I have wanted to travel to Tasmania for such a long time and a trip here has been on my bucket list seemingly forever. Why did I want to go to Tassie so much? I had seen pictures of serene nature, crystal clear water, and white sandy beaches and thought that it all looked like heaven. But, in all the years of owning my travel agency, I never once sold a trip to Tasmania. Australia yes, but never Tasmania. It seemed so far away, and almost secret. So, when James and I had the chance to visit Tasmania, it was clear that it wouldn’t be for just a couple of weeks!
After traveling throughout Australia, we finally made it to Tasmania! Departing from Melbourne, we booked our ferry tickets with the Spirit of Tasmania, which is the only way to get to Tassie with our campervan. After a rocky 9-hour overnight ferry ride, we arrived in Devonport, where we immediately drove to a coffee shop in an attempt to recover from the sleepless night. We made it to Tasmania, mates!!
Explore the possibilities
We were ready to set off on our road trip through Tasmania! It was clear that we would only be able to scratch the surface of all the places we wanted to visit, but we couldn’t wait to explore the possibilities of Tasmania!
Our list of the Top Things to do in Tasmania looked like this:
1. Explore Hobart and the Surroundings
2. Spoil our taste buds on Bruny Island
3. Get a selfie with a wombat on Maria Island
4. See a Tasman Devil in the wild
5. Walk down to Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet National Park
6. Take pictures of the Bay of Fires and do the Great Eastern Drive
7. Play golf at Barnbougle and Ratho Farm
8. Explore Launceston and the Tamar Valley
9. Drive the Northern Forage
10. Spend a day at Cradle Mountain
11. See the Southern Lights
12. Check off some of the Short Walks in Tasmania
We were motivated to check off everything on our list, even though we knew that we might not be able to see it all. Especially as we tend to add to our list once we get going!
Yes, Tasmania might only be an island, but it deserves several weeks in order to enjoy all its beauty. We spent four months traveling Tassie but easily could have stayed longer!
Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, is just one of the stops you must have on your travel itinerary. With a dynamic foodie scene, fun markets, and vibrant neighborhoods all on the banks of the River Derwent, it was an easy decision to start our Tasmanian road trip here. We discovered great restaurants, sampled our way through the Salamanca market, and wrote a whole own blog about all the things Hobart has to offer. So, jump over to our Hobart blog for more!
Exploring Hobart’s Surroundings
Hobart offers a huge variety on its doorstep, and the city is a great base for multiple unforgettable trips. Be sure to plan enough time to see all the beautiful areas surrounding Hobart!
From Hobart to:
Huon Valley: about 100 km south
Cockle Creek: about 120 km south
Bruny Island: about 80 km south
Mount Field: about 85 km west
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary: about 30 km north
Tasman Peninsula: about 95 km south-east
Tip: On your way around Hobart, you are bound to find many more attractions that are worth a stop. So, plan an extra day, or at least a few more hours!
About 30 min south of Hobart, you enter the Huon Valley. It is said that you will have the purest air on earth here! But Huon Valley is also famous for its apples and cider. We picked up some delicious fruit on our way to Willie Smith’s Apple Shed before we stopped at Geeveston to do the Platypus Walk. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a platypus.
South of Geeveston is the Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs which are definitely worth the drive!
In the Far South, where the mountains and forest meet the Great Southern Ocean, lays Cockle Creek. Only 1 hour from Hobart, Cockle Creek is the “End of the road and the gateway to the Southwest National Park”. We stayed at Cockle Creek for a few nights. Known for its fishing and bushwalking, we didn’t expect much as we don’t fish. And, because of our fear of snakes, we aren’t big bushwalkers either. But we overcame our fear and went on an extraordinary walk!
Tip: A valid parks pass is required for entry to Tasmania’s National Parks.
Tip: About 30 km northwest of Geeveston is the Tahune Forest Walk if you like treetop walks and stunning views. To get a taste of Tassie’s wilderness drive 20 km south from Geeveston and visit the Hartz Mountains National Park.
South Cape Bay Walk
On our first day, we met a couple who were praising the South Cape Bay Walk. So, we decided why not, let’s just do it! It took us 4-5 hours and was one of the best walks we have ever taken. We started our walk on the beach near the campsite, then continued through a dense forest that spilled out into a seemingly endless field of wildflowers where we saw Echidnas. From there the path continued through thick covered bushy areas, up a steep hill covered in lush green ferns, and over a sand dune. And then our walk ended with an awe-moment!
As soon as we took our last steps over the sand dune, a wide area opened in front of us. And it was the most amazing view you can imagine! Standing on a high cliff overlooking the rough ocean, feeling the ice-cold breeze on our faces, all while knowing that straight ahead is Antarctica, was simply breathtaking!
Tip: If you climb down over the cliff, the walk continues. The South Coast Track goes 83 km one way and takes about 6 to 8 days.
After the hike, we walked over to the historic Cockle Creek Cemetery and the bronze Whale Sculpture at Adams Point.
We had overcome our fear of snakes (they were probably everywhere, but we just didn’t see them), and had an unreal experience through changing landscapes, which finished with a view that we will never forget!
Incredible Bruny Island
Our next destination was Bruny Island. We had heard so much about Bruny and were very excited to go and explore this island off an island off an island!
When you hear that Bruny has Albino Wallabies, breathtaking scenery, a rugged coastline, and is a foodie’s paradise – wouldn’t you want to go ?!
We took the ferry to Bruny Island and were blown away by how much this tiny little island has to offer! So we put everything we saw, tasted, and experienced in a Best Things to do on Bruny Island for you.
Tip: Take a break in Kettering before or after your trip to Bruny Island and enjoy a stay at the beautiful Herons Rise!
Drive to Mount Field to enjoy nature with alpine hikes and waterfall trails.
Mount Field is one of Tassie’s oldest and most loved national parks and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It was originally not on our bucket list as we simply didn’t know about it. Thankfully our friends Jo and Simon told us about it. Only a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Hobart, it is the perfect get-away.
Tip: if you are camping, stay at Mount Field Campground. It has powered and unpowered sites, and a really cool visitor center. The walks start from there.
There are many alpine walks at Mount Field. And for the less adventurous, the Three Falls Walk takes about 2-3 hours. Along the walk, the Russell, Horseshoe, and Lady Barron Falls are specular. We also took the Tall Trees walk. Another top highlight of Mount Field is seeing the glowworms near Russel Falls Creek. All the walks are free!
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
When we think of Tasmania, one of the first things that pop into our mind is the Tasmanian Devil. These carnivorous marsupials are not dangerous to people as long as they don’t feel threatened. But as cute as they look, their bite is so strong that it can break your bones! We had hoped to be able to see one in the wild, but unfortunately, we didn’t have any luck. So, we researched where we could see these unique creatures and found the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.
Located a half-hour drive north of Hobart, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary for Tasmania’s incredible wildlife. The aim at Bonorong is to reintroduce healthy animals back into the wild whenever possible.
In addition to finally being able to see Tassie Devils, we learned all about wombats, and even feed the kangaroos!
The Tasman Peninsula
If you fancy gourmet local produce, want to spot seals, seabirds, dolphins, and migrating whales, or learn about Tassie’s convict past, you must visit the Tasman Peninsula. Here you will also find the highest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere, as well as sea caves and waterfalls.
Tip: Must-Sees are: Tessellated Pavement, Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen, and the Remarkable Cave (shaped like Tasmania!); the giant sand dunes at Crescent Bay, the dog line at Eaglehawk Neck, and the epic surf at Shipstern Bluff.
While exploring the Peninsula, we enjoyed a stroll in the Lavender Shop and spoiled ourselves with a Lavender cake before we continued on to another must-see on the Tasman Peninsula, the Port Arthur Historic Site.
The Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur Historic Site is the best-preserved convict settlement in Australia. It was home to convicts, military and civilian officers, as well as their families. It contains more than 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins, and beautiful gardens. Port Arthur opened up a big piece of Australia’s history to us. The Penitentiary (1857), originally a flour mill, was one of the largest buildings in the colony, with 136 separate cells, that accommodated 348 prisoners. How hard that must have been. Especially considering that some of the convicts were children and imprisoned just for stealing bread to survive. The philosophy of the time was discipline and punishment until the prisoners were broken.
The Port Arthur Historic Site is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and is one of eleven convict sites scattered across Australia.
Port Arthur is also known for the tragedy in 1996 as a gunman killed 35 people around the Port Arthur Historic Site.
Tip: The Day Pass contains the Port Arthur Gallery, a 40 min walking tour, the Museum in the Asylum, and a 20 min harbor cruise. The cruise passes by the Dockyard, Point Puer Boys’ Prison, and the Isle of the Dead.
Maria Island and cute Wombats
We took the ferry from Triabunna to Darlington on Maria Island. The Island is car-free, but you can walk or rent a bicycle.
The top things to do are learn more about Australia’s Convict history, hiking, bird watching, swimming, snorkeling, AND, our favorite, see cute wombats!
The Darlington Probation Station on Maria Island is also on the World Heritage List. This probation station (1842) is recognized as Australia’s best example of its kind and is one of eleven sites that form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property. You can see the Workman’s Cottage, Engineers House, Grand Hotel, and much more at this historic site.
We must admit that we were interested in the “much more”. We heard that it’s possible to see wombats around the historic site. And we did! They were all around the historic site, and we were so happy to see these wonderful Australian animals so close. They were just wandering around, having breakfast, and were not disturbed by us at all!
When on Maria Island, make sure you see the Painted Cliffs. But be aware that you can only fully see them at low tide. We were already too late and could only get a glimpse of how beautiful they are.
Tip: The Painted Cliffs are not accessible for two hours on either side of high tide.
Walks and Wildlife on Maria Island
If you want to go further than the Painted Cliffs or hike the Bishop and Clerk Walk, you must register. The weather on Tassie is unpredictable, so be prepared!
The Bishop and Clerk Walk include rock climbing to reach the summit, which we thought would be too difficult for us, so we went to the Fossil Cliffs instead. They are magnificent sea cliffs and we saw fossils everywhere!
Another highlight was the walk over the airstrip to get to the Fossil Cliffs. There were millions of kangaroos, something that we still haven’t gotten used to!
The Beautiful Freycinet National Park
The Freycinet National Park is well known as a beautiful destination to spend your holidays. With the iconic lookout over Wineglass Bay, several walks such as the Foreshore Walk, the Freycinet Walk, and a white sandy beach, Freycinet National Park is the perfect place to be.
Visit Cape Tourville and the Lighthouse, not only to see the unmanned lighthouse but also to especially soak in the unbelievable stunning views you have over the ocean and the coastline.
Tip: Make sure to spend at least one night at Friendly Beaches on your way to the Freycinet National Park. You will be surrounded by nature, wallabies, and a pristine beach.
The mind-blowing Great Eastern Drive
Wow, where should we start?! Tasmania’s Great Eastern Drive was probably our favorite drive in all of Tassie as we could enjoy everything that we love about life on the road.
Let’s start with its proximity to one of the top 20 golf courses in the world, Barnbougle Dunes Golf Links! From there it is a short one-hour drive to the first awesome beach site, Policemans Point. From there, we wound our way down to The Gardens, The Bay of Fires, Binalong Bay, and Freycinet, just to name a few. All of these places have the most amazing beaches and incredible campgrounds that are free!!! The maximum stay in each campground is 28 days. So, if you are lucky enough to have time on your hands, you could travel from one breathtaking spot right at the beach to the next.
Besides golf and beaches, what we also love is good coffee, food, wine, and beer. This route provides good coffee and tasty bakeries in Bicheno, delicious ice-cold beer at the Iron House Brewery, and wine with a view at Devil’s Corner.
Curious about more? Read about our wonderful journey down the Great Eastern Drive.
Play golf at Barnbougle and Ratho Farm
Co-designed by the Obi-Wan of golf course designers Tom Doak, and the brilliant Australian Michael Clayton, Barnbougle Dunes opened for play in 2004. Barnbougle is home to two incredible golf courses; Lost Farm, which we played first, and the Dunes course. Both courses were a must-play while we were in Tasmania!
What do square greens, sheep fences, a periscope, and climbing trees all have in common? One hell of a great day, that’s what! With over 150 years of documented golfing history, Ratho Farm is the oldest golf course in the Southern Hemisphere!
With a nod towards classic golf architecture, we absolutely loved our day at Ratho Farm! The golf was spectacular, and so much fun. Ratho is a must-play for any student of the game, golf history buff, or just general golf nerds. You surely won’t find another one like it!
After all, playing golf courses like Barnbougle and Ratho Farm is exactly why we travel and golf!
Explore Launceston and Tamar Valley
The Tamar River runs through Launceston, a beautiful city that was voted as Tassie’s Top Tourism Town in 2022!
Launceston, or Launnie as it’s called locally, might be not as well-known as Hobart, but it doesn’t have to hide in its shadow. With several highlights such as the Cataract Gorge, a delicious weekend market, and many restaurants, Launnie has it all!
We indulged in the vegan and coffee scene, visited Japanese Monkeys in the City Park, strolled through Cataract Gorge, admired the Launnie architecture, and visited a dear friend at the famous Stillwater Restaurant.
The Tamar Valley
The Tamar Valley offers a huge variety of walking and hiking trails and scenic lookouts. We stopped at Brady’s Lookout and were blown away by the beauty of this area.
But the Tamar Valley is also known for its wine and food*, so make sure to join a wine tour. It would be best if you chose a tour that also includes lunch, so you can sample some of the local produce.
The Tamar Island Wetlands are home to more than 50 bird species, as well as a resident Copperhead Snake.
The entry is free; however, a donation of AUD 2 is very much appreciated. In the Interpretation Center, you will find information and handouts. And the Tamar Island Walk will take you around 1,5 hours to return.
During our walk, we saw Pelicans, Black Swans, Australasian Swamp Hen, Superb Fairy Wren, Silver Gull, Australian Shoveler, and Welcome Swallow. Thanks to the handout, we actually knew the names of all the birds we saw!
If you’re into lavender, grab your camera and go to the largest privately-owned lavender farm in the world, Bridestowe Lavender Estate. The best time to visit is between December and mid-January when the lavender is flowering. Bridestowe is Australia’s largest and oldest lavender farm and is only 50 km north of Launceston.
The Northern Forage
The Northern Forage covers the Central North of Tasmania and is known for the extensive mountain biking trails in the small town of Derby. But there is so much more to the Northern Forage than just mountain biking!
If you arrive in Devonport by ferry as we did, go for a healthy breakfast and a strong and delicious coffee at Fundamental Espresso.
Walk along the Devonport beach up to the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse and enjoy the view of the sparkling ocean.
Continue east to Brideport for a round (or two) of excellent golf. Make sure you don’t miss the Little Blue Lake near Gladstone.
If you are into mountain biking, Derby is the place to go. If not, skip the mountain biking and enjoy some relaxing time at the Floating Sauna!
From there, drive to Launceston and spend some days in Tasmania’s second-largest city. Visit Low Head Lighthouse, Australia’s third-oldest light station.
Stop in one of the many amazing little towns, such as Deloraine, Penguin, or Wynyard, on your way to Stanley. Once in Stanley, be sure to climb the steep hill to The Nut.
Continue west and watch surfers in Marrawah and feel the wind in your face at The Edge of the World.
Spend a day at Cradle Mountain
Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer’s vision led to Cradle Mountain being declared a national park. “Build a chalet and get a road and then people will come from everywhere to see this place,” he said!
And he was so right! This 1.4 million-hectare World Heritage Area showcases an Alpine landscape, glacial lakes, ancient forests, and extraordinary wildlife. Cradle Mountain was definitely one of our Tasmanian Highlights!
Cradle Mountain – A Tasmanian Highlight
Lake St. Claire
Lake St. Clair is a beautiful lake. And, at 215 meters deep, it is Australia’s deepest freshwater lake. There are three short walks at Lake St Clair. It is also the end of the Overland Track, a hike that takes you from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair. We heard that it is one of Australia’s most famous hikes and many fellow travelers we met on the road proudly finished the Overland Track!
See the Southern Lights
We have to say, we never expected to see the Southern Lights! But, during our journey across Tassie, we started wondering if seeing the Aurora Australis might be possible. Even though it was summer, we had heard of fellow travelers seeing them.
Towards our last few weeks, we were still hopeful to see them. We received a note from our friends telling us that there was an alert for the evening. So, we made an immediate change of plans and were off to South Arm!
As the evening grew, and the skies remained clear, our hopes soared! Shortly after 9 pm, we heard someone excitedly shout, “I got it”! After a 30-second exposure time, we couldn’t believe our eyes- we had our first ever photo of the Aurora Australis!
By 9:30 we were able to see the auroras with our naked eye! With beams slowly dancing around, we were witnessing something that we had been hoping to see for such a long time, but never really believed would happen. In between photos, we couldn’t help but look at each other with huge smiles, knowing that tonight was a night that we would never forget!
You can’t leave Tasmania without having visited the Western Wilds! The Western Wilds cover over 20% of Tasmania. With dense flora and fauna, much of the area is inaccessible.
Putu, our campervan, isn’t a 4wd, so we knew that he wouldn’t be able to bring us everywhere. But we knew we would be able to see the main highlights like Strahan and Queenstown, and then just take it from there.
Before reaching the town of Queenstown, we stopped to see the Iron Blow, an open-cut mine at Mount Lyell that has fantastic views. The views over the area as well as the turquoise shimmering water in the mine are amazing. And we are happy that Putu made it up to the top as we were not sure he would endure the steep trip.
In Queenstown, we had planned to do the famous West Coast Wilderness Railway, but it was unfortunately fully booked out for weeks.
Tip: If you want to ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway, book in advance!
We took some pictures and continued to Strahan. It’s said that Strahan is the rainiest area of all Tasmania, but we were lucky and found nothing but sunshine and wonderful weather!
Strahan is known as the gateway to a UNESCO-listed Heritage Site. So, book your trip to the wilderness with one of the cruises that depart from here. We decided on the World Heritage Cruise. The cruise takes you through Hells Gate.
The name stands for the extremely dangerous channel through Macquarie Harbour which is not only really narrow but also very shallow.
World Heritage Cruise
The eco-friendly cruise will take you along the Gordon River and its beauty will leave you simply speechless. We just wish our pictures could do the nature justice.
The cruise stops at the World Heritage-listed rainforest where you have time to stroll or join a guided tour. Another stop is Sarah Island, which also offers a very interesting guided tour. Sarah Island was the first penal settlement in Tasmania. It’s said that it was the “harshest convict prison ever created”.
We ended the day by attending Australia’s longest-running play “The Ship that never was”. It is about the escape of convicts from Sarah Island who stole a ship that was last built on Sarah Island. We don’t want to tell you more, only that it is a must when you’re in Strahan! Laughs are guaranteed!
From Strahan, we drove to Zeehan, another mining town, and spent a night on a golf course, which offers their parking lot to campers for $10 a night. There can’t be a better place for an overnight than a golf course 😊
At night we walked to the Spray Tunnel. This is an abandoned railway tunnel that is only 100 meters long and is full of glow worms. It was magical to see all these bright little creatures in the tunnel. And, on our walk back to our campervan Putu, we even saw a quoll out of the corner of our eyes!
During the day the Gaiety Theatre and the West Coast Heritage Center and Pioneers Museum are absolutely worth a visit.
After a good night’s sleep in Zeehan, we woke up to a huge surprise! We got an email from a friend, asking us if we would be interested in joining him and some friends for a few rounds of golf on King Island! Hell yes! We had eyeballed King Island for a long time but dropped the idea as it was not in our budget. But we took the email as a sign. And while the weekend trip was still well over our budget, we decided to go for it. After all, it was on our bucket list, and you only live once!
We had a fantastic weekend and played all three courses on the island!
Short Walks in Tasmania
Tasmania is literally heaven for outdoor fans! But it is also pretty awesome for those of us who are not quite sure if hikes are their cuppa! After our four-hour hike at Cockle Creek, we were fired up and eager to see more of Tassie’s beauty on foot. We did some of the walks, and the only regret we have is that we didn’t have enough time to do more!
Summary of Links
Tasmania’s Great Eastern Drive
Launceston – Tassie’s Top Tourism Town
Cradle Mountain – A Tasmanian Highlight
The Best of the Northern Forage
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