I open the glass doors of my stone cottage to reach its terrace. I’ve got a cheeseboard of snacks in one hand. Olive trees sway in the gentle breeze, water laps at the shoreline, and the purple shadow of a mountain range looms beyond.
It looks and feels like I’m in a moody Tuscany, Italy. Instead, I’m a lot closer to home – in Tasmania, specifically, at Piermont Retreat, an accommodation and restaurant property in Swansea on the East Coast, an hour and 45 minute drive from Hobart. And I’m feasting on complimentary, locally-made cheeses, olives and crackers I found in my cottage’s mini-fridge.
I’m on a trip with walking and hiking app AllTrails, discovering the area’s trails, most notably Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park, about an hour’s drive from Piermont. The retreat, I’m quickly discovering, is the ideal place to base yourself when exploring this corner of Tassie, both in terms of its proximity to the area’s attractions and its appeal post-hike.
Originally purchased by German forester Ruprecht von Haniel-Niethammer in the mid-nineties, the farmland property was transformed into a European lodge-style retreat, which remains today. Cottages made from sustainably sourced local stone and timber were constructed.
“Ruprecht envisioned Piermont as an Australian sanctuary parallel to a retreat he’d built on the same latitude in rural Patagonian Argentina,” says Stacey Kirkby, head of events and marketing for Piermont. “Today, under the stewardship of Ruprecht’s daughter and current owner Marie Von Haniel, Piermont stands as a testament to her father’s vision.”
The retreat comprises 29 accommodations, from one-bedroom cottages, where I stayed, to three-bedroom residences. It’s set against a private beach along Great Oyster Bay that you can kayak and framed inland by 150-year-old pine trees. In keeping with the European theme, it features a stone amphitheatre lined with cypress trees that can be used for weddings and events.
Next to the amphitheatre is the retreat’s restaurant, the Homestead, a heritage-listed home built in 1838. I joined the group outside the Homestead one evening before dinner to watch a purple and pink sunset and peek at Piermont’s pool in a valley next to the restaurant. It’s not heated, so I didn’t venture in, though I did do an “ice bath”, dunking my head in the bay.
At The Homestead, you can dine on local oysters, beer-steamed mussels, house-made flatbreads, local cheeses and charcuterie boards paired with Tassie wines.
“The Homestead was built in 1838 by the site’s pioneer Dorset gentleman Robert Webber,” says Kirkby. “Many generations have spent time at Piermont, all with a tale to tell. It’s experienced numerous transformations, with its latest incarnation expertly designed by Hecker Guthrie, featuring spaces that blend modern design, local craftmanship and European charm.”
Despite the many walks near Piermont, it was in fact designed so you don’t need to leave. After a leisurely breakfast at The Homestead, you could fill your day with kayaking on the bay, swimming in the retreat’s pool, playing tennis on its court and wandering its grounds.
“Retreat to the privacy of your own sanctuary, with the fireplace roaring, a game of chess, while indulging in local delicacies from the onsite Pantry and wine collected from nearby vineyards,” says Kirkby.