In search of Tasmanian treasures

- John Nielsen, For John Nielsen, luxury hospitality and tourism has been part of his life since he recalls. Having been fortunate to travel extensively during his childhood in Denmark, it was almost a natural choice for John to join the Scandinavian travel company, Spies Travels in 1983. This journey and a beginning of his career, took John to Madeira & Portugal, where he gained his love of luxury hotels. From there three years were spent studying in Switzerland, then to South Korea at Hotel Lotte, to Hong Kong with hotels including the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Crown Towers in Melbourne and Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Throughout the years in senior management John developed a passion for wine and in 1998 co-founded Liquid Assets Wine Storage in Melbourne. In 2006 John joined Kiwi Collection as a Regional Director in Asia Pacific and today continues to consult as well as contribute to WOW Travel. John recently completed his Master of Business with an added Master Degree in Tourism. These days John is based in Melbourne with his family, working for the Australian PGA Links company as General Manager of Hospitality. The travel bug will forever stay and with family based across three continents, there is always a good excuse to seek out new destinations and new wines.

Tasmania is a land apart – a place of wild and beautiful landscapes, welcoming people and a relaxed island lifestyle

Within easy reach from Sydney and Melbourne to Hobart and regular flights, Tasmania should be a “must” of any visitor’s travel schedule to Australia.

For many sailors it is also the final destination of Hobart on one of the world’s classic yacht races, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which next starts December 26, 2008.

Tasmania is a wonderful destination to take the family, offering a great place to learn about nature and the wildlife that makes this island so special. Follow the Derwent River from Hobart up to New Norfolk, past Bothwell and into central Tasmania and you will arrive at the village of Tarraleah, where two “Tasmania Treasures” are found. Tarraleah is home to the largest Australian Hydro project created in 1930 and today still generates electrical power to southern Tasmania, including the capital city of Hobart. It is also home to a beautiful new lodge.

The village of Tarraleah lies amidst the wilderness and boasts a magnificent setting where the wildlife and forest create a unique environment that we must all treasure. Just two hours drive north from Hobart, the village is now home to Hans Naarding, the last man to see and experience the Tasmanian tiger. Originally from Holland, Hans arrived in Melbourne in 1952. Armed with a degree in Zoology from Holland, Hans encountered the first challenge that his degree was not recognised in Australia. He overcame these challenges and soon was recognised for his work in outback Australia giving tours around parts of Australia that many Australians rarely see. A total of 21 years were given to studying the wildlife of Australia and Africa before sailing around South Asia for 12 years.

Upon returning to Australia, Hans made Hobart his home and began working for the Tasmanian National Parks. It was during these years in 1982 that one late night Hans lay half asleep in his tent in Arthur River, northwest part of Tasmania, when he heard a noise. “I turned on my flash light and there only 5 to 6 meters away stood this classic healthy male looking with a wide gap”. “We looked at each other, I wanting my camera and he wanting to find out more about me.” After three or four minutes I reached for the camera, but the Tasmanian Tiger disappeared into the bush. It looked like a large, long dog, with stripes, a heavy stiff tail and a big head. Its scientific name, Thylacinus Cynocephalus, means pouched dog with a wolf’s head. Fully grown it measured about 180 cm (6 ft) from nose to tail tip and “this was certainly close to that”. “I was of course excited and made the mistake of telling my story that resulted in an almost hunt for the poor Tiger. It was never found and since has never been seen.”

These days Hans can be founding hosting wilderness & wildlife tours around the stunning forest of Tarraleah. He is a must to meet and a delight to listen to. As you walk around the forest Hans points out fascinating bird life and flora & fauna, you quickly understand that Hans is a Tasmanian treasure for us all to learn from and treasure.

Accommodation has always been good, but now Tasmania offers so much more. Boutique hotels and lodges are now on the menu and if golf is your sport then let the Tasmanian fairways be there to be challenged and relax in a superb environment after.

As you make your way north begin in the Tasmanian capital city of Hobart with a stay at either Henry Jones Art Hotel or at the Islington hotel. The hotels have created a wonderful sense of history and art, each very unique and elegant. The Henry Jones Art Hotel is located on the famous Constitution dock and is set in a 200-year-old warehouse. The bright red colours combined with great art works and spacious rooms make this hotel a very different style of business hotel. All suites feature natural timber furniture, special lighting, a lavish king bed with exotic silk covers, and ottomans. All have European-style stainless steel and translucent glass bathrooms, complemented by superb sandstone walls.

The amazing renovation at Hobart’s docks into a very stylish hotel and two-minute walk into the city centre has added a new dimension to Hobart. In keeping with the art concept, the hotel building itself is a work of art. It’s built into a number of Hobart’s heritage harbour side storehouses, which were transformed into a jam factory by entrepreneur Sir Henry Jones, founder of the IXL jam company, in the late nineteenth century.

The historic warehouses have been transformed but the feel of adventurers, seafarers, whalers and traders remains. These colonial era facades combine with subtly modern interior appointments to create a look that is just like the art collection housed within.

An elegant three-storey glass and timber atrium is a focal point and comfortably accommodates around 300 guests for various events. Architects have cleverly blended old with ultra modern — the original staircase, soaring timber ceilings and restored machinery sit comfortably with the rich influences of the trading history.

Five minutes drive out of Hobart sits the beautiful private home of the Islington hotel. As you enter you are suddenly transformed into a different world surrounded with artwork and almost feel like you are in Paris. With only 11 rooms the service is most personal and very stylish. Each room has been individually designed and fits perfectly into setting. The Islington was the first of two wonderful developments undertaken by the owner, David Meredith with managers (ex-Aman Resorts), Nicholas and Amy Parkinson-Bates. The second is as stunning as the first.

The Priory Country Lodge is located one hour north of Hobart towards Tarraleah, in the town of Bothwell. The lodge is located on the golf course and has been decorated beautifully to fit in with the historic surroundings. The town’s St Luke’s Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1829, is the second oldest Presbyterian Church in Australia. It is claimed that the first game of golf in Australia was played on Alexander Reid’s property ‘Ratho’ in the 1820s – the course where this famous event took place is still in use and can be played by keen golf lovers. In season Bothwell is known as the gateway to some of the best trout fishing in Australia. You are assured to be kept well on your stay, the meals were a delight and with access to some best produce in Australia, the Islington and Priory will ensure that you need to go for plenty of long walks to shed some of their great meals…bring back your catch of the day and let their chefs cook up a storm. End the day in front of fire with a glass of local Pinot Noir and you feel like you have arrived in heaven.

The wonderful part about Tasmania is the driving, easy access and excellent roads, make the trip around so pleasant and knowing that the rewards are all first class, adds that extra incentive to the trip. Tasmania draws inspiration for its spectacular scenery, extraordinary wildlife, the freshest produce, cool climate wines and windy country lanes that usher visitors from one unique experience to another.

As you near you’re the village of Tarraleah, you are welcomed to the lodge at Tarraleah, where luxury awaits you and an opportunity to experience a unique environment to treasure for many years to come.

After my arrival in Tarraleah I walked around the village and even managed a bike ride. The reward was a relaxing spa, with stunning views of the Nive River help me unwind and soak away in cedar hot tub.

Dinner was served in the dining room overlooking the amazing forest. As darkness descends upon the region, my thoughts turn to the people who made this all possible, and who had little pleasure that I am served with. What strength they all must had to endure the cold climate and build the hydro plant? I can’t wait to explore the trout fishing next day and see more of the countryside.

I sit back and taste a beautiful after dinner Malt whisky served up by Malt expert & our host, Niall. The crackling open fire warms me up and I have already begun to plan my next trip around Tasmania….next stop the vineyards around Launceston and the Tamar River.

  1. Rory says:

    Tasmania is great – Had not read the accont of Hans and the Tassie Tiger – very interesting.

  2. trevor G says:

    wow i totally want to go to Tasmania. i cant wait till i am done collage and finally working. great post keep up the good work

  3. Adam says:

    I’ve just been to Tasmania recently and really enjoyed it – I highly recommend people go there!

    This article is full of heaps of info which is great!