Journeys with gin (and other treats)
Let a distillery be your destination on these memorable Aussie road trips.
Words by Ute Junker
Photo by Luke Tscharke
Drink this She built her reputation as Tasmania’s top sparkling winemaker, but Natalie Fryar turns out to be equally talented at creating quality gins. She uses native Tasmanian botanicals to create her Abel Gin, including the light, bright Essence Gin, heavy on citrus and smoky tea tree blossom, and the richly complex Quintessence Gin, which features notes of native kunzea and Tasmanian pepperberry.
Do this The wineries of the nearby Tamar Valley are often considered Launceston’s biggest attraction, but Tasmania’s second city has plenty of other lures for visitors. Cataract Gorge is a gorgeous place for a ramble, while lovers of all things handcrafted will find plenty to swoon over at the Design Tasmania shop. A visit to the Bridestowe Lavender Estate – particularly when it’s in full bloom during December and January, is a must, as is a meal at Stillwater, where you can drop in for a laidback breakfast or dial it up for a sophisticated dinner.
Sleep here Housed in a character-filled Victorian terrace, The Florance is a centrally-located option for guests who love boutique accommodation.
TWEED COAST, NSW
Drink this Husk Distillers is best-known for its rums but it also makes Australia’s prettiest gin. Ink Gin gets its eye-catching colour from the petals of the butterfly pea flower, which deliver that distinctive purple tinge. The spicy, piney flavour comes courtesy of local botanicals including lemon myrtle leaf and Tasmanian pepper berry.
Do this Foodies have long flocked to the Tweed, drawn by acclaimed restaurants such as Fleet at Brunswick Heads and Paper Daisy at the Halcyon House hotel, but the hinterland also has some gems, including Mavis’s Kitchen at Uki. The region’s rainforests – considered one of Australia’s most bio-diverse regions – are great for hikes, but the area’s most under-rated treasure is the Tweed Regional Gallery. In addition to its outstanding exhibitions, the gallery is home to a mesmerising reconstruction of artist Margaret Olley’s home and studio.
Sleep here Treehouses don’t come much more indulgent than the chalets at EcOasis, perfectly positioned amid the Tweed’s ancient forests and offering a mesmerising view to wake up to.
Drink this Choosing a favourite from the range at Seppeltsfield Rd Distillers isn’t easy. There’s the London Dry-style Barossa Dry, the juniper-light House Gin, and the intriguing Savoury Allsorts with its unusual star anise notes. If we had to pick just one, however, we would go for the Barossa Shiraz Gin, with its rich purple colour and its mellow flavour. Drink it as a winter warmer or, for a summer drop, serve it sangria-style with ice, tonic, orange, strawberry and mint.
Do this Wine lovers are spoiled for choice in the Barossa Valley, from big names, including Henschke and Seppeltsfield, to smaller gems such as Krondorf Creek Farm. Food fans are equally well-catered for: book yourself in at the Asian fine diner, Fermentasian, opt for an elegant degustation at Appellation, or savour next-level burgers and snacks at three75. On Saturday mornings, head to the Barossa Farmers Market to pick up artisanal goodies direct from the producers.
Sleep here The Louise is the Barossa’s loveliest accommodation, with indulgent suites, a swimming pool and a range of activities that includes breakfast with the kangaroos.
Drink this There aren’t that many distilleries around the world that feature ants in their gin, but Bass and Flinders Distillery does. Their Angry Ant Gin is based on Western Australian flavours including mulla mulla, purple vetch flowers, native lemongrass and, yes, ants. If you prefer something slightly less, well, insects, other top picks include the Maritime Gin, infused with kelp and samphire, and the aromatic Wild & Spicy Gin.
Do this The Peninsula is famous for its wineries, including Montalto and Pt Leo Estate, where you can also take a stroll through the sculpture garden and enjoy a meal at one of the area’s best restaurants. If you prefer beer, the area also has plenty of breweries, including the inviting St Andrews Beach Brewery. Spend some time strolling the seaside towns of Sorrento and Portsea, before treating yourself to a soak in the natural hot springs at Peninsula Hot Springs.
Sleep here Set amid 13 hectares of vines and gardens, Lancemore Lindenderry Red Hill is the sort of country house-style hotel that instantly resets your internal switch to “relax”.