Road Tripping - Tassie Tales
Tasmania, one of the true wilderness states in Australia, is a must see destination for anyone who loves the outdoors, untouched stunning wilderness, eco tourism, history and foodie trails. This island state is the perfect road trip destination and we couldn't wait to start our Tassie adventure.
Begin at the beginning - Hobart
Situated at the foot of Mt Wellington and dissected by the Derwent River this stunning port city is a fantastic mix of the historic and contemporary. A stroll around the wharf unlocks hidden gems, fab places to eat and or drink, gorgeous architecture and history around every corner. We loved wandering through the city streets, stumbling across street parties, festivals and live music. Its so easy to get around plus there's plenty of electronic scooters for hire dotted around the cityscape. Don't miss the array of succulent seafood restaurants, bars and galleries (definitely check out the amazing food, art and design spaces now housed in the Old I&J Jam Factory on the wharf and have a drink at the aptly named Drunken Admiral). No stay in Hobart is complete without a wander through Salamanca Markets on a Saturday morning, sampling the artisan products Tasmania is so known for (tip: the chili ginger beer is a revelation), a day trip to Bruny Island and the obligatory visit to MONA. At MONA you'll never know quite what to expect, there's something for everyone, whether it's the large machine that mimics the human digestive system, the wall of vaginas (yes, you read that right...), or having lunch on the lawn, watching live music and hanging with the resident chickens. Surrounding Hobart you have an amazing array of choices for day trips, from Huon Valley Food Trail, Russell Falls, Berry Farms, Kettering with lunch at Peppermint Bay and a walk around the gorgeous hamlet of Flowerpot (Oh! That name!), to name a few.
Click here for some gorgeous accommodation options in Hobart.
Click here for fabulous ideas on what to see and do in and around Hobart.
On the Road
Road tripping... we've got the map out, the tunes on and it's time to make tracks.
So jump in....adventure awaits!
* Disclaimer: We do not endorse putting feet up on the dash while driving due to safety reasons
Take a step back in time while wandering the streets of Richmond. Settled in the 1820's and largely built by convict labour, Richmond is only a short drive northeast of Hobart and is well worth a visit. Built in colonial times Richmond is a town full of amazing architecture, quaint cafes and the impressive Richmond Bridge, the oldest bridge in Australia.
The 19tth century penal colony of Port Arthur is an imposing UNESCO World Heritage site which has a dark history. The state of the art visitor information centre communicates the grim, sombre history (both modern horrors and colonial brutality) in a respectful way and it's a fitting gateway into the "open air museum" where you can walk amongst the ruins including the Penitentiary and the Convict Church. It is well worth a visit and although confronting at times it has played a very real part in Tasmania's history. From here we headed towards Coles Bay and the Freycinet National Park for our next adventure.
Freycinet National Park Coles Bay, Wineglass Bay
A gorgeous way to start the day in Freycinet is with a early morning hike up to the Wineglass Bay lookout, if you're feeling extra motivated you can climb down to the bay for a walk on the blindingly white sand and take a dip in the crystal clear blue waters. After the look out climb head across to Cape Tourville lighthouse and take a walk over & down the cliffs to Sleepy Bay. You can check out Friendly Beaches for a refreshing dip and on the way back to town, stop by Melshell Oyster Shack for a dozen of Tassie's finest washed down with a cold beer (go on you've earned it after all that walking!). The scenery in this part of the world is simply stunning and the locals will greet you like an old friend. You might want to stay here for a while...
Bicheno & Bay Of Fire
It was hard to drag ourselves away from Coles Bay but the blowholes in Bicheno and Bay of Fires were waiting for us. Bicheno is a gorgeous coastal town famed for its amazing seafood and home to the Bicheno Blowhole. This is a great spot to day trip to the areas stunning National Parks and you'll love its relaxed, coastal vibes. Heading towards St Helens and the Bay of Fires take a detour to the historic town of St Marys via St Mary's pass or Elephant Pass. Not for the faint hearted, St Mary's Pass is the steeper of the two, with tight hairpin bends, huge drop offs where the is road barely clinging to the side of the cliffs. Elephant pass is only slightly less scary and both are totally stunning. After retrieving my heart from my mouth we made our way to the Bay of Fires for a swim in some of the clearest turquoise waters we’ve ever seen in Binalong Bay. After dragging ourselves out of the gorgeous water we took the Great North Eastern Drive through the mountains and farmland down to Launceston. Cue: Amazing countryside, cool tunes and lots of laughs.
Talk about Foodie Heaven! Named as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy (one of only 2 cities in Australia), Launceston should be on your hit list. If you're in town on a Saturday morning, you'll love the Harvest Market a farmer's market full of taste sensations from local growers. Don't miss the Tasting Trail, from Launceston to Smithton, where you can taste the most delicious array of artisanal products from over 40 producers including truffles, olives, berries, chocolate, hazelnuts, gelati and so much more. It's not all just about the food you can sample some of Tassie's finest ciders, wine, whisky and craft beer.
Not a foodie? There's plenty more to do besides eating & drinking. Check out Cataract Gorge, wander Launceston's heritage streets, get back to nature at City Park, Zipline through the trees at Hollybank, see the penguins at Low Head Penguin Colony and cruise down the Tamar River. Click here for more great ideas!
After leaving Launceston we made a beeline for Cradle Mountain. Driving the back roads again let us stumble across some hidden gems such as the and Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary (Trowunna is Palawa kani for heart shaped island home ie Tassie). This is an amazing sanctuary where they’re dedicated to the education, conservation & rehabilitation of endangered and threatened native wildlife. Our guide Ned was so passionate & knowledgeable and introduced us to a couple of the resident Tasmanian Devils who he has reared from babies, plus many other native wildlife. They do brilliant work and are very careful not to stress the animals in their care (still...he wouldn’t let me take home a wombat though I kept asking...). After our wildlife experience we headed on to Cradle Mountain where we checked in, treated ourselves to a deluxe spa treatment overlooking the pines river (sigh) and then a few chilled drinks over dinner and a game of pool...what a perfect end to a perfect day.
Lakes, mountains and waterfalls were on today’s agenda. We caught the bus from the Cradle Mountain Hotel to the drop off point at Dove Lake in Cradle Mountain National Park. It's only a short easy hike up to the boat shed at Lake Dove which is breathtaking with the peak of Cradle Mountain looming large above us. The water was so clear, I wish we had our bathers, although I'm not sure if I'd be able to brave the icy mountain water for long. There are many walking and hiking trails throughout the park, varying in length and fitness abilities but as always, be fully prepared as there can be extreme weather changes, and leave no trace (take everything including your rubbish back with you) to protect this vast wilderness for future visitors. After leaving the national park and a bit closer to town we walked along specially designed boardwalks which allowed us to wander through rainforest and waterfalls looking for platypus and wombats without harming their environment. The waterfalls were stunning and we were very lucky to have all these places to ourselves. I never would have thought that there could be rain forested areas so high up the mountain, Tasmania continues to surprise us at every turn. On the way back to the hotel we spotted a mumma & baby wombat out for a walk & a feed and were thrilled to watch them go about their business for a few precious moments. What better way to end off the day than to head back to the hotel for a spa and a wander through the Wilderness gallery checking out some talented Tassie artists.
Get all the Cradle Mountain feels with these tours
Mt Franklin National Park Falls
Leaving Cradle Mountain we were headed for Strahan, finding some amazing tranquil spots along the way. After exploring along the Pieman River for a a few kilometres, we headed back up to check out the dams at Tullah. After spotting a small sign saying Montezuma Falls we had an unplanned stop just out of Roseberry and ended up doing a 3 hour hike along an old tram track through the most amazing rainforest to the Falls. This has to be one of the highlights of our trip, the waterfall is one of the highest in Tassie & I can just imagine the waterfall in full flight after the rains, the whole experience was breathtaking (even the tiger snake that joined us for a few minutes added to the excitement!). After finishing our hike we arrived in beautiful Strahan and settled in for with a few well earned drinks at the local pub.
If you're staying in Strahan, the Gordon River Cruise is a must do experience. We cruised around Macquarie Harbour (2nd biggest harbour in Australia & 6 times bigger than Sydney Harbour) went through the Gates of Hell (a tiny, rough passage of water that’s the only way in or out of the harbour, responsible for many shipwrecks in convict times). Once safely back in the harbour, we headed across to Sarah Island & Grummet Rock (one of Australia’s harshest penal settlements) and then cruised up the Gordon River, which is 30-40m deep even in it narrower parts. This area is the start of the world heritage listed conservation area which covers over a million hectares along the west coast of pure wilderness. Almost all of this wilderness cannot be accessed by road or boat and it is a truly pristine environment to behold, with some Huon pines estimated to be a thousand years old. We enjoyed locally grown food, wines & beers in relaxed luxury. After the cruise, in an effort to work off our amazing gourmet lunch, we drove out to Ocean Beach which is 36kms of wide white sandy beach and had a swim on the West coast (not for the fainthearted!) then it was back to beautiful Strahan to stroll around town and watch the sun set on another magical day.
Leaving the breathtaking beauty of Strahan we headed on to Queenstown. After a century of mining Queenstown has a rugged beauty, resembling a barren moonscape, complete with an orange tinged river. It's definitely worth a visit even if it is just to remind us that our actions can have disastrous consequences for our environment.
Ah Bruny...where to start? Bruny Island is simply stunning! Easily accessible as a day trip from Hobart or stay a few days and completely unwind. An easy 30 min drive from Hobart, the car ferry leaves from Kettering every half hour, and a quick 15 minutes later you're on Bruny Island. Explore North Bruny up to Dennes Point for spectacular coastal views of the Derwent Rivermouth and Northern D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Heading south on Bruny Island Main Rd you will discover a slice of Foodie Heaven with the aptly named Get Shucked serving the freshest of oysters, Bruny Island Honey and our personal fave The Bruny Island Cheese, Beer & Bread Co (what's not to love about that??). Work off your cheese coma by heading further south to the Truganini Game Reserve Lookout at The Neck (a narrow long isthmus connecting North and south Bruny). Here you can climb the 279 stairs to take in incredible 360 degree views across the ocean, the island and the mainland or wander the boardwalks that protect the reserve and its rare wildlife and take a stroll along the wide sandy beach. In the evenings you can watch the fairy penguins return to their burrows from their day's hunting to feed their young. If you've worked up an appetite from your walk you can head towards Adventure Bay to the Bruny Island Chocolate Factory for a sweet treat and finish off with a G & T from the Gin distillery.
Check out these fab finds on Bruny accommodation here
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A must do is the 3 hour Bruny Island Adventure Eco Tour with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, a certified Advanced Ecotourism company. The ECO certification program recognises their ongoing commitment to sustainable practices, high-quality nature-based tourism experiences with strong interpretation values, commitment to nature conservation and helping local communities. The Bruny Island Adventure Tour has full carbon offset, takes in the Southern Coast of Bruny by water where you'll get up close and personal with some of Australia's highest sea cliffs, towering crags and fur seal colonies. We entered deep sea caves, passed through the narrow gap between the coast and 'The Monument' and got up close to listen to the awesome 'Breathing Rock'. It really was amazing. Afterwards head to the restaurant and thaw out over a delish meal and a wine or two (book ahead of time or before you head out on your tour). Pro tip: take the utterly stylish big red full length rain coat as (trust us on this) you will need it for protection from the icy winds and the icy water even if it is warm and sunny on shore!
There is so much to see and do on this incredible island, we can't possibly cover them all so for many more great ideas on what to do and where to go in Tassie, click here
Looking for more incredible places to stay in Tassie, you will be totally spoilt for choice, let us help to get you started by clicking here