A Beginner’s Guide To Traveling Tasmania

A Beginner’s Guide To Traveling Tasmania

Tasmania, or Tassie as the locals call it, is an island off the southern coast of Australia. Known for its luscious  wilderness and fascinating wildlife, most of Tasmania is made up of natural parks. Tasmania is a place with a lot to offer, from rugged alpine landscapes to pristine beaches, to rare and famous Tasmanian Devil, the island truly is a treasure trove of beauty. Tasmania is a place that should be on every travelers bucket list, especially for those making their way down under to Australia.

Quick Facts:

Capital City: Hobart

Language: English

Currency: Australian Dollar (1 USD = 1.4 AUD)

Population: 526,700

Size:  64,519 square km (For perspective that is about half the size of the UK, but almost the same size as Iceland)

Prices to note: Oysters are $13 AUD per dozen  and a National Park Pass is $56 AUD.

How to get there: The easiest way to reach Tasmania is from Melbourne, Australia’s southernmost city. From here the Spirit of Tasmania ferry leaves twice a day and is a pleasant 10 hour trip which can be done during the day or overnight. You can grab a fare for as little as $56.

What To See:

The best way to see what Tasmania has to offer is definitely by car. There are a tonne of great rental companies offering campers for hire like Britz, Maui and Jucy. Australia is practically the birthplace of the road trip so shop around before settling on the right deal. You could even go the extra mile and rent from a local vender once you arrive. Tasmania, being the rugged island that it is, is almost entirely made up of National Parks. Campgrounds are abundant and are mostly FREE, just grab a National Park Pass HERE and make Tasmania your oyster.

Tasmania is approximately a 3 hour drive from the north side in Devonport to Hobart in the south, but don’t be fooled by the size of this mini island. You’ll be doing a lot of driving, but thankfully an incredible experience lies around every corner. It’s hard to coordinate the best sights in Tassie because there are just so many. From Hobart and beyond, here’s the perfect beginners guide to get you prepared for the road trip of a lifetime.

1. Cataract Gorge

Starting us off is the action packed Cataract Gorge. You barely have to leave the city to experience this one as it’s right on the doorstep of Launceston. Start your day with a morning coffee and brownie at Charlie’s Dessert House. The adventure begins here with hikes around the gorge, a public outdoor swimming pool, and even a cable car that glides straight above the lake taking in the views of the suspension bridge. You can ride it both ways, or treat yourself to a picturesque sit down on the way back from your mini hike.

2. Bridestowe Lavender Farm

Heading up every Instagrammer’s bucket list is the famous Bridestowe Lavender Farm. If you’re visiting Tasmania in the Summer, this is a definite must see as the rows upon rows of lavender will be in full bloom. The rolling fields of purple set against the backdrop of red soil are like something from a dream. Bridestowe is also known for its picture-perfect lavender flavoured ice-cream. What could be more perfect than curling up in a picturesque purple field with your delicious purple ice cream smelling the wonderful purple lavender?

3.  Blue Lake

Now it’s time to explore the wilderness in a different way with a strange and fascinating phenomenon. The Blue Lake is  the result of a deep hole that was used for mining. It reflects a luminous vivid turquoise color from the minerals at its base, which is both beautiful and alluring. Swimming in the lake isn’t advised as the blue waters are full of potentially harmful minerals, but it makes up for it by being the perfect spot to camp and have a picnic. You might even get lucky and find a gemstone in the clay beds around the lake, but watch out for the green ants – they bite.

East Coast

4. Bay of Fires & Binalong Bay

Now for some turquoise waters you really can actually swim in, although you might be in for a bit of a shock! The conservation area that makes up the whole stretch of coastline known as the Bay of Fires is just phenomenally beautiful. Known as the Bay of Fires due to the striking orange lichen-covered rocks that litter the beaches and cliff sides. The beaches are all fabulous, but the diamond in the crown is Binalong Bay which lies on the south end of the bay. Crystal clear waters and glowing white sand make this the perfect spot for a swim – if you can brave the cold that is.

5. Peron Dunes

Tasmania has incredible diversity in its landscape, which means one minute you’re swimming in turquoise waters and the next minute you’re carving through stretches of dry desert. The Peron Dunes will have you feeling like you just stepped onto the set of Lawrence of Arabia. These endless dunes of sand stretch as far as the eye can see, all the  way down to the open ocean. It’s great fun to grab a sand board and tackle the sandy slopes, or just kick back and bury yourself in the sand.

6. Bicheno Blowhole

Back to civilization and another natural wonder. Easily accessed just off the main road, Bicheno Blowhole is a natural opening bored into the rocks by the waves. On a particularly ferocious day it can reach up to twenty metres, so taking a photo next to this unpredictable beast can be quite the challenge.

7. Wineglass Bay

When you search for images of Tasmania this is always one of the top hits, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The whole of Freycinet Park has a lot to offer, but the view of Wineglass Bay is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. From the main car park at the base of the track there are a plethora of hikes, short walks and multi-day treks available for hikers of any skill and experience level. The easiest trek you can do (with the highest  reward) is the Wineglass Bay Lookout which gives epic views of the turquoise water and white beach below. You can also head down to the beach itself, and if you’re feeling energized, follow the Freycinet circuit around the entire peninsula.

For unmatched views of the landscape and definitely the best view available; it has to be Mt. Amos. This is a short but extremely demanding climb up the North face of Mt Amos. Steep and slippery, it’s the perfect challenge for adrenaline junkies. It is suggested as a 3-hour round trip, but take some time to enjoy the epic views of Wineglass Bay from the summit, and if you’re feeling brave and the weather is dry; hike up here early in the morning and take in an absolutely breathtaking sunrise.

South Coast

8. Hobart & Mt Wellington

As the capital of Tasmania, Hobart has the best of both worlds, convenient city living with a world-famous museum – MONA, and Mt Wellington which means majestic nature is always on your doorstep.

Grab a bite to eat in the lively boutique cafes and take a stroll around the quaint and colourful houses in Battery Point. Then head up to the peak of Mt Wellington and enjoy the sunset over the city. Pro tip – don’t lock your keys inside your vehicle, locksmiths are extremely reluctant to drive up mountains, even in Tasmania.

9. Bioluminescence & the Southern Lights

Not technically a location, but a stunning experience none the less, the phenomena that is  the magnificent but elusive Southern Australis is more likely to be captured on the Southern Coast of Tasmania. The South East Cape of Tassie is the furthest point on the southern coast and probably one of the best places to get a glimpse of this incredible place. Interestingly, The South East Cape is actually closer to Antarctica than it is to Australia. Follow the Winds of Change group on Facebook for updates on recent appearances and you just might be in for a glimpse of those glowing lights or the amazing phosphorescence of bioluminescent waters(follow this group for bioluminescent updates). Once you find it, throw rocks into the water or swish your feet around to your heart’s content.

10. Bruny Island

Grab another ferry and head off to a dream within a dream within a dream. Bruny is known for many things, but what makes this place truly special are its offerings of delectable cheeses and oysters, fascinating white wallabies and the adorable penguin colony situated on an island that is basically the edge of the world. Bruny Island needs no more explaining, just make sure you fill up on gas on the mainland because you’ll be paying extra for it here.

Make sure to check out these places specifically:

Get Shucked:  Great place for oysters

Bruny Island Cheese Company: Need I say more?

White Wallabies: Adventure Bay Area

11. Hartz Peak National Park

Tasmania is not short of breathtaking hikes, but the Hartz Peak track is one of the best, set across a backbone of dolerite rock stretching the length of the park. The moderately easy track winds between gorgeous flowering heaths and over mini rock pools. The summit can be reached in a 4-hour return and includes the sublime view of Lake Esperance from the top of the peak. Perfect place for evening picnic and it comes with a view like no other. Check details for the Hartz Peak Track here. The trek is easy with a a slightly more difficult rock scramble towards the summit. The full trip should take 4 hours round trip. Happy hiking! 

Central Highlands

12. Mt Field National Park

The rugged south west of Tasmania includes some of the finest scenery and landscapes on the entire island. Mt Field National Park consists of leisurely waterfall walks and challenging alpine hikes at intense elevation. The most popular waterfall – Russell Falls, lies just a 30-minute walk from the main car park, and if you’re lucky offers a unique night time treat; glowworms! If you’re feeling pumped up for a challenge; Mt Field West track is a 9-hour return journey across alpine terrain and pockmarked with glacial lakes. This track is only open for hiking in the summer months, as it is used as a ski resort in the winter. Mt Field national park also has a campsite right on it’s doorstep. It’s one of the few camp sites on the Island that you actually have to pony up some money for but at $22 a night it’s worth the extra money for the hot showers. The Russel & Horseshoe Falls circuit is quite easy and only takes about 1 hour to complete. 

13. Gordon Dam

At the end of a long and winding road West towards the Gordon River, Gordon Dam is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Imagine you’re standing at the edge of the Earth, and there is nothing beyond but beauty – that is what Gordon Dam feels like. The incredible dam stands 180 metres off the ground above Lake Gordon Reservoir, the tallest dam in Tasmania. You can head down and across the bridge to enjoy a fantastic 360-degree view. Most people would be happy to just admire the scenery, but for the adrenaline junkies out there; Gordon Dam is listed as one of the top ten sites for extreme sports in the world and has the highest commercial abseil available on the planet. Aardvark adventure tours offer abseiling down the giant mass of concrete all year round so it’s impossible to miss this amazing experience whenever you plan your trip.

14. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

Cradle Mountain is by far the most popular tourist hotspot in Tasmania, and for good reason; it is simply one of the most beautiful natural views on the planet. Cradle Mountain tends to form its own climate, and at times can be so shrouded in cloud that it could be mistaken for a marshmallow mountain, but on a good day, the sweeping vista and mirrored reflection in Dove Lake are unmatched in their beauty. The National Park is part of Tasmania’s most popular 6-day hike – The Overland Track, that takes in some of Tasmania’s most iconic sights. Cradle Mountain is also home to the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary – Devil’s @ Cradle, where you can see the nifty little critters up close, and Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, an iconic luxury experience set in the heart of the rugged wilderness.

North Coast

15. Rocky Cape National Park & Burnie

Set right on the North Coast of Tasmania, is Rocky Cape National Park. Heading back into the coastal regions, the north is the perfect place to wind down from all the adrenaline-filled hikes and relax by the coast. Tasmania heritage is still rich here, with old aboriginal caves preserved along the coastline, and a line up of cute lighthouses that used to be the main communication ports for the area. On the east side lies a town with a very special secret. When the sun has slipped beneath the horizon, Burnie becomes alive with the sounds of baby fairy penguins in breeding season which occurs between October and April. The small colony of fairy penguins is protected but you can see them up close at Burnie’s Penguin Observation Centre. At the POC you can experience the furry little fellas in their natural habitat, and educate yourself about them from the knowledgable volunteers who work there. This is a delightful way to end your trip before you head off back to the mainland.

There we have it, a perfectly curated trip of Tasmania for beginners, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg… Good luck and happy travels!

This article is a contribution from one of our amazing travel writers Becky Coe on her experiences traveling Tasmania. For more by Becky Coe check out her photos at https://becky-alice-coe.format.com/.