Tarraleah and the Search for The Fluffy Highland Cows
by Peta Hen
When I was thinking of a rejuvenating weekend getaway for our ten-year wedding anniversary recently, wandering through fields searching for fluffy, longhorned cows wasn’t what I had in mind. But as it turns out, that’s exactly what we needed. Nestled on a mountain top in Tassie’s central highlands is the tiny town of Tarraleah; the place that stole our hearts.
First built in the 1930s by Tasmania’s Hydro Electric Commision as a township for their workforce, Tarraleah is nestled among native alpine forests, rolling fields, steep ravines and huge, steel pipelines. You would think such massive structural elements would detract from the immense beauty of the place, however they, in fact, added to it.
As the winding road out of Ouse climbed up the mountain, the strong scent of fresh eucalyptus and pine was the first taste of what was to come. My hubby and I were a little dubious of how to enter the tiny town at first as there are two turn offs you can take, but as soon as we caught sight of the huge steel pipelines, we knew we were on the right track. We followed them right up to our accommodation for the weekend, Tarraleah Lodge.
On arrival, we were greeted by our host and personal breakfast chef, before being led into the decadent lodge lounge. We were immediately immersed in cosy 1920s decor, wall to wall whisky cabinets and misty mountain top views while sipping our complimentary champagne as we toured the lodge’s facilities.
We booked the King William suite for the weekend because, of course, private outdoor spa bath! I’m always a sucker for one whenever we go away. The large room shared the same boujee decor as the lounge and had its own with a private deck that overlooked the deep ravine beside the town. The weather was cold and gloomy and perfect for spending our first hours in Tarraleah hiding away in the comfort of the lodge.
It was already dusk when we arrived, so we saved exploring the rest of the town for the next day – we only ventured out of the lodge that night for dinner to the Tarraleah pub, a short walk down the hill from the lodge to the main town village. The pub was warm with an amazing beer garden lined with geraniums and spider plants. The food was fantastic, as was the selection of Tasmanian wines and tap beers. They even had their own highland lager, named Fat Cow after the highland cows that had drawn me to Tarraleah in the first place.
Breakfast the next morning was prepared personally for us – poached eggs with all the trimmings and the best mini sausages I’ve ever tasted. All fuelled up, we headed out on our first mission for the day: explore the town. Our wedding anniversary is during Autumn, which turns out to be one of the best times to visit Tarraleah. The trees were in full golden splendor which contrasted beautifully against the bright, pastel-coloured cottages. These were once the homes of the Hydro Electric Commission workers which were repurposed to become part of the numerous accommodation options when Tarraleah was famously bought as a whole in 2005. We chatted with the groundsman who kindly shared with us directions to the various walking tracks, before we set off on our next and most important mission of the weekend: find the fluffy cows. After twenty minutes, we found the gentle, hairy giants lulling about behind the lake along the Quoll track. They paid no mind to us as we gawked and gushed over how cute and fluffy they were, living their best lives amongst the lush, green marshlands.
By the afternoon, the rain had well and truly settled in, however this only enhanced the incredible scenic views as we soaked in the lodge’s open air wooden hot tub which overlooked the valley below. What an end to an incredibly rejuvenating trip. After breakfast the next morning, we bid farewell to the incredible, tiny town, following the same steel pipelines down the mountain while planning our next escape back to Tarraleah: the tiny Tassie town with the fluffy highland cows.