Wine-tasting, history and a guided coastal walk at Bangor in Tasmania »
To commemorate the European discovery of Tasmania
By Kerry Scambler
The sea was calm with just a light breeze moving the warm, morning air. It was quite different to the same day 374 years ago when the carpenter from Abel Tasman’s expedition swam through rough waters to plant the Dutch flag above a pebbly beach in South East Tasmania, the place he then named Van Diemen's Land.
As we gazed along the rugged coastline, a view little changed in the centuries since, we heard about Dutch explorer’s discovery of Australia’s island state in 1642.
It is the 3rd December 2016 and we are mixing history, wine and a walk through bushland to the spectacular coastline on the Forestier Peninsula in South Eastern Tasmania. Ingredients for a perfect Saturday’s activities if you ask me.
Matt and Vanessa Dunbabin are the fifth generation of their family to farm Bangor – the 6,000ha property that encompasses the bay where that flag was raised – and today we’re here for the launch of the wine that bears Tasman’s name.
A monument, not in itself exactly the most artistic of its type, was built by the Royal Society of Tasmania in 1923 and it is beside this historic memory that the first bottle of the Bangor Abel Tasman Pinot Noir will be presented.
Our journey started at the Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed in Dunalley, yes, the same Dunalley that experienced catastrophic fires in January 2013. From the Shed’s balcony the view across the canal and to the hills behind the township can’t help but prompt an imagining of the experience the locals endured.
Today the scene is very different with only a few scars remaining, and the buzz of the first visitors to the Shed and a welcome coffee moving the mind forward to our own experience ahead.
As we board the Dunalley School Bus with the friendly Stacey at the wheel, Matt starts the story in the vineyard, explaining the varieties planted for this particular climate (pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris). He also mentioned the very lucky escape the vines had in 2013 with only the outer plants being harmed. These are now at the heart of their wine and tourism business.
As we drive along the dirt road through the property, Bangor’s flock of some 8,000 sheep are enjoying the lush spring growth along with the rather happy looking beef cattle. It’s the same pattern further up the East Coast of Tasmania – on historic properties sheep and cattle seem to merge seamlessly with vineyards to provide diversified and successful farming businesses and keep the generations going.
We arrive almost at our destination – it’s just a short walk to the top of the hill… and then a longer one down to sea level through dry sclerophyll bushland. This time Matt is explaining the history of tree-felling in the area, a product of which is the road and track network. These days what land is not devoted to the farm is dedicated to conservation with covenants placed by the Dunbabins on particularly special areas which are managed for both natural and historical heritage. In fact a third of the property is protected in conservation reserves.
Now, getting back to the historical side, from the old shelter set up for our wine-tasting near Tasman Bay, we walk out to the headland with its views to Maria Island and Hellfire Bluff. It’s here the story of Tasmania’s European discovery starts.
It was fascinating to stand and imagine back 374 years to how the ships would have looked out in the bay, what the coastline would have looked like to the sailors on board and how the carpenter, flag pole in hand, clambered up the rocky shore to place it for the Dutch, proclaiming Van Diemen's Land.
We meander back to the wooden shelter where Vanessa has set up some cheese platters in readiness for our wine-tasting. Each name of the seven wines has its own tale and place in local history and as we sip, Matt regales these stories.
A delicious sparkling, two pinot gris, a chardonnay and a riesling then a pinot are enjoyed and then it’s time to make our way to the monument for the official part of proceedings – the launch of the Abel Tasman Bangor Pinot Noir 2014.
With glasses clinking and cameras clicking, our small group raised a toast to Abel Tasman and his crew, especially the carpenter!
Our tour ended back at the Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed with us each taking home a bottle of the feature wine along with some new history knowledge and a reinforced enthusiasm for Tasmanian wine.
Tasting Tasmanian wine and cheese sitting in a bush hut on the spectacular coastline of the Forestier Peninsula whilst celebrating the island’s history… life for us doesn’t get much better!
About the tour
The Tasman Bay Guided Walk and Wine Tour was a held for the launch of Abel Tasman Bangor Pinot Noir 2014. It was a small group tour hosted by Matt and Vanessa Dunbabin, the current generation farming and caring for the Bangor property.
The wine for the 375th anniversary in 2017 is already being nurtured and a repeat tour is being planned. If you’d like to be part of that tour, get on Bangor’s mailing list or find them on Facebook to keep in touch.
Kerry and her partner self-funded their tour.
- East Coast and Tasman Peninsula (TAS)
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