Why Tasmania is the state everyone wants to visit

It’s eight o’clock in the morning, and I’m standing in the cellar door of Pooley’s cellar, just outside Hobart, facing a very long line of bottles spread out on the bar.

“Do you want to try them all?” the bartender smiles. “Or should I just give you the highlights package?”

Just the highlights package, I assure him. Yesterday I visited three whiskey distilleries. Today I have four other wineries. Only highlights will be fine.

Only, of course, it’s Tasmania, and everyone wants you to be comfortable and happy and have a good time, so I watch my new friend behind the bar pour a sample of the premier riesling in the line . And then the next Riesling. And then the next Riesling.

Shake, sniff, drink. Shake, sniff, drink. I don’t want to say no. Everyone is so nice. How could you refuse hospitality? Shake, sniff, drink, until I realize I got a sample from every bottle and need a little rest.

I understand now. I get the hype about Tasmania. I get fascinated. Sometimes you go somewhere expecting big things and it just doesn’t hold up, you travel to a place everyone seems to like and you don’t understand the pull. But Tasmania has nothing to do with it. This is the real deal.

But first, a confession: I got my trip down south through Tourism Tasmania – it was a research trip for a book I’m working on. So I guess you could take that love letter with a grain of salt, I would understand that. But I’m lucky enough to do this kind of traveling a lot, and there aren’t many places I dedicate an entire column to. But Tasmania gets the treatment.

I’ve been to Tasmania before but never had enough time to really get a sense of the place, and certainly not since Apple Island became the state’s tourist destination du jour. that everyone wants to visit (Tourism Australia data puts Tasmania behind only Melbourne and the Gold Coast as the best places Australians planned to visit), especially if they love food and wine. Tassie was the butt of jokes when I was little – it wasn’t a place to be jealous of. But now I’m jealous of Tasmania.

Here’s a state that’s great to live in, where the people are friendly and genuine, and you get all that good stuff packed into a relatively small area.

(A friend of mine lives off the grid in Tassie, she’s on a property in the middle of nowhere, no running water, only solar power. She loves it – the solitude, the scenery. She came to give me visit when I was in Hobart, which I thought was very nice. “How long did it take you to get here?”, I asked as we were toasting in a pub in North Hobart. shrugged. “About half an hour.”)

Why is everyone so obsessed with this place? Why are all the hotels full and the flights stuffy? You have food and wine, of course: Hobart, Derwent Valley, Coal River Valley, Huon Valley, Bruny Island, Tamar Valley, and so on. Top-of-the-range wine estates. Idyllic country restaurants. Increase in farmers’ markets. It’s all the best.

There are also the natural attractions: the rugged, almost untouched west coast, the mountainous beauty of the interior, the hills around Hobart, kunanyi/Mt Wellington, lakes, rivers, hiking trails, mountain biking.

But there’s also something intangible about Tassie, which visitors rightly adore. The people here are just… nice. Easy to live. Amusing. I had to spend six days in a car with a tour guide when I was in Tassie, which is quite often a recipe for some serious awkwardness, and yet it was brilliant. We had a ball. Jacob is a legend. And he is far from the only one.

People who work in tourism in Tasmania talk about the “MONA effect”, the influence this hugely popular attraction has had in bringing the hordes to Tasmania, and I get that. But at the same time, MONA is probably my least favorite thing about Tassie. For me, the up-and-coming gallery/restaurant/winery/casino is pure style of substance – in other words, the exact opposite of everything I’ve very quickly come to love in its homeland.

Do you miss New Zealand? Go to Tasmania. It’s the same atmosphere. Similar attractions (plus an art gallery). Think you won’t be going to Canada this year? Head to Tassie, for the same reasons (minus the ski resorts).

You can judge a destination, I think, by how long you want to go back there. It’s not a security measure – it takes me years to want to go back to India, for example, but I love to visit. I may never go back to a place like Guatemala, but what a place.

Anyway, how long have I wanted to go back to Tasmania? Immediately. Almost as soon as I got off the plane. It gets into your bones, this big island. He gets a grip. I understand people who go there for vacation and never leave.

I’m surprised to be gone, in some ways. I’m surprised I managed to get out of that cave.

Ben Groundwater traveled as a guest of Tourism Tasmania.

Have you been to Tasmania? Do you understand the hype? Did you like? What are your tips for visiting – where should people go? What should they do?

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See also: Nine must-sees in Hobart

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