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Exclusive access to Tasmania’s wilderness on a luxury catamaran

Discover the untamed wilderness of Tasmania’s southwest on Odalisque III, a luxurious one-of-a-kind boutique catamaran with On Board Expeditions.

After a 50-minute flight from Hobart, the seaplane skims across glassy water, and I catch sight of skipper Pieter van der Woude standing on the deck of his gleaming new catamaran. With a flagpole flying the Red Ensign, used by ships registered in Australia, intricate Indigenous art on the hull and nipaluna/Hobart painted on the stern, not only was Odalisque III clearly built locally, but connection to place is woven into every part of this classy vessel. “We want to highlight local artisans and producers,” Van der Woude says proudly – he hung up his flippers and snorkel as an abalone diver to start small-scale tourism operations. Little did he know that his venture with On Board would go on to take out gold at the 2023 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards for Best New Tourism Business.

What to expect on board Odalisque III

The new expedition-cruiser Odalisque III has been custom-built to offer a new level of luxury boutique accommodation. It provides unparalleled design made for just 12 guests. Six luxe cabins all feature queen sized beds with private ensuites. Grand windows offer panoramic views, meaning you, literally, wake each day to a different view of Tasmania’s coast. While décor is a nod to the dramatic colours of the southwest or the soft, sandy hues of the east coast. Bed linen is screen printed with Tasmanian botanicals like kelp and a rare flowering holly, lomatia Tasmanica.

From picture windows in the cabins framing the wilderness to striking art installations, organic toiletries made from the oil of Tasmanian trees, and handmade sea-green coloured crockery, it has a luxury wilderness lodge vibe – on water. So much so, the Odalisque III is already a member of the prestigious Luxury Hotels of Australia and partnered with Saffire Freycinet for an ultimate coast-to-coast experience.

Discover World-Heritage Wilderness

On Board’s exclusive Port Davey mooring offers unique access to remote locations inaccessible by road. Port Davey is part of the Southwest National Park, filled with a stunning rugged landscape between the Southern Ocean and Bathurst Harbour. Tailored itineraries explore the wilderness on foot and by boat. Four- or six-night itineraries include daily guided walks, shore excursions, and return scenic wilderness flights from Hobart to Port Davey.

And with two tinnies (tenders) at the ready, you have the opportunity to explore the Breaksea Islands. The Breaksea Islands are a chain of jagged isles, rising from the sea like sentinels. History is etched into the sculptured lines and craggy overhangs of the 12-metre quartzite walls.

On Board offers unique access to remote locations © Mark Daffey

Activities

Stretching over an area three times the size of Sydney Harbour, as part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), Port Davey together with Bathurst Harbour is home to myriad of natural treasures waiting for you to explore. See the rich and rugged landscapes with guided walks across the mountain peaks of Balmoral Hill, filled with local wildlife. Discover the sea caves, serene rivers, and estuaries of breathtaking Bathurst Harbour. Take a tender vessel to Davey River Gorge and wander through an ancient forest of Huon pine. Kick off your shoes and walk the fine sands of the Southern Ocean by Stephens Bay. Activities cater to all your nature and adventure-seeking tastes.

Every day brings a new adventure. Fire-red sunrises greet our mornings, the sinking sun paints the sky pink and orange. There are no roads. Apart from light aircraft, the only way in is by boat or a seven-day hike. Cocooned in nature, the outside world ceases to exist. Devices fall silent, replaced by the art of conversation. You will tread softly through forests and meander along narrow tannin-stained waterways.

Sustainable and self-contained

Built in Hobart with a focus on using local materials and designed to have a low impact on the environment, Odalisque III is fully self-contained, including black water holding tanks working to Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Parks and Wildlife Service standards. Artisan makers crafted much of the furniture, including handmade ceramics, tableware, and artwork, in Tasmania. Tinted glass avoids excess air-conditioning, and cruises avoid single-use plastic. All just some of the sustainable practices on board.

Odalisque III is fully self-contained © On Board

Wine and dine as you cruise Tasmania

Come nightfall, reward yourself after a day of activity with sundowners on the boat deck. Or relax in the elegant Wheelhouse Lounge with a glass of sparkling wine. Before feasting on Tasmania’s finest produce created by a private chef. From backstraps of Doo Town venison and platters of crayfish plucked by divers in nearby waters, to heirloom vegetables grown in the Huon Valley, dishes are a feast for our eyes as much as palates – and of course each is paired with fine Tasmanian fine wines, beers, ciders or whiskies.

The Wheelhouse Lounge has sumptuous soft seating, surrounded by books and artworks by talented Tasmanian artists, including Michaye Boulter, is an elegant spot to end an active day. The bar is fully stocked with local sparkling wine, award-winning Tasmanian Pinot, and four Tasmanian beers on tap. Its open helm creates a relaxed feel to mingle with other travellers and dive deep into conversation with the skipper. With expansive water views, multiple lounges and outdoor dining spaces, and a sun deck, Odalisque III is the crème de la crème of catamarans that doesn’t compromise comfort.

Bathurst Harbour
Bathurst Harbour © Jason Charles Hill

Sensational sea-to-plate dishes

Head chef Courtney Drew creates fine dining dishes that celebrate the best of Tasmanian produce, working with local suppliers and the seasons on tantalising recipes. The intimate dining room is made for a casual dinner party with plush leather bench seating and more of those stunning panoramic views.

Sea-to-plate dishes with Tasmanian seafood like crayfish, oysters, and abalone are freshly plucked from the sea to make seafood risotto or a bowl of delicate Spring Bay mussels. Plus, a decadent selection of dishes from the land – Wallaby shanks and slowly braised beef cheek – are just a few current menu favourites.

Oyster image © Dearna Bond

Bespoke Tasmania cruise itineraries

Signature experiences are tailored to you including a 3-hour river cruise up the wide, tree-lined bends of the Davey River. To delving into the sea caves of the Breaksea. Or visit the remote, ex-tin-mining settlement of Melaleuca and tread the Needwonnee Walk to uncover the tales of the traditional custodians of Tasmania. Excursions are led by an experienced local crew who shares their insightful knowledge to bring each location to life.

Locally owned and family-operated since 1998, On Board knows the Tasmanian waters intimately. To create the most indulgent Tasmania cruise adventures on its southern coast.

This article was produced with content supplied by On Board and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter.