Deciding to include Tasmania in our packed 2-month Australia itinerary can be summed up in a very casual, “well, why not?” Originally we thought that it would be easy to jump from New Zealand to Tasmania, since the island state is conveniently located between NZ and the mainland.
The only way to get to Tasmania is through a mainland port. For us, this involved pitching our tent in the Melbourne airport between our evening arrival from Queenstown and our 6:30 a.m. departure to Hobart. It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty funny.
Despite getting some serious colds, probably from staying up for nearly 48 hours, we made the most of our adventure up the east coast.
Here was our highlight reel:
Side note: we rented a car because it’s seriously challenging to get around Tasmania without one. If you’re headed to this beautiful island, definitely consider splurging on a rental, they’re pretty reasonable for such a short amount of time!
The biggest city and the capital of Tasmania, Hobart is hard to miss. It’s probably where you’re flying in to and it’s definitely a great place to start. We spent a total of three days staying in this city and exploring the area around it.
Cascade Brewery is a must is you’re visiting Hobart. It’s the oldest brewery in all of Australia, complete with a beautiful beer garden. It also serves a killer cheese board that lets you sample three of their signature beers.
We ventured about an hour or so north to visit Russell Falls (thank you, Pinterest), which is tucked away in Mount Field National Park. The drive to get there is spectacular on a sunny day like the one we had, but the falls are something else.
We also took a day trip to the Tahune AirWalk, which is a canopy walkway located in the Tahune Forest. It’s a beautiful walk, though between us we enjoyed Russell Falls more. Still, if you’re sticking around Hobart for a while it’s definitely a good thing to check out!
Perhaps our favorite thing we did around Hobart was visiting the Museum of Old and New Art (thank you, Jeanne and Tom for the recommendation!). It’s a fantastically cool museum with thought-provoking, out-of-the-box exhibits that you have to see to truly appreciate. The museum also features a beautiful lookout over Hobart’s waterfront, a world class restaurant, and wine & beer garden. What’s not to love?
Tasman National Park/Arthur’s Peninsula
We were originally planning to camp overnight in this national park, but instead opted for a drive through that allowed us to hit the area’s many natural attractions.
We started at Waterfall Bay Lookout, followed by Devil’s Kitchen and the Tasman Arch. MJ’s favorite was Waterfall Bay Lookout, mine was the Tasman Arch, all are spectacular natural wonders and definitely worth the visit. They’re also very close to each other, only a couple minutes drive at most, so there’s no excuse not to hit them all.
We followed these three by visiting the Blow Hole, which in and of itself was a little underwhelming. However, it’s got a delicious seafood truck parked right next to it called Doo-Licious and that we definitely recommend. We got a couple of fish cakes and sat out on the dock for a quick lunch that was momentarily interrupted by a curious seal that was swimming around near us.
Our final stop on this drive through was the Tessellated Pavement. This natural phenomenon is the most famous example of tessellated pavement in the world and it definitely worth seeing. It’s hard to believe it’s natural when you’re looking at it but it makes for some serious amazing photos.
Freycinet National Park
Side note: if you’re planning to hit more than three of Tasmania’s many national parks with a car, you’re going to need to get a holiday pass to enter. This gives you unlimited access to all of Tasmania’s parks for eight weeks for around $60AUD. This may seem steep, but it goes towards maintaining all these beautiful parks so think of it as your contribution.
A little further up the east coast of Tasmania is Freycinet National Park. The most famous attractions in this park are The Hazards, a mountain range running along the coast, and Wineglass Bay Lookout. As sick as we felt, and after another rough camping night, we opted out of the hike that takes you through these two attractions, but we vowed to do it whenever we happen to find ourselves in Tasmania again.
What we DID do is a beautiful walk around the Cape Tourville Lighthouse, which gives you an alternate view of Wineglass Bay, and ventured down into Sleepy Bay. This easy walk brought us to a stunning little beach complete with unique rock formations and some of the crystalline sand the area is known for.
East Coast Drive & Bay of Fires
After hauling ourselves out of our tent in Freycinet National Park, we hit the road again, this time heading towards the famous Bay of Fires region. Along the way we stopped at another one of our favorite locations: East Coast Nature World.
This amazing little place houses many of Tasmania’s native creatures, most of which are only found in Tasmania and/or mainland Australia. We got there at just the right time to catch the keepers feeding the nocturnal animals their first meal of the day. We followed the tour and got a peak at sugar gliders, spotted quolls, an echidna, and the famous Tasmanian devil.
We also learned that many of the individuals at Nature World are there because they’d be hit by cars, the leading threat to Australia’s rapidly diminishing wildlife population. Places like Nature World work to educate the public, provide rehabilitation for wounded animals, and participate in larger breeding and reintroduction programs through Australia. Their importance can’t be stressed enough.
After departing Nature World, at a significantly lower speed, we continued up towards the Gardens, one of the best places to experience the Bay of Fires. The stunning display we got was well worth the drive.
Bay of Fires is famous for white beaches, clear blue water, and orange-hued granite rocks that give the area its name and fame. We got lucky and caught the area during golden hour of a clear and sunny day. It was breathtaking.
Narawntapu National Park
After our hike up the east coast we decided to spend the night in Launceston at an amazing place called Arthouse Hostel. We quickly booked two nights and planned to spend the following day relaxing before taking an evening walk through Narawntapu National Park. We’d heard this was an incredible place to catch many of Tasmania’s wildlife out in the open.
This was an understatement.
We got there and were completely surrounded by wallabies, kangaroos and pademelons. We couldn’t believe how many we saw. Driving in and out we were crawling at roughly 20 km/hr for fear of hitting something every 25 feet.
Completely unplanned, we managed to catch the time of the year when almost all of these animals have babies and joeys in their pouches - it was adorable. We were having the walk of our lives until we got about halfway through and found ourselves in a huge field with no indication of where to progress from there.
This unfortunate end to our adventure found us jogging back across this giant field with only MJ’s headlamp to guide the way, struggling to avoid the tens of kangaroos that were mildly watching our progress AND the numerous Tasmanian devil holes that were scattered throughout.
Our final highlight? Catching a family of Bushtail Possums crossing our path on the way out.
Main takeaway: don’t miss this national park, it’s too cool to skip. But do yourself a favor and go before it gets dark.
Tasmania is an insanely beautiful place. While it's a little out of the way for most travelers, those who make the journey are sure to be enchanted by both the cities as well as the stunning wildlife and natural parks.
If you're planning a trip to Australia, consider hopping on a plane and making the quick jump over for a week or two. You don't need a long time to truly appreciate a place that so few get the chance to visit.