Exploring Tasmania

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Tassie is packed full of fabulous goodies when it comes to things to do with kids, for couples, groups and solo travellers. Attractions – man-made and natural – are around every corner. The most incredible wilderness areas can be accessed, some of the best beaches in the world to explore and an incredible history, that is both grim and remarkable.

Whether you are on a self-drive holiday or have opted for one of the Tasmanian holiday packages on offer – expect to be surprised and thrilled with what Australia’s island state offers. Our map of Tassie has all the places listed below marked for easy reference.

Find free camping spots that we can personally recommend. It may be a small island, but it deserves plenty of time to see it properly!

Did you know that it is possible to see the Aurora or Southern lights from Tassie? Join the Aurora Australis Facebook group if you are interested. Find the best places to view the Southern Lights in this article and drool over some awesome images too.

 

How long would we recommend in Tassie?

Four weeks at least. Six weeks would be better… even if your holiday was for a few months, there would still be so much to experience.

A grand tour of Tasmania can be completed in 10 days, seeing the highlights and experiencing the best of the island. Although, just to cover the incredible things to do that we have listed below, would take at least 30 days!

Do not think of Tassie as being small enough to drive around in a few days! We managed to cover over 5,000 km’s during a 5 week camping trip. That was not expected at all.

This is not an exhaustive list of ‘must sees’ in Tasmania, many little treasures will be uncovered as you meander around the island. We want you to make some discoveries for yourselves…

Tasmania in comparison to mainland Australia


Best of Tasmania

Our Top Most Fabulous things to see and do in Tassie

This list starts in Launceston, in the north of Tasmania. It then goes off down the Tamar Valley and does a clockwise circuit of the island. This will help ‘explorers’ to plan their own trip to this awesome part of Australia. Go to our Map of Tassie to find each place listed.

Launceston & The Cataract Gorge

Launceston is a pretty city with plenty to see and do. Cataract Gorge is one of the favourite places for locals and visitors alike. Great swimming, pretty walks, and a scenic chairlift. One or two days will be enough time to see Launceston.


Tamar Valley

A day trip (or longer) down the Tamar Valley is a must. Stop at Brady’s Lookout, named after one of Tasmania’s naughtiest boys, Bushranger Matthew Brady. Wineries are established on both the East and West Tamar. There is nothing prettier than a drive along the Tamar on a glorious still day when the reflections are at their best on the river. Drive down along the West Tamar, follow the old road beside the river at Rosevears and continue along past Deviot and across the Batman Bridge. Beaconsfield, Georgetown and Lowhead are all interesting places to visit too. A full day or two would be ideal to see this area.


Grindelwald

Tassie’s own little piece of Switzerland. Love it or loathe it. The dream of a Dutchman to have his own Swiss Village in Tassie! About 15 minutes drive from Launceston on the West Tamar River. Not a lot of time needed to visit this spot as it’s quite small…

Launceston, Tasmania


North East Tasmania

From Georgetown all the way to the top most North-Easterly point of Tasmania there are gorgeous beaches, forest walks, waterfalls and plenty to see.


Bay of Fires – Binnalong Bay

The name sets the imagination racing from the start. Tassie scenery does not get much more amazing than at Binnalong Bay and the Bay of Fires region. The images on the website will have anyone heading to this destination, a long-time holiday favourite for many Tasmanians. Plenty of free camping options as well as holiday homes.

The bay was named in 1773 by Captain Tobias Furneaux, who saw fires that the Aboriginal people on the beaches had lit. It is commonly thought the name derived from the stunning orange lichen on the rocks. Loads of rock hopping to do here!


Freycinet Peninsula

 Another iconic Tasmanian destination! The world famous Wine Glass Bay with clear blue waters, white sands and fabulous walking tracks…. go here. Don’t miss it off your list! Nearby Friendly Beaches is an awesome spot too.


Maria Island

20 kilometres long, located in the Tasman Sea, rugged mountains and oozing with convict history. Maria Island is well worth adding to the Tassie adventures list!


 Port Arthur  Eagle Hawk and The Tasman Peninsula

This is a place that needs little introduction. Some of Australia’s saddest historic events occurred here, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. “Follow the history of Port Arthur, from timber camp, to a prison at the forefront of criminal reform methods, right through to a world class tourist destination”.

While in the area, visit the Tessellated Pavement, Devils Kitchen, Blowhole and local beaches of the Tasman Peninsula. PS BEST EVER Fish and Chips at the blow hole! A mobile van called ….’Doo-Licious’ was at the blowhole and they were awesome!

  Doo Town

We just had to include this hilarious little town, not far from Port Aurthur. From it’s beginnings in the 1930’s, consisting of holiday shacks (holiday cottages), a local Architect named his shack  ‘DOO I’ and the idea struck others as a novel naming and so the trend caught on with many ‘Doo’s’. A great giggle and plenty of photo opportunities!

East Coast Tasmania Australia


Utterly awesome boat trip to Cape Pillar

A boat cruise around the famous Cape Pillar definitely should be included in your visit to Tassie. A spectacular region that worth seeing from sea level. The Three Capes Track is an organised trek for small groups with accommodation and food provided. It is costly but rather speccie. The Three Capes walk is not open to the public.

Cape Pillar – The Big Hike!

This post is coming soon – well, as soon as we have done the hike!


Richmond & The Famous Bridge

Heading towards Hobart, a detour to all the little coast towns and up to Richmond are rewarding. The Richmond Bridge is heritage listed. The arched bridge is 25 km north of Hobart. It is a beautiful town and the bridge has a couple of claims to fame – the oldest bridge still in use in Australia and the oldest stone span bridge in Australia.


Hobart & Mt Wellington

Well known for the Salamanca Market and New Year’s Eve celebrations as the Sydney to Hobart yacht race finishes, Hobart is a great city to visit. Be sure to go to the top of Mt Wellington for superb views. Mt Wellington is very popular, try to get there as early as possible when it is quieter!

Mt Wellington Tasmania


Museum of Old & Modern Art (MONA)

A stunning building and definitely worth a visit. Free admission for under 18’s and Tasmanian residents, otherwise there is a charge of $15 – $28. The website is rather ugly to use, IMO. i’ll confess to not actually being a huge fans of galleries and some parts of this one left me wondering about ‘what is art’? Hmmm… see for yourselves.


Bruny Island

What an absolute treasure this little island is! Beaches, history, wildlife, super accommodation and stunning camping spots! Take the ferry across from Kettering, about 40 minutes drive south of Hobart. The crossing is not overly expensive and the experience is priceless! Be sure to see the Little Penguins at the reserve on ‘The Neck’. A local guide is often there to give a presentation about the little birds and it’s free. Visitors need a car or to be on a tour to see the island properly. A few days can easily be spent here, especially for anyone keen on bush walking.


 Huon Valley

A trip to Tassie would not be complete without a drive through the Huon Valley. A stunning region with so much to see and do: Incredible wilderness walking tracks, jet boat rides, The Tahune ‘Airwalk’, wonderful Cockle Creek at the very end, Hastings Caves and the Thermal Springs….

We enjoyed the warm thermal pool at Hastings Caves – it is a blue swimming pool fed by warm springs. The caves are great too. We were left disappointed by the Tahune Airwalk – an awesome structure and great views, though really pricey for what it is.


 Mt Field National Park

Massive trees, the famous Russell Falls, and some stunning walks. Along with a top campground, Mt Field is well known and loved by Tasmanians and visitors to the Island.

Southern Tasmania


The Styx Valley of the Giants

The Styx Valley of the Giants is less than two hours drive from Hobart and home to some of the tallest trees on Earth. For years, it was one of Tasmania’s hottest conservation battlegrounds, with patches of its giant trees logged against the best efforts of environmentalists.
In 2013, the logging stopped and the Styx was finally given the recognition it deserved, protected as a formal reserve and added to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Now, the Styx offers a unique visitor experience. Free from the backdrop of conflict, controversy and destruction, visitors can explore the myriad of walking tracks throughout the valley and walk among ancient rainforests, towering eucalypts and along a wild, free-flowing river.

Read more about the self drive & walking guide on the Wilderness Society website.


 Strathgordon and the Gordon Dam plus Scary Abseiling!

The Gordon Dam wall is 132 metres high and was built in 1974. Abseiling down the wall is an option for the brave… I as hoping to book the kids on as a surprise for them… but it is for 18 and over only. Shame. Be sure to see the 2,000-year-old Huon pine stump at Pedder Wilderness Lodge, near the dam wall.

We enjoyed staying at one of our favourite free camps down this way at Edgar Pond on the Scott’s Peak Road. There is a smashing little walk on the road in called the ‘Creepy Crawly Walk’ – don’t miss it!


** MUST SEE** ‘ The Wall’ at Derwent Bridge

This is my absolute favourite. We went to ‘The Wall’ without really knowing what it was, people just said to go and see it. Wow. I think it’s better to not really know the whole story, just arrive with plenty of time and enjoy this man-made treasure. Kids are welcome but must be kept under control, no cameras allowed inside. If you must know what it is, read more…


 Lake St Clair National Park

Lake St Clair is at the southern end of the world-famous Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Lake St Clair National Park is awesome. Bushwalking, cruise on the Lake and the end of the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain.


 Franklin River & Whitewater Adventure

Learn about the Franklin River history and preservation protests on a short walk or immerse yourself in a whitewater experience!


  West Coast –  Strahan, Queenstown & Gordon River

An absolute must on any Tasmanian holiday itinerary. River cruises, wilderness, the raw beauty of Queenstown – so much to see.

World Heritage Cruises

A family owned company – since 1896! We highly recommended boarding one of their cruises when visiting the South West. On a still day, the reflections in the Gordon River are stunning. Cruises go across Macquarie Harbour and out to the entrance of the harbour before plying their way up river…  Read more on their website.


  Henty Sand Dunes

11 km north of Strahan (on the Zeehan road). Huge sand dunes, fabulous for tobogganing! Toboggans can be hired from a few places in Strahan or take your own… boogie boards maybe.


  Tarkine Wilderness & Corinna

The Tarkine is a special place to visit. “The 447,000 hectare Tarkine Wilderness Area is Australia’s largest tract of unprotected temperate rainforest and it contains vast forests of myrtle, leatherwood and pine trees. It is home to one of the greatest concentrations of Aboriginal sites in Australia. Almost all The Tarkine’s 447,000 hectares is alive with snakes, frogs, birds, 28 different mammals, endangered wedge-tailed eagles and the now rare Astacopsis gouldi – the world’s biggest freshwater lobster. “.

Allow plenty of time to visit this unique area. Walks, massive trees, wildlife, camping, accommodation, canoeing, and a giant tunnel slide!

Nearby Corinna is a speck of a village that deserves to be on your holiday itinerary too. A step back in time, with a Wilderness Experience accommodation option.


The Nut at Stanley

The core of a volcano, 152 metres high. The Nut stands out like a sore thumb on the northwest coast of Tassie, by Stanley. Designed and manufactured in Austria, the chairlift takes folks up and down or you can walk. We recommend walking one way at least… just depends on whether you prefer going up or down! As a child growing up in Tassie, we went up the Nut, scaring the daylights out of our mother by going as close to the edge as possible… so, watch the kids at all times!


Boat Harbour Beach, Table Cape and the North West Coast

So many fabulous spots to visit as you cruise down the coast. We loved Boat Harbour Beach and all the little villages along the way, also the town of Penguin with it’s colony of little Penguins as well as a big penguin sculpture that graces the main entrance to the town.


Cradle Mountain

One of Tasmania’s most famous natural attractions and the start of the 7-day overland track. Fabulous walks, Dove Lake circuit being one of the most popular, plus many more of varying difficulty. Watch for little Tasmanian Devils, stay in a lodge, camp or book a cabin.


Sheffield – Town of Murals

The first mural in the little town was unveiled in 1986. Follow the history of the region in pictures as you explore the town. Plenty of accommodation options such as the Carinya Farm Holiday Retreat.


 Tasmazia & the Village of Lower Crackpot

With 8 mazes, Tasmazia is reported to be the largest maze complex in the world. The village of Lower Crackpot is, well, a crack up. A great day out for the whole family in an area called the Promised Land.


Liffey Falls

One of the prettiest waterfalls in Tasmania. One the slopes of the Great Western Tiers. A friendly debate is ongoing as to the prettier of the Falls – Liffey or down south the Russell Falls, in Mt Field National Park.


Tasmanian Central Highlands

The Lakes region – Famed for world-class fishing and stunning scenery. Plenty of caravan and camping sites in the region. A tour of Tasmania is not complete without visiting the Highlands and Lakes region!


 Wildlife Parks – Tassie has a few excellent parks to choose from:  Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary near Hobart, Tasmania Zoo in Launceston and Trowunna at Mole Creek (near Cradle Mountain). All the parks have good reputations.


Getting to Tasmania

By Ship – Spirit of Tasmania

An overnight or day trip on the ‘Spirit’ is an exciting way to reach Tasmania. Justine, fromOur Family Getabout’, wrote a brilliant post on all the details of booking and boarding the ship with a caravan and ‘life on board’.

Hints For Booking on the Spirit of Tasmania

Try to book early to get the best fare. If you do a search and wait to book, the price may go up. Also if you have already done a search for fares and then come back later to book – the nature of the internet means that your visit will almost certainly be tracked and the price increased because of this tracking (happens all the time on the web).

  • Clear the cache/history on your device before booking so the ‘cookies’ are cleared.
  • Either use an incognito browser window for searching in the first place or for when booking.
  • Or … Be super paranoid and book from a totally different computer!
  • This applies to booking airfares etc. too.

Taking your Dog on the Spirit of Tassie

We took our fur baby with us when we went to Tassie. The way over we ‘dutifully’ put her in the kennel on board. And hated leaving her there. They were clean and safe, but just horrid to leave a little dog scared in the noisy bowels of the ship. A bit of ‘googling’ and I saw that they are not compelled to be kenneled at all.

On the return voyage, we asked to keep her in the car. Signed a simple form with no hassles at all and she remained in the car and her own space. Much better. You cannot go to the cars during the voyage though.

  • All the decks are ventilated, it is not a problem at all.
  • When you kennel a dog, the kennels are located on 2 of the car decks, so this means you may be kept waiting in line to board.
  • When dogs are being kept in the car, it means you generally board in the order of your arrival.
  • Day sailings take about 9 hours and night sailings about 12 hours – it would be better to go on a day sailing with a dog, perhaps.
  • Try to be one of the last vehicles onboard to delay the time your dog is confined.
  • It is free to take dogs on the ship, though a kennel costs a small amount extra.

Flying to Tasmania

A number of airlines service Tasmania and travellers may land in Launceston, Hobart, Devonport and a number of smaller towns too.

Find Airfares, Accommodation & Car Hire

We love to use Sky Scanner for finding the best airfares, accommodation at great prices and car or campervan hire too.


Find some quirky accommodation places on Air BnB.

If you are not signed up to Air BnB, follow our link to receive a credit of up to $50 to use on your first stay.


 

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