In Tasmania – a RED home away from home

The other day someone asked me what my highlight was after my recent honeymoon in Tasmania. Some people might say Cradle Mountain or Wineglass Bay and I guess the Bay of Fires would get quite a bit of recognition given its World Heritage status.

For me there were a couple such as cruising around Tassie in the hired Audi Cabriolet Convertible; top down, hair blowing. Another highlight was the fresh and high quality of food. Top of the list however was staying at Red Feather Inn, located in Hadspen which is 15 minutes drive outside of Launceston.

I had discovered Red Feather Inn through one of my google searches and immediately fell in love with the cute details throughout the website and had trouble deciding on which room to eventually book. I got terribly excited from reading about their cooking classes and was disheartened to find that the dates of their classes didn’t match with the dates I would be there. Nevertheless I looked forward to discovering what Red Feather Inn was like in reality.

Slightly perturbed that the location Hadspen was not coming up in the Audi’s navigation system, my man and I soon found it not too far from Perth and off a main highway. Driving through the quiet town, the inn came into view by its corner sandstone cottage and recognisable red duck on the sign. From the first step we took at Red Feather Inn, my man and I were entranced and in awe of no stone unturned and no detail left unchecked.

Jess and Lydia met us at the door and Lydia introduced herself as the owner. Surrounding us were beautiful pieces of furniture and art collected over the years by Lydia that I secretly wished I owned myself, fresh apples and the smell of something in the oven and the whole place literally felt like I had come home. And not just any home mind you, but a home of utmost creature comforts like a bottle of chilled champagne waiting in the room for us honeymooners and Molton Brown bubble bath which I definitely soaked in. The second night’s highlight was a home-cooked meal made by Jess’ husband Lee. Sat around the central table with another house guest, the three of us were spoiled with home made papardelle with fresh rabbit ragu, a warm and oozing chocolate fondant pud and copious amounts of red wine.

We left Red Feather Inn thinking two immediate thoughts. Wow and when will we be back? Me thinks quite soon!

Red Feather Inn @ 42 Main Street, Hadspen Tasmania 7290

no-Go #1

I would hate to be a Travel Agent. Sure, you would get good perks with discounted flights and accommodation but having to sell travel when the internet has become the best friend of most would be a hard-sell. However despite the advanced growth of the internet over the last five years, an element of risk still remains when you book online. Photos can make a bedroom look huge and taken at the correct angle and in the right light, can make a dark room seem bright. Some hotels now have video links and they are better but there will always be a percentage that is the unknown factor.

For my recent honeymoon, I completely booked its entirety solely online. The hire car was booked through vroomvroomvroom, flights done through QANTAS and all accommodation was thoroughly researched, compared and booked online through their specific websites. Sites like Trip Advisor help somewhat to guide your decision but ultimately biting the bullet is a solo activity.

no-Go # 1 is the Piermont Retreat, Tasman Hwy. Swansea TAS. 7190

With the route decided that my man and I would fly into Hobart, spend some time exploring the capital before heading up the East coast and Freycinet peninsular and finally inland and flying home out of Launceston, I searched for a “special” place for the mid component of the honeymoon. Piermont met the requirements for its highly rated restaurant which I noted we would need to eat at and I liked the sound of “ecologically sustainable luxury” as per the website description of the overall retreat which was situated steps away from the Freycinet coast. There were enough photos to match the descriptive language and they even had a “honeymoon spa” package. Booked and paid for. In the comments section on the online reservation I recall writing that the reason for our Tasmanian trip was due to our honeymoon and we look forward to the experience ahead at Piermont Retreat.

Service or more to the point; Customer Service is an important factor to me. Whether you are on a weekend-away, staying at a backpackers, in a 2-star or 5-star – customer service is an essential for me. On our honeymoon, my man and I were already on cloud 9 and any extras we received were icing on the cake.

Arriving into reception at Piermont Retreat, I was met by a man who I assumed was one of the owners. No hello, no welcome to Piermont, no “how’s your honeymoon been so far?”. I appreciate everyone has bad days but this first impression was gruff, rude and inappropriate. After a mini-dispute over how many nights were booked and paid for, despite by print-out in hand, I was given a set of keys, a site map for the retreat and sent on my less-than-merry way.

I have a good photographic memory and considering how much time I spent researching and comparing places to stay in Tasmania; the room I saw after I turned the key and opened the door was not the photo I remembered. Bare minimum was reality.

Changing our initial plans, we left Piermont Retreat after only the one night to leave behind the only disappointment on our honeymoon. Rude service or rather a lack of, coupled with not getting what we paid for or what was advertised online left my man and I with a bad taste in our mouths.

Thank god for Hotel Islington and Red Feather Inn to make up for it in the Tasmanian accommodation stakes as overall, our honeymoon is an amazing memory, not to be discoloured by one night.

When in Hobart; go to Jackman & McRoss

In Tasmania for my honeymoon, the first stop has been Hobart; the quaint fisherman’s capital of the apple isle. Kathy, the welcoming host at Hotel Islington (more on this later) advised my man and I to go and drive around and get acquainted with Battery Point. She said there would be small streets, beautiful timber cottages and in the day on foot, it is an area to get purposefully lost in. So driving around just as it was getting dark we came across a little village reminiscent of Bath with street names like Cheltenham Place, Hampden Street and Dewitt Lane. Backing onto the famous Saturday-special-Salamanca-Place, Hampden Street is the high street in this little pocket of Hobart.

As it was dark, I looked from side to side as we drove passing intricate antique stores, the popular Picalilly restaurant and a brightly lit lolly shop that I needed to re-visit however it was a corner place with large bay windows and a navy and white sign of Jackman & McRoss that caught my eye and I immediately said “slow down”. I recall bakery also helped the instant halt and I penned in my mind that we would be back.

Pushing the door open of Jackman & McRoss, my eyes were immediately met with rows of sourdough, baguettes, a blackboard of today’s pies, strawberry tarts, chocolate ganache pies and bap rolls. Not only a bakery, I saw there was also table service and feeling famished I sat down initially salivating over the thought of a cider beef pie. Hearing the familiar unspoken language that this place served good tucker as it was still busy with people eating all sorts of bits and pieces at 2.30pm, I looked up at the specials board and pondered…and ordered Ocean Trout stuffed with boccocini on a bed of black rice with buttered leeks and a cloudy apple juice. Not really the usual bakery fare…

Late lunch was delicious. The black rice was slightly sticky and a great accompaniment to the subtle trout flavours and the buttered leeks added to the caramelised aftertaste. The apple juice was smooth and opaque in colour and had the right amount of tartness and sweetness to wash down lunch.

As a well-known food-lover amongst friends and now post bride-diet, I am satisfyingly in foodie heaven and have not held back sampling my way through warmed spiced apple mead, fresh sheep’s milk porcini pecorino and warm porridge with braised rhubarb. So far I have only seen and tasted the freshest ingredients possible and have witnessed first-hand the abundance of good food available to use in cooking and to eat. The lunch I ate today at Jackman & McRoss was superb, a blend of complex ingredients plated simply in a bakery cafe and it was only $9.80. And that is the icing on the cake consistent with other Tasmanian restaurants and providores. In Hobart I have suprisingly seen that you don’t have to pay for the name here but just for the quality of food and the returns on flavour received inevitably have you paying more and more until you just can’t get enough!

So, here’s to more discoveries of fresh flavours tomorrow!

Jackman & McRoss @ 57 Hampden Road, Battery Point Hobart TAS 7004