Stay a While – Unwinding in Devonport After a Conference

After a productive conference, there is no need to rush home.  Devonport offers a unique blend of picturesque coastal and bush reserves alongside a vibrant regional city boasting historical and cultural attractions, as well as a variety of tasty and unique dining options. Take a moment to explore this award-winning itinerary for some inspiration…

Day 1

Getting up early to see the magnificent Bass Strait sunrise is a must.  Afterwards, enjoy breakfast at Miss Jacqueline’s just a few minutes from the Spirit of Tasmania terminal and take some time to get your bearings.

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. Take your time as you chat 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 .

Take in the beautiful parklands and splendour of the historic homes as you follow the sealed walk and cycle pathway along the riparian 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 one of the best locations to watch the large vessels come and go in the river.

After lunch continue your walk 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 that 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 the centre of town, check into your accommodation and then make your way to Market Square Pavilion for dinner.


Day 2

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. The Wollemi Pine is 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 boasts 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 award, 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 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.

Travel back to Devonport to enjoy traditional Italian cuisine at Verona Italian Restaurant. Grab a woodfired pizza and settle in at the Wine Bar. Be amazed at the interior décor that includes a working Italian coffee bean roaster, Italian superbikes, and strangely a life-size lion leading out across the dining room.


Day 3

Nourish Me Café provides a hearty breakfast for a day of adventure and exploring.

Hire 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 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 into city at Laneway Cafe for lunch. Laneway Café is at the entrance to Rooke Lane, Devonport’s answer to Hosier Lane, with much of 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 three homes of an Australian Prime Minister currently open to the public. However, the priceless experience is all about Dame Enid. She was and 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.

Day 4

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 on 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 all 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 characters.

For your last lunch in Devonport stop at the Waterfront Complex, featuring a great café for children and mini golf.

Finally, take the short 10-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 10 minute drive back to the spirit of Tasmania dock. Check in, drive on, and enjoy dinner onboard at the Tasmanian Market.

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