CRA International Travel News – Tasmania, Australia
By Ruth Dawkins
Whether you’ve got a long weekend or time to circumnavigate the entire island, Tasmania fits a lot of hits into a very small space
Tasmania is perfect for road tripping. With outstanding views around every corner, an abundance of beachfront shacks, and roadside produce stalls aplenty, there’s every reason for you to hit the highway. Consider the fact that it’s less than 400km from the north of the island to the south – so you can pack in heaps of activities without spending hours in the car – and the prospect of a Tassie road trip becomes even more appealing.
With borders to Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, New Zealand and, as of 6 November, NSW open, and Victoria hopefully following on 1 December, it will soon be accessible again.
Whether you’ve got a long weekend or a fortnight to spare, the island state has a driving route to suit. Here are some of the best.
Tasmania’s Great Eastern Drive
Perfect for: A long weekend
Total drive time: 6 hours 25 minutes return, from Hobart
Home to almost a dozen vineyards, the east coast is a perfect road trip for wine lovers looking to sample some of Tasmania’s award-winning chardonnay and pinot noir – but don’t worry, there are plenty of non-alcoholic options for the designated driver too.
Most people start this trip from the south; from Hobart airport you can get straight on the road for the 90-minute drive to Swansea. Reward yourself on arrival with an ice cream at Kate’s Berry Farm – best eaten on the wisteria-covered deck, with a view of the Hazards in the distance.
Continuing north, keen bushwalkers should take a detour down the Freycinet Peninsula to enjoy the half-day trek to Wineglass Bay, whereas surfers and beachcombers should head for the friendly coastal town of Bicheno. There’s plenty of accommodation, delicious fresh seafood, and long, uncrowded stretches of sand where you never have to jostle for a spot.
For your final night, book a bed in the historic fishing village of St Helens. From here, you can explore the spectacular Bay of Fires, or head inland to the Pyengana Dairy Company to stock up on cheesy deliciousness for the drive back down south.
Top tip: Spend a night at Swansea Beach Chalets for Freycinet views without Freycinet prices.
The North West
Perfect for: A long weekend
Total drive time: 5 hours 30 minutes return, from Launceston
Ask any local to name their favourite view in Tassie, and there’s a strong chance they’ll mention the first glimpse of the Bass Strait as you drive north on the Bass Highway past Don – impossible to miss if you’ve flown into Launnie or sailed into Devonport for a long weekend in the north-west.
From here on, the road hugs the coastline as it winds across the top of Tasmania; keep your eyes peeled for whales during migration season (June to late October), because this is one of their favourite places to play.
For an easy start to the trip, make Wynyard your first overnight stop. The converted shipping containers at Coastal Pods Wynyard offer a quirky but surprisingly comfortable stay, right on the banks of the Inglis River.
Take your time as you amble further west. The sheltered beach at Boat Harbour is always good for a paddle, and it’ll be hard to limit yourself to just one night in Stanley – an absolute charmer of a fishing village that sits at the foot of The Nut, an ancient volcanic plug rising from the sea.
However, if you can manage to keep moving, you’ll reach Smithton, right on the edge of the Tarkine wilderness and Australia’s largest temperate rainforest. A day exploring this magical part of the world, packed with ancient trees, unique wildlife and sacred Aboriginal sites, will leave you quietly awed by Tasmania’s natural beauty.
Top tip: Pop into Southern Wild Distillery in Devonport before you head west, and pick up a bottle or two of Dasher + Fisher gin to make sure you’re well prepared for sunset cocktails over the weekend.
The Western Wilds
Perfect for: A weeklong visit
Total drive time: 8 hours 30 minutes, return from Hobart
The Western Wilds is Tasmania’s newest official touring route, but locals have known for years that this often-overlooked region holds some of the state’s most wonderful secrets.
Start your journey 35km north-west of Hobart in the small town of New Norfolk, which boasts eight antique shops, each one packed to the rafters with curios and collectibles. It’s also where you’ll find Rodney Dunn’s Agrarian Kitchen – keep your fingers crossed that the fried sourdough potato cakes are on the menu.
If you’re inclined to take some time and break up the journey west, consider a night at Lake St Clair, which sits deep in the heart of the Wilderness World Heritage Area and is an incredible spot for walking, fishing and wildlife.
Otherwise, buckle up and keep heading for Queenstown. The descent into Queenstown is down a road with more than 90 bends, and the town is also home to Australia’s most feared football oval, “The Gravel” – but those details aside, you’ll find that a warm welcome awaits.
A 40-minute drive further west sees you swapping the stark, mining-scarred landscape of Queenstown for the pretty harbour town of Strahan. Make sure you leave time to see a performance of Australia’s longest running play The Ship That Never Was. It’s been running daily in Strahan for the last 26 years.
Top tip: For a uniquely Tassie experience, see if you can find one of the west coast’s abandoned settlements. The ghost town of Dundas lies in thick rainforest between Rosebery and Zeehan – 2.5km along an unsigned road.
The ultimate Tassie road trip: a lap of the map
Perfect for: A two-week stay
Total drive time: 16 hours 20 minutes return from Hobart
Tassie is perhaps the only state where, with 10 days to spare, you can cover most of the main attractions.
Starting in Hobart, head down the Tasman Peninsula – not rushing straight through to Port Arthur as the tour buses do, but taking plenty of time to explore some of the spectacular geological formations like the Tessellated Pavement and Tasman Arch, and definitely stopping for lunch at the Bangor Vineyard Shed.
From here, head up the east coast – Coles Bay and Binalong Bay both offer plenty of accommodation, and some of the driest, warmest weather in the state – before heading inland for a night or two in Launceston, where the food and drink scene has flourished in recent years. Even the fussiest of drinkers will find something to please them at St John’s Craft Beer in the CBD, where there are 14 taps and up to 170 bottled varieties on offer at any time.
From Launnie, there’s easy access to the north-west coast. You could reasonably spend a night in Burnie before grabbing breakfast at The Chapel and meandering south for a relaxing couple of days among the old-growth rainforests and alpine landscapes of Cradle Mountain. Depending how long you’ve got, either make your way back to the south of the state via the west coast, or head directly back to Hobart.
Don’t go straight to the airport though. There are several day drives from the state’s capital that make it well worth tagging an extra couple of nights onto your trip. Bruny Island, Huon Valley and the far south, and the Coal River Valley and Richmond are all worth topping up the tank for.
Top tip: Tassie has 19 national parks, along with dozens more smaller parks and reserves. To avoid the cost and hassle of organising individual parks passes, buy a Holiday Pass ($80 per vehicle or $40 per person) in advance that allows unlimited entry to all parks for up to two months.
Article Credit To The Guardian.