Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tasmania Lodging, Food and Activities Reviews

Tasmania Geologic
While Tasmania is a rather small island, there are lots of places for the adventurous and not-so-adventurous travelers to stay, eat and do. The prices are about the same as they are on the Australian mainland. The people are warm, witty, and more than happy to talk to you about things to do. What we didn't know when we got to Tasmania was that once you are out of Hobart the restaurants will be with hotels for the most part; there may also be a 'game room' (casino), and a bottle shop associated with the hotel. You may need to order food at the bar, but you will have to pay there, and you may have to know your table number to do so. Before we go, again, we will be contacting some of the people we met to learn their perspectives on the best places to explore. Although there may be activities you want to finalize before going to this island, travel guides purchased in Australia or Tasmania have much more information than the ones I could find here in the US. For an explanation of the ratings, please see Sydney Review.

Where we stayed:

Four Carrots

Bath and King Bed
The Travelodge Airport, Hobart, 1 Holyman Avenue, Cambridge Tasmania 7170, +61 3 6248 3555 has a great group of people who are super helpful. I emailed them with a concern and they responded immediately; they even told us how to get to the hotel on a free shuttle. The room was great with free, high-speed WiFi. Breakfast was passable; basically it was cereal, toast, or muffins with coffee and juice. The next morning one of the desk clerks drove us to the car rental office at no charge. 

The West Coaster Motel, Batchelor Street, Queenstown 7467, +61 3 6471 1033 provided a

Bath and Twin/Double Beds
great room, super internet (cheap, but free if you book online), and a guest laundry. There is also a nice restaurant and a bar. We wondered why we were asked to make reservations for dinner immediately upon check-in; then the tour bus arrived as did a lot of other travelers. Evidently this is a popular place.

And since we practically lived in the rent car:

Vroom, vroom car got us a cheap rental with Red Spot Car Hire, Hobart Airport, Cambridge, Hobart 7170 Tasmania, +61 3 6248 4045. The people at Red Spot gave us lots of information about the car and what charges we did and did not actually need. However, I don’t want to rent a KIA Rio again, ever. Even though the car is small its seats are made for tall people. I could barely see out and the seatbelt practically decapitated me every time I moved it from under may arm.

Three Carrots
The Waterfront Lodge Motel, 153 Risdon Rd, New Town, Lutana (Hobart), 7008, 1-866-
Queen/Twin Beds and Bath
332-3590 is an economy hotel. It has a portable heater and a floor fan, along with a tiny, but well stocked, kitchenette to go with the furniture-packed room. The café table, two chairs and heating/cooling appliances are near the foot of the queen bed. The beds are comfortable and the bathroom is clean. A guest staying in one of the lodges reported that the heat didn’t work well. While there is no breakfast on-site, you can order food brought in; there are also snacks and drinks for purchase in the lobby. The motel is located on one of the bays and rather difficult to get to. It’s not somewhere I’d stay again because of the location and the internet is only available in the lobby, which closes at 8:00PM.

The Argosy Hotel, 221 Tarleton Street, East Devonport 7310, +61 3 6427 8872 is a moderate hotel, neither outstanding nor awful. The room was comfortable and clean. The
Bath and Double/Twin Beds
downside, that really irritated me, is that the free internet that they say works in the room doesn’t; you must go to the lobby. The hotel’s location allows easy access to tourist sites and to freeways.

Two and one-half Carrots

Bath and Six-person Room
The Olde Tudor Inn, 229-235 Westbury Road, Launceston 7250, + 61 3 6344 5044 is like old Las Vegas without the charm. Perhaps some of the rooms were like those seen on their website, but this one wasn’t. Because it was a Sunday, we had to check-in at the bar. The folks there didn’t seem to know exactly what to tell us about breakfast or the availability of the internet. One of the bartenders did supply me with a code to access WiFi from my room. On Sundays they closed the bar at about 8:00PM and there was no access to WiFi because the code had timed-out before it was given to me. The room was very dated but it would sleep six: two on the bunk beds, two on the double bed and two on the couch. The bunk beds are awful; they are hard as a rock. The double bed and the couch were comfortable enough; the linens were quite worn. There’s a bathroom that’s a bit small but at least has a heater and a good shower. The room and bathroom are clean. 

What we ate:
Four and one-half Carrots
Man O’Ross Hotel Restaurant 35 Church Street, Ross, 7209, +61 3 6381 5445 was
Angus burger and Crumbled Scallops
excellent. Dave had an Angus burger which he said was very good and the chips were delightfully crunchy. The lettuce, tomato, beetroot, and onion were crisp and tasty. The ketchup could have been homemade with its wonderful sweet-hot flavor. I had scallops, evidently one of the typical dishes for the area. They were ‘crumbled’ (lightly breaded) and fried and they were fabulous! The cook actually knows what he/she is doing with shellfish. The scallops weren’t overcooked – fresh, tender, wonderful. The tartar sauce was homemade, a bit sweet with a touch of horseradish. Vegetables in the slaw were fresh; it was apparent that this was homemade, as well. My food was so good I didn’t pay any attention to what Dave was eating, nor did I try to steal any of his lunch.

Four Carrots
Julie and Patrick’s, 2 Alexander Terrace, Stanley 7331, +61 3 6458 1103 had been a finalist in the Best of the Beach food competition. If they didn’t win, I really want to eat at the
Crayfish in Mild Curry Sauce and Prawns in Garlic Cream
restaurant that did! Dave had prawns in garlic cream sauce and I had crayfish (rock lobster) in a ‘mild curry sauce’. Both were fantastic. Thankfully, we were given spoons so that we could scoop up all of the delicious sauces. Service was friendly and prompt. The waitress was happy to visit with customers while paying careful attention to everyone’s needs. Had we been in the area longer we would have been back to try other items on the menu.

Three and one-half Carrots

Mixed Satay and Sweet and Sour Pork
We went to the Hong Kong Restaurant, 53/55 Main Road, Moonah (Hobart) 7009, +61 3 6228 3985 for dinner. From the extensive menu, David had a great sweet and sour pork and I had a pretty good mixed satay. Mine was quite a bit spicier than I expected; unless the menu says ‘sweet chili’ you cannot assume the dish will be ‘mild’. The restaurant was well furnished and clean; there were a number of people who knew the hostess by name, leading us to believe that there was repeat business.

The West Coaster Motel Restaurant (Queenstown) has a pretty good buffet, but you can order from the menu. For the first time the crumbled scallops weren't as good as the shrimp,
Calamari, Shrimp and Fish;
Crumbled Scallops
calamari and fish Dave had. Since Tasmania is an island, there are a lot of fishermen and they pull in lots of shellfish so it’s plentiful on menus. What restaurants don't have is red (cocktail) sauce, but the chili sauce will take your head off. Dave turned red and his head cold finally cleared up. Although we didn’t try any, the pizzas looked good and the size was certainly more than adequate. In a one hour time frame, I counted more than 20 of these pies going out through the ‘Take Away’ door. The breakfast buffet was okay but really expensive for the standard scrambled eggs/bacon/toast/fruit/cereal provided.

Olde Tutor Shopping Center, 227 Westbury Road, Launceston 7250 has an IGA (grocery
Cheese, Crackers and Wine
store) with a decent cheese section, a good cracker selection, and more varieties of Tim Tams than I knew existed.  We found a good cheese and some crackers with a decent wine (Olde Tutor bottle shop) for dinner; grocery stores are a bunch cheaper than eating out. The cheese had coconut, mango, and almonds; it was great; the crackers had garlic and the wine was a Tasmanian Riesling.  Yummy!

Tahune AirWalk Visitor Center had a small restaurant with a good sized menu. Along with soups, salads and sandwiches, there were homemade meat pies. Dave had a chicken and
Meat pie and Chicken sandwich
cheese pie; there was a chicken sandwich for me. The food was really fresh and good; we had to ask for ketchup for our chips. Since there is a hotel on the grounds, they also had breakfast offerings and what looked like some nice hot coffee drinks.

National Botanic Gardens of Tasmania’s on-site restaurant was under reconstruction, but
Croissant and Chicken wrap
that didn’t keep the food from being very tasty. Dave had a chicken wrap that was packed full of veggies ~ he said it was wonderful. I had a ham/cheese/tomato croissant that was good as well. There were tables of amazing looking desserts that we would have sampled if our meal hadn’t been so filling.

The Argosy Hotel Restaurant (at Devonport) produced some really good ‘crumbled’ scallops and a better than average roast beef. The roasted sweet potatoes were super, too,
Roast beef, Crumbled scallops, Moscato wine
but the rest of the veggies were uninspired - canned pea/corn, squeaky green beans and some mashed potatoes. It's amazing how many potatoes they have and serve here. Their breakfast was ‘made to order’ and the prices were the best we found in Tasmania. Eggs, bacon, pancakes and the requisite toast and cereal bar were good enough to bring up our rating of 3 Carrots that we would have given the restaurant, otherwise.

Three Carrots
We actually got supper at a Pizza Hut, Corner Newton and Forster Roads, New Town
Mushroom, pepperoni pizza
(Hobart) 7008 because we were too tired to find something local. No ice in the soft drinks unless you ask for it but the pizza was okay. They did have a buffet, and from the way the locals were eating, it must have been good.

Levee Food Company, 27 Seaport Boulevard, Launceston 7250, +61 3 6334 7011 was supposed to have some great seafood. I had calamari and Dave had fish and chips. The calamari were 'crumbled' with salt and pepper, put on top of a salad with almonds, sun-dried
Beer; Fish and calamari salad
tomatoes, cubes of fried cheddar cheese and some sort of greens. It was dressed with oil/vinegar. Dave's fish weren't particularly firm but the batter was really good ~ sort of a beer flavor. Of course there were fries with the fish. He did have to ask for ketchup and tartar sauce. Service was very slow and not particularly attentive. The waitress would ask a question then walk away without waiting for an answer. My food was substantially better than Dave’s and at least there was a view of the harbor and some boats. Almost everything had onions that they couldn't take out or Dave would have had a pizza or pasta with seafood; we assumed that this meant that one sauce was used for both pizza and pasta.

Two Carrots

Dinner at the Cooley’s Hotel Restaurant, 45 Main Road, Moonah (Hobart), 7009, +61 3 6228 0033 pleased neither of us. The Fat Yak beer was pretty good as was the Brown
Onion Burger and Chili Crab Fettuccini
Brother’s Moscato. Dave had an onion burger that looked first-rate. It had a thick piece of meat, bacon and a stack of onion rings on top. The onion rings were good, but the meats were poor quality with a mushy texture and bits of gristle. My chili crab fett
uccini looked lovely, but the peppers overwhelmed the bits of crab which smelled fishy; the crab wasn’t well picked. Biting down on crab shell parts throughout the meal just isn’t appetizing.

What we did (see Raining with a Chance of Sheep for full descriptions)::
Four and one-half Carrots
The Nut, Stanley – Hiking, nature
Tasmanian Arboretum, near Devonport – Plants, animals, hiking (5 Carrots if volunteers Georgie and Rod are there)
Montezuma Falls, near Rosebery – Hiking, nature

Four Carrots

The Tasmanian Wool Centre, Ross – History of the wool industry
Tahune AirWalk near Geeveston – Hiking, nature
Sheffield Murals, Sheffield – Folk art and history
Ross Bridge, Ross – Bridge built by convict labor
National Botanic Gardens of Tasmania, Hobart – Historic gardens including Antarctic plant exhibit
Female Factory, Ross – Historic information about convicts and the prison system

Three and one-half Carrots
Mount Nelson Signal Station, Hobart – Hobart overlook and historic site
Legerwood Carved Memorial Trees, Legerwood – Memorial sculptures to World War I soldiers
Three Carrots

Salamanca Market, Hobart – Folk art, local food, street artists, souvenirs (only open on Saturdays)
'Drawing the Line', Ross – Historic, social, geographical and political information about the 42o Latitude line

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