Located on a pretty coastal stretch just south of Swansea in the Freycinet National Park, Piermont Retreat stands out in a place where it is difficult to notice anything apart from the sparkling sapphire sea that kisses the shoreline along this famous stretch of East Coast Tasmania.
It was purely by chance that we found this place at all. A random Google led us here, and while a small sign leading up a gravel road had us wondering if we were even in the right place, once cocooned inside this sprawling family estate, it was evident we had found somewhere pretty special.
The main house is a 180 year old homestead that echoes a distinct European feel, complete with potted olive trees, wandering wisteria, and beautiful open fireplace forming the hearth of a grand family home. While already a beguiling space, it was recently reimagined by luminaries Hecker Guthrie, with a combined reception room, exquisitely styled dining room, and a fully stocked gourmet pantry that you are welcome to raid for picnic provisions (for a fee). There is also an award-winning restaurant where the chef collaborates with local growers to craft a best available daily menu plucked fresh from the surrounding land and sea.
The collection of 15 sustainably built 1, 2 and 3 bedroom stone cottages that now dot the sunny seaside plot were progressively built over 25 years by a young local family. And while completely luxurious in design and inclusions, this place is ideal for couples seeking solitude and sanctuary, but families can also feel welcome here, as Piermont exudes a rare warmth that “retreats” seldom offer families.
We opted for the only weatherboard cottage in the collection, mainly because it was closest to the sea and had a rather cute bunk room for the girls to share. It was dark when we first arrived, so swathed in blankets, we sat out on the deck listening to melodic ocean while basking under a canopy of stars that seemed to illuminate the sky here brighter than anywhere we have been. Afterwards, we warmed up beside the cosy open fire (such a novelty for us), and toasted marshmallows until we were delirious on sugar then took it all down a notch in the spa where I sprinkled some locally grown lavender on the water for the girls, while I enjoyed a welcome glass of local Pinot Noir.
The first night I could not resist sleeping with the curtains open; I was like a child awaiting Christmas morning and slept between bouts of nervous anticipation waiting for first light to see where we had landed. And while I knew we were positioned on the curve overlooking Great Oyster Bay from the map, and it would of course be gorgeous, I was not quite prepared for just how breathtaking this place was until first light dusted the pink granite peaks of the Hazards and backlit Schouten Island, leaving me completely breathless but also eager to explore.
While the girls slept, I crept out to wander alone. It was deliciously misty, a combination of fog and sea mist hovering low over the ocean, which lifted as the sun continued to rise, revealing more and more of the pristine beauty of this place, like an enchanting story unfolding. I fell so hard for the weathered boathouse that sits on the southern shoreline, housing brightly coloured kayaks waiting to be taken for a glide. I gathered shells (that I later placed on my daughters pillows as a gift for when they awoke) and stood still a lot, I was spellbound by this place and breathing it all in.
Looking back from the beach at our charming seaside cottage in the first light of the morning, I could see we were the closest of all the little cottages to the sea. The house is simple and romantically weathered, flanked by a generous greying timber deck and sheltered by She Oaks and Gum Trees. The land that Piermont occupies is bordered by Stony River in the north and Cowrie Beach in the south, making it an idyllic playground from which to explore the beguiling shores, bays and of course incredible landscapes of the Freycinet National Park and Peninsula.
Piermont is definitely a retreat, but one that is welcoming, homely and warm. A pool for swimming, tennis court and amphitheatre all add to a perfect summer holiday allure, and while our visit was during winter, we were compensated with a rich, cosy ambience, bon fires on the beach and a glowing fire to return to in our cottage each evening.
Close by we were tempted by Devils Corner Winery, who, alongside their famous wine, are also renowned for delicious cuisine. Or you can pop into Kates Berry Farm, as we often did, for fresh pickings (in season) and delicious ice cream, treats, chocolates and our fav – freeze dried chocolate dipped raspberries.
Swansea is just 3 kms away, where wandering is encouraged with walks around the headland, lessons in the area’s convict and maritime past, and plenty of spots to ponder the beauty of Tasmania’s oldest towns – the only one historically classified that sits right by the sea.
Getting there: Jetstar and Virgin both fly to Hobart and Launceston from major cities in Australia. Alternatively, you can board the Spirit of Tasmania in Melbourne for an approximate 9-hour crossing of the Bass Strait where you’ll arrive in Devonport and self-drive to Swansea.
For more general info on Tasmania, head to: discovertasmania.com.au