Getting up early to see the magnificent Bass Strait sunrise is a must, as you arrive in Devonport aboard the Spirit of Tasmania. After disembarking, enjoy breakfast at Miss Jacqueline’s just a few minutes from the terminal and take some time to get your bearings (and find your land legs).
From breakfast make your way to the paranaple arts centre, not only the entertainment hub for Devonport, but also home to the Devonport Visitor Centre. Talk to the friendly staff, as everyone knows the best way to discover a new region is to ask a local. Whilst there, explore the Devonport Regional Gallery that showcases contemporary Tasmanian art and has hands-on activities for the children and packs to take-away.
Take in the beautiful parklands and splendour of the historic homes as you walk (or cycle) along the pathway to the mouth of the Mersey River. The Bass Strait Maritime Centre is your next stop. Situated right at the point where the river meets Bass Strait, the Centre celebrates Devonport’s maritime and social history with fixed and temporary displays. You cannot leave without trying the ship simulator. That’s right, you get to captain your very own ship, taking it to port in the Mersey River. It is one of the best shipping simulators in Australia. After spending time in the Museum (and mastering the ship simulator) enjoy lunch at the onsite café, Marion Storm Café. The sun filled deck is a great location to watch the large vessels come and go in the river.
After lunch continue on the pathway the short distance to the Mersey Bluff. On your way you will pass a renowned sculpture, Vertex, by famed Australia sculptor Ron Robertson-Swann OAM.
The Mersey Bluff precinct is home to Devonport’s iconic lighthouse. Built in 1889 with its distinctive vertical red and white stripes it marks a fantastic spot to take a photo, likewise the adjacent purpose-built viewing platform allows panoramic views of the rugged coastline.
The Mersey Bluff is also a significant Aboriginal cultural site. You will discover several interpretation panels, depicting and explaining the importance of the Bluff to the local Aboriginal family groups. You will be amazed at the ancient petroglyph rock carvings that can be found at the site.
There are stunning views toward Don Heads and you will most likely encounter the local wildlife pottering around. The Bluff is an extremely popular patrolled swimming beach with a fantastic playground for children to burn off some energy.
If there is time, you can have a late afternoon coffee at one of the restaurants or cafes, or even an early sundowner overlooking the picturesque beach.
Follow your nose back to into town to check into your accommodation. You have options of self-contained accommodation at the Waterfront Apartments and Barclay Motor Inn, hotel/motel style at the Edgewater Hotel or Bed and Breakfast at Stony Rise Cottages.
Make your way to Market Square Pavilion for dinner where there is plenty of casual dining options to suit all ages.
A short drive out of the city brings you to the Tasmanian Arboretum, an extraordinary 66-hectare botanical garden with a collection of 5,300 living trees and over 1,500 species. Founded in 1984, the Arboretum benefits from its four-decade history, marvelling in mature trees that are found right across the globe, including the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Himalayas. It is a chance to explore diverse flora and fauna, including a plot of a dozen Wollemi Pines, one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. There are less than 100 mature trees known to exist in the wild, and it is now the focus of an extensive endangered species project to safeguard its survival.
The Arboretum features several nature inspired walking tracks including the Limestone Heritage Walk, Nature Trail and Lake Circuit with Platypus and Bird Hide. The Arboretum can boast that it is the best place to see and photograph platypus in the wild. Enjoy a coffee at the kiosk and a homemade ice cream, sit back and relax in the stunning surrounds.
Five minutes down the road to the next stop, is Spreyton Cider Co. Since established in 2011, Spreyton Cider have won several awards, including numerous Golds at the Australian Cider Awards. You can order a tasting paddle of either cider or Spreyton Fresh juice and do the Fruit Loop Orchard Walk. Have a light lunch overlooking the picturesque valley at the Little Orchard Food Van while the kids enjoy the on-site playground.
From lunch pop into Simon Martin Whips and Leathercraft. Learn about the artisan craft of whip making and their 10-year project of creating the world longest stock whip. Simon’s saddles are exquisite and sought after around the world. There is a fantastic retail space, and you can watch all matter of leather goods being made. It is truly unique, world class experience for the whole family.
Travel back to Devonport to enjoy a relaxing family meal at The Argosy Hotel, an informal setting close to the Mersey River. With an extensive menu, daily specials and opening at 5pm for early diners. The children will be entertained with the inside play centre, Goody’s Playhouse.
Nourish Me Café provides a hearty breakfast for a day of adventure and exploring.
If you didn’t bring your own, hire some bikes and journey along the dedicated bicycle path that winds its way around the Coles Beach area and on to the Don River and nature reserve. Following the eastern bank of the river, the Reserve is a rich in plant and animal life. A great place for bird watching with over 70 species recorded, including the critically endangered Swift Parrot. These birds are one of Australia’s rarest, and appropriately named, fastest birds, having been recorded flying at nearly 90km/h. Not only fast, but excellent long-distance travellers, as they are known to fly north to Victoria and NSW for the winder.
On the edge of the reserve, is a slice of Tasmanian rail history at the Don River Railway. Explore the museum, tour the working railyard and machinery sheds. The kids might even catch sight of Thomas the Tank engine! Marvel at the spectacular heritage locomotives and carriages, then jump onboard a lovingly restored historic steam train as it makes its way along the eastern banks of the Don River on a 45-minute return trip to Coles Beach.
Enjoy the return bike ride and stop in the city at Laneway Cafe for lunch. Laneway Café is at the entrance to Rooke Lane, Devonport’s answer to Hosier Lane, with much of the lane decorated with urban artworks by professional street artists and through youth art projects.
After lunch take the guided tour of the heritage listed Home Hill. Built in 1916, Home Hill is the former residence of Australia’s only Tasmanian-born Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons, and Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman elected to the house of representative and to serve in Federal cabinet.
The residence is one of only four homes of an Australian Prime Minister currently open to the public. However, the priceless experience is all about Dame Enid. She is the only Australian woman ever to be made a Double Dame. Firstly, a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire and secondly a Dame of the Order of Australia.
On this extraordinary tour you will not only see artifacts relating to Jo’s time as Prime Minister, but also the dress worn by Dame Enid to the King George VI’s coronation, including the hat she made herself, and you will appreciate the many domestic improvements she made to the property she occupied for six-decades.
Enjoy a relaxing dinner at Mrs Jones at the bluff precinct, overlooking Bass Strait and the bluff beach.
The joy of taking the Spirit of Tasmania means you have a full day to enjoy in Devonport, without it being interrupted by the need to rush off to airport.
Continuing a good theme of great places for breakfast, head to Café XOXO. A great place for coffee and food.
After breakfast, it’s time to disappear into a hidden gem of Devonport, the Antique Emporium. Tasmania’s largest wonderland of treasures, collectables, books, and antiques. The store is set over 1,800 square metres on four levels. If you are lucky, you might run into the intrepid owner, John, who started it two-decades ago, travelling the world to seek out antiques and import to Tasmania. The kids will have fun with the fortune teller machine, and life-sized pirate ship and characters.
For your last lunch in Devonport stop at the Waterfront Complex, featuring a great café for children and an 18-hole mini golf.
Finally, take the short 15-minute drive to Ghost Rock Vineyard. The modern and vibrant cellar door and eatery offers wine tastings of Ghost Rock’s entire range and a modern Tasmanian platter menu featuring local produce. The setting includes striking views over the vineyard and Bass Strait. It is a great place to wind down in the mid-afternoon sun. Notwithstanding the playground for children, Ghost Rock is listed as a 5-Star winery in the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion.
It is only a short 15-minute drive back to the spirit of Tasmania dock. Check in, drive on, and enjoy dinner onboard at the Tasmanian Market Kitchen featuring fresh Tasmanian produce such as Scottsdale Pork, Nicholls Chicken, and Tasmania’s outstanding fruits and vegetables. The menu even features an Anvers’ Chocolate Tart…