Whether it is Tamar Valley and its romantic scenery of pretty vineyards and rolling hills, the magnificent alpine plateau of Ben Lomond, the extraordinary red-rock-covered coastline of Bay of Fires, or Tasmania`s sparkling jewel – the perfectly shaped Wineglass Bay, there are secrets waiting to be unlocked on every corner.
Stretching along the Tamar River Valley, Launceston is a picturesque waterside town with hills as a backdrop. Windmills, trams, cockle boats and historical exhibits attract the visitors as well as the world`s class wineries and their cellar doors. The best way how to explore Tamar Valley is by boat, and travelling down the river, alongside old riverbank settlements, you will arrive in George Town, to meet the sea.
Around Lilydale, where on a bright morning the interplay of frost, mist and sunshine makes a delightful scene amongst the green farmlands, endless vineyards and Mount Arthur, standing above the town. And that is the destination for all food and wine lovers. Home-made goodies and fine wines are offered while relishing the surrounding beauty.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN LAUNCESTON
THE CENTRAL PLATEAU/GREAT LAKES
South-west of Launceston, the landscape suddenly turns into dramatic, rugged highlands of the Central Plateau – Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Reserve. Great lakes, forested slopes of The Great Western Tiers decorated with abundant creeks and waterfalls and peaceful woodlands come into view.
The friendly riverside township of Deloraine is the gateway to the major natural attractions of The Tiers: Mount Roland, Mole Creek, Liffey Falls, Meander Forest Reserve, and Devil`s Gullet, where trekking, bushwalking and wildlife watching can be taken pleasure in. The nearby Great Lakes Reserve is heaven for fishermen and popular summer family destination, especially at Miena.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN THE CENTRAL PLATEAU/GREAT LAKES
BEN LOMOND NATIONAL PARK
Heading south-east the majestic mountain of Ben Lomond towers over the alpine ranges as high as 1572 m. This is Tasmania`s premier ski resort. Every visitor will surely remember the image of ‘Jacobs Ladder’, a phenomenal zigzag road that needs to be used to get to the summit by car.
In the summertime, the craggy reserve turns into a splendid oasis for wildlife and camping lovers. Rock climbing, hiking, abseiling and bushwalking attract both locals and tourists.
The summit of Ben Lomond can be conquered via several tracks that offer awesome views. Fit hikers are also free to climb the second highest mountain of Tasmania ‘Legges Tor’ (1572m) – Legges Tor Circuit (1 hr return) and Carr Villa to Alpine Village (2 hrs one way).
NOTE In wintertime you will need to carry snow chains. The ski season runs between Jul-Sep (entrance fees apply).
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN BEN LOMOND NATIONAL PARK
FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
On the eastern coast of Tasmania, an extraordinary natural wonder is hiding, squashed amongst rocky hills. Regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Wineglass Bay made it to many travel magazine covers.
Situated on the rugged Freycinet Peninsula and made up of granite mountains that sweep down to sparkling, vivid blue coves – the bay is so immaculate, so perfectly shaped. A stunning white sandy beach fringes the bay, set off by strange rocks that appear orange thanks to the lichen that has colonised them.
The Freycinet Peninsula enjoys a coastline one of its kind and pleasantly mild climate. Coles Bay is a deep inlet with an imposing backdrop of three pink granite rocks, known as the Hazards, rising straight from the sapphire ocean to 300 m high.
Nature admirers will be rewarded by myriads of great walking tracks with spectacular views and plentiful marine life such as seal, whales, dolphins and albatrosses.
There are numerous accommodation options in Coles Bay and good camping.
There are numerous short walks in the park: Wineglass Lookout Walk (2 hrs return), Mount Amos (3 hrs return), Hazards Beach Circuit (4-5 hrs), Cape Tourville (40 min return), Sleepy Bay (30 min return), Bluestone Bay (2-3 hrs return).
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
MOUNT WILLIAM NATIONAL PARK (BAY OF FIRES)
Locally called Bay of Fires, the unparalleled coastline of the Mount William National Park is set aside as a wildlife refuge to protect the bountiful fauna within. Particularly birdlife but also echidnas, wombats, wallabies and Tasmanian devils, but it is also an important Aboriginal site of a great historical and cultural value.
The shoreline is empty and wonderful: secluded white beaches are tucked between dunes and granite outcrops and from the ridgelines magnificent views of heathland, woods and coastline stretch out around you. The beach boulders are covered with orange-red lichen and contrast with the snow-white sands and azure-blue ocean. Coastal waters boast marine life and offer great opportunities for fishing, snorkelling and diving.
Several campsites are available in the reserve and camping is the best way how to connect with the surrounding nature. For instance, Ansons Bay/Deep Creek and Cosy Corner/The Gardens campgrounds are some of the loveliest. Other accommodation options are in Binalong Bay and St Helens.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN BAY OF FIRES
In the Bass Strait, off the north-eastern tip of the Tasmanian mainland is the Furneaux Group of 52 Islands. Cape Barren Island is a wild, almost roadless isle and well-known for being a refuge for Tasmanian Aborigines – a good way to explore it is by boat.
Flinders Island is the largest and most impressive, and it can easily be self-driven around by a vehicle. The ocean vistas are backed up by the rugged jumble of the Strzelecki Ranges.
Mount Strzelecki (756 m) is the ‘king of the islands’ and climbing the summit guarantees astounding views. The mountains feature pink and grey rock and unique fauna and flora that is found nowhere else on earth.
Marshall Beach is a place ideal for spending a lazy afternoon and having a refreshing swim in summer. There is a short walk to the Castle Rock – a giant granite stone. Trousers Point Beach is great for snorkelling and walking.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN FURNEAUX ISLANDS
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The best time to visit Tasmania is summer when the temperatures tend to be more pleasant (Dec-Feb). However, this is a very busy time due to school holidays and peak season, and accommodation often gets fully booked.
If you intend to ski in Ben Lomond NP, you will need to travel it between July and September.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Launceston (via Melbourne)
For all international flights check out www.momondo.com or www.skyscanner.com
Hire a vehicle (4WD recommended) and self-drive. The most popular way to travel around Tasmania is to rent a campervan (that saves you money for accommodation and allows more flexibility). There are wonderful campgrounds and holiday parks with good facilities all over the island.
To Flinders Island, you will need to catch a vehicle ferry from Bridport to Lady Barron if driving. Otherwise, fly directly from Launceston to Flinders Island (daily flights).
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