Tasmania’s number plates say “Explore the Possibilities” and, with the opening of Peppers Silo Hotel in Launceston, Tassie tourism will only expand. Launceston is Australia’s third oldest city after Sydney and Hobart with a population of just over 100,000. Property developer, Errol Stewart, has been instrumental in the transformation of the Kings Wharf grain silos from an industrial site to a luxurious hotel, well located on the banks of the Tamar River in Invernay and a fifteen minute walk to the CBD.
The official opening took place on June 1st with over a thousand dignitaries and locals present for the ‘cutting of the ribbon’. The project, including a large children’s playground, was supported by the state government and is expected to receive maximum visitors, especially during the summer months. Costing around 30 million dollars, there are 70 employees, an enormous, elegant lounge room and a huge public deck facing directly towards the Tamar. There are 108 rooms, all featuring river vistas although divided into Tamar River rooms and Gorge River rooms. The special opening deal for a room at Peppers Silo starts at $199 including breakfast and runs until December this year.
Occasionally, in hotels around the world, there are welcome dogs at reception to meet and greet. Archie, the adorable black Labrador, does that and more at Peppers Silo. In training with Guide Dogs of Tasmania for two and a half years, he remained too excited around other dogs so the decision was made to allow him to take up his new career – that of Canine Ambassador. Archie greets patrons on arrival, shakes their hand, accepts their pats and helps the concierge with the morning paper run to the rooms.
The sophisticated ‘international’ bar, Woody’s, serves drinks well into the night and offers a good variety of cocktails. The main restaurant, Grain, is looked after by Peter Twitchet (Head Chef) and Massimo Mele (Food Director) offering a variety of dishes including an entree of raw salmon, wasabi leaf, spring onion and ginger. With all the regional produce and wine provided by their valued Tasmanian producers, Grain is extremely proud of its food and beverage. It’s all first class and authentically local as much of the product was tried and tested by the food director and staff who met with the local producers on their properties.
Other attractions to the immediate area will soon include the children’s park, an international university and improved greening landscape along the Tamar River with a waterfront path directly to the city centre via Customs House and James Boag Brewery.
Of the 108 rooms, 14 have balconies while the rest have large windows with vistas to the Tamar River. There are two penthouses and several adjoining rooms, all stylishly designed with soft hues and modern, user friendly bathrooms. The beds are firm and the pillows soft. The safes are simple to use and the TVs have more on the menu than most. New release movies are free (I watched Molly’s Game – eight out of 10) and CNN and BBC news is readily available. There are plenty of outlets for IT gear and wi-fi is free.
Named Grain after the wheat and grain that used to be stored there until the 1960s, it serves the most well presented and delicious food I’ve had for a while. The staff is totally attentive and the breakfast has so much fresh variety I didn’t know where to start – local eggs, local honey, home made bread.
Although there’s still some shape and sights of silos, the hotel is light and bright and very welcoming to locals as well as tourists. A printed note in your room will ensure a happy stay if Archie has anything to do with it. It says “I look forward to getting to know you better and please visit me again soon.” Signed “Archie the Silo dog.” •
Photography supplied by Peppers Silo Hotel
Located in northern Tasmania, the vibrant riverside city of Launceston is the state’s second major city after Hobart. Its stunning landscape, comprising of famous Cataract Gorge, Tamar River and Tamar Valley vineyards, combined with its excellent food and wine, cultural offerings and country charm make it a wonderful year-round destination.
What to do
- As one of Australia’s oldest cities, Launceston has one of the best-preserved historic cityscapes in the country, featuring beautiful Colonial and Victorian architecture and parks. Step back in time and take a historic walking tour through the city, learning about its past and those who made their mark on it.• You can also do a tour of the historic Boag’s Brewery, founded in 1883. The 90-minute experience includes an in-depth look at the brewing process, followed by a tasting of James Boag’s award winning beers, and some of Tasmania’s finest cheeses.
- Borrow a free ARTBIKE from Design Tasmania and pedal your way around the city’s cultural hotspots, including Australia’s largest regional gallery Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Sawtooth, Gallery Pejean and 1842 Gallery. You’ll get a helmet, lock and map and there’s no fee or booking policy.
- Take an easy 15-minute walk from the city centre along the banks of Tamar River into the beautiful Cataract Gorge. In addition to historic walking paths and stunning scenery, you’ll also find a kiosk, restaurant, swimming pool, rolling lawns and a rotunda, a footbridge and a chairlift across the river (a must-do), as well as peacocks and wallabies at dusk. You can also opt to cruise into the Gorge from Launceston’s waterfront with Cataract Gorge Cruises.
- Take a scenic road-trip. Follow the Tamar River north through Tamar Valley wine region, stopping at vineyards, orchards and pretty riverside villages along the way. Check out Beaconsfield, a historic gold-mining town with a colourful past, right in the heart of Tamar Valley. Continue north and stop by picturesque Beauty Point where you can check out the world’s first seahorse aquarium, or head to George Town, one of Australia’s first settlements with a rich maritime history. For nature and wildlife lovers, nearby Narawntapu National Park provides many opportunities to see Australia’s unique animals.