Tasmania may be Australia's smallest state, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in stunning landscapes and endless adventures. We spent two weeks road tripping around the wild island state and have compiled a list of what we learnt, what we did and why Tasmania should be at the top of everyone's travel list.
Flying into Hobart, we began our trip by exploring the charming Tasmanian capital. Home to the MONA art museum and the Salamanca Markets, which run every Saturday, there is so much to see and do and a good few days are needed to explore everything on offer. Highlights include Mount Wellington, cafe hopping in North Hobart, exploring local galleries and enjoying some of the best fine dining in Australia - Peacock and Jones is a highlight. For a simpler meal, try some of Tasmania’s amazing fresh seafood, like the famous Tasmanian Scallop Pie. You’ll also find fish and chips on the menu at most restaurants and it never disappoints.
Lake St Clair and Cradle Mountain
Picking up our hire car, we took to the road and headed northwest to the St Clair National Park. After an easy two and a half hour drive through beautiful countryside we arrived at the Lake St Clair Lodge, located at the end of the famous Overland Track - a stunning six day hike that traverses some of the most breathtaking landscape in Tasmania. This is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the natural world. You’ll be welcomed by echidnas, pademelons and wombats. Enjoy walks around the lake or kick up your feet and enjoy a glass of one of Tasmania's award winning cool climate wines. From here you can take a day trip out to Cradle Mountain and explore the surrounding national park.
Heading further north to Launceston, we were greeted by the changing Autumn leaves and tranquil boat lined inlets. Launceston is full of good food and great accommodation, but it is also a great base to enjoy all the wineries the region has on offer. These include Holm Oak, where you can meet the wineries mascot – Pinot d’ Pig, a chubby pig that enjoys apples – and Josef Chromy Wines. Mr Chromy himself is touted as one of the most influential figures in the Tasmanian wine industry.
After emptying a glass of Pinot Noir, head out to the Bridestowe Lavender Fields where you can wander the dream like purple fields and even enjoy a lavender ice cream (Tip: check the lavender flowering dates prior to arriving).
Bay of Fires
Fire red rocky coastlines form the bay of fires, edged with crystal clear turquoise water and white sand beaches. We know what you’re thinking. These descriptions are more synonymous with the mediteranian than with Tasmania, but we promise the east coast beaches give the tropics a run for their money. Explore the many walks along the stunning red coastline or give into your adventurous side and go mountain biking in St Helens.
Further south in Bicheno, you have the opportunity to snorkel off Governor Island, a marine reserve considered one of the best temperate diving locations in Australia and host to an array of spectacular underwater scenery. From here you can soak up the last of the day’s rays from the Lobster Shack, which apart from great local seafood, also has one of the best views out over Governor Island.
Freycinet National Park
Home to Wineglass Bay, the Freycinet National Park is a must see if you are travelling through the east coast of Tasmania. Set your alarm and wake up for the half hour climb to Wineglass Bay Lookout for sunrise. It’s well worth the early wake up call for the colourful display that will greet you. Once you’ve made your way down from the lookout, head over to Coles Bay for breakfast and a coffee like we did, or continue on over to one of the many beaches or walks dotted around the national park. Our personal highlight was taking a refreshing dip in Honeymoon Bay!
When looking for accommodation, you can book at the nearby towns of Bicheno or Coles Bay. There are both luxury and budget options available, but it can book out quickly so get in early! Camping is also an option.
The birthplace of Truganini, Bruny Island is a short ferry ride from the town of Kettering, about an hour south of Hobart. Full of wildlife and untamed countryside. Bruny’s small population is spread out between the north and south of the island and is separated by ‘the neck’, a thin strip of land between the two parts of the island, which offers a great photo opportunity from a nearby viewing platform. One of the highlights of Bruny Island is watching the penguins who live along ‘The Neck’ come home after a long day of fishing!
Explore one of Australia's oldest lighthouses at Cape Bruny or learn more about our colonial history at Adventure Bay. Prefer to stretch your legs a bit more? Head out to one of the walks around Bruny Island. The Cape Elizabeth Walk will take you past natural stone arches, penguin rookeries and natural sand dunes and is a great way to spend the day.
The historic site of Port Arthur contains the remnants of a 19th century penal settlement and is now an open air museum. Take a guided tour around the site or wander the grounds at your own pace. Port Arthur is also famous for its wildlife and natural scenery, nestled between two capes: take a guided boat tour out to see the dramatic coastal cliffs and learn about the endangered bird species that call this place home. If you’re looking to further immerse yourself in the landscape, why not challenge yourself to the 4 hour return walk to Cape Hauy from Fortescue Bay. Here you can see ‘The Candlestick’ and ‘The Totem Pole’, monumental dolerite sea stacks that have to be seen to be believed. These are also popular for adventure seeking rock climbers, and you may be lucky enough to see them carrying out the impressive feat.
Want to take your own Tassie adventure? Search cars for your road trip.
Header image: Photo by Luke Tscharke via Tourism Tasmania