Eat here: Gabriel’s On The Bay, Port Arthur, Tasmania

Gabriel’s On The Bay
6955 Arthur Hwy, Port Arthur, Tasmania
http://stewartsbaylodge.com.au

My mum, auntie and grandfather took a little trip to Tasmania this week, so I thought I’d take a quick trip back this morning,  too – I’m revisiting one of the best seafood meals I’ve ever had at Gabriel’s On The Bay.

Located within Stewarts Bay Lodge, itself nestled between a beach and forest, you’d never know it was there unless you were looking for it. But wind your way through the holiday cabins, and you end up at a beautiful little restaurant set just on the water with a stunning view, especially at sunset.

Wanting to treat ourselves to some of the seafood the area is so well known for, we started with the pan fried Tasmanian scallops with chilli, crispy pancetta & garlic, served on house made squid ink linguini. Easily one of the best things either of us have ever eaten – al dente linguini, and buttery scallops.. so much wow.


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For mains, husband had a hankering for some proper fish and chips, and went with the beer battered fish with chips, salad & wasabi mayo. Super white and tender fish, super crispy batter, and golden fried chips. Winner.


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I went with a special, the salmon, sitting on a green salad and topped with a delicious cucumber and pineapple salsa. It was fresh and delicious, and not to sound repetitive, but that fish was AMAZING.

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You know you’re dealing with seriously fresh and good quality seafood when you can’t smell anything remotely fishy coming from your plates, and we didn’t. It wasn’t a particularly cheap meal, but the food, the view and the service combined to make it a brilliant experince – watching a band of adorable little wallabies come out at dusk to collect leftovers out the front didn’t hurt, either 🙂

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Port Arthur Lavender, Tasmania (to shop, eat & tea at)

Port Arthur Lavender
6555 Port Arthur Hwy, Port Arthur, Tasmania
http://portarthurlavender.com.au/

From one delicious food and drinkery to another, I’m crossing the ditch today and throwing it back to the Tassie trip we took a few weeks ago. How the husband and I ended up at a Lavender farm is a story that pretty much sums up our whole relationship; we were driving to Port Arthur from Hobart, and husband saw a large sign on the side of the road that read “DISTILLERY.” His eyes lit up, knowing the Tasmania does some good whisky, but said nothing. Do you want to turn around and go back to check it out? Cue quick U-turn and large grin.

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At this point, I’m wondering what the hell kind of a sweet little lavender farm and cafe has a distillery on site… then I saw the sign pointing the way to the lavender oil distillery. Cue disappointment and angry tirade at the signage clearly designed by a woman to trap distinguished gentlemen wanting a civilized glass of whisky. I’d already spied the scones flying out of the kitchen, but thought better than to push my luck. Two days later, on the way back to Hobart, we went on back to the lavender farm, and I got my scones.

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The Port Arthur lavender farm is a family owned business, where over 16,000 lavender plants are grown, harvested and processed each year over their two plants. There’s a gift shop on site where everything is scented, flavoured and/or coloured lavender, the beautiful fields you can stroll around, and a tiny little “distillery” education shed, where you can learn about how the oil is actually made.

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They also operate as a cafe, serving incredibly lavender-inspired and infused cuisine and drinks. Lavender infused fudge and ice creams, lavender panna cotta and pancakes, oysters with lavendar dukkah and lavender relish as a side to the savouries. Drinks, too; I (naturally) ordered a lavender grey for my afternoon tea. They even served it in a lavender coloured tea pot, bless! Also full of gorgeous, bright lavender buds, and the flavour wasn’t anywhere near as overpowering as you might expect.

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We’d stopped off for afternoon tea, so we by-passed the breakfast and lunch offerings, and shared a plate of scones instead. Fresh, soft, fluffy scones. With a side of house-made jam (wow – THAT good!) and lavender infused cream. Everything about it was perfect – the scones were massive and fresh, the cream had the most amazing lavender flavour without being over powering, and it was easy to see why the jams they make win all those awards!

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Isn’t it funny how a stuff up can often lead to a brilliant discovery, if you’re willing to let go of your preconceptions and roll with it?! Couldn’t be happier we found this place! And don’t worry, we got him to the Sullivans Cove Whisky Distillery where he thoroughly enjoyed a whiskey tasting session and left with a bottle of the good stuff 😉

Port Arther Lavender Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Through my eyes: Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania

Australia was basically founded as one big convict colony island. Despite the fact that we’re a really quite a young country, there really aren’t many (any?) places left where you can see that side of our history.

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From the website, “The Port Arthur penal settlement began life as a small timber station in 1830. Originally designed as a replacement for the recently closed timber camp at Birches Bay, Port Arthur quickly grew in importance within the penal system of the colonies.”

And who was shipped off to Port Arthur?
“After the American War of Independence Britain could no longer send her convicts to America, so after 1788 they were transported to the Australian colonies…. The convicts sent to Van Diemen’s Land were most likely to be poor young people from rural areas or from the slums of big cities. One in five was a woman. Numbers of children were also transported with their parents. Few returned home.”

And walking through the remains of the colony, from the prison building itself to the church, the asylum, the staff and family housing and the beautiful gardens, you start to get a real sense of how different things were for the convicts as opposed to the officers. Looking out over Carnarvon Bay, it was honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. It must have been such a bittersweet feeling, arriving into this picture-perfect place, knowing that you’d most likely never see freedom again.

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You can read about the rest of the history on the website, but the thing that really surprised me about the site was just how beautiful it was; I had no idea. It’s been really well looked after and restored, but even if it had been left to fall to ruins, the stunning natural setting is something else, particularly in Autumn when the sun is still shining and the leaves are turning…

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Through my eyes: sunrise over Port Arthur, Tasmania

Just a quick little post to end the week  : )  You saw the Port Arthur Motor Inn on Thursday and I’ll show you more of the old convict colony tomorrow, but for now let me show you the view from the grounds when you decide to set your alarm super early, make a cup of tea, and wander out the back of the lodging to watch the sun come up over the historic site…

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Stay & eat here: Port Arthur Motor Inn, Tasmania

Port Arthur Motor Inn
29 Safety Cove Rd, Port Arthur, Tasmania
http://www.portarthur-inn.com.au/

Husband and I decided to spend a few nights in Port Arthur because, well, I dunno. We just did! Being a history nerd, I was really keen on seeing the historic site of the convict settlement, and I read that the Port Arthur Motor Inn was the best place to stay, as it’s the only accommodation that gives you walk-in access to the site, literally a few metres away.

First up, let me say that if you’re a bit precious about your accommodation, this isn’t the place for you. It’s a proper motor inn; it’s not only accommodation, it’s also the site of the local pub. It’s not modern or fancy, but it does have all the essentials (including a small fridge, TV, reverse cycle air con/heater, bathroom with hairdryer, bedding and towels), and the view from the motor inn grounds over the historic site is absolutely unbeatable.

The restaurant does great proper Aussie pub grub – I had a chicken parma with chips and veggies, and it was fantastic! Big servings for decent prices, quick and friendly service as you’d expect from a country town area, and again, the most stunning view out over the grounds as the sun goes down…

Leave any pretentiousness at the door and enjoy the stay at one of the most fabulously located accommodations in Australia!

Through my eyes: road trip – Hobart to Port Arthur

I decided to go with a bit of a theme for the next week; Port Arthur.

Unfortunately, Port Arthur gained attention for all the wrong reasons 20 years ago, in 1996, as the site of Australia’s worst massacre. For personal reasons, that’s not something I want to write about… Instead, I want to talk about what Port Arthur should be known for; it’s one of the absolute most stunning places I’ve ever seen, and the site of one of Australia’s best-kept convict colonies.

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More of that soon, but first we have to get there! We drove from Hobart, which is only about a 90 minute drive, but we decided to drag it out and stop off at as many sweet little towns as possible on the way  : )

We had quite a few stops, including…

Sorell
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Forcett

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Copping
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Bream Creek
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The Federation Chocolate Factory (!!!)

Pirate’s Bay

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Tasman Arch and the blow hole
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Honestly, this was one of the best parts of the trip. Having the car meant that we got to stop off whenever we wanted. Any beautiful photo op we noticed (and there were a HEAP of those!), we pulled over and captured it. Any beautiful scene we drove through, we stopped to enjoy it. Yes, you can absolutely get there quickly; hell, you can even do it as a day trip from Hobart if you want, but why would you when you can take the slow path and enjoy every step?!