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A Toast to Winter

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As the days draw short and the locals rug up, Chris Viney’s ode to wine, whisky and glowing embers suggests a different way to enjoy Australia’s southernmost region.

In Tasmaniaís warm summer sunshine, a blazing log fire might be the furthest thing from your thoughts. But autumn is approaching ñ and after that, the brisk and bracing days of winter.

That’s when the crackle of peppermint gum logs in a cosy wood fire go perfectly with a dram of Tasmanian whisky, distilled from barley grown and harvested on a Midlands farm – or a luscious, full-flavoured pinot noir, ripened in a Coal River vineyard.

Whisky and wine and sunshine in a bottle!
The glow of hot coals and warm hands, warm heart!

So when highland peaks are dusted with white and alpine tarns are glazed in ice, here are some of the places where you can toast your toes and raise a toast to Tasmania’s wonderful winter days.

Stewarts Bay Lodge

South-east from Hobart at Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula, this comfortable waterfront lodge is perfect for a winter getaway. Rug up for a walk on the beach, spend a day at the Port Arthur Historic Site (stay for a winter eveningís Ghost Tour) then come back to the blazing fire in the waterfront restaurant Gabrielís on the Bay. Enjoy a glass of red or a nip of no, not Scotch or Irish but a locally-made whisky from the William McHenry distillery, overlooking Port Arthur.

Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel

This wonderful pub in the Central Highlands might just have Tasmaniaís biggest fireplace ñ itís absolutely enormous! At the southern gateway to the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, itís also close to the amazing Wall In The Wilderness, where sculptor Greg Duncan has carved the region’s history in 100 metres of Huon pine panels.

Lark Distillery

In the heart of Hobart’s colourful maritime precinct is the Lark Distillery, which began producing whisky in 1992. As the first licensed distillery in Tasmania since 1839, it’s the birthplace of Tasmania’s new era of whisky-making and and the range has grown, with a variety of delicious and heart-warming spirits and liqueurs, such as the TASI Bush Liqueur or Godfather Pepperberry Gin, both flavoured with the berries of a uniquely Tasmanian highland bush. Notice a cheerful chap with a smile and a beard? Say cheers to Bill Lark, the true godfather of the Tasmanian spirit.

Redlands Estate

This historic rural estate near the Salmon Ponds in the Derwent Valley includes a whisky distillery and tasting room, three hectares of landscaped gardens, a hop-pickersí village and oast house and the 1940s Goose Green cottage, offering comfortable accommodation in an attractive rural setting. The estate’s bakery uses a convict-built brick oven that pre-dates Port Arthur and is the nation’s oldest continually-working bread oven.


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