Tamar Valley

I recently spent a couple of nights in Launceston, catching up with a special friend from W.A. who was travelling around Tasmania with another two friends. They had booked accommodation at Armalong Chalets and fortunately, there was room for me. I arrived on a very inclement afternoon and we wasted no time seeking a beverage at Stillwater Restaurant, overlooking the Tamar Basin. Across the water, four large grain silos from the 1960s are now Peppers Silo Hotel. Deserted for decades, the Kings Wharf grain silos were rescued and transformed into a stunning $25 million hotel with many of the facilities constructed inside the original barrels. (A weekend stay is still on the bucket list).

After a fabulous meal at The Grain of the Silos Restaurant and a good night’s sleep, I awoke to a glorious sunny day and the most spectacular view through the floor to ceiling windows.

The chalets are situated at Tamar Ridge Cellar Door, perched high in the trees overlooking vineyards and the ever changing Tamar River.

We set off for a day discovering the Tamar Valley and a short drive down the West Tamar Highway, stopped at Brady’s Lookout, once the hideout for bushranger Mathew Brady. A gentleman’s servant in England, he was convicted of stealing a basket with some butter, bacon, sugar and rice and received a seven-year sentence of transportation to Australia. Arriving in December 1820, he wasn’t the most exemplary prisoner and escaped with a group of fifteen in June 1824, spending the next two years on the run before being captured and hanged on 4th May 1826.

The Tamar River isn’t actually a river, it is a tidal estuary into which the North and South Esk Rivers empty, that stretches 70km from Launceston to Bass Strait.

After investigating a couple of wineries and the former gold mining town of Beaconsfield, we arrived at Beauty Point to enjoy a relaxing lunch by the water.

The first deep-water port on the Tamar River was established to service the nearby gold mine and then, after the gold rush, it became the centre for the export of apples. It is now home to the Australian Maritime College training ship, Stephen Brown, a permanently moored neighbour of the Tamar Yacht Club.

We wended our way back to Tamar Ridge where, not only is there a cellar door on site but also a gin distillery, Turner Stillhouse. Arriving within a few minutes of closing time, we were treated to a tasting session of the award-winning Three Cuts Gin with distiller, Brett Coulsen. The unusual name refers to the three cuts of Tasmanian rose that are added to the gin, including some grown near the distillery.

Returning to the chalet as the shadows lengthened, we settled on the deck with a beverage and platter to absorb the breathtaking vista over vineyards and river.

Sadly, the next morning we went our separate ways but not before another magnificent sunrise.

Holy Trinity

There is a spectacular edifice in Launceston that I have long admired and I recently realised how odd it is that when we travel overseas, we eagerly visit cathedrals and churches and yet never indulge here at home. Unbeknown to me, Michael contacted the church and while in Launceston last month, we were guided through Holy Trinity Anglican Church by Janet, an enthusiastic parishioner with an extensive knowledge of local history. The first Holy Trinity Church was built on this site in 1842 but when it became unsafe renowned architect, Alexander North, designed a replacement. The present church opened in 1902

1.south face Holy Trinity Church

and has been added to over the years to more resemble the original design. Described as Federation Gothic, the angles and features are fascinating.

2.Holy Trinity Church3.Holy Trinity Church

8.east face Holy Trinity Church

9.west face Holy Trinity Church

North’s vision of a more imposing structure would have seen a building twice the size with a spectacular spire at the western end.

10.original design

When Alexander North died in 1945, a former colleague designed a rose window in memory of North and his wife which is now mounted and backlit in the foyer of Holy Trinity.

11.rose window

Stepping into the interior of the church, the sheer magnitude and workmanship were breathtaking.

12.looking east

The morning sun is diffused through the glorious stained glass windows at the eastern end,

15.east wall

a memorial to Archdeacon Francis Hales, who presided over Holy Trinity for forty six years.

The massive rose window above represents the sun surrounded by angels.

19.window

On either side of the window, ceramic tiled panels, made in Italy to North’s design, depict incidents in the life of Jesus Christ.

20.ceramic tile panel

Intricately carved choir stalls on either side of the chancel

sit below the organ loft.

23.organ loft

We climbed for a closer look at the magnificent pipe organ, a work of art by George Fincham in the year 1887.

24.organ

From that height, the church took on new proportions

25.north wall from organ loft

and a different perspective of the beautiful altar

26.altar from organ loft

as well as the eastern windows

27.rose window from organ loft28.stained glass window from organ loft

and the detailed stone carvings surrounding them.

Further stained glass work brightens the north wall

and four more light the south transept.

Baptismal fonts often appear understated in their opulent surroundings but this is certainly an exception. An elaborate wooden scale model of the planned spire sits atop the font and is raised and lowered as needed for ceremonies.

40.font

A striking eagle decorates the lectern to the right of the chancel steps

41.lectern

and to the left, another fine example of the use of timber. The pulpit was created by local men from Tasmanian hardwood scaffolding used by the bricklayers in the construction of the church.

42.pulpit

A small rounded side chapel, commonly referred to as the ‘Lady Chapel’ dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is used for more intimate services

43.Lady Chapel

and is graced with more exquisite stained glass and carvings.

47.carving

The church walls are adorned with memorial plaques,

48.north wall

gargoyles and coats of arms and a large honour board remembers 165 Holy Trinity Anglican parishioners who fought in World War I.

51.War Memorial

A big ‘thank you’ to Janet for taking the time to share Holy Trinity with us. Without her inside knowledge, we would have missed so much, including the surprising reflection of the east wall rose window above the western entrance.

52.reflection

Sharmans Wines

We were running a little early for our lunch date at Josef Chromy and took the opportunity to discover Sharmans Wines, a place we had passed many times but never visited.

1.Sharmans Wines

The vineyard was established in 1986 by Mike and Philippa Sharman and is the oldest existing vineyard in Relbia. It changed hands in 2012 when purchased by Ian and Melissa Murrell who have since redesigned and renovated the buildings. The original Sharmans residence is now a bright, welcoming Cellar Door. It is no surprise to learn that Melissa is a very talented interior designer.

2.Cellar Door3.Cellar Door

8.Cellar Door4.Cellar Door7.Cellar Door

The extensive use of timber, much of it reclaimed from the original boardwalk at the Launceston seaport, enhances the warming ambience. We sampled a few wines at the tasting bench, hosted by a very knowledgeable young woman with beautiful autumn locks. We resisted the opportunity to simultaneously work off the calories whilst quaffing.

9.Cellar Door stools

I can think of no better excuse to take time out and smell the roses.

10.roses

The colours of the flowers are echoed in the bespoke light fittings created from recycled plastic by Melbourne designer Marc Pascal.

The floor to ceiling windows make the most of the spectacular view over the vines to the North Esk River and beyond

14.view15.view

and can be opened completely to incorporate the al fresco dining area.

16.outdoor area

The attention to detail continues through the landscaped gardens and exterior design.

Tasty platters, loaded with Tasmanian produce, are available to savour while enjoying the vista, accompanied by a glass (or bottle) of your chosen tipple. We left Sharmans feeling very pleased with ourselves and our purchases.

monkey business

The last thing you expect to find in a city park is a troop of Japanese macaques. Launceston City Park has been home to a few different beasts over the years, from thylacines to brown bear and deer. It was home to a group of Rhesus monkeys from the late 1800s until the last one died in 1979. The council wanted to continue the monkey tradition and, after much research, decided the Japanese macaque is best suited to the Tasmanian climate. A fitting choice, as Ikeda City in Japan became a sister city with Launceston in 1965. The enclosure reflects the natural environment of the monkeys with plenty to keep them occupied as well as a much loved swimming pool.

1.enclosure

Time slipped away as we watched, mesmerised, these gorgeous creatures and their antics. Some sat quietly, contemplating

2.thinking

while others were in the mood to play.

3.let's play

Japanese macaques are omnivorous, although their diet here is quite different to that in the wild. Their menu includes barbecue chicken, scrambled eggs and honey sandwiches as well as fruit and vegetables. Some were intently picking through the mulch, probably looking for treats of dog biscuits and bird seed that had been hidden there.

There was much grooming going on, a way of maintaining social bonds

but it wasn’t going to interrupt breakfast for this youngster.

The babies are adorable,

some stayed close to mum.

Relaxing peacefully in the sunshine was enough for others on this beautiful Sunday morning.

26.contemplation

29.how shall i spend the day?

I wonder whether the monkeys wait each day for the human exhibit to arrive?

Hallam’s Waterfront

We recently had cause to travel to Launceston and so, seized the opportunity to meet friends for lunch. They suggested Hallam’s Waterfront and we weren’t disappointed.

1.Hallam's Waterfront

Established in 1996, this award-winning seafood restaurant sources only the highest quality, line caught sustainable fresh seafood from the pristine waters around Tasmania.

2.Hallam's Waterfront

There is a peaceful ambience,

complemented by an assortment of nautical-themed artefacts.

The views over the Tamar yacht basin are beautiful.

10.Tamar basin11.Tamar basin12.dry dock

The extensive menu offered plenty of scope to share and compare. Entrée of tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze;

13.tea smoked spareribs with ginger & soy glaze

tempura prawns with sweet chilli

14.tempura prawns with sweet chilli

and oysters Kilpatrick (I wasn’t quick enough – I missed one).

15.oysters kilpatrick

Main course of grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil;

16.grilled harissa southern calamari & banana prawns with rustic guacamole, grilled summer vegetables, coriander & paprika oil

Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, Yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts & sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus;

17.Cape Grim porterhouse with potato galette, yorktown organic leaves, goat cheese, pine nuts + sticky balsamic with green peppercorn jus copy

tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing;

18.tempura market fish & chips, green salad with lemon & garlic dressing

and yellow curry with white fish & mussels were all stunningly delectable.

19.yellow curry with white fish & mussels

Of course, we managed to find room for dessert, I was very happy with my vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup.

20.vanilla bean crème brûlée with lavender sugar, pistachio cake & rosewater syrup

The lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble & smashed raspberry meringue was a colourful offering;

21.lemon & lime curd, tamarind chantilly, five spice coconut crumble, smashed raspberry meringue

while basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries was a little more subtle.

22.basil panna cotta, white peach foam, quinoa crisp & fresh berries

We lingered outside long enough to admire the gorgeous surroundings

23.Tamar basin24.Tamar basin

before heading back to the northwest. We will certainly return to Hallam’s Waterfront.

25.Tamar River