Fly Sydney –> Hobart, Swansea (1 night) –> Freycinet National Park, St Helens (1 night) –> Bay of Fires, cheese farm, lavender farm, Launceston (1 night) –> Torwunna animal sanctuary, Mole Creek Caves, Raspberry farm, Narawntapu National Park, Devenport (1 night) –> Cradle Mountain (1 night) –> Gordon River Cruise, Strahan (1 night) –> MONA and drive to Hobart (1 night) –> Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsular, fly Hobart to Melbourne
Tasmania is Australia’s best kept secret. Quiet, with amazing national parks, endless countryside, beautiful mountains, white beaches and crystal clear waters, wildlife at every turn and some fantastic hiking. Definitely my favourite place in Aus. I went to Tassie with Phil and my sister Nat – we flew into Hobart from Sydney to start our road trip. Public transport is pretty much non existent, so hiring a car or camper is essential! We were travelling in January, so peak season and hire cars were more expensive and accommodation scarce, so we had pre booked the entire trip. However, we soon realised when we arrived that peak season in Tassie actually means five people on a beach and four full tables in a restaurant!
It was lovely to escape the unbearable heat of Sydney and our road trip began by heading up the coast from Hobart to the seaside town of Orford, where we had a beachside picnic lunch and a paddle through the water, who knew that Tasmania had such beautiful beaches?! We were staying overnight at Swansea backpackers, and after dropping our bags we headed off to walk along seven mile beach. As we found in mainland Australia, it is pretty much impossible to find restaurants in Tasmania serving food after 8pm outside of a city, some here only had kitchens open from 5-7pm(!)- so be sure to plan your evening meal otherwise you could be left hungry!
We were up early the following day to drive to Freycinet National Park. After buying our car entry permit, (I think for the car it was around $60 and let us get into all National Parks during our stay), we started off on our Wineglass Bay loop walk. The walk took us to a look out point where you could view the iconic wineglass bay, before going down to the beach itself, where we sunbathed, had a picnic and took a quick dip in the icy waters! The pictures really don’t do this place justice – it is absolutely stunning! From here, we continued back to the park entrance via the Hazards range, passing secluded bays and white sandy beaches along the way – a lovely walk, but we did start to get a bit tired towards the end!
Late afternoon, we drove from Freycinet National Park to St Helens, where we were staying at the Hillcrest Tourist Park. In the morning we set off for Binalong Bay, and after parking up, we went on a walk along the Bay of fires – so named because Captain Tobias Furneaux saw the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches. Again, the beaches are beautiful, with white sand, aqua water, and orange coloured boulder rocks separating different coves (so coloured because of the lichen growing on them). Rain was forecast that day, so we watched as the blue skies got taken over by grey ominous clouds and quick footed it back to the car! Our road trip continued in the rain taking us to a cheese farm for delicious cheese tasters, a pub for late lunch and some pretty lavender fields for dessert and some photos. The drive itself was scenic, with rolling hills, forests and lots of echidna sightings along the way too! That evening we stayed in Launceston and had a delicious Thai dinner before an early bed after our action packed day!
The following morning we headed for the Torwunna animal sanctuary. They have a wide range of animals and lots are involved in breeding programmes. Kangaroo roam freely and you can buy some special feed to give them and get up close. The tours of the sanctuary included in your ticket are great, very informative and give you a chance to learn more about the animals. My new favourite animal might just be a Tasmanian Devil – so cute and absolutely amazing! They have a cloaca, and when giving birth, a mucus delivers approximately 40 tiny rice grain sized joeys into her pouch. The mother has only four teats in the pouch so only four joeys have the opportunity to live. Talk about survival of the fittest! We got to see wombats, quoll, eagles, Tasmanian devils, kangaroos and lots of birds – well worth a visit!
After our animal encounter, we continued on the road to the nearby Mole Creek Caves for a tour. If you haven’t ever been in a cave, or seen glow worms then it’s worth it, otherwise it could be missed if you’re tight on time. We continued onwards to a raspberry farm, which disappointingly only had pricey products, but you could get raspberry sorbet! We dropped our bags at our air B & B in Devenport before continuing onto Narawntapu National Park – Tasmania’s version of the Serengeti. We went on a walk through the park, saw kangaroo, wallabies, pademelon, lots of different bird species, but no wild wombats – the search continued!
After a big breakfast at our air B&B we drove to Cradle Mountain National Park. Free shuttle buses are provided to/from the park at the information centre with a valid park ticket (there is very limited parking within the park itself).Here we went on a hike from Ronny Creek, up to Marions lookout for a picnic lunch, and then descended via Lake Lilla to Dove Lake. We checked into the Cradle Mountain Hotel and enjoyed the hot tub facilities before heading back out again. We had been told that at dusk the wombats come out! So we drove back up the road and into the park, where we pulled up at Ronny’s Creek and saw lots of wombats out grazing!
The forecast for the next day was rain. We awoke in the morning to a thick fog and drizzle! We had booked onto an afternoon cruise of Gordon’s Bay, so leisurely drove to the town of Strahan and checked into the Strahan holiday retreat. We went on the World Heritage cruise and it was absolutely fantastic despite the weather! We bought some wine and chocolate onboard and enjoyed the captain’s commentary during the journey. We had two stops, one at Sarah island (an ex- penal colony) and one at a rainforest. The guides were brilliant and the whole trip covered everything from the colonisation of Strahan, the penal colony on Sarah island, the fish farms and the ecology of the area to the logging industry. A fantastic trip despite the weather! Apparently it only has an average of 16 clear days a year, so you are quite likely to experience similar weather, but don’t let it put you off!
The next part of our road trip was the long drive back to Hobart – about five hours of scenic driving with not a great deal en route if it’s a rainy day. We stopped at Tarraleah cafe for lunch before arriving at the MONA (museum of old and new art) just outside of Hobart. The building is pretty spectacular and most of it is underground. Musicians play on the lower level and there is a bar to enjoy a drink or two. The best exhibit was a waterfall that formed words randomly selected by google. However, the rest of the art exhibits weren’t up my street and some were downright bizarre (“Tattoo Tim” – where you stare at a man’s tattooed back and “The Great Wall of Vagina” being just some of the bizarre exhibits). After finishing our museum tour, we headed to our accomodation in Hobart before heading to some bars and a Sushi restaurant for dinner.
On our final day, we decided to visit Port Arthur. On our long journey from Strahan to Hobart, we had listened to the Casefile podcast on the Port Arthur Massacre to learn about the awful recent events that took place at this ex – penal colony site, so it was quite eerie visiting. It took about and hour and half to reach Port Arthur from Hobart, and in the entry ticket is included a short boat ride tour and a walking tour of the grounds. It is well worth a visit and really interesting.
On our return journey to Hobart airport, we stopped at the Tasman peninsular for a walk along the beach, visited the Blow Hole and Tasman Arch and happened upon “doo” town, where all the houses have a name plate that includes the name Doo!
Unfortunately our trip to Tasmania had come to an end and it far exceeded all of my expectations! I fell head over heels for Tasmania and all it had to offer. Don’t plan a trip to Australia without spending at least a week exploring this beautiful island, you won’t be disappointed.