Places of the Heart: Gai Waterhouse

From its B&Bs to wilderness to award-winning dining, racing's Gai Waterhouse rates Tasmania as the jewel in Australia's crown and can't wait to take her grandchildren there for holidays.

TASMANIA is a place I love to visit.

It has a real feeling of Australia and there's something about it that plays on my heart. The cities, climate, hospitable people, quality of the food – it's the jewel in the crown of Australia and strikes a chord with my inner being.

The first time I went to Tasmania was with my Dad, the thoroughbred trainer T.J. (Tommy) Smith, when I was in my teens. He was having a holiday from racing, it was December yet people had fireplaces lit everywhere we went and I remember thinking, "This is the coldest place in the world".

I've been back about six times, mainly with my husband, Rob, and friends and every time I go I like it a little bit more. We have so much fun and always seem to be laughing when we're there.

We stay in bed and breakfast places, visit amazing wineries and restaurants, and I love the art and woodwork we've bought from artists and artisans. We've done quite a bit of walking in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, strolled about in central Hobart and Launceston and driven the spectacular Mount Jukes Scenic Drive south of Queenstown on the far-west coast. The Queenstown Golf Club course is unbelievable: I haven't played there because you have to be really good at golf as the balls can simply blow away.

I haven't been to Tasmania for about 18 months and that brings me great sadness. I'd really like to take my grandchildren there one day. My son, Tom, and daughter-in-law, Hoda, are about to have a baby so I look forward to doing that.

This series of articles produced with support from Tourism Australia.

The story Places of the Heart: Gai Waterhouse first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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