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Time Out's guide to Tasmania's North West

From rolling green farms to rugged coastlines, this is one of Australia's most pristine areas

Photograph: Tourism Tasmania

Tasmania’s North West coast is known for being one of the state’s most prosperous agricultural and farming areas, but it’s becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination. There are huge areas of wilderness that are home to rare and endangered wildlife, scenic coastlines, and small towns packed with independently run shops and restaurants. This is the purest, greenest corner of Tassie; reliable rainfall, geographical isolation and lack of pollution mean that the air here is regularly monitored and recorded as being the cleanest in the world. Combine those environmentally friendly credentials with an abundance of fresh produce and outstanding scenery, and it’s no wonder the North West is thriving. Whether you’re more into boutique accommodation and gourmet food, or backpacking through the bush with your swag and snags, there’s guaranteed to be something that will interest you in the area.

The Chapel, Burnie

A new café in an old church, with plenty of atmosphere and charm. The Chapel was founded as a Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1890, but has now been renovated into a beautiful food and live music venue with a mixture of communal and private tables. They roast their own coffee beans onsite, and do a great eggs benny.

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Cafe Umami, Wynyard

A completely gluten free café with plenty of paleo and raw options, but no compromise on taste. Think dishes like Tassie quinoa risotto with veal chorizo and prawns, or orange and cardamom frosted doughnuts with fig and pistachios. Their juices and smoothies are bursting with colour, as are the artworks on the walls from local makers.

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Black Cow Bistro, Launceston

An upmarket steakhouse in an art deco building that formerly housed a butcher. Run by the same team as local favourite Stillwater, the bistro showcases premium dry aged, free range, grass fed Tasmanian beef. There are oysters and an excellent white fish sashimi available as starters, but as the name would suggest,this place is really all about the steaks.

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Mrs Jones, Devonport

You’ll find some of the best food on the North West Coast in this relaxed space above the Devonport surf club. There are separate menus for the bar and dining room, and a strong wine list with a focus on local varieties. The soft shell crab and chocolate lava cake are both highlights.

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Thirty Three Cups, Ulverstone

A relaxed breakfast and lunch café that is very popular with locals for coffee, milkshakes and cake. Seating is split between smaller tables indoors and larger tables in the outdoor courtyard. Good options for lunch include the homemade baked beans with superb local chorizo, feta and microherbs, or pork belly with Asian slaw and lime soy dressing.

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Coastal Pods, Wynyard

These recently opened pods are made from decommissioned shipping containers, and they’re located right on the banks of the Inglis River. There are two pods, named Port and Starboard, and both are architecturally designed with comfort, style and sustainability in mind. Each has a kitchen, laundry and 2 king size bedrooms., along with a cosy reading nook.

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Duck House, Burnie

Boutique cottage accommodation, filled with beautiful antiques and memorabilia, and opening onto a pretty garden. The Duck House, along with two other properties run by the same team, is centrally located and within easy walking distance of all amenities. Bedrooms are comfortable, and an extensive selection of breakfast provisions is provided. Great value.

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@VDL, Stanley

A unique high-end hotel within the old stone surrounds of the VDL Company Store, built in 1843. Right on the waterfront, and just a short walk away from the historic town centre, @VDL offers two suites and a loft apartment with its own courtyard. Each unit has a spacious lounge area, large comfy bed and deep soak tub with luxury bath products.

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The Winged House, Table Cape

Fully serviced luxury accommodation with some of the best views in Tasmania. This architecturally award winning house provides a comfortable retreat from city life.  Overlooking the Bass Strait and Rocky Cape National Park, it has two double bedrooms, gourmet kitchen, and a Japanese bath. Fully stocked with breakfast goods, along with local fresh produce and Tasmanian wine.

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Ellie’s Place on City Park, Launceston

Self catering accommodation in a beautiful and lovingly restored Victorian house in the inner city area of Glebe. Just across the road from Launceston’s city park, Ellie’s Place can take eight guests over four bedrooms. It has also two living areas, two bathrooms, a study and fully equipped kitchen. Ten minute walk from the city centre.

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Visit Stanley

Stanley is a restored Bass Strait fishing village full of brightly painted cottages. Built around the Stanley Nut, a 152m high solidified lava lake from an extinct volcano, it’s full of charm and character. Walk up the Nut or take the chairlift, before exploring some of the shops and galleries in the historic town centre. The Cow ‘n’ Calf Gallery of wilderness photography and The Angel’s Share whisky and gin merchants (www.theangelsshare.net.au) are both worth a look. For the best breakfast in town head to Moby Dick’s and for lunch or dinner try Xanders on Church.

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Cataract Gorge, Launceston

Just fifteen minutes from the centre of Launceston is Cataract Gorge: an astonishing urban reserve of bushland and cliffs by the Esk River. There are walking and hiking trails to suit all levels of experience, the world’s longest single span chairlift, and a free outdoor swimming pool. Wander the gardens full of peacocks, enjoy a meal in the restaurant, or just sit quietly and enjoy this tiny slice of wilderness in the heart of the city.

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Explore the Tarkine

If you drive west from Stanley, you reach the surf beaches of Marrawah and the town of Arthur River, which provides a great starting point for exploring Australia’s greatest expanse of cool, temperate rainforest. The Tarkine has everything: coastal heathlands concealing Aboriginal middens, exposed mountains, intricate cave systems, beaches, forests and a plethora of wildlife. There are options for exploring on foot, or by bike, car, air, boat or guided tour. Whichever you choose it’ll be a memorable experience in a unique environment.

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Makers’ Workshop, Burnie

Part contemporary museum, part arts centre, and part visitor information point, the Makers’ Workshop is one of Burnie’s newest visitor attractions, housed in a contemporary building by the waterfront. Built to honour the city’s history, as well as celebrating its present day, makers, innovators and artists, it won the Tasmanian Architectural Award in May 2010. Depending on when you visit there may be one or several makers onsite, who you are welcome to watch. You can also try paper making, before enjoying a cheese tasting in the shop, and excellent coffee and brownies in the café.

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Tamar Valley wine tasting

There are 32 wineries within driving distance in the Tamar Valley, which is the oldest wine region in Tasmania. It’s beautiful scenery, with vineyards tucked up against orchards, forests and pastures. Highlights are the Josef Chromy cellar door and restaurant just fifteen minutes from Launceston, and the Jansz Wine Room at Piper’s Brook, showcasing one of Australia’s most respected premium sparkling wines.

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