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Small Town Tasmania

Gavin from Australia

Tasmania is rich in secrets - around every corner of its historic towns are harboured stories and tales of years gone by. Its full heritage and lively history are indicative of its interesting past, a past just waiting to be explored by intrepid travellers such as yourself. And, while the big cities of Tasmania are a great starting point to learning about the state and its past, it is in the smaller countryside settlements that you will discover an altogether quieter, serene and more beautiful insight into the history of Tassy. The bonus of visiting these towns, of course, is that you can simultaneously enjoy the open spaces of the lush green countryside and the quiet serenity of the wide Tasmanian skies.

As far as small towns in Tassy go, Forth definitely ranks as one of the most scenic and also one of the oldest. Ideally situated on the banks of the River Forth, it is a 13 kilometer drive from the city of Devonport. This is where the ferry, the Spirit of Tasmania, docks from Melbourne ... for many it is their first port of call in Tasmania. Devonport is a popular choice for entering the state, because most of the main attractions lie within a day's drive from there. Forth is, of course, just around the corner, and is a great place to kick off your holiday around Tasmania. There is not only the Forth River and its lush valley to explore, but also the nearby attractions of the northern Tassy coastline, as well as similar small settlements lying nearby.

Forth was the second settlement in the county of Devon, springing up in the 1840's even before Devonport was settled. With a population of just 350 people at the last census, its the kind of town where everyone knows everyone and visitors are made to feel especially welcome. While most of the original buildings have long since been replaced, there is still a strong sense of history about this old town. At the center of this history is the forthpub Historic Bridge Hotel, which was one of the first buildings in the town and still stands today with very few changes made to its structure. It was first licensed and opened in 1872, and has managed to retain the old-world charm and atmosphere of those bygone eras. Heritage listed and regarded as a national treasure, today it is regarded as one of Tasmania's leading live music venues, with something always going on here. You won't find a better place to meet up for a beer or a chat, and the country cooked meals perfectly complement an evening out here. Try the Forth Pub Pie, which is renowned worldwide!

The Forth Village Markets are superb for bargain hunters, having many unique stalls with local goods and handmade crafts as well as new goods at bargain prices. It's a social meeting point, too, with morning teas, lunches and dinners available, so a trip to the markets is a good opportunity to meet some of the locals! Another journey worth making, especially if you are fond of good views, is the drive up Braddons Road to Braddons Lookout, which has stunning panoramic views over the Forth Valley and out towards Turners Beach and Leith. These are tiny coastal settlements located where the River Forth meets the ocean. Attracting just a few visitors each year, these quaint coastal settlements are up there with the best-kept secrets of Tasmania! Fishermen will be especially enamoured, as the salmon and mullet run thick and fast in the river mouth of the Forth.

If water-based activities are what drives you, then its essential you visit Lake Barrington, which is a 20 kilometer long expanse of water formed by the Devils Gate Dam wall. It is renowned for its 2 kilometer long international standard rowing course, where many competitions are held. There is a large recreation area hugging the foreshore which is home to a diversity of wildlife, and accommodates visitors perfectly with picnic, recreation and restroom facilities. Its perfect for those long summer days, and if you wish to stick around a bit longer, then there are campsites around the northern edge of the lake.

So, there you have it. As a destination, Forth and its surroundings offers everything you would want for a quiet and relaxing break. And the big city lights of Devonport are not far off if you fancy indulging in a slightly more urban approach to part of your holiday!

Author: Author's Notes: Gavin Wyatt is a journalist with a passion for travel. Originally from Zambia, he has traveled around the world to end up on the sunny shores of Australia. Gavin is a travel writer with Discovery Rentals (Australia Car Rental)

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