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Christian Baines Senior Content Editor 9 months, 4 weeks ago

How to Make the Most of Your Time in Tasmania

  • Wineglass Bay on Tasmania's East Coast

Part of Australia, yet a world away – Tasmania is a special destination with its own unique wildlife, history, and spectacular geography. The island takes an innovative and irreverent approach to food and art – all served with a laid-back devotion to good living that is pure ‘Tassie.’

What does that mean for planning your Tasmania trip? With as little as five days — though we recommend a week — you can get a perfect taste of all that’s great about Australia’s Apple Isle.

 Boats in Hobart Harbour. Mount Wellington in background.

Best things to do in Hobart, Tasmania

1 to 2 days plus day trips

Hobart may be the smallest of Australia’s state capitals, but it’s the largest city in Tasmania and punches well above its weight when it comes to art, food, wine, history, and livability. Give yourself a full day to explore it, on top of any day trips you have planned. There’s no morning more Hobart than a Saturday at Salamanca Markets. Arrive early and graze for breakfast as you explore the stalls. If it’s a nice day, head to the top of kunanyi / Mount Wellington for staggering views over Hobart and the River Derwent, or go for a stroll in the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. 

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is a fascinating (and free) introduction to the state, with a collection vastly different from its famous private neighbor, the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona). Don’t worry – you’ll want to go there too! Even the ferry journey up the Derwent to Berriedale, where this incredible (and cheeky) collection of modern art resides inside a spectacular cliff face, is a Hobart must-do. Once you’re at Mona, crack a smile at the owners’ parking spots (assigned to ‘God’ and ‘God’s mistress’), then collect your easy-to-use ‘O’ device, which provides all the explanation you’re going to get of the works at this placard-free museum. You’re then ready to descend into an unpretentious netherworld of art at its most playful and provocative. End your adventure with a glass of the local at Moorilla Winery and ponder just how many glassfuls went into the conception of this incredible space.

While its acclaimed wineries rarely export internationally, Tasmania produces a range of other popular alcoholic treats. Cascade Brewery is a local icon, where a tour and tasting cap off a visit to the nearby Cascades Female Factory Historic Site. History pairs nicely with beer! If you prefer something more spirited, stop by the LARK Distillery Cellar Door.

 Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasman Peninsula

Port Arthur: Australia’s toughest prison turned historic treasure

A day trip from Hobart

If Australia was the fate of convicts never meant to return to England, Port Arthur was the fate of convicts deemed too dangerous or troublesome for the fledgling colony of Sydney. If you were sent down to Port Arthur penal colony, there was a good chance you’d never leave! Today, it’s one of the most vivid surviving illustrations of Australia’s convict past, with daytime and ghost tours, plus ferries to the Isle of the Dead where over 1,000 convicts were buried – over 80% of them in unmarked graves. On a happier note, the island is also home to a rare surviving Aboriginal coastal shell site, making it an archaeological treasure. Also in the ‘good news’ box, the same isolated geography that made Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula such an ideal penal colony now isolates and shields its Tasmanian devil population from the facial tumor disease that’s devastated the species throughout Tasmania. Whether furry or phantasmic, Port Arthur’s rough-and-tumble outsiders are waiting for visitors!

 Woman meeting a pademelon at Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay and Freycinet National Park

1 to 2 days

Whether you prefer your picturesque bays lined by perfectly shaped white-sand beaches, or by rocks glowing with fiery hues of orange, Freycinet National Park is a slice of Tasmania you won’t want to miss. A walker’s paradise, its relatively easy hikes can bring you to amazing viewpoints like Wineglass Bay Lookout and Mount Amos. Pack a picnic to enjoy at picturesque Honeymoon Bay, or visit Freycinet Marine Farm, where a plate of fresh oysters is a must.

 Dove Lake and Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

Cradle Mountain and the Tasmanian wilderness

2 to 3 days (or a week if you’re feeling energetic!)

Seeing Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park alone justifies the flight to Tasmania. It’s not just an incredible place to hike, but a place to see echidnas, wombats, pademelons (a smaller relative of the kangaroo and wallaby), countless birds, and – if you’re very lucky – even the elusive Tassie devil in the wild. A more reliable place to get your Tasmanian devil photo is Devils @ Cradle, where the devils are plentiful, well cared for, and not nearly as shy as their brethren in many Australian zoos and wildlife parks. Surround all of that with jaw-dropping scenery, some of the freshest air you’ll smell anywhere, and walks to suit all fitness levels (from a quick stroll around Dove Lake to the full six-day Overland Track), and you have a World Heritage Area worth a long trip! Luckily, it’s just a couple of hours from either Strahan on the west coast or Launceston in the north.

 Two Tasmanian devils

The wild west of Tasmania

1 to 2 days

Compared to the refined beauty of Freycinet in the east, Tasmania’s west coast region suits the more adventurous traveler. Fresh, cold rivers cut through awesome gorges, tucked behind temperate rainforests. White-water rafting, 1,000-year-old pine trees, giant dunes, and even the occasional serene cruise along the Gordon River all make the list of must-dos on the west coast. Historic mines, towns and palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) heritage sites dot the region, while abundant short walks mean there’s something for every fitness level. It’s one of the wetter parts of Australia, but don’t let that put you off. If you’re looking for a Tasmania vacation on the wilder side, you need to include the west coast.

Lavender estate, Tasmania

Where is Tasmania and when to go

Tasmania is a heart-shaped island just south of Victoria, making it Australia’s southernmost state. There’s no bad time to visit. It’s an extremely comfortable summer destination (Dec to Feb). In winter, you’ll want to layer up, but with temperatures rarely dropping below 5C/40F, mid-winter (Jun-Aug) is still mild compared to most parts of the US and Canada. Even in remote areas like Cradle Mountain, the temperature rarely dips much below freezing, while the landscape is often blanketed in a dusting of picturesque snow.

 

12 Apr 2023, 3:57 p.m.

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