Sitting 240km off the coast of Southern Australia, Tasmania is an island state with all kinds of surprises up its sleeve. Similar in size to Ireland, it’s terrific road trip territory. Crammed from coast to coast with amazing landscapes and intriguing history, Tasmania will give you a totally different take on Australia. If you’re after a destination Down Under with a difference, there’s nowhere better.
Officially home to the cleanest air on the planet, Tasmania is a natural Eden. Over 20% of the island is covered with untouched wilderness, making it the perfect outdoor playground for nature and wildlife lovers. Here, you can drive between sweeping beaches, hidden waterfalls and ancient rainforest, stopping to spot wallabies, possums and Tasmanian Devils along the way. What could be better?
Located 2.5 hours west of Launceston by road, Cradle Mountain-St. Clair National Park is a glorious mix of glacial lakes, rugged mountains and age-old rainforest. It’s heaven for hikers of all abilities, with gentle to challenging trails crisscrossing the entire park. There’s plenty of wildlife too, so keep your eyes peeled for echidna, platypus, quolls and legendary Tasmanian Devils.
Visiting in December or January? If so, drive for just 50 minutes outside Launceston, and you’ll find yourself in Tasmania’s very own version of Provence. Bridestowe Lavender Estate is believed to be the largest commercial farm of French Lavender in the world, with fragrant rows of lilac lavender stretching as far as the eye can see. Set against the backdrop of Mount Arthur, it’s a belter.
Strung along 50km of Tasmania’s northeast coast, the perfect white beaches and clear waters of the Bay of Fires will bowl you over. It’s an area of staggering natural beauty which has been left untouched by modernity, making it a rare treasure. Snorkel through underwater caves, see pods of dolphins cresting the waves, spot beautiful birdlife and stretch out on the sugary sands of this calm coastal haven.
Perched on cliffs above the Tasman Peninsula, Port Arthur is a former convict settlement with dozens of fascinating stories to tell. Once a place of punishment and hardship, the town is now an open-air museum which provides a window into Tasmania’s past.
The scenery is equally as dramatic as the history, with dizzying cliffs and sea caves dropping into crashing seas. Fancy putting your nerves to the test? Try an evening ghost tour of the prison and give yourself a case of the goosebumps.
Named for its goblet shape, Wineglass Bay is one of the most beautiful spots in Tasmania. It’s somewhere to perch on a rock, stare into the ocean and regain a sense of perspective. Located in Freycinet National Park on the east coast of Tasmania, it’s great for walking, cycling, kayaking and wildlife-spotting.
It takes around two hours on foot to reach Wineglass Bay from the entrance of the National Park, but the reward is a vista that will seriously knock your hiking socks off. If you really want to splash out, stay at the exclusive Saffire Lodge which overlooks the Freycinet Peninsula. It’s a stunner.
Tasmania is incredibly fertile, so the local fresh produce is out of the world. If you’re in Hobart over the weekend, head for Salamanca Market on Saturday morning and take your tastebuds on a truly Tasmanian adventure.
Wander between organic stalls sampling oysters, cheeses, meats, fruits, truffles and honey or grab a cuppa and listen to the folk bands. In total, there are over 300 stalls, and the atmosphere is always festive, making it a wonderful place to kick off the weekend.
Thick with ferns, moss and ancient pine trees, the Tarkine is Australia’s largest chunk of temperate rainforest. Barely visited by tourists, it’s an untouched and intriguing part of Tasmania. Follow hiking trails through the forest floor to shady waterfalls, look out for Tasmanian Devils and keep your eyes open for orange-bellied parrots or Eastern-barred bandicoots. It’s the ultimate wilderness escape.
Technically, the tall and sheer-sided remains of an ancient volcanic plug, ‘The Nut’ is a great place to get soaring views over Stanley. The bizarre flat-topped bluff offers brilliant coastal panoramas and a great base for wildlife-watching to boot. There’s a walking trail that twists to the top, but if you’re ‘nut’ in the mood, you can opt for the chairlift and save yourself the knee-wobbling hike.
It’s not often that you have the opportunity to take a train through a rainforest, so Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway makes for a rare and unforgettable journey. From Strahan, you can board a vintage locomotive for a trip over historic bridges, alongside rushing rivers and through the temperate rainforest, while your guide tells you stories of Tasmania’s past. On the way, you can even stop to take a walk in the forest and taste wild Tasmanian honey.
It’s a little-known fact, but if you drive to the North West of Tasmania in September and you’ll find yourself knee-deep in tulips. The flat promontory of Table Cape, formed from a volcanic eruption around 13 million years ago, is a fertile wonderland that makes it the perfect territory for tulip farming. Every spring, the hills of Table Cape become carpeted in bright stripes of flowering. If you’re in Tasmania during September or October, it’s a blooming marvellous detour.
Tasmania is Australia’s southernmost state. Go any further south from here, and your next stop is Antarctica. As a result, Tasmania is one of the top spots to see the aurora australis, only visible in the depths of the southern hemisphere. Even better, it’s possible to see the Southern Lights from Tasmania all year round, whether you’re in the capital Hobart or out in the wilderness. All you need is a clear, dark night and a bit of patience.
Perched on the hills above Hobart, Mount Wellington offers sweeping views over the city and the sea beyond. If you’re after an active day, follow the zig-zagging walking trails to the top or hire a mountain bike and circle around the lower slopes, stopping to admire the panoramic views as you pedal. Alternatively, opt for a 4WD tour and save your legs the uphill struggle. Whatever works for you!
Just fifteen minutes on foot from central Launceston, ‘The Gorge’ is an urban reserve that serves as a retreat from the city. You can walk directly down into the gorge, following the scenic path along the cliff face, built back in the 1890s. It’s a great place to mingle with the locals, who flock to the swimming pool and famous suspension bridge on the weekends. Take a walk, ride the longest single-span chairlift in the week and stick around for the native wallabies that begin to appear at dusk.
Marooned just off the East Coast of Tasmania, Maria Island has managed to escape all the trappings of modernity. Here, you’ll find no shops, no cars and no stress. Nowadays, this tiny island acts as a sanctuary for endangered wildlife species, with thick eucalyptus forests and windswept beaches. The only human residents are the Rangers.
Hop on a ferry to Maria Island to spend a day wandering through the eucalyptus trees looking for bare-nosed wombats, Tasmanian pademelons, short-beaked echidnas and red-necked wallabies. Afterwards, kick off your hiking boots and walk barefoot along Rutherford Beach to the iconic Painted Cliffs, where the sandstone is streaked with swirling stripes.
Calm, quiet and beautiful, a cruise along the Gordon River is the ultimate way to get away from it all. If you’re looking for a tranquil day trip in Tasmania, it’s tricky to top. Float along the river on a boutique guided cruise, snapping the flawless reflections and hopping off for wilderness walks on Heritage Landing and Sarah Island. If you want to push the boat out, upgrade to the Premier Upper Deck for complimentary bubbles and canapes.
Just 20 minutes by ferry from the mainland of Tasmania, Bruny Island is divided into two halves by a dramatic isthmus known as ‘The Neck’. North and South Bruny each have their highlights, but no visit to the island is complete a trip to the top of the Neck. Standing here, you can take in the far-reaching views over Bruny and out to the ocean. It’s a rare and beautiful panorama that makes for jaw-dropping holiday pictures.
Scenery aside, Bruny is a real foodie haven, with a handful of local producers making lip-smacking artisan snacks and tipples to match. Feast on Bruny-farmed oysters, try the island’s homemade cheese, visit the Bruny berry farm or book a tasting of Tasmanian single malt at the whisky distillery.
We are experts at planning multi-destination Australia trips, round the world holidays and Australia self-drives. We can help you arrange flights to Tasmania, accommodation, car hire, sightseeing tours and more. To start organising your own Tassie adventure, simply send us an email or give our well-travelled consultants a call on +44 1273320580