Back your backyard: Experience the wonders of Europe without leaving home

Europe on your doorstep
Lark Distillery. Picture: Sam Shelley.

Barring a Covid-19 outbreak, one of our favourite backyard destinations, Tasmania, is opening its borders again to tourists from July 24.

With international travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, it’s a great place to tick off a few of those things you had planned to do further afield.

To help get you inspired, Tourism Australia has compiled a list of true-blue Aussie versions of the traditional northern-hemisphere bucket-list hotspots.

Scotland on your list?

Tasmania has more whisky, green villages, golf courses and fresh seafood than you could ever dream of.

· Enjoy a tour of Australia’s southernmost whisky distilleries

With crisp fresh air and water, you can get a taste of some of Australia’s best whisky in Tasmania’s burgeoning distillery industry. Located in the rugged wilderness of the Tasman Peninsula, the cosy McHenry Distillery produces a range of smooth, uniquely Australian spirits. Don’t miss the Sloe Gin, crafted using berries foraged from the hedgerows around northern Tasmania. Meanwhile, in the heart of Hobart there is Lark Distillery, which has grown to be one of the top malt whisky distillers in the country, creating premium spirits with time-honoured methods. You can visit both cellar doors for a taste of their pure Tasmanian whisky and gin, including over 150 malt whiskies at Lark.

· Hit the golf course in some of Australia’s most scenic settings

The world famous Barndougle Dunes Golf Links. Picture: Andrew Wilson.

Located along the wild and remote coast of Northeast Tasmania and ranked second in Australia, The Dunes Course at Barnbougle Golf Resort has gained a reputation as one of the world’s most impressive links courses. The fourth hole boasts the largest bunker in the entire Southern Hemisphere. Complete your trip with a day at Barnbougle Lost Farm, one of Australia’s most visually spectacular golfing experiences. Lost Farm Lodge offers stylish accommodation overlooking the golf course or the ocean, and the restaurant sources the finest Tasmanian produce and wines for memorable meals.

· Stay at the Ship Inn in the quaint town of Stanley

There’s never been a shortage of pubs in Tasmania, and at 170 years, the Ship Inn Stanley isn’t the oldest pub, but it is one of Tasmania’s newest lures. Welcoming guests since mid-2019, the Ship Inn is nestled at the base of The Nut and overlooking the panorama of the windswept bay of Stanley – possibly the most picturesque town on the state’s north-western coast. Built in 1849, the Ship Inn has reinvented itself as a unique guest house. The town itself is quaint and steeped in history with stylish antique shops, galleries and wine bars, and a renowned bakery.

Dreamt of driving along Northern Ireland’s coastline?

· Journey down Tasmania’s Wild Western coastline

No road trip is complete without seeing the magnificent Barn Bluff in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Picture: Emilie Ristevski

Tasmania’s spectacular western region is much more than the rugged and remote coastline it is renowned for. Leaving Hobart behind as you embark on your Western Wilds journey, take in the glacier-sculpted landscapes of Mount Field National Park, Russell Falls and Lake Dobson, Southwest National Park and Lake Pedder, before arriving at the ‘99 Bends’ between Derwent Bridge and Queenstown, which offer sweeping curves and magnificent views that are acclaimed as being some of the best in Australia. Views don’t get any better than the unique wilderness of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.

Experience the wonder of the Northern Lights

· Head south for the magnificent Aurora Australis

Like its Northern Hemisphere counterpart, the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) illuminate the night sky with flickering shades of green, blue, purple and red. The Southern Lights can be viewed all year round – although most commonly during winter, May to August, and during the spring equinox in September. Aurora Australis is visible from several spots across the country, but your best chance of witnessing this phenomenon is from Australia’s southernmost state – Tasmania. Head to Bruny Island, Satellite Island, Bathurst Harbour and Cradle Mountain for the beautiful low-light conditions you need to spot the glimmering light show.