Sharpen your senses and desires: northern Tasmania fires up when the mercury slides.

Creative spirit flourishes in the north – as does the local produce – while historic villages, heritage estates and hedge-lined country lanes abound. The northern natural realm is enticing, too. From the snowy peaks of Ben Lomond to the bushy mountain bike trails of Derby; from the velvety moss gardens of the Mole Creek caves to miles of empty coastline, northern Tasmania revels in natural diversity. Point your compass north – it's a region that stimulates, nourishes and replenishes body and soul.

#1 - Launceston

This Off Season, gorge on good things in Launceston. Great food, for starters: this gourmet haven is now an official UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. There's also rich history and culture to nibble on here, and Launceston's actual gorge – a surprising riverside wilderness where locals come out to play on crisp winter mornings.

Cataract Gorge Reserve
Cataract Gorge Reserve
Emilie Ristevski

Join a Welcome to Country ceremony and sample bush tucker with Kooparoona Niara Tours, as Trawlwoolway man Greg Murray illuminates the spiritual side of Cataract Gorge.

Next, it's time to get crafty: conjure up some hot glass beads at a Glass Manifesto workshop, then wear your sparkling creation home. Or come in from the cold for a painting session with the masters at the Hotel Grand Chancellor Launceston.

Later, delve into the dedicated winter menu at Diverge Restaurant at industrial-luxe Hotel Verge Launceston. After dinner, slip through iron gates into a secret Friday-night speakeasy by Bar Stelo. Slide into a candlelit corner and back into the Jazz Age as you sip Prohibition-inspired cocktails.

For further Launceston inspiration:

  • agriCULTURED Chat with some of the folks behind northern Tasmania's vibrant foodie scene – on farms, in barns and in the city. Music and performances in the northern landscape take it to the next level.
  • Cinergee Day Spa Defrost in a sauna, then melt into winter bliss with a candlelit massage.
  • Best Western Plus Launceston Embrace winter in the heart of Tasmania's northern big-smoke, with an indulgent dinner at the Tram Bar.

#2 - Tamar Valley

Wineries flank each side of Launceston's kanamaluka / River Tamar on its languid journey to the sea. During the Off Season, come in from the cold and sample exceptional cool-climate wines at dozens of warm, friendly cellar doors.

In the historic cellar of Brady's Lookout Cider on the Tamar's west bank, don a blindfold to taste aged ciders paired with hand-made Tasmanian chocolates. Roll up the blinds afterwards to learn how the ciders are made.

Panorama overlooking kanamaluka / River Tamar
Bradys Lookout
Richard Strong

On the other side of the river, go the whole hog in Lebrina at Fork it Farm, with a pig's-head feast at a table in the paddock. This three-course nose-to-tail dining experience is matched with local beer, wine and cider.

Further Tamar Valley recommendations:

  • Bay of Fires Wines Take a sunset 'Winter Wine and Wildlife Tour' through this northern vineyard, with a warming glass of mulled wine and stars emerging.
  • Tasmania Coachlines Leave the driving to someone else on a Tamar Valley winter winery tour. Meet the makers as they screw the cap off some fine cool-climate bottles.

#3 - The north east

Forage your way up the east bank of the Tamar, until the river meets the sea. At Low Head Pilot Station, spend a night in the original lightkeeper's house as your host plies you with canapes, local wines and sea-salty tales.

Wineries and coastal reserves divert you on the way to the seaside village of Bridport. In the Off Season, you'll have plenty of elbow room in the Mermaid's Pool swim-spot, or the acclaimed Barnbougle golf links.

Look forward to a home-cooked meal delivered to your cottage at Platypus Park Country Retreat. Revive around the outdoor fire with home-made mulled cider under a starry sky.

Near the agricultural hub of Scottsdale, follow your nose to Bridestowe Lavender Estate – the world's largest privately owned lavender farm – for a floral immersion session. Design your own body products at a winter ‘Festival of Fragrance' workshop. In Scottsdale itself, slake your thirst with a Crafty Cuts tasting paddle at Little Rivers Brewing.

Wind your way through wooded hills to the historic tin-mining town of Derby. Roll with the team from Blue Derby Pods Ride, tackling world-class mountain bike trails. Enjoy a hot buttered rum and a gourmet feast afterwards, before retiring to your private forest pod.

Winding road up Ben Lomond
Jacob's Ladder
Matthew Donovan

Some more north-east inspiration:

  • Low Head Tourist Park Enjoy a beverage on the balcony of your timber cottage as the winter weather rolls in, and the local penguins return to their burrows.
  • Ben Lomond Snow Sports Ascend Jacobs Ladder, with its six dizzying hairpin bends, then spend a day cavorting in the snow.

#4 - Northern midlands

From the wilds of the north east, set a course for the more genteel surrounds of the northern midlands, dotted with eye-pleasing historic villages with well-preserved colonial streets.

In Perth, feel the heat as coopers char their handmade timber barrels at the Tasmanian Whisky Experience. Toast their age-old art with a shared cheese and nibbles platter.

Near Longford, peek into the past at the sprawling World Heritage estates of Brickendon and Woolmers, then experience the pleasures of country life with a stay at the 1820s Clayfield Homestead at Bishopsbourne. During the Off Season, you'll receive a complimentary tour of the nearby Western Tiers Distillery – where every winter Saturday you can create your own wicked Western Tiers gin cocktail.

Historic rose garden
Woolmers Estate
Simon Griffiths

Mosey down the Heritage Highway to hunt down convict-built bridges and historic sandstone architecture in Campbell Town and Ross.

#5 - Great Western Tiers

Arty, photogenic Deloraine is your hub for Great Western Tiers adventures that please the stomach and the soul.

Ride along some of northern Tasmania's best mountain bike tracks on a 'light up the night' tour with Into the Wild. Hit the trails at dawn or dusk for an adrenaline rush with a difference.

Deep-dive into the Off Season at the Mole Creek caves. Wild Cave Tours leads you underground when the caves are at their wettest and most exciting.

Marakoopa Cave
Wild Cave Tours
Tourism Australia

Slow things down in a cedar hot tub overlooking the Tiers at Cedar Cottage near Meander. The organic veggie patch here is fair game for a post-adventure feast.

Meander back towards Deloraine to pick up a winter tasting hamper from Deloraine Deli, with a stop to unearth some truffles at The Truffle Farm along the way. The Off Season is peak season for these aromatic enigmas.

Some more ideas in the Great Western Tiers:

  • House of Anvers Melt into chocolate's dark embrace at Latrobe, and discover the secrets of couverture. A slice of Cradle Coast Pie offers further warmth.
  • Blakes Manor Renew your wedding vows with a local reverend on an overnight stay in Deloraine. A second honeymoon, under the northern moon.
  • Ashgrove Dairy Enjoy a very wintry pairing of aged cheddar and wine, and download a cheesy wallpaper for your device.
  • Forest Walks Lodge Cosy-up in a deluxe bedroom at Jackeys Marsh, with a winter breakfast and ecological bushwalk to spot some funky fungi.

#6 - Flinders Island

Check yourself out of the 24/7 world and onto an island off Tasmania's north-east tip.

Fossick for 'Killiecrankie diamonds' – topaz nuggets in shades of blue, pink and gold – and explore the empty beaches and jagged granite ranges. Go kayaking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Grab a crayfish straight off a fishing boat, or fill your belly with fine produce from the island's winter fields.

At the beachfront Sawyers Bay Shacks, drink up Bass Straight views, warm your bones around an open fire, and meet the 'Wombat Lady' of Flinders and her baby wombats.

Adam Gibson

What's on offer this off season?

Businesses across Tasmania join the Off Season festivities with inspiring offers and rare experiences for winter wanderers – things to do, places to stay and good things to eat and drink. Come inside and see what's cooking.

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Three people trying on leather boots and laying on the floor

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