Also called the “Apple Isle” or “Little New Zealand,” Tasmania was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman – the first European who sighted the island in 1642. The British colonization in the 19th century had a huge impact on Tasmania`s character. Today, much of the island resembles England`s countryside, with stone cottages, small country towns, artisan markets and cosy little shops selling handcraft and home-made products.

Richmond is a lovely stopover for the food and history lovers

Since Tasmania is home the most southerly of all Australian regions, the island`s climate is considerably cooler than the rest of the country. That creates ideal conditions for farming, horticulture, and viticulture.

Besides, Tasmanians are proud of their staggering national parks, ski fields, unexplored wilderness, abundant wildlife, and secluded bays filled with salmon, oysters, and lobsters. And there are many other secrets waiting to be unlocked, among which the spectacular images of the Aurora Australis (The Southern Lights Tasmania) can be admired if one is in the right place at the right time…

Aurora Australis is often one of the reasons to visit Tasmania

Tasmania offers treasures of all sorts, and there is barely anyone who would not be pleased. One, however, needs sufficient time to discover the beauty of the country, and perhaps 30 days can just be enough. This is our 30-day self-drive itinerary which covers the absolute highlights of Tasmania.

1.THE CAPITAL CITY – HOBART (3 days)

Travellers motivated by history and coastal sceneries will surely appreciate Hobart`s plentiful arsenal of surprises. Like most of the Australian cities, lifestyle in Tasmania`s capital city turns all about the beach and ocean. It is the second oldest city in Australia which is obvious at first sight.

The town`s a charming character, its thriving art, and craft scene and a splendid setting, at the foot of majestic Mount Wellington from one side, and rugged ocean from the other, made Hobart one of Australia`s most attractive travel destinations.

Mount Wellington, The Pinnacle Lookout offers fantastic views over Hobart

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN HOBART

  • Hobart`s Harbour – it might be tiny, yet as scenic, as can be: Franklin Wharf, Victoria Dock and Constitution Dock and Sullivans Cove offer a delightful stroll around some of the oldest parts of Hobart
  • Battery Point – once home to sailors, fishermen, and prostitutes this place is now a fashionable inner-city neighbourhood that offers alluring historical buildings, pretty restaurants, and elegant art shops. Salamanca Place is the main promenade venue with an ever-vibrant flair
  • Samalamca Markets – make sure you are in Hobart at the weekend, it is the most vibrant time and Hobart`s most visited attraction, the Salamanca Market, is held every Saturday from early morning till late afternoon and it is a market one of a kind!
  • Cadbury Chocolate Factory & Cascade Brewery – Tasmania is all about goodies, whether it is freshly caught seafood, home-made jams, relishes and cheese, exquisite chocolate or fine regional wines and beers
  • Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens – many would say that these are the gorgeous gardens in the whole country and those who are after a gentle interlude, the parklands of Queens Domain are your place to escape
  • Mona – Museum of Old and New Art has been a magnet for all visitors since 2011. Especially, its most controversial exhibits and provocative contemporary art. Already the unconventional building design and its location alternatively accessed by boat speak for itself
  • Mount Wellington – the symbol of Hobart, majestically towering over the city, rises to 1269 meters and its summit – The Pinnacle Lookout – can be easily reached by Metro Shuttle Bus that leaves from Franklin Square several times a day. From the top of the mountain, you can admire the surrounding natural splendour and jaw-dropping views of Hobart, its hidden bays, and coves
  • Hobart Beaches – If you like to spend a day on the beach and doing sweet nothing, the best-rated beaches of Hobart are: Lauderdale Beach, Cremorne Beach, Carlton Beach, Red Ochre Beach, Taroona Beach, Clifton Beach, Opossum Beach, Seven Mile Beach or Park Beach
Salamanca Place is one of the top attractions along with its Salamanca market

2.TASMAN PENINSULA (2 days)

In the southeast, Tasman Peninsula reaches far out to the Southern Ocean. At Dunalley Tasmania`s only man-made canal ‘East Bay Neck’ separates the mainland from the peninsula. Not only there is some the finest coastline on the island, but the Tasman Peninsula is also known as a historic penal station, set up in 1830, where convicts used to be transferred in large numbers during the early colonial era.

Port Arthur was the first penal station in Tasmania

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN TASMAN PENINSULA

  • Tasman Island – book a sailing cruise from Hobart to search around the breathtaking coastline of Tasman Island and try some tuna fishing in the rough waters of the Tasman Sea
  • Eaglehawk Neck – inspect the eerie, historic penal settlement and learn more about the colonial era of Tasmania
  • Port Arthur Ghost Tour – discover the ruins of the colonial penal settlement operating until 1877, much-feared coal mines and Saltwater convict station with underground cells, a burial ground, the Isle of Death and a semaphore tower
  • Nature`s Secrets – explore the natural wonders of Tasman peninsula: Tessellated Pavement Tasman Arch, Tasman Blowhole and the Devil`s Kitchen (great bushwalking from Devil`s Kitchen-Waterfall Bay-Camp Fall, 3 hrs return)
  • Nubeena – camp at one of the pristine beaches of the Barilla Bay and swim at the gorgeous White Beach or try some fishing in the Pirates Bay and Fortescue Bay if you have your own boat
Cape Raoul is best seen from a boat

3.FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK (2-3 days)

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.

It is situated on the Freycinet peninsula and made up of granite mountains, that sweep down to sparkling, vivid blue coves – so immaculate, so perfectly shaped. Nature lovers can enjoy myriads of walking tracks with spectacular views and abundant marine life such as seal, whales, dolphins, and albatrosses.

The Wineglass Bay Lookout is one of the highlights of Tasmania`s East Coast

 ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK

  • Wineglass Bay – walk up to the Wineglass Lookout to view the immaculate bay in the palm of your hand
  • Coles Bay – stay at one of the Coles Bay`s campsites and visit the spectacular Hazard Beach to (take the Hazard Beach Circuit)
  • Freycinet Peninsula Circuit – experience the most remote pristine beaches of the national park in only three days while walking the great circuit (30 km)
  • Short Walks: Wineglass Lookout Walk (2 hr return), Mount Amos (3 hr return), Hazards Beach Circuit (4-5 hr), Cape Tourville (40 min return), Sleepy Bay (30 min return), Bluestone Bay (2-3 hr return)
The Wineglass Bay beach, Freycinet Peninsula

4.BAY OF FIRES (2 days)

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 likes it here, but also echidnas, wombats, wallabies and Tasmanian devils are commonly spotted.

The major attraction is the beach boulders covered with orange-red lichen and contrast with the snow-white sands and azure-blue oceans. The coastal waters boast marine life and offer great opportunities for fishing, snorkelling, and diving.

Bay of Fires is known for large boulders covered with ochre-coloured lichen

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN BAY OF FIRES

  • Ansons Bay – camp at the Deep Creek and observe the friendly kangaroos and wallabies hopping along the beach. Have a picnic at the Eddystone Point Lighthouse
  • Binalong Bay – encounter the holiday flair of this small but popular town with splendid beaches great for swimming, boating, fishing and bushwalking
  • The Gardens – stroll along the breathtaking bays and coves in the area – do not miss out on the Cosy Corner camping experience!
Cosy Corner offers fantastic seaside camping, Bay of Fires

5. BEN LOMOND NATIONAL PARK (1-2 days)

Heading inland, the majestic mountain of Ben Lomond towers over the alpine ranges as high as 1200 m, and this is Tasmania`s premier ski resort.

Every visitor will surely remember the image of ‘Jacobs Ladder,’ forever -a phenomenal zigzag road that leads to the summit of Ben Lomond. In the summertime, the craggy reserve turns into a splendid oasis for wildlife lovers and camper. Rock climbing, hiking, abseiling and bushwalking attract both locals and tourists.

Ben Lomond National Park, The ‘Jacobs Ladder’

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN BEN LOMOND NATIONAL PARK

  • Jacobs Ladder – Drive to the alpine village of Ben Lomond via the unique zigzag road track
  • Legges Tor – climb the summit of Legges Tor (1572 m) and see the national park with a bird-eye; Legges Tor Circuit (1 hr return), Carr Villa to Alpine Village (2 hr one way)
  • Outdoors in Ben Lomond NP – try out one of the region`s most popular activities: skiing in the alpine village in wintertime/rock climbing and camping in summer
Ben Lomond alpine village can be enjoyed in both winter (skiing) and summer (hiking)

6. LAUNCESTON (2 days)

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 to explore Tamar River Valley is to take a boat tour and cruise down the river, alongside historic riverbank settlements, until you to meet the sea at George Town.

Launceston, Tamar River Sunset Cruise

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN LAUNCESTON

  • Tamar River Cruise – view Launceston from the water and explore the Tamar River Valley until the river meets the sea at George Town
  • Lilydale – get lost while self-driving through the picturesque vineyard region and sample some of the fine Tasmanian wines on your way
  • Hollybank Treetops Adventure – a thrilling attraction with a glide across the treetops in a unique forest canopy (ride a Segway through the forest – it is fun!)
Cataract Gorge & Alexandra Suspension Bridge near Launceston

7. GREAT LAKES & THE CENTRAL PLATEAU (2-3 days)

South-west of Launceston, the landscapes suddenly turns into dramatic, rugged highlands of the Central PlateauTasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Reserve.

Mountain lakes and forested slopes of The Great Western Tiers are decorated with creeks and waterfalls, caves and peaceful woodlands – this is a perfect locality for photographers.

The Great Western Tiers is a place to be for nature lovers and photographers

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN THE CENTRAL PLATEAU

  • Deloraine – take a walk to the alluring Liffey Falls – the favourite amongst photographers
  • Mole Creek Karst National Park – search around the King Solomons Caves and its limestone creations. Look for the glow-worms!
  • Devil`s Gullet – drive up to the lookout with a stunning platform to appreciate the natural beauty of the surroundings
  • Great Lakes Reserve – spend a day by the lake at Miena and fish for trout or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere
Mole Creek Karst National Park, King Solomons Caves

8.DEVENPORT-BURNIE (1-2 days)

Once you have reached the scenic North West Coast, you might want to extend your stay. The region is defined by dramatic landscapes, boundless adventures, and Tasmania`s culinary highlights.

Strong winds amplify the wild character of the Devonport-Burnie region and the Mount Roland, the Great Western Tiers and Black Bluff stand comparison with green farmland and the finest rural scenery.

Stanley, The Nut Hill

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN NORTH-WEST

  • Scenic Drive Devonport-Burnie – admire the rugged coastline of the northern Tasmania and its natural wonders at the wheel
  • StanleyThe Nut Circuit Track (1 hr loop track around the plateau, and if you climb the peak add 1-hour return)
  • Lake Barrington Wood-chopping Festival is the major attraction of the region, and it should not be skipped
  • it should not be skipped
The Preservation Bay is known as a good spot where to see the glowing plankton by night

9.WEST COAST (2 days)

Most of all, it is an intangible – the spirit of the West – that most strongly appeals to the visitors. Here is a land which, for all its access to the modern world, has kept the effete niceties of life at arm`s length. It undoubtedly has a strength which lingers in one`s senses. 

Queenstown, Tasmania

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN WEST COAST

  • Arthur River – hire a canoe and drift down the river to see the mesmerising rainforest reflections and encounter the absolute silence and serenity, solely interrupted by the sound of sea eagles soaring overhead (look for the river platypuses)
  • Queenstown – take a historic walk across the mines, power stations and discover the area ghost towns and hear their spooky stories
  • West Coast Wilderness Railway – do not miss out on the historic train from Queenstown to Strahan!
  • Corinna – track or kayak through the rainforest of Tarkine Wilderness Area to uncover its hidden secrets. Both a tranquil stroll through the swinging bridges on the Huon Pine Walk and  Pieman River Cruise are well-recommended
Arthur Pieman Conservation Area is ideal for nature lovers and quiet-seekers

10.STRAHAN (2 days)

It is wild scenery, a pioneering spirit, an invigorating climate and superb river views that tourists can enjoy during one of the cruises down the iconic Gordon River, running from the charming Port of Strahan.

This part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area offers magnificent natural beauty as well as the important Macquarie Harbour Historic Site and the notorious Sarah Island – the old penal station established in 1822 by the British government. Most of the Strahan`s attractions can be explored by boat.

Strahan port, the popular Pieman River cruises depart here

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN STRAHAN

  • Strahan – join a boat tour on the Pieman River that makes your jaw drop. Remember to try sand tobogganing down the Henty Dunes!
  • Macquarie Harbour – every visitor should take a cruise around the Macquarie Harbour and its historic sites: Heritage Landing, Sarah Island, Liberty Point and the staggering Hells Gate – a narrow channel and entrance to the Southern Ocean.
Henty Dunes near Strahan have awesome sand tobogganing

11.CRADLE MOUNTAIN-LAKE ST CLARE NATIONAL PARK (3-4 days)

The legendary Cradle Mountain stands brooding over the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park which itself is part of the enormous wilderness that forms Tasmania`s World Heritage Area. It is a craggy peak created by glaciers and forming a stunning backdrop to the lovely Dove Lake below it.

For its easy accessibility and good infrastructure, this is the most visited and most popular hiking region in Tasmania with a large network of hiking trails. The Overland Track is one of the best trails in Australia.

Cradle Mountains, Dove Lake

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN CRADLE-LAKE ST CLAIR NATIONAL PARK

  • Cradle Canyons – get some adrenaline while abseiling or climbing some of the most exciting canyons of Australia (Lost World Canyon – beginners or Dove Canyon & Machinery Creek – advanced)
  • Walls of Jerusalem National Park – camp by one of the fabulous lakes in reserve and do some bushwalking. The Walls is the most popular full-day track  (access from the Mersey Forest Road)
  • Lake Rosebery & Lake Mackintosh – spend a few days by one of these wonderful lakes and climb the summit of Mount Farrell (3 hrs return) to be rewarded with amazing views and walk to the Montezuma Falls (3 hrs return)
  • Overland Track (80 km long iconic trail of Tasmania, 5-6 days, extensive trail)
The Overland Track is 80 km long, and it takes 5-6 days to complete it

SUGGESTED SHORT WALKING TRACKS IN CRADLE-LAKE ST CLAIR NATIONAL PARK

  • Dove Lake Circuit (2-hour loop track, medium grade)
  • Marion`s Lookout Walk (3 hours one way, medium grade)
  • Crater Lake/Crater Falls – (3 hours one way, medium grade)
  • Shadow Lake Circuit Walk  (4-5 hour track, medium grade)
  • Speeler Track (easy 1,5-hour loop walk)
  • The Waterfalls Walk (easy 30 min walk)
  • King Billy Track (easy 40 min walk)
The Enchanted Walk can be enjoyed even in winter

12.STRATHGORDON (FRANKLIN GORDON WILD RIVERS NATIONAL PARK) (3 days)

The township of Strathgordon is a breathtaking place for its setting right between the Gordon and Pedder Lakes.  It is one of the very few places in the area that are accessible by a vehicle. While the lakes are ideal for recreation the engineering marvel Gordon Dam Wall is well-known for being the highest abseiling spot in the world, attracting adventurers from every corner of the world.

The Gordon Dam Wall offers the highest abseiling spot in the world

Tasmania World Heritage Area leads to the ultimate wilderness destination – Franklin River and the majestic Frenchmans Cap (1446 m). The national park is so remote that there are just three ways to reach the wilderness – on foot, via boat or a plane.

Franklin and Gordon River Cruise is the easiest and hence the most popular way of discovering the region, and for those who like to spend some more money a scenic flight over the reserve is a perfect option.

Frenchmans Cap Summit (1446 m), Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN THE FRANKLIN GORDON WILD RIVERS NATIONAL PARK

  • Strathgordon – kayak on Lake Gordon and search around the secluded pink-quartz beaches of Lake Pedder
  • Aardvark Adventures – try the world`s highest abseiling at the Gordon Dam Wall if you dare!
  • Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park – hiking in reserve is the major activity, and the Frenchmans Cap Summit (1446 m) is a strenuous hike, but the reward is exceptional
  • River Cruise – join one of the celebrated Franklin/Gordon River Cruises across the isolated reserve, to which the only access is by boat (various packages available at Strahan)
  • Hiking and Walking Tracks: Franklin River Nature Trail, Surprise River walkways, Nelson Falls Nature Trail and Donaghy`s Lookout offer amazing panoramic views.
Suspension Bridge on the Nelson Falls Nature Trail

13.SOUTHWEST NATIONAL PARK (2-3 days)

One of the most impressive series of mountains in Australia is the Western Arthur Range, and it is easy to see why; along its serrated length are dozens of peaks and precipices and numerous alpine lakes. Southwest National Park is a perfect region for nature lovers, campers, and experienced mountaineers.

Visitors who like to travel in comfort can easily arrange a cruise to the fabulous Bathurst Harbour, where tin-miners still operate their small leases at Melaleuca.  There are various scenic flights and boat tour packages, ranging from 1-day tours to multiple-day expeditions to the Southwest National Park.

Most of the places are only accessible by a plane or a boat, so you will need to plan your trip ahead – in Hobart.

Per Avion Scenic flights and cruises depart daily from Hobart unless you have your own boat

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN THE SOUTHWEST NATIONAL PARK

  • Western Arthur Ranges –  hiking is the major activity, there are numerous short tracks and multiple-day trails in the area (see below)
  • Bathurst Harbour – take a boat tour to the most outlying territory of Tasmania and unlock the secrets of Davey River, Old River, Celery Top Islands, Breaksea Islands and Stephens Bay
Bathurst Harbour is a place where many boat tours to the real wilderness depart from

BEST HIKING TRACKS IN THE SOUTHWEST NATIONAL PARK

  • Creepy Crawly Trail – 20 min easy walk
  • Port Davey – 2 hours return easy walk
  • Cockle Creek to South Cape Bay – 5 hours return
  • Eliza Plateau – 6 hours return, medium grade
  • Lake Judd – 8 hours return, medium grade
  • South Coast Track – extensive 85 km long trail that can be completed in 6-8 days (campsites on the way, good facilities – but hikers need to provide their own tent and food)
  • Arthur Range Traverse – iconic 72 km long trail to be completed within six days (campsites on the way, good facilities – but hikers need to provide their own tent and food)
  • South Coast Track– the ultimate hiking trail through the South Coast National Park  (80km/8 days)
South Coast Track in the Southwest National Park 

NOTE

Most of the trails are only open in summer (Nov-Mar).

You will need to purchase a pass to enter some of the national parks of Tasmania (whether driving or hiking). More information about the passes are to get at any local information

TRAVEL TIP

The best way to explore Western Tasmania is to have a base in Strahan or Strathgordon (there is a good variety of accommodation, ranging from luxurious hotels to basic campgrounds) and undertake day trips to the surrounding points of interest.

Par Avion is Tasmanian largest scenic flight operator, and especially, Western Tasmania is highly recommended to see from a bird`s eye view. For more information go to:  https://paravion.com.au/

Prion Beach, Southwest National Park

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.

Hire a vehicle (4WD recommended) or a campervan and self-drive. There are the following options :

  1. Hire a vehicle in Melbourne and take the Spirit of Tasmania ferry to Devonport The ferry services operate daily, and the sailing duration is about 10 hours –  https://www.spiritoftasmania.com.au/, and start your journey in the North    
  2. Rent a vehicle in Hobart and follow the itinerary as above
  3. Use your own vehicle
The best way of exploring Tasmania is self-drive

WHEN TO TRAVEL

Generally, 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.

Therefore, we believe that the ideal time to travel in Tasmania is the shoulder season (March, April, and November).

HOW TO GET THERE

  • Fly to Hobart (directly or via Melbourne)
  • Fly to Launceston
  • Take the ferry from Melbourne to Devonport

For all international flights check out www.momondo.com or www.skyscanner.com

Map of the Big Tassie Circuit (30-days self-drive)

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Eva Bodova

Eva Bodova

Saturday 9 November 2019

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