Tasmania, or ‘Tassie’ as it’s known to locals, is celebrated for its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and world-famous food and wine. Quite different in many ways from mainland Australia, it is just a short flight from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, or Adelaide. Tasmania is Australia’s smallest state. It is also the most geographically diverse, with more than 40 percent of the island covered in protected national parks and World Heritage-listed wilderness. It’s the only place in the world where visitors can see the endangered Tasmanian devil in its native habitat.
POINTS OF INTEREST
HOBART & SOUTH
Hobart is the second-oldest capital city in Australia. It is located in the foothills of majestic Mount Wellington with the River Derwent running alongside the city. Situated in Tasmania’s South, some of the state’s most visited attractions are within a 90-minute drive, making Hobart the perfect base for exploring Southern Tasmania. The city offers heritage, scenery, and entertained modern culture, with world-class activities and attractions nearby. Salamanca Market is held every Saturday and is a highlight for visitors. Set among the historic Georgian sandstone buildings of Salamanca Place in Hobart, this famous market attracts thousands of locals and visitors every weekend
A 15-minute drive or 30-minute ferry ride from Hobart’s waterfront is the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona), arguably the largest private collection of modern and historic art in the world. The owner of Mona, David Walsh, describes it as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’ and visitors can expect to be and challenged.
The clear waters and beautiful shores of Bruny Island are found 30-minutes south of Hobart. Accessible via a short ferry ride from the town of Kettering, Bruny Island is developing a reputation as a gourmet paradise that features oyster farms, smoked meats, delicious cheese, berry farms, and wineries. The picturesque D’Entrecasteaux Channel and the fertile soils of the Huon Valley make this area a delightful self-drive destination. East of Hobart are the wineries of the Coal River Valley region and the 19th-century town of Richmond, where visitors can learn about Australia’s colonial history. The town’s most photographed landmark is the Richmond Bridge. Built by convicts in the 1820s, it’s the oldest bridge in Australia and offers a perfect picnic spot on the banks of the Coal River.
A 90-minute drive southeast from Hobart, is the popular Tasman Peninsula, with its stunning coastline, local food and Southern wine experiences, and historic convict sites. While in the Tasman Peninsula, visitors should tour the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site. The town was established in 1830 as a convict settlement for more than 1.000 notorious convicts. Powerful stories of hardship and loss make this a very moving experience.
West of Hobart is the Derwent Valley, where the road follows the beautiful Derwent River towards the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. This region includes the historic town of New Norfolk, which is home to interesting antique shops. It is also the center of Tasmania’s hop growing industry and the Western Wilds Drive Journey. Nearby Mount Field National Park offers stunning vistas, great walks, and plenty of wildlife. Continue towards Tasmania’s central highlands and the grandeur of Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest freshwater lake. Here. visitors will find Pumphouse Point, a luxury wilderness retreat.
North from Hobart, the Midland Highway heads to Launceston. Known as the Heritage Highway, it offers many opportunities to discover Tasmania’s heritage past, with country cottages reflecting the state’s early colonial history. The homesteads and towns of Oatlands, Ross, and Campbell Town are all fine examples of 19th-century villages, offering the very best of country hospitality.
Tasmania’s East Coast, with its spectacular landscapes and long beautiful beaches, offers a completely different Australian coastal experience. Five national parks are spread along the coast, including the stunning Freycinet National Park with its pink granite mountains, white beaches, and crystal clear sea. Inland visitors will find temperate rainforests and rich heritage from the boom days of tin mining. This rich agricultural region produces fruits, berries, beef, and lamb raised on seaside pastures.
The two largest towns on the East Coast are Bicheno and St Helens. These are both busy fishing ports, offering visitors some of the best seafood and game fishing in Australia. For those interested in diving, explore below the surface to see sheer rock walls, deep fissures, caves, sponges, sea whips, and world-famous kelp forests.
Freycinet National Park is home to the acclaimed Wineglass Bay, regularly voted one of the world’s top 10 beaches. Take the short steep track to the Wineglass Bay lookout and be rewarded with one of Tasmania’s most photographed views or, take a cruise or kayak tour around the bay. Freycinet is approximately 2.5 hours drive north of Hobart along the Great Eastern Drive.
The Bay of Fires is found 3 hours drive north of Hobart, near the town of St Helens. Famous for its crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and orange-tinged boulders, the Bay of Fires is one of Tasmania’s most popular conservation reserves. The area contains rocky gullies, small secluded beaches, and inlets to explore along with a wealth of wildlife. The Bay of Fires offers all kinds of outdoor activities, from scenic coastal walks to fishing and guided diving and snorkeling tours.
LAUNCESTON & NORTH
Northern Tasmania is full of historic streetscapes and heritage estates, rolling farmland, and the finest coal-climate wines and fresh produce. Many designers and craft makers live and showcase their work here. Launceston, on the Tamar River, is Tasmania’s second-largest city and a vibrant center for culture, nature, food, and wine. Boasting some of the best early architecture in Australia, the streets of Launceston offer a historic panorama of elegant Colonial and Victorian buildings, and parks Launceston can be accessed by direct flights or a 2.5-hour drive from Hobart.
At the heart of Launceston is Cataract Gorge Reserve, a unique natural formation two minutes drive from the town center. The gorge is a popular local picnic and recreation spot, with a swimming pool, expansive bushland, walking tracks, suspension bridge, and the world’s longest single-span chairlift. Local growers sell fresh berries, cheeses, flowers, and other assorted produce at the Saturday Harvest Market. Visitors will find an exciting range of mountain bike parks and trails crisscrossing Tasmania’s world-famous forests. With routes suitable for all levels, riders can choose to tackle steep descents or cruise along the custom-built trails.
The Tamar Valley Wine Route is more than 100 miles of winding roads. Among the picturesque vines and cellar doors, visitors come across orchards, lavender plantations, berry farms, and more. When it’s time to take a break from the road, visitors can choose from one of many vineyard restaurants at which to relax, have a bite to eat, and enjoy the view.
Golfers from all over the world visit the coastal town of Bridport to play a few rounds at Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm. Both of these award-winning courses provide players with amazing views over the dramatic Bass Strait. The nearby towns of Evandale and Longford, with their World Heritage-listed Woolmers and Brickendon Estates, give visitors the chance to enjoy the architecture and community spirit of 18th-century English villages.
Tasmania’s Northwest is the gateway to some of the state’s most beautiful natural areas. Visitors will find food trails, lush national parks, and nature reserves as they enjoy the scenic road trip from Mt Roland, near Devonport, to Table Cape, near Wynyard. This route also displays the region’s creative spirit, with many art galleries, public artworks, artisan shops, and markets found along the way.
There’s a tradition of agriculture in the Northwest and it’s seen in the countryside’s rich red soils and patchwork fields. The Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail allows visitors to enjoy the best the area has to offer. They can follow a route that takes in local producers, farms, cellar doors, chocolatiers, distillers, and more. The coastal fishing town of Stanley is perhaps one of the prettiest in Tasmania, famous for the ‘Nut’, an immense flat-topped volcanic plug rising 500 feet straight up from the water’s edge. Visitors can walk or take an open chairlift to the top of the Nut for a spectacular 360-degree view of the countryside and ocean. As it is a fishing town, Stanley is a great place to taste fresh local seafood.
Tasmania’s Northwest is also home to Cradle Mountain, one of the state’s most visited landmarks, offering amazing nature experiences, including forest adventures, great walks — both easy and hard — and some amazing scenery. Cradle Mountain is approximately two hours’ drive from Launceston. Cradle Mountain is part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area, with ancient rainforest, alpine heaths, pine-fringed glacial lakes, and icy streams that cascade down rugged mountains. The park also provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including Tasmanian devils, quolls, platypus, echidna, and many bird species.
Rugged Cradle Mountain is the jewel of the park and can be seen from Dove Lake on a day visit. Take a two-hour walk around the lake, or spend the day climbing to the summit. Many other highlights are available in the area, including horse riding, canyoning, scenic flights, a luxury spa, and a Tasmanian devil sanctuary. Further to the west is the Arthur River. It’s located on the edge of the Tarkine wilderness, Tasmania’s largest tract of temperate rainforest. It also marks the start of Tasmania’s West Coast region. Near the mouth of the river, visitors will find a plaque reading ‘The Edge of the World’, and it certainly feels like it.
On the West Coast, visitors will find an area rich In convict heritage, stunning national parks, and historic mining towns. The Wilderness World Heritage Area Is part of this region. Its rugged mountains, ancient rainforest, and heath make Tasmania’s West one of Australia’s last true wilderness frontiers. Although It may seem Isolated, the region Is easy to reach and provides access to some quality accommodation and dining experiences. There are many ways to explore Tasmania’s West, from wild forest adventures to luxury cruises on pristine waterways, or by road following the Western Wilds Drive Journey.
The largest coastal town in the West Coast region is Strahan (pronounced ‘strawn’), located approximately 4 hours Launceston and 5 hours from Hobart. Found on the shores of the massive Macquarie Harbour, Strahan is the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Boat cruises provide an extraordinary journey into the unspoiled temperate rainforest of the Gordon River, and to Sarah Island, one of the harshest penal colonies in Australia
Take a walk to Hogarth Falls where you might spot a platypus on your way to the waterfall, or try sandboarding at nearby Henty Dunes. The valley settlement of Queenstown has a rich mining history, a unique geological landscape, and a ‘wild west’ atmosphere. Visitors will find plenty to do including exploring underground mines, local history museums, and walks in the nearby wilderness that lead to scenic lookouts and waterfalls.