Wines, offering a touch of Italy at a vineyard in Spreyton.
While you’re nearby, stop in at Spreyton Cider Co. for a pure taste of the Apple Isle’s fresh, fruity drinks. Sip a chilled European-style drink on a balmy day, or seek out a mulled cider to warm the soul in the depths of winter. This is as Tasmanian as it gets.
Tour the workings and the hop garden at Seven Sheds Brewery, finishing with a tasting paddle of the good stuff.