From world-renowned beaches, wilderness and wildlife to its gourmet delights and incredible galleries, Tasmania is a sensational holiday destination. Describing the scope of what Australia’s smallest state has to offer is mind-boggling, so here’s a snapshot of our favourite bits.
The capital and Australia’s second oldest city, Hobart, packs a punch with something for everyone. Enjoy its buzzing cultural and dining scene. Sample fresh local produce wandering through Salamanca Markets, where you’ll find an array of handmade arts and crafts. The infamous MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) houses a myriad of thought-provoking pieces that guarantee to assault your senses with delight. Replenish yourself 17m underground in Void Bar or have lunch on the living tables of Source restaurant.
Scale the magnificent kunanyi (Mount Wellington) towering high above the city with its impressive organ pipes escarpment formed from dolerite rock during the Jurassic Period. The view from the 1271m summit provides incredible panoramic views of the city and southern Tasmania’s wilderness.
Ferry to Bruny Island and be wowed by its dramatic seacliffs, rich marine wildlife and local produce. There are two islands - North and South, connected by a narrow isthmus. South Bruny National Park provides spectacular landscapes, and here you can climb one of Australia’s oldest lighthouses at Cape Bruny. After adventuring, island specialities, including oysters, honey, chocolate, whiskey, wine and cheese, will be sure to restore you.
A 90 min drive south-east of Hobart, Port Arthur’s famous convict settlement is a World Heritage-listed historic site that combines a stunning coastal setting with a savage part of Australia’s history. Around 12,500 convicts served sentences here between 1830 and 1877. Explore 40 hectares of landscaped grounds, buildings and ruins built by prisoners’ hands to understand their significance.
Tasmania’s beaches are stunningly beautiful, and northeast of Port Arthur, you find Wineglass Bay, the jewel of Freycinet National Park. Its shimmering shores and crystal-clear water, flanked by the Hazards' grey and pink granite mountain range rising dramatically out of the bay, will leave a lasting impression. Experience its majestic beauty and see why it has inspired naturalists, artists and writers for decades. Further up the northeastern coast, the Bay of Fires is at the top of the list. This collection of spectacular bays is a sight to behold with its pure white sand, turquoise waters, and orange lichen-encrusted granite boulders. Described by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s ‘Most Beautiful Beaches’, this secluded area is perfect for a gentle stroll or swim.
Cradle Mountain is undoubtedly Tasmania’s most famous landmark. Its upper face is bowed and rugged and set at the shore of glacial Dove Lake, rising out of the rainforest that glows with a golden red hue when the deciduous beech (Nothofagus) changes colour in the Autumn. There are many short walks in the area if you don’t feel up for embarking on the Overland multi-day track.
Positioned at the confluence of the Tamar and North Esk Rivers, Launceston is one of Australia’s oldest settlements. With its beautifully preserved heritage streets dating back to Georgian times, this thriving city offers diverse cultural experiences for all ages. Recognised as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, you’ll find delicious spoils of the region at the Saturday farmers' market and its many incredible eateries. A short stroll from the city centre is the Cataract Gorge. This stretch of thickly forested river reserve wrapping around a dramatic gorge has long been a place to reconnect and relax. Enjoy the walking trails, a dip in the swimming pool or the cruisey retro chairlift ride, the world’s longest central span of its kind.
Throughout your stay, be sure to take time to look up into the night sky. The splendour of the Milky Way will dazzle you, and this island is arguably the best place in the world to witness the elusive Aurora Australis or Southern Lights. The further south you go, the better your chance of seeing it.
Inland, there are endless places of interest to explore, including the 100m-long carved Wall in the Wilderness in Central Highlands by artist Greg Duncan. In addition, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area covers most of the island's western side. This chain of national parks is of “outstanding international importance” as one of the three largest cool-temperate wilderness areas in the Southern Hemisphere. Enjoy the multitude of walking trails in this area, or if you prefer, you can traverse the lush rainforest and deep King River Gorge by West Coast Wilderness Railway’s steam train from Queenstown.