The sparkling coast
Road tripping from Low Head to Bridport, you can experience history, wine tasting and, for adventurous types, mountain biking.
The Bridport Road is modestly named for a route that passes through ozone-fresh air and sparkling wine country to a world-class golf links. For my husband and I, these are the hallmarks of an enticing weekend away.
Discrete signs to the south of George Town point us up a hill, through whispering she-oaks and fragrant goodenia, to the trail heads of the new Mount George mountain-bike trail network. My husband, a biker, is keen. As he pelts down ‘helter skelter’, I’m heading up the boardwalk to the historic semaphore site.
I always wonder what elevated places mean to the Indigenous population. At the top, there’s a sign reminding me that from this lookout, the Stoney Creek Nation looked out across the kanamaluka/River Tamar and its surrounds, long before semaphore arrived.
Squinting in a northerly direction, I can almost make out Low Head and its more recent history. At the convict-built Pilot Station, an undeniably picturesque precinct of cream brick buildings with red roofs crouches on neat grasslands. The Maritime Museum is run by a team of dedicated volunteers, and curator Des hosts me on a tour of new exhibits, with maritime and personal artifacts beautifully displayed.
There’s a sense of personal connection with history here. “Our volunteer Don dived in that suit at the age of 17,” Des tells me, pointing to the diving suit with its brass helmet in a majestic timber case.
After coffee at Pilot Station Café, whose tiny square windows overlook the modern-day pilot boat station, I collect husband and bike, unscathed, from the trails. We arm ourselves with a single-origin brew from the Tasmanian Devil coffee van on the corner of the Bridport Road, where Kate and Tim have been supplying quality coffee and chat for three years, and head east.
The name Pipers River trips off the tongue of anyone acquainted with Tasmanian wines, and there are enough pre-eminent sparkling houses here to occupy serious wine buffs for a week. Drops like Arras, Jansz and Clover Hill seem to flow from the landscape, now internationally held to rival the doughty Champagne region.
We’re heading to the two boutique establishments of Sinapius and Delamere, their vineyards draped side-by-side across the hillside, the chardonnay fruit quivering to the sound of the distant sea pounding.
At Delamere, owner Fran Austin gives us a tasting of four sparklings, eloquently guiding us through the creamy blends, and the vintages which light up the palate with signature hints of brioche and oyster shell.
Next door, the Sinapius cellar door feels like a French hilltop courtyard, all gravel underfoot and roses winding around the pergola. We spend an hour sitting at petite iron tables with a glass of Jean Morice gamay rosé, as Vaughn and Linda’s close-planted vines cascade down the hillside before us.
After all the sea air and sparkling, we’ll be resting our heads at the Barnbougle Lost Farm Golf Resort. There’s plenty to appeal to the traveller here, even those not heading onto the links. The atmosphere is hushed, with heavy timbers and damped-down sound, and our spacious room feels hidden in the dunes. General Manager Penny Sattler joins us for a pre-dinner drink in the dining room with vast, sweeping windows over Bass Strait, and tells us the story of her family’s business. Converted from coastal land on the Sattlers’ farm, Barnbougle Dunes has ranked as high as 13 among the world’s top courses. Even so, the resorts have a down-to-earth welcome that appeals to both Tasmanians and the visitors flying in to the private air strip. “I thought I’d come back for a few years, and I’ve never left,” says Penny.
In the morning, Spa 180 owners and therapists Jaclyn and Alex ease our cares away with an aromatherapy couples treatment. Bathed in oils, scents, spa bubbles and coastal light from the windows, we reconnect with nature and each other, as the pelicans soar past outside.
We top off the weekend with an amble along the beach at Bridport, past the timbers of the historic pier to Mermaids Pool. We enjoy everything this village-by-the-sea’s main street has to offer the weekend-tripper before turning reluctantly for home.