Tasmania is one of those places that always exceeds my expectations.
Despite being a tiny island – capable of being crossed within a day – on three separate visits we have always found new places, made new discoveries and always come away feeling like there is so much more to see.
Tassie’s size makes it perfect for a driving holiday and a car is essential – distances are relatively short between pretty towns, farms with fresh and artisan produce, wineries and breathtaking sights – makes for plenty of obligatory pitstops to break up the journey.
Having said that – roads can be treacherous in some places, and often more than a little winding in more mountainous areas – so factor in plenty of time and care to reach your destination safely.
My favourite time to travel to Tasmania is the Christmas – New Year holiday period. The weather is mild and sunny, and it is a time of incredible bounty of fresh produce – think perfect cherries the size of babies’ fists, ripe raspberries, apricots and other fantastic fruits from the farmgate, fresh seafood as well the incredible array of cheeses, wine, cider and other goodies available year round.
Festivals also abound. Constitution Dock in Hobart is the only place to be during the last days of December, to witness the conclusion of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race and enjoy Hobart’s famous Taste of Tasmania festival featuring more of the island’s great produce.
I always wish I had longer in Tasmania – I want to go back to the places I have seen as well as new ones, but there are great possibilities on visits for the weekend to a month touring the island.
Launceston – 2 nights Cradle Mountain – 2 nights St Mary’s – 1 night Coles Bay – 2 nights Port Arthur – 1 night Hobart – 2 nights Kettering – 1 night Hobart – 2 nights
Trip taken – December 2012 – January 2013
Recommended for – Anyone really. We travelled as a couple, but this could easily be a program for a larger group or family with small or more grown up children, as there are plenty of easy (or tougher) walks, abundant wildlife and outdoors activities on this route.
The delightful food and wine of the Tamar Valley and seeing the bright, vast expanse of lavender fields out of Launceston.
Spectacular hiking, the evening menagerie of wildlife and staying in a gorgeous cabin at Cradle Mountain
Joyflight over and hiking to Wineglass Bay and crayfish Christmas lunch on the deck at Coles Bay
Getting some unusual photos as the seamist rolled in at Binnalong Bay
Seeing the arrival of the winning yacht in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race at Constitution Dock, Hobart.
Chilling in our favourite B&B of all time at Kettering and sampling food and a very wild wilderness cruise on nearby Bruny Island.
Spots we missed on this trip – We largely missed the West and North-West of the island on this trip due to time constraints. Having previously been to these areas on other visits, there are some beautiful and wild places in these regions which shouldn’t be overlooked if you can fit them in particularly Stanley and Strahan.
On other visits I have also enjoyed hiking at Lake St Clair, and visiting the beautiful historic towns of Longford and Richmond, and the latter is certainly worth the trip out from Hobart if you have time.
Planning a successful first trip to Tasmania
1. Have car, will travel
It bears repeating – hire a car if at all possible. While Hobart is potentially do-able without, other parts of the island will be difficult to access without as public transport is scant and ultimately flexibility is paramount.
2. Take a wee cooler bag
If you fancy yourself as a foodie, and can see yourself wanting to collect gourmet cheeses and other nice things, take yourself a mini esky or cooler bag so you can stock up without worrying when you’ll next be close to a fridge.
3. Seek out festivals and market days
While the famous Salamanca markets and summer festivities are unmissable if you are in Hobart, there are also market days and year round activities a plenty all around the island. With a little research these can easily be built into your program and they will enhance your stay immeasurably.
4. Don’t try to cover too much
Tasmania looks tiny, and it is – but sometimes driving times can be deceiving off the major highways. Also you want to make sure you have plenty of time to pull over to places that you stumble across – the artisan goat cheese maker, the cherry farm for a spot of fruit picking. Don’t try to cram in too much – we feel like our itineraries balance this out pretty well as a guide but probably represent the minimum time you would want to stay in any of the places covered.