ON THE MOVE: DEVONPORT

THIS LIVELY WATER­FRONT HUB HAS A GROW­ING FOOD AND TOURISM SCENE, PLUS PRETTY NAT­U­RAL SCENERY.

Country Style - - CONTENTS - WORDS VIR­GINIA IMHOFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MARNIE HAWSON ILLUSTRATION DANIELLA GER­MAIN

Why this water­front town is draw­ing at­ten­tion from tourists and sea chang­ers alike re­cently, for its grow­ing food and small busi­ness scene, along­side its nat­u­ral at­trac­tions.

WHEN THE BASS STRAIT ferry Spirit of Tas­ma­nia makes land­fall at Devonport, for many pas­sen­gers it’s their first sight of the is­land state. Devonport is the gate­way to Tas­ma­nia’s north-west, but in the past vis­i­tors tended to dis­em­bark and im­me­di­ately hit the high­way south­wards. That’s no longer the case and th­ese days more peo­ple are tak­ing time to ex­plore this small coastal city’s at­trac­tions or to make it their base for wider ex­plo­rations. Oth­ers are dis­cov­er­ing that Devonport of­fers an en­vi­able life­style and mov­ing to here to raise fam­i­lies, start a busi­ness or in­vest in the re­gion can put them ahead fi­nan­cially. Devonport has a pop­u­la­tion of about 25,000 and is lo­cated 257 kilo­me­tres north-west of Ho­bart. It strad­dles the es­tu­ary of the Mersey River — the hub of the Mersey Val­ley agri­cul­tural re­gion, home to some of the most pro­duc­tive soils in the world. From here, it’s a short drive to Tas­ma­nian Wilder­ness World Heritage-listed land­scapes such as Cra­dle Moun­tain-lake St Clair Na­tional Park, Lake Bar­ring­ton and beau­ti­ful beaches. A groundswell of new ven­tures in the food and bev­er­age scene has en­er­gised Devonport re­cently, in­clud­ing the opening of Provi­dore Place, a food pavil­ion that forms part of the $250-mil­lion Liv­ing City ur­ban re­de­vel­op­ment plan. The plan is to open up the city cen­tre to the Mersey River and cre­ate a tourist base and com­mu­nity hub. Provi­dore Place al­ready hosts mar­kets show­cas­ing pro­duce from the re­gion and is the new home of South­ern Wild Gin Dis­tillery, es­tab­lished by Ge­orge Burgess in 2014. His Dasher and Fisher gins are in­spired by wild botan­i­cals and pro­duce from this re­gion. Ge­orge en­thuses about the sense of op­ti­mism in the air. “There are a lot of suc­cess sto­ries in the re­gion and the Liv­ing City project will be a draw­card and al­low us to shine a spot­light on those suc­cess sto­ries. There’s a great buzz of en­ergy in Devonport at the mo­ment.” An­other long-time lo­cal, Vonda Ma­son, who owns Mr Wolf home­wares store and the Tas­ma­nian Food and Wine Con­ser­va­tory restau­rant, says Devonport is at­tract­ing a steady flow of peo­ple that are mov­ing from the main­land. “We’re get­ting an in­ter­est­ing lot of peo­ple coming here, in­clud­ing writ­ers and artists. The big­gest move lately are peo­ple from WA and Queens­land who are sick of the cli­mate, and where their prop­erty prices are go­ing through the roof. They can see if they sell their prop­erty there, and buy here, they will have money left for a great life­style. We are cen­tral, we have the ferry and the air­port 10 min­utes from town. You can jump on a plane and be in Mel­bourne in an hour and go any­where from there, or you can jump in the car and be in our beau­ti­ful coun­try­side in no time.” > For more in­for­ma­tion, visit dis­cover­tas­ma­nia.com.au

The re­stored Julie Burgess ketch sails off the shore of Devonport, north­ern Tas­ma­nia.

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