Of myth, graves and art: Tasmania, Australia

Hobart
Photo courtesy of Henry Jones Art Hotel

Back in the mists of time, nobody used to admit they were from Tassie, the heart-shaped island state of Australia. If you escaped from Tasmania, you rebranded and moved on.

Now, it’s deeply fashionable to be from somewhere other than Melbourne or Sydney, and Tassie is as hot as it gets, with a bumper food scene, fabulous scenery and its Henry Jones Art Hotel, which claims is position as Australia’s first art hotel.

I popped down just as winter was kicking in – a little too early to catch snow on kunanyi / Mount Wellington – but with a wind imported directly from Antarctica, which howled down the wharves, sending shutters shuddering and reminding me,  in the dead of the night, of the myth and graves on which this island is founded.

You can read my review of the recently renovated Henry Jones, which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers here .

Adventure beckons: Aireys Inlet, Victoria

Rock-pool-hopping at Eagles Nest, Aireys Inlet, Victoria.
Photographer, Mark Chew.

We love a craggy, snap-tastic coastline, horse rides on the
beach, gourmet food and bush settings, which is why Aireys Inlet,
sitting pretty between the big guns of Anglesea and Lorne, is so
attractive.

Aireys is where the
artisan shop Lulu and Mr Q sells hand-made ice-cream, where the
shoreline has epic rock-pool-hopping potential to spot crabs and sea
urchins at low tide, where kids can snorkel in Mermaid Pool and where
crumbling cliffs above the sand burn a vivid ochre in the afternoon sun.

The
essential items for a summer holiday based at Aireys Inlet are a
well-stocked picnic basket and blanket: set up on the benches by the
barbecues at Moggs Creek or in a bushland setting at Sheoak Falls in the
Great Otway National Park.

If the kids whine, “But what else
are we going to do?” there’s an arsenal of off-sand activities at your
fingertips, from mountain biking around Distillery Creek to canoeing
down river where Painkalac Creek meets the ocean. See Great Ocean Road Adventure Tours; gorats.com.au.

Or
you can stretch your legs along the Surf Coast Walk from Aireys towards
Torquay, taking in sheltered nooks and windswept scenery alike. Then
there’s the White Queen – the Split Point Lighthouse – now open for
guided tours. See splitpointlighthouse.com.au.

With the kids
Under fives
* There’s sheltered swimming at Sunnymead and at Sandy Gully beaches.
* The reef at nearby Step Beach forms a swimming hole at low tide, while Aireys Inlet Beach suits experienced body surfers.
* It’s Victoria: sometimes it rains. Aireys Inlet’s Great Escape Books
hosts kids’ readings at 11am on Wednesdays in the summer school
holidays. Otherwise, order a hot chocolate and snuggle in for a read or
ransack the store’s toy box; greatescapebooks.wordpress.com.

Older children
* Explore Fairhaven Beach on horseback; blazingsaddlestrailrides.com.

Teenagers
* Take a photography walk along the coastline with a guide-teacher; surfcoastwalks.com.au.

Dining there
Pull
up a seat with water views at Aireys Inlet Foodstore & Cafe and
order home-made baked beans with Otway pork or free-range eggs. Then
stock the larder with local produce from its foodstore; aifsc.com.au.
It’s the perfect marriage: a parma and locally made beer at Aireys
Pub, which earns its stripes as a great all-rounder, with a sandpit in
the beer garden and live music every Saturday; aireyspub.com.au.
Add
a touch of the Mediterranean to your getaway with lunch at A la
Grecque. Order the seafood, order the wine – it’s your holiday;
alagrecque.com.au.

Getting there
Aireys Inlet is about a 90-minute drive west of Melbourne at the start of the Great Ocean Road.

Staying there
The
Aireys Inlet Getaway Resort has one-, two- and three-bedroom villas
with a pool, picnic spots and koalas and birds on the guest list; aireysinletgetaway.com.au.The Glen Farm Cottages are
self-contained, mud-brick stays on Old Coach Road, a few kilometres
inland from the beach; aireys.com.au.Private holiday homes are plentiful and listed on stayz.com.au. B&Bs are dotted throughout the region. Aireys
Inlet Holiday Park has cabin accommodation ranging from three-bedroom,
two-bathroom executive cabins to smaller cabins, aicp.com.au.

Camping there
Also at Aireys Inlet Holiday Park are ensuite sites with power and private bathroom, powered sites and grassed tent sites.

More information
See visitgreatoceanroad.org.au.

This feature by Belinda Jackson was published in Sydney Morning Herald Traveller.

Horsing around a fishy tale

I’ve traded horses around the Pyramids for horses at the beach – this is a pic taken last winter here on the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour south of Melbourne.

The horses are some of Australia’s most famous racehorses, who are trained on the beach and in the water in the very early mornings, and those fins are dolphins.

The local newspaper ran a story quoting the riders as saying that the friendly dolphins even swim underneath the horses, who don’t seem to mind, and most trainers say the dolphins are good luck for a win on the track.

I love this story, even if the horses’ trainers are able to turn a beautiful moment into cash returns in the betting ring.
Photo: Bob McGaughay