Winter in the west and north west

Gordon River - Jess Bonde

Winter in the west and north west

It's the true wild west in the Off Season, when long dark nights inspire tall tales, and the journey is flavoured by some of the state’s best produce.

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The harshness of convict life comes into full focus in the Off Season with a night-time lantern tour of the penal colony at Sarah Island by World Heritage Cruises. Actors fill the darkness with true tales, followed by more comforting local whisky and beer and a hot dinner back on board the new Harbour Master II vessel.

Par Avion operates aerial day trips from Hobart to Strahan this Off Season, granting a bird’s-eye view of World Heritage-listed wilderness as well as exploring the convict heritage of Macquarie Harbour and cruising the Gordon River.

See devils frolic in the snow at Devils@Cradle wildlife sanctuary in the shadow of Cradle Mountain. Rug up for an after-dark feeding tour, when Tasmania’s star creature is active and hungry.

Take an Off Season picnic cruise with Leven River Cruises. As the boat glides along the Leven River, there might be sightings of platypuses or the rare Tasmanian azure kingfisher, but it’s guaranteed that there’ll be hot chocolate and homemade scones around a heater set up in forest on the riverbank.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a warm journey through a cold climate. Rolling through rainforest and above the King River Gorge between Queenstown and Strahan, the train has heated carriages and woollen blankets, and Wilderness Carriage passengers are treated to a progressive seasonal menu this winter, reflecting the tastes and flavours of the region.

Wild times are guaranteed on a Western Wilds winter road trip, so head out and let nature and the ghosts of this extraordinary region guide you through the west and north west.

Stay

The place to be in the Off Season is deep in a rainforest, where the colours and life take on new vibrancy in winter. At the heart of takanya/Tarkine, Australia’s largest cool temperate rainforest, is Corinna Wilderness Experience, a former gold-mining town in the wilderness. This Off Season, Corinna offers a winter package of three nights’ accommodation in an eco-retreat cottage, breakfast packs, a dinner pack, coffee and a bottle of wine.

Peering onto Mount Roland, one of Tasmania’s most imposing peaks, Eagles Nest Retreat offers a three-night Off Season package that includes time with a private chef and a massage therapist. The views of the winter night sky from the outdoor spas are a bonus.

Nan’s knitted slippers and beanies are so comfortable at Aloft Boutique Accommodation in Strahan that you’ll probably want to take them home. And you can. Snuggle into a garden studio for two or more nights and the woolly warmers are yours to keep.

Bunker down against the Roaring Forties on King Island with luxurious stays and stunning coastal views at Taraki Lodge, Kittawa Lodge and Ettrick Rocks.

Eat and drink

Winter frosts in the Off Season reveal buried treasures, triggering the unique aroma of truffles and the start of the harvest. Join the hunt with the truffle dogs at The Truffledore, followed by a four-course long-table lunch.

The Truffledore is one of almost 30 stops along the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail, which stretches across Tasmania’s north west. Plot a course through honey tastings, hazelnuts, a raspberry farm, wineries, a chocolatier, a craft brewery, an olive farm, a pickled onion producer, oysters and other seafood, and warming whisky producers such as Southern Wild Distillery and Hellyers Road Distillery – Hellyers Road’s Legacy Freestone Cove was named Australia’s best single malt at the 2021 World Whiskies Awards.

At day’s end, settle back at Stanley Seaview Inn, where the view of The Nut is enhanced this Off Season by a complimentary House of Anvers hot chocolate or a Blue Hills honey and whisky-flavoured hot toddy.