Tasmania was absolutely incredible, and long story short – if you love exploring the outdoors and soaking in pretty views, then you better start packing your bags now!
We explored a lot of Tassie over the two weeks we were there, and even though each day was packed full of things to do – there was obviously still a lot of places we didn’t get to see. But if you’d like a run-down on what we did then keep reading!
If you’d like to see a little snapshot of what we got up to, then click below to watch our three-minute highlight reel:
Accommodation: Mercure Launceston
We booked return flights from Sydney to Launceston and picked up our hire car from the airport once we arrived. At the beginning of our trip we stayed at the Mercure, a super convenient spot across the road from City Park.
Tip: Be mindful that if the intended driver is under the age of 25, car hire will be slightly more expensive – so factor this into your budget!
Accommodation: Abel Tasman Inn
As we flew in and out of Launceston, the Abel Tasman Inn was our budget accommodation for our last night in Tassie. The location is great if you need to be close to the airport, which is exactly what we wanted. Plus, Cataract Gorge is only a short drive.
The city of Launceston is incredibly beautiful. It’s a quiet little town, with the main street only having a handful of cars on it at any one time. The old buildings give off a very rustic feel and City Park is definitely a pretty place to have a romantic afternoon walk.
Only a fifteen minute walk from the heart of Launceston is Cataract Gorge. It’s a circuit that takes you around the public reserve with multiple walking tracks, a swimming pool, the longest single span chairlift in the world, places to eat, a suspension bridge and panoramic lookouts with breathtaking views. Definitely a must-do!
tamar island wetland conservation area
There is plenty of wildlife to find on Tamar Island, with stunning scenery over the wetlands. The long boardwalks pave the way through the entire conservation area, framed by the tall grass surrounding it.
Tip: If you have any spare change in your wallet or car, take it with you to place in their donation box – they are a small conservation area run by volunteers and they definitely appreciate any support they can get!
bridestowe lavender estate
On our way to the lavender farm, we took the back roads and stopped to get some lunch at a small family-owned cafe called Bean in the Country. As predicted, we unfortunately missed the lavender season by a month or so, and the fields were completely bare due to being harvested.
Tip: The best time to visit the lavender fields is mid-December to mid-January! It is free to enter the estate during off-peak seasons.
We had a walk around the distillery and drying grounds, but as the essential oil does – the smell of lavender made me feel quite sleepy! We cooled down by trying the iconic purple lavender ice-cream. Was it good? Let’s just say, we will allow you to make your own minds up on that one!
mersey bluff lighthouse
The famous red and white striped lighthouse just outside of Devonport. Don’t be fooled when you drive into the car park, as only half the lighthouse is painted – so don’t drive away thinking it’s been all painted over in white. The views are pretty cool across the ocean, too!
This small town is renowned for its pretty murals plastered across the streets. Definitely a cute spot to stop for lunch and have a walk around to appreciate the artwork. Some of them honestly look like pictures!
cataract on paterson [restaurant]
This restaurant was a little exxy, but the food was incredible. They pretty much offer everything and anything you could want. We spent our last dinner in Tassie here and it was the perfect place to enjoy a meal and reflect on our two week adventure together.
bay of fires
Accommodation: Bay of Fires Bush Retreat
If you enjoy the outdoors, but want to experience camping with a bit of glam, then this Bush Retreat is where it’s at! We booked a bell tent and went glamping for two nights at Bay of Fires. The tents have what you need: a beautifully made king-size bed, some seats, a heater and power. That’s it, really.
The communal kitchen is fitted with stoves, a fridge, freezer, oven, BBQ – you name it, it’s got everything you need to make your own meals, with IGA around the corner. Alternatively, you can purchase breakfast or dinner made on-site by Chef Tom.
The vibes at the bush retreat are very relaxed. There is a high value placed on building relationships with others. As there are a limited amount of tents, there are only a small amount of people staying at the same time as you. The communal kitchen, bar and fireplace areas provide a perfect opportunity to really get to know one another.
As for heated showers and flushing toilets, the communal bathroom is incredibly modern (yes, that means no long drops on this camping trip!) and only a short walk from your tent. However, keep in mind that during winter you probably won’t want to get up during the night to go to the bathroom, so make sure you have done everything you need to before calling it a night.
bay of fires beaches
The east coast of Tasmania is spectacular, with absolutely breathtaking views of clear water and white sandy beaches. The coastline is known as Bay of Fires due to the famous red, algae-stained rocks. We drove about an hour and a half, primarily on unsealed roads, to Eddystone Point Lighthouse. It’s a pretty place to explore, but if you are restricted for time, or have an expensive hire car, then you will probably want to give this one a miss.
There are plenty of little reserves around St. Helen’s that have small walkways and jetties surrounding the beaches. If you are wanting to grab some ingredients to make your own dinner back at the Bush Retreat, then the IGA here is your go-to.
Accommodation: Beachfront Bicheno
We stopped off at Mount Elephant Pancakes for a very unhealthy breakfast before checking in at our accommodation. We enjoyed our rocky-road, and banana and caramel filled crepes in the small cafe which oozed a comfortable, homely kind of atmosphere.
east coast natureworld
Only a few minutes from Beachfront Bicheno on the Tasman Highway is a wildlife park, filled with Tassie Devils, wombats, kangaroos, echidnas and plenty of birds. The entry free for an adult is $26.50 and if you want to kill a few hours, plus learn a heck of a lot about the animals through entertaining and informative tours, then it’s definitely a big attraction in Bicheno.
bicheno penguin tours
Costing $35 for an adult ticket and $15 for a child over the age of four, the Bicheno Penguin Tours is definitely a fun night out. The tours go for roughly an hour and depart every so often starting from 7pm – a great activity to book for after dinner. You will likely see a handful of fairy penguins along the beach, but make sure you dress warm as it can get quite cold near the water at nighttime.
freycinet national park
All I can say for this place is wow. On our way through to Hobart, we scheduled in a day to spend exploring Freycinet National Park. Whether it is ordering brekkie to start off your morning, or finishing your day of walking and exploring by grabbing a smoothie to-go, you can’t go wrong at Geographe. Trust on this one – the views, the people, the food and the atmosphere, it’s a good way to start or end your day (or both, like we did). Plus, it’s just around the corner from the park entrance!
Tip: If you are visiting Tassie for a decent amount of time, I strongly recommend purchasing the eight week parks pass, rather than paying an entry fee every time you enter a different park. It costs $60 per vehicle and if you visit more than two parks during your visit, you will be getting your money’s worth, that’s for sure!
Cape Tourville: an easy, short twenty minute walk around the lighthouse with panoramic views towards Wineglass Bay and Friendly Beaches.
Wineglass Bay lookout: this 60-90 minute return track climbs steadily up to the lookout. It is a gravel track, so make sure you wear appropriate footwear. The views are pretty spectacular, particularly if you have scored a day with clear skies, making it definitely worth the effort to get there. It’s not an overly difficult track, but make sure you pace yourself, because it isn’t entirely easy either.
Honeymoon Bay: this one was a ‘park your car and walk 100m’ type lookout (my kinda lookout!) The views were incredible from here. The perspective that Honeymoon Bay offers of the mountains and ocean is stunning and it was probably one of the most tranquil places in the park that we visited. Feel free to pack lunch or some snacks and have a picnic here!
Sleepy Bay: with an easy, short ten minute return walk, Sleepy Bay offers a beautiful rocky bay with orange lichen rocks.
As you continue on your way to Hobart, thirty minutes outside of the city centre is a little place called Richmond. You can see the beautiful old, stone arch Richmond Bridge built by convict labour that has spanned Tasmania’s Coal River since 1825. While you are there, have a walk around too – it’s a sweet little town.
Accommodation: Mantra One Sandy Bay Road
We stayed in the heart of the city for four nights, using Hobart as a hub and planning day trips nearby. Hobart is not as busy as Sydney, but it definitely has the same qualities – think: busy traffic, pubs, cafes, clubs and weekend markets. It’s where the hustle and bustle is at. The very opposite of Launceston.
Tip: If you decide to stay at Mantra, then make sure you either book ahead for on-site parking or chat to the concierge at reception regarding alternative options. Although street parking is free on weekends, I wouldn’t suggest moving your car if you’ve scored a spot. It’s busy, particularly on Saturday’s due to the Salamanca Markets.
If you are in Hobart over the weekend, then visiting the Salamanca markets are a great way to begin your Saturday morning. From clothing and handcrafted wooden bow ties, to cider and fudge – there’s plenty to see. Won’t lie, it is a bit overrated though. Like usual markets, if you see ten stalls, you’ve seen them all. There is a lot of the same stuff.
The Museum of Old and New Art is definitely an interesting place to visit. If you are into art, it’s a must-see. If you’re not, like us, then it is a requirement that you visit with an open mind only. There’s some really cool stuff, but there is some really whacked up ideas in there too. It’s also hipster central, with modern, trendy bars and cafes sprinkled all over the campus. (Not complaining about that one!)
Thankfully, for the people like us who stare blankly at what is seemingly toddler’s scribble and think ‘but what does it mean?’ – you are given a device that allows you to find artworks nearby using your location and provides detailed information behind the artist’s inspiration.
There are multiple modes of transport to get to the museum, listed on their website which I highly recommend sussing out when you are considering booking (which you can do online, too).
Mount Field National Park
The tracks at this park are in perfect condition. The walks are relatively easy and the accessibility is great, plus there are a handful of waterfalls that you can see.
Russell Falls: a steep climb up some of the stairs, but fairly easy from there on. Pace yourself and you will see why it is completely worth seeing this three-tiered waterfall.
Horseshoe Falls: another waterfall not too far away from Russell Falls, so definitely worth a look.
Tall Tress Walk: a thirty minute circuit living up to its name. This walk is super fascinating. The tall swamp gum trees are incredible and are amongst the tallest trees in Australia.
What a stunning piece of architecture. However, the walk down to the edge of the dam is not for the fainthearted. As soon as you step out of the car and peer down from the lookout, you will see why. It’s a long drop to the bottom – 140m (459ft) to be exact. If you’re afraid of heights (or even if you’re not), just go slow, but this is one piece of infrastructure that you definitely must check out.
Unfortunately, it is a five hour return drive from Hobart. The dam is worth seeing, but only if you’re into this sort of thing. I would definitely suggest finding something, such as Mt Field National Park, to stop in at along the way to break up your journey. But either way, you’ll likely need to schedule a full day for this trip.
About 90 minutes from Hobart, you’ll need half a day minimum to explore what’s left of Port Arthur. Tickets start at around $38 for an adult and include an introductory tour, plus a harbour cruise.
The guided introductory tour is a great way to begin the day and get some interesting background knowledge on the history of Port Arthur. We learnt about what life was like back then, the brutality the convicts experienced and how it changed over time.
The harbour cruise is a half hour tour that provides more information regarding the Isle of the Dead and other places around Port Arthur. After the two complimentary tours, it’s up to you how you spend the rest of the day.
We walked through the Commandant’s house, which was huge! Then had a wander through the prison, the solitary confinement, the guard’s tower, the hospital, church and “old people’s home”. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see everything, so definitely schedule a full day for this place. There’s so much history to explore.
If breathtaking, panoramic views are what you are after, then you must put Mount Wellington on your itinerary. This place is amazing. You can drive all the way to the top and entry is free, plus it is open all the time. However, with a height of over 1,200m (4,100ft), it is cold and slightly windy at the summit, so dress warm, or pack a jumper! You may even find yourself above a few clouds, no joke.
On your way back down the mountain, stop in at Lost Freight. A cute little, done-up shipping container where you can grab a pie and a coffee. But be warned: there are a lot of bees and wasps that have claimed this spot as their home, so if you’re not into flying things (namely, those that can sting you) – consider quickly grabbing something for the road.
lake st clair
Accommodation: Pumphouse Point
This one is a bit out of the way and moreso in central Tasmania. If you are on a budget holiday, then I’d give this place a miss. However, if you are wanting to splurge a little and experience something truly spectacular, then I would highly recommend spending two nights at the Pumphouse. With beautiful views, plenty of wildlife and activities, this place never gets boring. We stayed in the Panorama Room and it was incredible.
Whether you take a dinghy out on the lake, go for a bike ride down to the national park or fill up a backpack with a warm, fresh loaf of bread and things from your larder for a picnic – you will never run out of things to do.
Breakfast is included and there are plenty of options. As for dinner, the shared dining experience is something that we both loved. For $50pp, you get a three course meal including an entree each, then a few main dishes to share among your table, with dessert to polish it off. Meanwhile, you not only get to enjoy the delicious food, but you get to meet other people also staying at the Pumphouse. If shared dining isn’t your thing, or you’d prefer to have a pub feed, then there’s a lodge five minutes down the road.
cradle mountain-lake st clair national park
Yet another national park to visit! Tasmania is full of them and this is why we recommend the eight week parks pass. We rode bikes from Pumphouse Point down to the park and completed a few short walks. They are super nice and really easy, and if you’re lucky (and quiet), you may even see a platypus.
On our way to Cradle Mountain, we stopped at Nelson Falls – a really pretty waterfall that was well worth the look. We then continued on to Iron Blow Lookout and drove the winding streets of Queenstown. Once we had passed through, we eventually made it to Cradle Mountain about three hours later.
Stop at the Visitor Centre (again: parks pass is necessary!) and grab your shuttle bus ticket. We didn’t want to spend too long at Cradle Mountain, as we were on a tight schedule. We chose to see the Rainforest and Waterfall Walks near the Interpretation Centre, which were super short and not necessarily worth it. We then hopped back on the shuttle bus and visited the beautiful Dove Lake. There it was, the iconic trio: Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain and the boat shed. The scenery was stunning!
There are plenty of other walking tracks and places to see in Cradle Mountain – you really could make a day of it, but if you’re just passing through and doing a quick in-and-out, then I would highly suggest putting Dove Lake on the top of your list.
Accommodation: Beachside West Inlet Beach Retreat
These eco holiday cabins in north-west Tasmania are in a great location, right next to the water and a short drive from Smithton. The cabins are fully equipped with a kitchen, making it easy to cook from home and watch the sunset while eating dinner on your balcony.
Take the chairlift up the Nut – the remains of an ancient volcanic plug, and explore the spectacular views across the Bass Strait beaches. It can get really windy at the summit, but the four different lookouts provide you with a thirty minute return circuit and relatively easy walk around the Nut Reserve. We rewarded ourselves after with a milkshake from the Chocolate Gallery.
Tip: If you lose your balance easily, or struggle walking down steep hills, then I would highly recommend purchasing a return chair lift ticket, as the path back down the hill is incredibly steep.
The scenic tourist drive offers plenty of opportunities to get out of your car and see some incredible sights. We completed one of the smaller loops of the drive, as we began the route late in the afternoon. Here’s what we covered in about three hours:
Trowutta Arch: the journey to reach the arch is just as incredible as the destination itself. The drive through an incredible forest of tall trees, plus an enchanting walk, makes the end result even better! The entire drive is worth it just for this place.
Sinkhole: a bit smelly and kind of eerie-looking, but still worth a stop over if you’re doing this shorter circuit. Won’t lie, the sign posting along the Tarkine Drive is pretty pathetic and you will find yourself thinking you are either lost or have made a wrong turn a couple of times (note: don’t panic, just keep driving – you are going the right way).
Dempster Plains Lookout: if you are in a very expensive hire car, don’t even bother. While the lookout provides a tranquil perspective over the button grass plains, the amount of potholes and fallen trees you have to dodge to get there is not worth it.
Sumac Lookout: considering the impressive sign at the entrance, the lookout itself is slightly underwhelming. Again, if you are going past – definitely stop to check it out, but I wouldn’t make a special trip out just for this one.
If you have any questions about our trip, or would like me to send you our itinerary, then feel free to shoot me a message below!