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Published: February 19th 2017
It didn't matter which weather report you tuned into, if it was mainland Australia there was one common denominator. They were frying. Hometown Sydney in particular seemed to be ever inching closer to the sun, record temperatures nudging the mid forties. SUFFER!
At the same time, under the same national flag, we were piling on the layers to quarantine ourselves from biting winds and mercury struggling to hit double figures. Rain swept in sheets at 10 minute intervals and snow sprinkled the peaks of mountains. One morning low cloud hanging around head height was the sort of stuff that justifies lighthouses and where you might expect Jack the Ripper to come skulking out of. And this is summer.
Tasmania may be part of our Great Southern Land but crossing that latitudinal line over Bass Strait can exact a toll and climatically it feels like a whole different world. If you are looking to build some real estate down here, start with an open log fireplace and construct the rest of the house around it.
This genre of weather is even more prominent in the Central Highlands and the West Coast which takes the full brunt of The Roaring
Forties front on. Next stop Argentina.
Far from putting a dampener on proceedings, these micro climates only augment the grandeur that is Tasmanian wilderness. Clouds the colour of bruise fit hand in glove with mountains and forest.
So get amongst it we did. Accessing our inner Dr Livingston, we clocked up countless clicks on walking trails, chugged through forests on relic steam trains and cruised down world heritage rivers amongst trees in 50 shades of green. Tasmania could never feel more alluring.
Then there are the blink and you'll miss them towns that pepper the raw countryside. They are villages that graduated charm school with honours. If they were human you'd swear they had the plastic surgeon on autodial.
These are well-grounded hamlets that have given a nip and tuck to their colonial architectural history without resorting to fabricating some pseudo retro cool. Exercising a flexible mindset, most have successfully found their own little niche to suck in the visitors and as a result their tourism share value is trending upwards. Sheffield is typical.
Almost too perfectly located in the shadows of Mount Roland, 30 years ago Sheffield had its lightbulb moment. A couple of
Cold. Stack on the layers.
resident artists decided to whip up a few murals on the walls around town. What started out as an idea quickly snowballed and the genie was out of the bottle. Sheffield, euphemistically The Town Of Murals. Each year around Easter, artists from around the world saunter in for a good old fashioned mural-off. This also drags in the tourist punter happy to part with a few dollars. Feeding off this influx, Sheffield has grown into an eclectic, artsy, funky little pitstop on the Tasmanian tourist trail.
Scenery and small town numbed? Just an hour or so down the road sits Launceston (Lonnie to us locals). Not much more than a small town itself (or a large village), Lonnie completes the transition from rural to city in a blink. It may be at best a wee metropolis but she is dressed to the nines in heritage lines and squeezes in some groovy little watering holes that hit just the right note. Invariably they pour out local brews and wines and when I say local....... The Tamar Valley wines are well represented.
Just 10 minutes from Lonnie CBD, the Tamar Valley grows some of Australia's premium cold weather grapes. Now
Tannin coloured lakes
I'll admit to not being a huge fan of this genre, in fact I find most cold weather reds about as much use as the t in pinot. BUT, there are few more enviable ways to let the world slip by than to chow down on a cheese plate and siphon off a Riesling whilst overlooking the vines from which the grapes were plucked. Ahhhh, a life dedicated to simple pleasures. Ca c'est la vie.
In fact life felt so good I stuck my head into a real estate window. For about one third the price of the equivalent in Sydney you could ....... Nah, back to the weather, too bloody cold mate. Nice, no sensational, place to visit but given the summer temps, winter could be a hibernation struggle. Looks like 40 degree summers in Cronulla for the foreseeable future. Not a bad problem to have.
More images at www.colvinyeates.zenfolio.com
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