If there is one state that is neglected in the repetitive mass-produced guides to Australia, it is without a doubt Tasmania. This state definitely doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Perhaps this is due to the lack of media promotion, or because it is separated from the mainland by the Tasman Sea, but these are not reasons to ignore the shear natural beauty Tasmania holds.
That said, this negligence could also work to a traveller’s advantage, as it is far cheaper to reach and explore then the commercialised East Coast or urban sprawls of Sydney and Melbourne. TigerAir and Jetstar fly there direct from multiple airports in Australia for as little as $40AUD each way.
Like flights, car hire and accommodation can also be considerably less then the expensive Australia we have all come to know and expect. My recommendation would definitely be to hire a car. I saw very few buses on my visit and trains appeared non-existent. Hiring a car also allows you the freedom and flexibility to do everything you want with no concrete schedule. This was especially helpful for us as one of the big national parks was closed due to wild fires. We hired a car from AVIS rentals, picked it up and dropped it off at different airports and it cost approx. $400AUD for 12days. Split between 4 people this is a great, cheap way to explore the state and at your own pace. There are always deals with car companies for free days or discounts too.
In terms of accommodation, it really depends what type of traveller you are. There are hotels, B&Bs, or hostels at varying prices. Not known for its tourism trade, Tasmania doesn’t have too many chain accommodation and it is more small town B&Bs with a homely touch. The alternative option, and the one I chose, is camping. Tasmania is full of free or very low cost camping sites that are located nearby of many of the major areas you are likely to visit. For the most part however, you will need to be prepared for limited facilities, there is normally only rainwater or a pit toilet if you’re lucky. This was the website I used during my 12 night stay and all of the campsites were relatively easy to find:
On arrival into Hobart, three friends and myself drove to the nearest K-mart and bought two tents, sleeping bags; roll mats and pillows for a total of $36AUD each. Aside from one night in a hostel in Devonport, this was the total amount we spent on accommodation for the whole 12 days I was there. Bargain! Now that you have your transport and accommodation all sorted, these are my top 5 places to visit;
The capital of the state, Hobart is a picturesque port city situated in the South East of Tasmania. It is home to the Mona Museum, the weekly Salamanca market in Salamanca Place and vibrant festivals lighting up the streets throughout the year. During the summer it holds the Taste of Tasmania festival as well as The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
As it is a city it doesn’t offer anything in terms of camping grounds so you will either need to camp outside of the city and have day trips or stay in B&Bs/hotels during your stay.
To get great panoramic views of the city and beyond, I recommend driving to the top of Mount Wellington located to the west of the city. It may get a little gusty up there but the stunning views out towards Freycinet National Park are worth it and there is a viewing station with maps and information.
The information centre in the city is also a great place to start your journey with very helpful guides and informative staff.
An hour and a half south of Hobart is Bruny Island. Bruny Island is only accessible by ferry, you can buy tickets on the day at the ferry port but it is worth arriving early to join the queue of cars. It costs $30AUD return and there are about eight outbound and inbound ferries each day. If you go for a day trip be sure to time it right as the last one back is at 8pm and after that there is no way of getting back off the island.
Click the link below for the ferry timetable and pricing;
If you do have time to spend a night there it is well worth your time and definitely worth the price of the ferry.
Spend the day exploring the island, visiting Cape Bruny Lighthouse and Cloudy Bay Lagoon, as well of the many other beautiful beaches lining the shores.
Come dusk it is a great time to spot wildlife that calls this island home. Found along the back roads near the Adventure Bay Township is the infamous white wallaby, the only place it can be found in Australia.
At around 9-10pm I would recommend heading north on the Bruny Island main road to where you can watch the Fairy penguins returning to their burrows after a long day out at sea.
You can set up camp at a nearby site in Adventure Bay. It is a great spot that leads to the beach but its popular during summer so you may have to fight for a spot or go grab one earlier in the day to avoid disappointment.
Food can also be an issue on the island as there only appeared to be one pub, a café and a small convenience store so be sure to take additional supplies with you.
Freycinet National Park
Freycinet is a National Park situated on the East coast; it is the oldest park in the state of Tasmania. Full of trails and coastline, Freycinet provides endless day hikes and overnight treks for all levels of ability.
We travelled to this area during the fires of January 2013 so a lot of the trails were closed and trees were damaged with burnt bark. We returned the following day and luckily some trails were open, including the one we most wanted to hike: Wine Glass Bay.
Wine Glass Bay is voted by many as one of the 10 best beaches in the World and I can see why. Situated in a cove overlooking Freycinet’s ‘The Hazards’ granite peaks it is a beautiful beach with white sands and clear blue sea.
The hike to the viewpoint-overlooking Wine Glass Bay isn’t as easy as you might think but it definitely makes the views from the top even more worthwhile. I would say that it takes approximately an hour to reach the top but this can be done at a slower or faster pace need be.
There is then the option to walk down to the beach and again I would recommend it if you have time as the views are just as good from the beach floor. Just remember to allow enough time to climb back to the viewpoint and then down back to the car park as well; approximately two hours.
Aside from a café, Freycinet does not offer any shops or amenities so remember to take your lunch with you. There is a camping site within the National Park and it is one of the few paid camping sites in Tasmania. They are not unreasonable in their pricing however with an unpowered site for two costing $13 for the night with the money going towards conserving the park and camping facilities.
This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and I definitely recommend making time for this National Park.
Bay of Fires
On making the loop around Tasmania, you must stop at the Bay of Fires.
You may believe the name is given from its renowned orange-hued granite but in fact the area was named in the 1700’s after Captain Tobias Furneaux saw the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches.
You do not need to spend too long in this area if restricted on time but the shore lined with these granite rocks is worth a look. It is also a great area to just rest, relax and enjoy the beach.
Slightly further south of the Bay of Fires however there is ample amounts of space for free camping and this is en route to Freycinet National Pack.
Last but not least on my list is Cradle Mountain. Unlike many of the highlights, Cradle Mountain is situated towards the West of Tasmania.
It is part of the Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park.
Lake Saint Clair is Australia’s deepest lake but if you were to do a day hike here it would be best to start at Dove Lake. If you are tight on time you can even just do the Dove Lake loop, which takes about two hours.
A list of the walks, both short and full day/s can be found on the official Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania website; http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/indeX.aspX?base=3305
To get to Dove Lake if travelling a clockwise loop of Tasmania it is easiest to go from Hobart North-West on the A10 through Queenstown. Alike to many National Parks this one is also limited in terms of amenities so I would recommend filling up and getting supplies in the bizarrely mid-western town of Queenstown. Remember to use your phone prior to arriving at the National Park too as signal is non-existent once within the Cradle Mountain area – so make sure you have an old fashioned map as well!
One point to note is that within National Parks in Tasmania you need a permit to drive within the actual park. The same applies to the pre-mentioned Freycinet National Park. These can be bought in advance online, from the National Park Information Centres or Tasmanian Travel Information Centres.
- Daily (up to 24 hours) – If bringing your own vehicle into the park you should have to pay only the $24 for the carload (up to 8 people). If you come on a bus you will have to pay $16.50 per person. You can only use the shuttle bus service if you have an individual pass.
- Holiday (up to 8 weeks) – If you are staying in the park for a couple of days or visiting more than one national park it will be cheaper to buy a holiday pass. Per vehicle with up to 8 people $60. Per person $30. A holiday pass is valid for every national park in Tasmania so it is well worth paying a little extra.
In terms of accommodation there are various cabins and lodges again mentioned on the above website but they are situated a kilometre or two outside of the National Park. Camping inside the national park is not permitted within the day walk area but there are other areas inside the park that are free to camp. The first two places you may camp outside the day walk area are Waterfall Valley and Lake Rodway. Both of these places are on the overland track and have huts, which are also free to use. It may be worth researching how busy the track is in the time of year to plan to visit to avoid getting caught out.
No matter if it’s a long weekend or a couple of weeks that you have spare, make sure that you visit Tasmania. With so much on offer it should not be written off and in my opinion is the most under appreciated state in Australia.