Heading from the west of the island, from Mole Creek or Cradle Mountain, we stopped by The Honey Farm in Chudleigh for a true sweet education. A small museum at the back of the shop had us captivated for a good half an hour, discovering about the life cycle of a bee, their roles, hierarchy and honey production. A cleverly designed system of bee boxes were set up behind a glass window, next a tube through the wall where the bees ‘commute’ to work in the honeycomb that is set in a glass box inside the store. You can watch the bees hard at work producing honey here.
The store offers tastings of dozens of different types of honey, from leatherwood, Manuka, blue gum, rose, prickly pine, iron bark, stringy bark, to fruit honeys infused with mango, raspberry and apple, spiced honeys such as vanilla, cinnamon and ginger, and flavored honeys such as Cajun Honey, pepperberry honey and lemon myrtle. Honey nougat and flavored honey ice creams, along with honey and beeswax cosmetics, candles, soaps, and bee paraphernalia are all for sale. It is a sweet tooths paradise and a diabetics nightmare – but if you like honey even in the slightest there will be something here for you.
About twenty minutes east on the highway we found 41º South Aquaculture, a small salmon farm where you can have some complimentary tastings of their mildly herbed hot smoked salmon, salmon rillettes made with Tasmanian native pepper, ginseng spice mix and ginseng flavored honey. For AU$10 per person they will give you a bag of fish food and you can feed the salmon and take a self guided walking tour of their farm and wetlands, well worth doing if the weather is nice. You might even see some of their larger salmon jump out of the water or do a (fairly laboured) flip for the fish food.
We head further down towards Launceston; there are two necessary culinary stops along Bass Highway. First up was the Ashgrove Cheese Farm Shop in Elizabethtown. Set amongst farm scenery, the cheese shop has a tasting room, viewings of the cheese making and cafe. The shop features over 40 Tasmanian made cheeses ranging from Lavender, Wild Wasabi, Premium Vintage to Rubicon. They are all available to taste in the central tasting station, and available for purchase in various sizes.
A bit further down we had brunch at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm. For a raspberry fan this place is heaven – raspberry lattes, raspberry chocolate french toast, eggs with raspberry hollandaise, raspberry sausages, chocolates, sauces, jams…. don’t forget the beetroot and chilli mudcake with raspberry sauce, raspberry pancakes, raspberry sticky pudding, raspberry icecream, waffles, crepes and scones. Eric was only a tiny bit less thrilled than me. I went for the most raspberry flavour possible. Raspberry Lattes are A+.
The cute cafe is a delight to visit in winter, with its stone floor and crackling fire. A great feature that the cafe offers is different sizes of their meals. I have never understood why this isn’t common – we all like different sized meals but don’t always want to select the big breakfast if we are hungry, or just a salad or soup if we don’t want much. We warmed up with Sweet Potato Waffles with onion marmalade, scrambled eggs and bacon (AU$14.70-18.90) and Poached eggs with grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach drizzled with raspberry hollandaise (AU$15-19).