Anna Hoffmann and Tom Dicker: Bay of Fires Bush Retreat
Tom and Anna have transformed their childhood fondness of Tasmania’s Bay of Fires region into a sell-out glamping escape
What’s an average day like for the owners of the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat in Tasmania’s North East? Well, it starts with chef Tom Dicker checking the surf each morning.
For Tom Dicker and Anna Hoffmann life is good at the helm of their bush-wrapped retreat. A decade ago, the Bay of Fires region (a stretch of coastline about 50 kilometres in length between Binalong Bay and Eddystone Point) was named the world’s hottest destination by travel guide Lonely Planet.
Tom grew up in Burnie and Anna grew up just outside of Deloraine, often holidaying around Bay of Fires as children. Although both travelled extensively after leaving high school, the lure of Tasmania called them home, where eventually they met. It would be a chance meeting that connected these two Tasmanians and their love of the North East.
Anna had completed a Bachelor in Environmental Design at the University of Tasmania, leading to a career in architecture while Tom had built his reputation as an accomplished chef, opening Angasi Restaurant in Binalong Bay followed by Drift Cafe in Devonport.
Tom acquired 24-acres of land in 2000 and applied for a grant to realise it as a tourism accommodation destination. With their combined skillset, they transformed the forest-covered space into a getaway featuring bell tents, fire pits, communal dining and chef cooked meals. There is even a bunk house and one cabin titled ‘Fancy’ for those opting not to sleep beneath canvas.
Fast forward to 2019 and the pair are operating a ‘glamping outfit’ that is booked out most nights. What’s glamping? It’s where glamour meets camping – a little bit backpacker mixed with a lot of luxury.
“When we opened in 2016, we weren’t really sure how it would be received. Almost immediately we were full and offering guests dinner, delivering this with just a small burner, tiny bench space, single sink and no dishwasher,” says Anna.
They now hire another five employees to keep up with demand and assist with housekeeping, cooking, administration and maintenance. At capacity, they have up to 31 guests to feed dinner from a cabin hand-built by Tom.
Guests have the option of a chef-served dinner and breakfast, typically a stand-out of the stay. No hydrated camp meals here. Instead on offer are the likes of smooth pumpkin soup topped with local herbs from the onsite market garden and slow-cooked lamb shoulder served on ceramics handmade by Anna’s father.
“A lot of the fit-out and interior is designed by us,” explains Anna. “The buildings and landscaping continue to progress – we’ll be adding two new tents soon but that will be it for this area. We intend to keep the experience intimate. That’s very important.”
“What we love most is the connection,” explains Anna. “We both spent a lot of time backpacking in Australia and beyond. What we loved was the communal feel. We hope to offer the same here but with all the luxuries. We love it when a couple in their 20s might find new friends around the campfire who are in their 70s, and we find at check-out, they’re heading to their next destination together.”
Once Anna and Tom have finished farewelling their new found friends, they hit the surf or the mountain biking trails, catch fish, and generally love living in this holiday destination. While there might be sheets to change and homemade baked beans to produce, Tom always has his eye on the latest surf forecast.
That’s work-life balance, Tasmanian style.
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Bay of Fires Bush Retreat.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.