Tasmania surprised me.
For such a small state it left a big impression. I guess the saying good things come in small packages fits well with Tasmania.
I knew it was going to be a whole lot quieter and slower pace of life than here in Sydney, and I was expecting the beautiful scenery, but there were more things to do in Tasmania than we had time for.
Our six day introduction has us excited about our month long road trip back there in December that will allow us to really get to know possibly the most under appreciated state in Australia.
Like many others, Tasmania has been on our list for years, and we’ve had the attitude that we’ll get there some day.
Well, whilst we did get there we’ve only had a small taste of Tassie, but here’s some of our recommendations and what you can experience on your visit, even if just for a weekend getaway.
THE NATURAL BEAUTY
Cataract Gorge, or The Gorge as the locals call it, is a must see destination just outside of Launceston. It’s hard to believe such a beautiful gorge exists merely minutes from the city centre, no wonder it’s a locals favourite.
We started our visit with a delicious breakfast at the Basin Cafe which overlooks the First Basin and the suspension bridge featured in the photo above.
Once you’ve filled up it’s time to burn it off by taking in one of the leisurely walking or hiking trails, or if you have an empty stomach you can do some laps in the outdoor pool.
Cataract Gorge also has the world’s longest single span chairlift, abseiling, wildlife, and beautiful gardens. So spend an hour or half a day. Get active or relax with a picnic and enjoy this unique natural formation.
See the Cataract Gorge in Launceston by pressing play below:
Tamar Island Wetlands Walk
Only a 10 minute drive north of Launceston, the perfect way to start your morning is with a leisurely 3km return walk through the wetlands to Tamar Island.
Get there early enough and you’ll have the walk all to yourself, except for the abundance of birds that come to life swooping amongst the reeds towering above your head.
A boardwalk extends over swamps and crosses the river to two islets and then Tamar Island, and with each step you experience a peacefulness and serenity you don’t expect to find this close to the city centre.
There is hot debate amongst Tasmanians as to what is the best waterfall in Tasmania: Liffey Fallsor Russel Falls in the south of the island? Without having visited Russel Falls yet we can’t answer that, but we can recommend you go see Liffey.
A 40 minute nature walk in the forest will bring you to Liffey.
This is a World Heritage Area, and the walk lies within the Liffey Falls State Reserve, an area of cool temperate rainforest, featuring myrtle, sassafras and leatherwood on the slopes of the Great Western Tiers.
The Freycinet Peninsula
Freycinet National Park is a peninsula of pink granite mountains, pure white beaches, coastal dunes and dry eucalypt forest.
It was not meant for buildings and tour groups, rubbish and flashing neon lines, and those not willing to make a journey to experience paradise.
Within this peninsular is Hazards Beach. A beach that is pure, remote, desolate, peaceful, and breathtaking. Besides the main stretch of beach, you will find rock pools with starfish and sea snails hiding under rocks, sea anemones and hermit crabs.
The famous Wineglass Bay – a beach consistently rated as one of the world’s best, also resides here. Three pink granite peaks – the Hazard mountains – rise dramatically, protecting the bay from the infiltration of humanity.
Wineglass Bay is a 2.5 hour drive from Hobart. You can cruise into the bay on board a Freycinet cruise vessel, fly over it in a sea plane, but I think the best way to appreciate it is to take the two hour hike down from the Wineglass bay lookout.
Cruise the Rugged South East Coastline
Rob Pennicott, a Tasmanian celebrity, has been running Tasman Island cruises along the coastline of Port Arthur since 1999. The entire coastline is isolated and rugged and unspoilt.
We were promised lots of marine life sightings: Australian and New Zealand fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, cormorants, diving gannets, and little penguins. We stopped to explore sea caves, passing lobster fisherman, and the highest sea cliffs in the Southern hemisphere at Cape Pillar.
It was isolated and eerie, a lonely place to sit and watch with only seals on the rocks below as friends.
You can also do a Rob Pennicott cruise around Bruny Island.
THE FOOD AND WINE
Who knew Tassie has some of the best produce in the country? And the wine was equally as surprising.
The Tamar Valley is a wine region just 10 minutes drive north of Launceston and is known (secretly) as one of the best wine regions in Australia. The Essential Travel magazine (UK) named the Tamar Valley Wine Route as “One of the top 10 wine routes in the world”.
The cool climate the area enjoys is perfect for producing high quality and elegant wines, and exploring this wine region was a highlight of our Tasmanian experiences so far.
Check out Moores Hill winery here:
There are plenty of local pubs, restaurants and cafes scattered along the area including our favourite the Ilk cafewhere I had the best Bruschetta I’ve ever eaten (topped with roasted capsicum, pine nuts, grilled haloumi and smoked ocean halloumias an explosion of flavours).
Josef Chromy Vineyard
We discovered this winery via a local who said:
“Without a doubt the best winery in Launceston. The views are spectacular and the food and wine world-class.”
Josef Chromy Wines began in 2007 and has amassed over 14 trophies and 170 medals which makes it one of the most successful launches in the history of the Tasmanian wine industry.
The cellar door is located in the estates original 1880s homestead, and with gorgeous views over the lake and vineyards appreciated from either the outside deck of the restaurant or from behind the full length glass windows, it makes for an idyllic place for lunch and to while away the hours.
Saturday Harvest Market, Launceston
The Harvest Market is an authentic farmers market and is held in the Cimitiere street car park every Saturday, and only sells food and beverages grown and produced in Tasmania, and there is a range of foods for all tastes.
Best to go arrive at opening in the mornings and spend an hour, or two, taste testing and purchasing some supplies. You can even purchase some Wallaby, a good meat option similar to kangaroo, which I haven’t seem for sale on the mainland.
Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe, Elizabeth Town
The Raspberry Farm Cafe came highly recommended by our facebook community and also by the locals we met on the ground in Tassie who said we must go there. So we did and gorged ourselves on delicious desserts.
My fave was the Mud cake with Raspberries:
The stone and timber café overlooks lush green lawns running down to a lake filled with water lilies. The garden features native trees and a herb garden overlooking the raspberry canes in the distance.
Other stops worth considering include Ashgrove Cheese in Elizabeth Town (handmade and award winning), The Cherry Shed in Latrobe, House of Anvers in Latrobe (try the Aztec hot chocolate), Berry Patch in Turners Beach, and finish off at the Hellyer Road Whisky Distillery in Burnie.
The Convict Trail of Richmond to Port Arthur
Teach yourself (and your children) a little of Australian history in Tasmania by following the convict trail.
Port Arthur is Tasmania’s most famous convict site. The beautiful historic buildings of the old prison house a museum which brings to life the lives of convicts and the crimes and punishments that happened surrounding some of Australia’s worst criminals.
Not to be missed are the ghost tours of Port Arthur. Allow the stories to help you decide if you are a believer or not.
Richmond is a town artisans have been drawn to for generations. You can find their work in galleries and cafes. It’s also home to Australia’s oldest bridge built by convict labour and Australia’s oldest jail.
Brickendon Estate is a convict World Heritage Site near Launceston.
Brickendon’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it is still a lived in and working farm, a rich Australian history of convicts and free settlers working together and a landscape that remains virtually untouched for 200 years.
Smokehouses and ovens, outhouses, and shearing sheds can still be explored and the old blacksmith shop is left as it was in the 1930’s.
You can stay over at Brickendon in historic cottages and rustic cabins. Sit by an open fire and wake up to stunning views overlooking the paddocks.
Whilst the family home is closed to the public, don’t miss wandering the gardens which has a very English feel with its flowering beds of roses, camellias and trees from around the world such as oaks, elms, and pines.
Check out more of Brickendon Estate:
Hobart is beautiful, inviting, walkable, and one of Australia’s oldest cities.
It’s a city that has learned to coexist with the modern world while still maintain its old world charm. The history is still alive with its 19th Century sandstone warehouses that now serve as cafes, restaurants and artists’ studios. Quaint cottages and colonial mansions are all over the small city.
Stories of Australia’s history seep out from its walls enticing you to learn more as you wander the streets and sit in bars where whalers perhaps sat in the 1800′s.
And then there is the backdrop of Mount Wellington rising above the city and the River Derwent racing through its heart.
Down on the harbour, the place where the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race ends, is so serene early in the morning.
Get a dash of history at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Gallery which celebrates Tasmania’s indigenous history and culture.
Be sure to wander through the cobblestoned streets, check out the famous Salamanca Markets and see what else this fine city has to offer.
TALK TO THE LOCALS
I know we bang on about this all the time. But seriously, the locals in Tassie are super friendly and are more than willing to share their local secrets.
Most of the experiences I’ve written about here come from chatting with the locals. It’s how we always like to travel and the locals down there didn’t let us down.
Just be warned, you may find yourself running late for your next destination or meal, they really love a chat!
The best way to see Tasmania is by road tripping. Whilst Hobart and Launceston our small and walkable cities, once you get away from them public transport is non existent and you need your own vehicle.
But don’t worry, the state is very small in comparison to the mainland and distances between points of interest are short.
Bring your own vehicle
If you have your own vehicle, bring it on the Spirit of Tasmania, the ferry that sails between Melbourne and Devonport.
Hire a car
RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental site.
Motor Home / Campervan
Apollo, Britz and the Traveller’s Autobarn are companies that offer a range of motor homes and camper vans to suit your needs.
Plan Your Trip in Tasmania
We’ve been traveling consistently for 17 years and have come to rely on a few trusted websites that save us money and time when booking accommodation, flights and car rental. Below are our preferred partners:
- Booking.com has 700,000+ hotels, apartments and hostels worldwide. You get free cancellation on most rooms and a best price guarantee.
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.