Winter in the north

Castle Rock, Flinders Island - Rob Mulally

Winter in the north

Embrace Off Season extremes in northern Tasmania, from skiing slopes one day to toasting in a floating sauna the next.

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Drive up Jacobs Ladder, one of the most spectacular mountain roads in Australia, to find downhill skiing and tobogganing on the slopes of Ben Lomond National Park; Ben Lomond Snow Sports hires gear and runs shuttles to the ski field.

Brace yourself: there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as alternating sauna warmth with a chilly lake plunge on a winter’s day. Floating Sauna Lake Derby, Australia’s only floating sauna, sits on a lake amid the mountain-bike trail network at Derby, a novel way to chill out after shredding trails or driving country roads.

Discover mountain biking’s dark side with tour operator Into the Wild. Pedal out before sunrise or at dusk with head torches illuminating the trails around northern Tasmania’s network of mountain-bike trails, warming up with hot drinks and hot-water bottles on the shuttle bus back to your base.

Off Tasmania’s north-east tip, Flinders Island combines extraordinary landscapes – perfect beaches, imposing mountains, rock oddities – with fine produce and laidback vibe. Fly to Tasmania’s largest offshore island from Launceston in the Off Season with Sharp Airlines for a chance to be one of six passengers to receive a Killiecrankie diamond, a kind of topaz found only on Flinders.

Road trips beckon across northern Tasmania. Set out on a Northern Forage road trip for paddock-to-plate experiences across the region, or dip into history and heritage on a Heartlands road trip in central Tasmania.

Stay

Off Season stays come with plenty of winter magic in the north. Indulge in a truffle-fuelled package at Stillwater Seven in Launceston – the three-night Every Day I’m Trufflin’ winter escape includes accommodation at the boutique hotel, truffle-inspired breakfast and dinners, matched wines, and an exclusive tour of Tamar Valley Truffles.

Be greeted by a crackling wood fire and home-baked treats on arrival at the convict-built The Granary in Cressy. The firepit is set and ready for picnics by the river, the views are a winter wonderland of mountains and river, and there are home-cooked meals available for delivery from local caterers Grazing Tasmania and Hubert & Dan.

Options abound through the Off Season at the Red Feather Inn. One of Tasmania’s first coaching inns, the Hadspen hotel has winter packages that include fireside Tasmanian whisky and gin tastings, guided bushwalks, an introduction to Tasmanian truffles, comfort-food cooking classes and under-the-stars dining around the outdoor firepot.

Gather the crew and set up base at Dales of Derby for a few days of pedalling at the world-class Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trail Network. After a day on the trails, meet around the fire, share a meal and talk long into the winter’s night.

Eat and drink

The distance between farm and fork is never far in northern Tasmania. Winter is truffle season, so join the truffle dogs on a treasure hunt at Tasmanian Truffles and stick around for a tasting and lunch platter.

Tour the Tamar Valley Wine Trail for a warm welcome and cool-climate wines – this is pinot noir and sparkling wine at its best. Settle in before the fire at a range of cellar doors, and then head to Josef Chromy for wine, food and live music at one of its Winter Night Bonfires. Take a tour of Turner Stillhouse while in the Tamar Valley and warm up with a complimentary hot gin toddy made with award-winning Three Cuts Gin, cloudy Tasmanian apple juice and secret spices.

There’s a sense of sedition on Sunday nights at OSCURA by Bar Stelo, Launceston’s “secret” speakeasy. Enter through a dimly lit doorway, find a cosy corner amid flickering candlelight, and choose a rare museum wine or Prohibition-inspired cocktail laced with whisky.

It’s scallop season in Tasmania from Easter until the end of July – celebrate a fine harvest at the Tassie Scallop Fiesta in Bridport on 1 August. Plunge into the Brave Winter Swim at sunrise, and defrost through the day with chef demonstrations, wine masterclasses and the Scallop Splitters Challenge.

Swing between light and darkness at the son et lumière, a sound-and-light show, at the Clarendon Arms in Evandale, featuring works by Tasmanian artists projected onto the walls and beer garden of this historic hotel, teamed with live music. The accompanying menu highlights Tasmanian produce prepared by hotel and guest chefs.