Going on a road trip is something I’ve always dreamed of doing. Over the Spring time, I embarked on what become one of the most memorable getaways of my life. From cultural sites, natural wonders and lots of wine, here’s what I got up to in my 10 day road trip guide to Tasmania.
I really can’t recommend it more, whether you’re a woman traveling solo or with your partner. Tassie, as it’s affectionately called, is a beautiful and totally underrated isle off the coast of Australia.
Many will have heard of its rugged landscapes, its burgeoning cultural scene and, of course, its convenient proximity to “the mainland”.
We managed to squeeze in almost everything we wanted to see and experience within a well planned 10 days, but I’d recommend taking two weeks to do it at a more leisurely pace.
Day 1-3: Hobart, Southern Tasmania
We started in Melbourne and took the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Melbourne. The nine hour journey isn’t as bad as it sounds. After you park your vehicle, there are restaurants, bars, cinemas, casinos and libraries on board. Most people will book a quiet business class-esque recliner seat to spend the night in, or you can book a cabin to get an even better night’s sleep. There are several companies you can book your vehicle of choice from. If you don’t rent an RV with all the facilities, a campervan is just as adventurous. There are plenty of national parks and RV parks to stay overnight and the facilities aren’t too shabby either (just don’t expect the Ritz).
Be prepared for a true off the grid holiday. The sun sets early and mobile reception is patchy at best, so bring a good book, download those Netflix series onto your iPad and be prepared for early nights and magical sunrises. One tip would be to drive only daylight hours. When dusk sets in, the roads aren’t the safest and some of them are unpaved. Also, if you don’t want to murder any wallabies who are attracted to the car’s headlights, it’s best to decide on the place you’ll park for the night, early on.
There is one every Saturday and well worth the visit. The famous outdoor market springs to life every week with local artisans setting up along the main bar street. Be sure to arrive early and hungry. You can sample your way down both aisles of the market and gather up fresh woodfired bread, Tasmanian cheese and organic farm fresh veggies to take with you for a picnic at MONA (Museum of Old and New Art).
The best part is meeting local gin makers, wine producers and farmers. They’re all extremely warm and proud of their produce. You’ll also come across local artists and jewellery designers selling their wares, like the one-off ring I found made from the handle of a 1920’s art deco silver teaspoon.
An experience unto itself. Just 200 metres from Salamanca market is the pier where you’ll see fishing boats and the ferry to MONA. Board the 30-minute ferry ride at Hobart pier and spend a good 3-4 hours exploring the exhibits and taking in the site. The Museum of Old and New showcases an impressive international collection of contemporary art and antiques with the backdrop of the architecture of Morilla winery.
After a full day of art, try to leave the site at the latest at 5pm so you can drive up to Mount Wellington for a panoramic view of the city and a gorgeous sunset. (See title picture). After a full day of exploring, you have to go to Preachers for drinks and dinner. The popular spot in Hobart consists of a pub, charming lawn and disused bus turned dining room. It’s wonderfully charming and very romantic. Not the mention, their chicken burger is out of this world!
Jackman and Ross Bakery
If you like baked goods (who doesn’t?!) this popular bakery will be heaven. Arrive at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowds and sip strong coffee in their tea room. We liked the artisanal bread, flaky sausage rolls, Lamingtons and fluffy cream buns.
Day 4-5: The Tasman Peninsula
Port Arthur Historic Site
A fascinating part of Australia’s colonial history and world heritage site. Despite the recent atrocity that happened there, it is still well worth the visit for it’s innovation in engineering and architecture. Each ticket includes a guided tour, cruise around the site and a 2-day pass of the site. You will need it if you want to properly see the vast grounds, heritage buildings, reenactments, museums and exploring all the ruins. If you don’t have the time, allow for at least 4-5 hours wandering around the site.
Tasmania is so rich in natural beauty, one of the best ways to see it, is to explore the ancient forests from 50m up in the air at Tahune Airwalk. The view from the treetops is exceptional. The Hastings Caves are a must see. The stalactite and stalagmite caves took millions of years to form, and walking through them gives you a sense of how fleeting our existence is. After the underground adventure, you can warm up in the natural thermal springs on the grounds.
Day 5-7: The Great Eastern Drive
The highlight of the trip was this drive up the East Coast. It’s what I’d imagined a roadtrip would be, stunning blue skies, sunny weather and an excellent playlist to sing along. The Great Eastern drive is famous for its stunning coastline. We drove from Coles Bay to Bicheno and further up to Bay of Fires. There were iterally so many beautiful beaches to hop from one to another. There are also hikes for every fitness level and wildlife experiences (think cute penguins).
We did the Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach Hike (4.5hrs) and were rewarded with a white sand beach all to ourselves. It was Autumn in April, so the water is quite cold even though it’s blazing sunshine during the day. The nights are very chilly.
After the hike, we went onto Freycinet Marine Park for a no white table clothes dining experience. We sat at sunny picnic tables and gorged on fresh from the sea oysters and champagne from the nearby wineries for a fraction of what it would normally cost.
Then onto crystal clear waters at Binalong Bay via the small town of Scamander. The area is one of the most scenic and beautiful places in Tasmania, from the blue sea and white sand to the orange-tinged boulders that hug the coast. It was first used by fishermen and farmers around 1900, but no one (no one European, that is) actually lived here until the 1940s. Now, this quiet spot is a beachy holiday town. There’s not much here but this is precisely why everyone loves it.
Day 8-9: Northern Tasmania, Launceston
Reaching the tail end of our road trip in Tasmania, we headed back up towards the ferry and drove through Launceston. The road there is dotted with orchards that work on an honour system, which is really refreshing coming from a hectic city full of cynical people. You will also pass small and large wineries with open cellar doors offering all visitors wine tastings. There wasn’t the usual pretence at all, only warm and personable service, and I learned so much more about wine because I didn’t’feel like an idiot asking questions.
We started at Beautiful Isles Wines, this charming winery has been revamped by a husband and wife duo, who hold their own among the wine giants in the region.
Second, named after the wine region and the river, Tamar Ridge is one of the larger makers and exporters. We stopped for a tasting and cheese platter at their peaceful spot, and one of the swankier spaces. Be sure to order the Triple Brie. Further up North, we finished at Ghost Rock, which has been crowned Tasmania’s Best Cellar Door, twice in recent years!
Before heading back to the ferry at Devonport, make a pitstop at Launceston Town for a walk around the docks and brunch at Cuccina Cafe. It’s a third generation Italian grocer turned brunch club with delicious brunch classics and a modern twist on them.