Places of the Heart: Gai Waterhouse

Apple of his eye ... T.J. (Tommy) Smith introduced daughter Gai to Tasmania in her youth.
Apple of his eye ... T.J. (Tommy) Smith introduced daughter Gai to Tasmania in her youth.

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.

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