Though it has a population of around 500, Elizabeth Town is one of those places that if you blink you might miss it. But if you do miss it, you will miss out on some of the best gourmet produce of Tasmania's north-west, because Elizabeth Town at the heart of a productive agricultural region producing dairy products and small fruits.
It is a great place to stop as it is the home to Ashgrove cheese factory and Christmas Hills Raspberry farm. Neither are to be missed, especially if you are on the road and feeling peckish. At one you can sample some tasty cheeses and buy some to take home; at the other you can stop for breakfast, lunch or any other reason you can think of and enjoy the taste of fresh raspberries.
Where Is it?: Bass Highway between Devonport and Launceston.
Visitor Information Centre: River Road, Bells Parade, Latrobe. Ph (03) 6421 4699
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On a farm that has been in the Bennett family since the late 19th century, a few kilometres from Elizabeth Town on Bass Highway, you'll find Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm - a true cheese lover's delight! With fresh-bottled milk, decadent farm ice-cream, creamy butter and of course, an array of fine cheeses, Ashgrove s busy farm shop has a constant stream of tourists popping in to not only sample the local produce, but also to watch it all being made.
Located around 4km outside of Elizabeth Town, the factory behind the shop is where milk and cream are bottled, while 200 metres up the hill, you'll find a dairy where part of the herd of predominantly Friesian and Jersey cows are milked. Ashgrove actually has three farms, each with its own dairy, but all within sight of the farm shop. The furthest the milk has to travel for bottling or transforming into cream, butter, creme fraiche or cheese is about five kilometres.
The land around Ashgrove is some of Australia's most fertile and, with a temperate climate and plenty of water, it is perfect for dairying. The cows graze outside year round and from late spring until autumn, the paddocks supply all their food, apart from the small amount of grain they eat twice a day to keep them amused while they are on the rotary milking machine.
When you've just come off the Spirit of Tasmania ferry and you've eager to sample the delights that Tasmania has to offer, a great place to start is Christmas Hills Rasperrty Farm and Cafe at Elizabeth Town. The house speciality - Morning Craving - is my absolute favourite. The cafe is open all day, and serves everything from light snacks to full meals. At the counter you can purchase from a range raspberry-based products, all made from raspberries grown right there in Elizabeth Town.
Anvers Confectionery was commenced as a cottage industry November 1989, by Igor Van Gerwen, who came to this country from Belgium. In 1991 Igor was approached by a Japanese businessman who ordered a one of order of 3000Kg of truffles. As Igor did not have the facility to produce such a big order, the Japanese Gentleman paid the order in advance so that a proper factory could be build and staff trained. These rest, as they say, is history. House of Anvers is now a flourishing small business, with a product range including everything from hand made chocolate truffles, chocolate oranges, fudge to moulded pralines. Location: 9025 Bass Highway, Latrobe.
In season or out of season, you can call in at The Cherry Shed and enjoy the taste of local cherries any time of the year. The cherry products available from The Cherry Shed are all made on site from their own fruit, and from their own orchard. A point of interest in the restaurant are the columns which have been paved with cherry stones, and the tables with cherry motifs.
In The Area
Situated 53 km south east of Devonport and 51 km west of Launceston on Bass Highway, Deloraine is a delightful village in the valley of the Meander River. Deloraine has many heritage buildings, both in its main street and surrounding areas. St Marks Church across the river is particularly picturesque. Up the hill behind the hotel is the birthplace of Admiral Sir John Collins, whose brilliant tactics while captain of HMAS Sydney in 1941 sank the Italian warship Bartolomeo Colleoni in the first cruiser battle of World War II.
Often described by visitors as a hidden treasure, somewhere that they have stumbled across, Westbury is a pretty English-style village on the Great Western Tiers tourist route between Devonport and Launceston. A village green, lots of tree-lined streets, old courtyards and stables, elegant old inns and a feast of charming old buildings means a visitor could easily spend a day just wandering around the streets.
A classic Georgian village and classified historic town, Westbury was developed as a military garrison and the troops were barracked around what today is the Village Green, reputedly one of the few traditional village greens in Australia. Prisoners were put in stocks on the green.
A rural inland town in Tasmania s north west, Railton promotes itself as the Town of Topiary - which is the art of shaping bushes and trees by careful pruning to resemble familiar objects such as animals. The idea to use topiary to bring visitors to the town birthed in the late 1990s. It began when local business owner Neil Hurley created Railton s first character topiary at his shop Looking Glass Cottage - A horse and farmer working an old plough - a living monument to the pioneering farmers of the district.
Today there are over 100 individual topiary in the town many forming their own story or scene, like the topiary service men and women to be placed at the cenotaph in town. Railton is 14 km south via Railton Road.
A rural inland town in Tasmania s north west, Sheffield is known as the Town of Murals because of the many murals that decorate the walls of buildings around the town.
Names like Promised Land, Paradise and No Where Else were used to encapsulate the beauty of the region. Visitors today believe this still rings true!View rich agricultural fields, rolling green hills and natural vistas when journeying to Sheffield, Cradle Mountain, Wilmot and Railton.
The Great Western Tiers are the northern face of the Tasmanian Central Plateau, which rises up to 1420m above sea level and is dominated by Cradle Mountain. In the foothills of the Great Western Tiers can be found a wide range of attractions both man made and natural which can be explored on this drive.
Allow a full day for the drive; add additional time if you are contemplating taking any of the bushwalks in the area or spending more time than a quick visit. The Great Western Tiers are the gateway to Tasmania's best known National Parks - Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair and Walls Of Jerusalem - as well as an alternative route to the west coast of Tasmania.