Australia’s largest island is refreshingly undeveloped and visitors often remark that arriving in Tasmania is like stepping back in time. Similar in size to the Republic of Island, life in 'Tassie' (as it’s affectionately known) is all about the great outdoors.
If you're heading to Australia, here are some brilliant reasons why you have to visit Tasmania!
If you only have time to visit one national park, make it the Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania's east coast. This stunning region of pink granite mountains, white sandy beaches and dense eucalyptus forest enjoys year-round sun and is home to Wineglass Bay. Unfeasibly picturesque, this bay is Tasmania’s most photographed natural attraction. The climate here makes for ideal walking conditions as you’ll avoid some of the sweltering heat of mainland Australia.
A circular hike around the 30km Freycinet Peninsula Circuit will showcase the best of the area’s coastal scenery, including magnificent panoramas from the top of Mount Freycinet and Mount Graham. The sweeping southerly views across Wineglass Bay from the summit of Mount Amos will create a stunning finale to your walk.
The starting point is Walking Tracks car park and there are regular shuttle buses from Coles bay, 4km away. Before you set out, don’t forget to pay the Park Entry Fee (AUD$12 per person per day or $24 for a car and group) at the Visitor Information Centre just outside Coles Bay. This circuit can be covered in a day at a stretch, but it’s better to take a couple of days and overnight at one of the campsites in Wineglass Bay, Hazards Beach and Cooks Beach.
Another beautiful spot to explore is the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, to the north east of the island. The excellent value Cradle Mountain Chateau is the perfect base from which to explore this spectacular region of snow-capped peaks and alpine lakes.
As recorded by the air pollution station at Cape Grim (a less appropriate name is hard to imagine!), on Tasmania’s north-western tip, fresh air just doesn’t get any fresher than this.
A lack of urbanisation combined with fresh winds that sweep in from the Southern Ocean and Antarctica ensure Tasmania’s air is the least polluted in the world. (And just in case you’re wondering where the most polluted place is, it’s in Linfen, China - but that’s for another time).
Staggeringly, Tasmania’s rainwater is considered so pure that it has been shipped to Australian athletes competing in the Olympics! You’ll be pleased to know that this purity is put to excellent use in the production of deliciously crisp and fresh wines and beers – more on that next…
Tasmania produces outstanding food, wine and beer with the emphasis on seafood. Enjoy fresh oysters in Barilla Bay and freshly caught Abalone, Crayfish and Australian salmon in Bicheno, just north of the Freycinet Peninsula. In Hobart, indulge in locally-sourced produce at one of the city’s cutting edge restaurants.
If you’re interested in wine tasting, Hobart is surrounded by the southern wine regions. Here, you can enjoy lazy afternoons at charming vineyard restaurants where long lunches are accompanied by superb cool-climate wines.
Hobart is home to Australia’s oldest brewery, the Cascade Brewery. Dating back to 1824, its origins in the most unlikely of places – Hobart Gaol. Whilst serving time for failing to pay his debts to England, Peter Degraves came up with his plan to harness Tasmania’s pure stream water to make the finest cool, crisp and refreshing beer. He drew up the designs for the Cascade Brewery and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, you can join a Brewery Tour for AUD$30/person (minimum age 18), where you’ll learn all about the brewery, its finest beers and the brewing process, before sampling the produce (such as Cascade Blonde and Cascade Pale Ale) directly from the taps. Alternatively, you could join a Heritage Tour (suitable for families) for $15/person and learn about the Brewery’s history as you take a stroll around the Cascade museum and the 3 acres of heritage gardens.
Steeped in history, Salamanca Place is popular with tourists because of its grand Georgian sandstone buildings, artists’ studios and galleries as well as its buzzing café and bar scene. Visit on a Saturday morning when the square is closed to traffic for the colourful Salamanca Market - a Hobart institution. More than 300 stalls make up the market which is open from 8am until 3pm every Saturday. While you browse the bustling market, you’ll be entertained by buskers playing everything from folk or jazz to blues.
Tasmania’s isolation from mainland Australia makes it a refuge for animals and plants that are rare or even extinct in the rest of the world, including the legendary Tasmanian Devil, a marsupial the size of a small dog. Other Tasmanian rarities are the Thylacine, another marsupial commonly known as the Tasmanian Tiger (although it’s no more a tiger than the Tasmanian Devil is a devil!), wedge-tailed eagle, Tasmanian Pademelon (similar to a wallaby) and the Eastern and Spotted Quoll, types of nocturnal marsupials.
For an up-close view, head to Trowunna Wildlife Park in Mole Creek, 40 minutes south of Devonport. This is one of the best places to see Tasmanian Devils, as well as a wide range of marsupials, reptiles and birds. The park opens every day except Christmas Day, from 9am to 5pm; admission is $26 per adult and $16 per child and there are interactive tours every day at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
If you' want to visit Australia and plan to visit to Tasmania, I can tailor-make all of your arrangements. I can arrange your flights, transfers and stopovers and recommend accommodation to suit every budget including the luxury Saffire Freycinet lodge - just contact Annette.