ON THE MOVE: DEVONPORT
THIS LIVELY WATERFRONT HUB HAS A GROWING FOOD AND TOURISM SCENE, PLUS PRETTY NATURAL SCENERY.
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.