Tasmania; often completely overlooked on the tourist map and the butt of all jokes in Australia. Despite being overshadowed by the big mainland tourist attractions, Tasmania has a lot to offer. Whether you’re a lover of the outdoors, photography, food or animals, there’s something to please everyone on this small island state.
Personally, I think the best way to travel around Tasmania is by car. It’s easy to organise; if you’re road tripping around Australia, the Spirit of Tasmania ferries between Melbourne and Devonport daily and you can take your car/vehicle onboard. Alternatively, you can fly into Tasmania (the two main airports are Hobart and Launceston) and pick up a hire car. If you’re short for time, I’d recommend the latter – a lot of the time, the price of sailing vs. hire car is comparable, plus flying means you have more time to spend on the island!
For me, I went to Tasmania seeking adventure. I flew into Hobart, picked up a hire car and embarked on a road trip around the state, where I camped (most nights), hiked whenever I could, enjoyed as much food and wine as my wallet would allow and endeavoured to shoot as many photos as I could. This itinerary will mimic the route I took (starting in Hobart, however, this itinerary can be easily adapted to start in Launceston or Devonport), and includes some highlights from each location, as well as any food, camping, hiking and photo opportunity recommendations.
NB: If you plan on camping, make sure you purchase a parks pass – it’s much cheaper than paying for single entries into all of the national parks!
Day 1 – 3
Stepping foot in Hobart is like stepping back 20 years into the past. The air is clean, and the people are super laid back, friendly and trusting. There’s no angst or rush like you’ll find in some of Australia’s bigger cities; rather, Hobart has adopted more of a happy-go-lucky/go-with-the-flow kind of vibe.
My recommendation would be to try to spend time in Hobart over the weekend, that way you can explore the famous Salamanca Markets, held every Saturday at the foot of Mt Wellington, in the Salamanca District. Here, you’ll discover loads of local food delicacies (make sure you try a Scallop Pie!), artisanal goods and be entertained by local artists.
Otherwise, other areas worth exploring include Battery Point; a nice walk from the CBD through the leafy, heritage-housed lanes to the beachy suburb, trekking up to Mt Wellington to catch the first rays of light and of course a day spent at MONA.
Food and Drinks
An 80’s themed American bar, tucked away in the CBD, on Liverpool St. The burgers are to-die-for and the atmosphere is fun and light!
The Drunken Admiral
Of course, no trip to Tassie is complete without a good seafood feed! The Drunken Admiral is one of Hobart’s oldest restaurants and has some of the best seafood you’ll eat in the state. The ship theme also adds a fun element, making it a great choice for groups as well as couples.
World’s End Brewpub
Away from the CBD and in the suburb of Sandy Bay is World’s End Brewpub; a small tavern that specialises in craft beers, ciders and boutique spirits. A fun set up, the bar is decked out with big, cosy lounges and the table tops covered in superhero comics.
Mt Wellington Sunrise
Set your alarm early and take a drive up to Mt Wellington to watch the sunrise over the city. Unfortunately, when we were there, the weather was super overcast and cloudy so I couldn’t get the photo I’d been hoping to capture. However, this wasn’t all bad, as the light bounced off the clouds and made for some really cool effects!
Day 3 – 4
A short 1.5-hour drive Southeast of Hobart is the Tasman Peninsula; a small area that packs in a whole lot of scenery and activities. Try to leave Hobart early so that you can spend as much time exploring the Tasman area as possible!
Food and Drink
If you’re a fan of whiskey or gin (or even if you’re not), McHenry Distillery is an establishment you don’t want to miss. The distillery is the southernmost family-run distillery in the world and its southern location allows the maturing-spirit the right conditions to make the most of its time in the wooden barrels. While I’m not a gin or whiskey drinker, I did really enjoy their sloe-gin!
Port Arthur Lavender Farm
While there are other, more well-known lavender farms in Tasmania, we really enjoyed the intimacy of the Port Arthur Lavender Farm. You can wander through the lavender fields, watch a demonstration on how lavender is harvested and enjoy loads of lavender flavoured treats in the cafe – my favourite was the lavender chocolate milkshake.
As we were tight for time, we didn’t get the chance to travel into the Port Arthur Historic Site. So instead, we decided to take in the views from above on an Osborne Heli Tour. For a competitive price, we were flying above the Tasman region for 20 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to take in all of the major sites without being rushed. From this vantage point, we were able to see the Port Arthur Historic Site, Overland Track, the Candlestick, Fortescue Bay and much more. This was my first time on a helicopter, and I absolutely loved it – such a great experience and a cool way to view an area!
Outside of the views offered on a heli-tour, these are some other sites worth seeing in the Tasman area (all are only a small walk from the carpark):
- Devils Kitchen
- Tasmans Arch
- Fortescue Bay
Fortescue Bay Campground
A beautiful spot to settle for the night, with sites right by the beach. We were really lucky and practically had the area to ourselves.
Price for 1 x tent per night = $13
Day 4 – 5
Freycinet National Park
Turning off the highway and into Freycinet National Park, you’ll have to pinch yourself as the view of Coles Bay comes into sight. The small village sits beneath huge, granite mountains that overlook the crystal clear waters of Oyster Bay. The pretty town is a great base for exploring Freycinet National Park; the ideal location for swimming, kayaking and hiking to name a few!
Food and Drink
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner with a magnificent view is Ge`ographe restaurant. Owned by 2 brothers from Tassie’s North West, this quaint eatery offers all the foodie delights you need from an espresso bar, to wood-fired pizza and fresh, local seafood.
Devil’s Corner Cellar Door
The areas surrounding Freycinet are part of Tasmania’s great east coast wine trail. The mild climate is perfect for fine cool climate wines such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and my personal fav, pinot noir. So of course, it goes without saying, we visited some wineries! While we didn’t have the time to visit them all, I did enjoy the Devil’s Corner Cellar Door. My wine pick? … Unsurprisingly, the Pinot Noir 😉
In this area, you are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to adventure and photo ops. I’ve grouped the two together, as they work hand-in-hand here.
While there are plenty of water sport options available (kayaking, swimming, boating and fishing), as well as land-based activities like quad biking, my adventure recommendation would be to take advantage of the numerous hikes there are! There are plenty of hikes that cater to all fitness capabilities/hiking experience, so there is a walk to suit everyone. My favourite was the Mt Amos Hike. Be warned, this is a difficult hike, and experience is required! It’s about a 3-hour return walk, along with a track that includes freestyle climbing and very steep inclines. However, don’t let this deter you – the view from the top makes the hard hike well worth the effort. From above, you’re welcomed with an amazing 360degree view of the famous Wineglass Bay (perfect for shooting some photos).
Freycinet National Park
There are a few beaches you have the choice to set up a tent for the night at Freycinet. We stayed at Richardsons Beach, which was perfect! We had a nice camping spot with a private walkway to the beach… oh and of course the amazing view of the surrounding mountains!
Price for 1 x tent per night = $13
Day 5 – 6
Bay of Fires
A short 2-hour drive north of Coles Bay is the famed red rocks of the Bay of Fires.
Stretching for about 30km from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north, the Bay of Fires is well known for its white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and huge granite blocks that are coloured a bright orange by lichens.
As the halfway point in our road trip, we used our time at Bay of Fires to relax and simply enjoy the landscape around us. As the Bay of Fires is quite remote (the nearest town St Helens is a 20-minute drive away), we chose to cook at camp and enjoyed watching the sunset and sunrise over the rocks (perfect opportunity for getting lots of photos).
There are loads of campsites around this area, ranging from free – paid. After seeking the recommendation of a local in St Helens before driving out to the Bay of Fires, we chose to set up camp at Cosy Corner; a free site with basic amenities and right by the ocean.
Day 6 – 7
After spending almost a week camping (and not always showering), it was nice to spend a night in a hotel room … with a bathtub!
Launceston, or ‘Lonnie’ as locals refer to it, is a riverside city, that acts as a great base for those keen to explore the Tamar Valley. There’s a huge rivalry between the ‘Second City’ and Hobart, whereby Launcestonians argue that their architecture is more elegant, parks more greener and food scene more lively. During our stay here, we took full advantage of the food and beverage scene, see below some of our favourites.
Despite being right on the city’s edge, Launceston’s Cataract Gorge feels as if it is a million miles away. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, the world’s longest single-span chairlift and Victorian-era gardens where the peacocks roam free.
Owning what I think is the cutest beer garden in all of Tassie, is Bakers Lane. This bar/restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere, is perfect for dinner and a little boogie after, as it’s open until 3am on the weekends!
Red Brick Road Ciderhouse
Red Brick Cider is a local family-owned and run cidermaker, who specialise in making sugar-free, unpasteurised, unfiltered ciders. The Ciderhouse, located on Brisbane Street, is the family’s small bar, where they sell their drinks. The bar is also a great place for socialising with friends and enjoying other local products over a board game.
Located in ElizabethTown, a 45-minute drive west of Launceston (and on the way to Cradle Mountain), is Ashgrove Cheese (aka heaven for the cheese-lovers among us). The milk and cheese factory, which is owned and operated by the Bennett family, has been in operation since the 1880s.
Day 7 – 9
Entering Cradle Mountain is like taking a massive step back in time. Covering an area of 63, 000 hectares, Cradle Mountain was protected in May 1922 as a scenic reserve and became a National Park in 1972. 55% of the park’s documented alpine flora is endemic and 68% of the higher rainforest species in Tasmania are present in Cradle Mountain National Park.
As the area is quite remote, you’ll need to stock up on supplies before leaving (I’d recommend stock-piling in Launceston, where there are large supermarkets). We spent two nights in Cradle Mountain, which was a great amount of time for getting in a few hikes and photo shoots, however, more time could easily be spent in this mini-wilderness.
The whole park itself is a sight to take in. From viewing the ‘baby in the cradle’ from the car park to seeing Lake St Clair up close, with the snow-capped mountains in the background – you’ll constantly be motioning to pick your jaw up off the ground.
On top of the outlandish scenery, there’s also plenty of wildlife to see! We had up-close encounters with wombats and echidnas – although, remember, these are wild animals, so don’t get too close!
Again, Cradle Mountain itself is like an adventure of its own. If you have the cash to splash, you could stay at the Peppers Hotel and Restaurant, or if you’re after some time with nature, you can camp. We chose to camp, although there is only one site and it is so well-equipped for tourists, that for us it actually felt like glamping! Having a fully-functioning kitchen with a fireplace was a dream (and came in handy when the temperatures dramatically fell at sundown).
For some outdoor adventure, you’re spoilt for choice. There are several walking trails and hikes. On our first day, the weather was quite miserable and rainy, so we did a few of the smaller walks – which were great and all so different from one another.
Thankfully, on day two the weather had cleared up, so we embarked on a half day hike of Hansons Peak. Starting at the Dove Lake carpark, head left along the lake, where you will walk for 20 minutes until the track splits into two. From here, follow the left side and start going up. While not as difficult as the Mt Amos Hike in Freycinet, Hansons Peak is not a walk for the beginner hiker. There are several parts of the trail where it’s just you, a bare rock face and a rope, so a basic level of fitness is needed.
In case the hikes and natural beauty of the area weren’t enough, there are a few other areas that also make for great photo opportunities.
- The iconic Boat Shed o lake St Clair
- The clear skies make for great astrophotography shoots.
Day 9 – 10
Mt Field National Park
While you can travel directly back to Hobart from Cradle Mountain in only 4 hours, if you have the time, I would definitely recommend making a slight detour through Mt Field National Park – especially if you’re into waterfall chasing (which, let’s be honest here, is all of us).
Easy to access, Russell Falls is a short 400m walk from the Mt Field National Park visitor centre.
A further 10 minutes past Russell Falls in the secluded Horseshoe Falls.
A bit of a detour from Cradle Mountain, on the way to Mt Field National Park, is Nelson Falls; surrounded by ancient plant species.
While this itinerary only covers a portion of Australia’s island state of Tasmania, it definitely acted as a great taste-test for me, and has had me wanting to go back and explore more ever since! If you end up driving around Tassie using a similar itinerary to this one, let me know about it! I’d love to hear what else you would include!
Interested in road-road-tripping around WA? Check out my South Coast road trip itinerary here!
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