Road tripping in Tasmania | Travel
A land mass the same size as Ireland but with a population of just over half a million, Tasmania is a nature lovers dream, offering mountains, forests, dramatic seascapes and plenty of curious wombats and wallabies. Australia’s Apple Isle is also famed for its produce - you simply can’t go to Tasmania and not sample the state’s many cheeses, oysters, wines or chocolate, with each available in abundance wherever you go.
7-10 days is the ideal time to see Tasmania, though in reality you could definitely take a slower trip if you’ve the luxury of time. Here’s our suggested itinerary, taking in the most popular parts and travelling across the state by road.
Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park
Often touted as one of Australia’s most iconic mountain regions and home to the world-renowned Overland Track, Cradle Mountain and the surrounding national park is a wilderness experience like no other. Visiting in mid-autumn is highly recommended, when the vibrant colour palette of burnt orange fagus trees contrasts againsts the pale yellow of the alpine heath and placid wombats lurk round every corner. With daytime temperatures averaging 2°-10°C, it also makes for comfortable walking weather (though don’t forget to pack your thermals!). A hike to Marion’s Lookout is a decent 90 minute climb, whilst a trek to the summit beckons to more experienced climbers (note it involves some scrambling up cliff faces). The sedate, family-friendly Dove Lake circuit is perhaps one of Tasmania’s most Instagrammed locations, and is easy to get to on the shuttle bus.
Your abode of choice has to be Waldheim Cabins, one of the few accomodation to be located inside the national park itself, and with direct access to the walking tracks of Cradle Mountain. Waldheim translates to ‘forest home’ and is exactly that, nestled within a forest of myrtle, pandani and King Billy pine, with resident wombats and wallabies just a few steps from your front door. Facilities are basic - though each cabin is equipped with a heater, essential for the chilly temperatures - making it the perfect opportunity to get ‘off grid’. Bring supplies for a hearty stew, a game of Monopoly and your finest bottle of red, and you’re set.
If, like us, you forget to bring the tea bags, you can grab a cup of the good stuff at Cradle Mountain Lodge. Their snug-cum-dining room is open to visitors every day of the week, and is the perfect place to warm up whilst devouring a book in front of the log fire.
Freycinet National Park
The arid east coast of Tasmania offers a different type of gem in the form of the turquoise bays of Freycinet National Park. Visitors flock to this part of Tasmania for the Bay of Fires, Wineglass Bay and the beaches of Honeymoon Bay, each bordered by white sand and rugged coastline.
Whilst a climb to the top of Mount Amos rewards intrepid hikers with a vista of Wineglass Bay quite like no other, seeing Freycinet from the air is not to be missed. Hop aboard the four seater Cessna, operated by the friendly guys at Freycinet Air and breath in the magic of Friendly Beaches, Maria Island and Dolphin Sands from above. A sunset flight, if you can nab one, is the cherry on the cake.
Be sure to make a detour to Bicheno, a sleepy fishing port located 35km from Coles Bay, the heart of Freycinet National Park. It’s got beautiful beaches as well as some of the best fish & chips in Australia at The Gulch - fluffy cold water cod, creamy succulent oysters and salty chips, washed down as the resident seagulls look on.
The furrowed and wild township of Eaglehawk Neck connects the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula, the gateway to historic Port Arthur. Eaglehawk Neck itself is a narrow isthmus, thus making it the perfect location to house convicts in the 1800s as it was easy to patrol and monitor the whereabouts of prisoners. The Peninsula is characterised by beautiful seascapes and dramatic cliff formations; wide expanses of beaches and white crested foam lashing against rocks. Be sure to check out the Tasman Arch, an impressive geological formation created by wave action over many thousands of years.
Stay for a few days at The Tin Lantern, an eco-hut nestled in a wood overlooking Pirates Bay, crammed with sailing paraphernalia including flags, maps and bells from owner Nick’s transoceanic voyages. Described as a place for “dreamers, stargazers, hikers, divers, thinkers and surfers”, it’s also a book lovers dream, where tomes jostle next to copies of The New Yorker, Smith Journal and Suitcase. Sleeping with the blinds up in the master bedroom on the first storey is an absolute must - the tall gum trees cast a shadow in the moonlight, the sky is a carpet of stars and, once the sun has risen, you can catch a glimpse of the Tasman Sea - and beyond that, Antarctica - all without leaving your bed.
Underwater lovers should make a beeline for Eaglehawk Dive Centre, who offer a range of dives including Cathedral Cave and the historic wreck SS Nord, as well as an opportunity to frolic with curious and playful fur seals.
There’s definitely a sense of things being ‘on the up’ in the state’s capital city, with an influx of fine dining restaurants, high end distilleries and sumptuous bakeries making it a foodies paradise.
Plan your visit to arrive on a Saturday and fossick for delights at the Salamanca Markets, where you’ll find local cheeses, oysters, chocolate and the famous Tasman scallop pie. Grab an seafarers lunch at The Whaler, and, if you’ve left enough room, swing by Jackman & McRoss in Battery Point for a sumptuous selection of delectable sweet treats. The area was named after the battery of guns placed on the southern side of the point in 1818 as part of the coastal defences for the deep water port established at Hobart. Today, Battery Point is home to workers cottages, cute bakeries and boutiques.
Rest your head at the stunning Henry Jones Art Hotel, located on the water at Hunter Street. A former jam factory, this hotel is steeped in history and combines luxurious touches (such as dual head rainforest shower and plush carpets) with exposed brickwork and modern art.
Hobart is nothing without the behemoth that is MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), an attraction that not only transformed tourism in the town, but gave Australia bragging rights on the international art stage. Leave all of your prejudices about art at the door - MONA is as much an immersive experience as it is an aesthetic delight, dubbed a ‘subversive Disneyland’ by billionaire owner David Walsh and with central themes of sex and death. You’ll head underground via a network of tunnels and read about each exhibit on your iPhone using MONA’s custom app. There’s also an on-site winery, brewery, plenty of restaurants and five star accommodation. Catch the ferry to MONA from Brook St Pier - if you’re feeling fancy, the Posh Pit is a first class experience in which travellers are plied with as much free champagne (or coffee, if that’s your thing) and canapes they can wolf down in the 25 minute crossing.
From the white sand and perfectly clear water of the east coast, to the verdant rainforest of the west and the dramatic igneous rock of Cradle Mountain, Tasmania is as diverse as it is wild. In a state where 40% of its population live in the capital city, there’s a beautiful solace to be found traversing across the island. You’ll find wildlife here that you can’t find anywhere else in Australia - the Tasmanian Devil is much revered and protected by Tasmanians - and a cool climate that produces some of the country’s most stunning pinot noir wines, cheeses and oysters.
Tasmania makes up for its diminutive size with beauty and serenity - whether you make a beeline for the culinary shores of Hobart, the mountainscape of Cradle or the immune-boosting waters of Freycinet National Park. It’s a location not to be missed.