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Mice Net : August 2009
tasmania a surprise Landing at Hobart airport, it was soon obvious I was on a megafamil with 22 delegates chosen from over 70 who had applied. Most had never been to Tasmania, and some thought it suited only small meetings and events, but those ideas were about to be blown out of the blue water. We had flown in from Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane on a cool clear morning, (“thought it always rained”, someone remarked). We boarded a large coach and within five minutes we were downing sparkling wine and oysters – was it breakfast or brunch? Who cares. Looking out over Barilla Bay it was great to put a face to the name of the tasty mollusc I’d savoured in better mainland restaurants. Our first surprise: Barilla Bay is not merely an oyster lease, it has serious acreage under the cool Southern Ocean, conducts farm tours and shucking demonstrations, plus it hosts corporate events for 20 to 250 guests in its panoramic restaurant and private Pearl Room. A little bubbly encourages early bonding between this disparate group of PCOs and meetings planners. Alas, we’re soon to be separated. Second surprise was that TCB had pre-arranged to split the group in two – 13 covering Hobart, 10 bound for the East Coast led by Claire McLaren of TCB and Suzanne Hart (DMC by SHE) including your correspondent. We were being routed on the basis of business interests: small I 98 mice.net t may be perceived as a small island off the mainland, but they think big in Tasmania, eager to dispel any misconception that this is just a boutique meetings destination. at every turn In tIght economIc times an overseas famil might seem extravagant, unless it’s to tasmania, where 22 mice.net readers and writer graeme Kemlo were hosted by tcB. STORY and phOTOS BY graeme kemlo meetings and incentives to the east, large corporate and association venues and experiences around Hobart. Still effervescent from our earlier tipple, we push on to Meadowbank winery where there’s more of Tasmania’s famed liquid export, but this one comes with a twist. After a tour, managing director Gerald Ellis, a former sheep farmer and now one of Australia’s most successful wine entrepreneurs, gathers us around a roaring fire in the Barrel Room (seats 250 banquet-style) for an entertaining dissertation titled: “How to be a wine snob”. Everybody is laughing, perhaps in embarrassment at past viticultural faux pas. But there’s a lesson despite our levity: a fabulous line to impress friends (or real wine snobs): “this wine’s got a hole in the middle palate”. Meadowbank is a versatile venue with interesting spaces apart from the barrel room with its attached outdoor terrace (170 banquet). It boasts a private art-filled board meeting space, Tower Gallery (22 dining); cellar (50 tasting); plus the quirky loft which houses art and poetry installation, The Flawed History of Tasmanian Wine, in a permanent woodcut at floor level (80 cocktail). The minibus scoops us up, onto the next adventure – Redbanks Fish & Field at Nugent, 30 minutes from the airport. Here on 400 acres Lindsay White has established a “boy’s own adventure” - fly and lure fishing, clay target shooting, archery, aqua golf, rifle shooting – but they underestimate the sporting prowess of our girls ABOVE: Redbanks’ Lindsay White instructing.