Why Tasmania should be next on your travel itinerary
TASMANIA has shifted through many reputations over the centuries.
Once known as a dark penal colony for convicts, then as a sleepy backwater of Australia, it is now as a thriving hub of arts and culture with a growing culinary scene, fantastic adventures, and some of Asia Pacific’s most stunning landscapes.
While it may be Australia’s smallest state, it sure boasts plenty to see and do as it’s geographically diverse with over 40 percent of the island kept as reserve parks and world heritage wilderness.
Such as King Island which has some of the cleanest air in the world, to the West Coast featuring world-famous wilderness and rich convict history. Or Launceston and North to sample stunning wines and explore mountain bike trails.
East Coast is perfectly set up for those wanting to explore the scenic coastline with the bonus of delicious food stops. And for the animal lovers, explorers and artists among you, Hobart and South is the place to be.
Here’s why we think you should journey down to Tasmania and discover a whole new type of Australian adventure.
Epic road trips
Whether you’re driving down the highway or on the back roads of Tasmania, you can’t help but see the glorious natural beauty and cultural curiosities across the island.
“If you really want to appreciate Tasmania, you’ve got to take your time, and stop and see some of the quirky things along the way and make a day of your trip,” RACT chief executive Harvey Lennon told Mercury.
And he’s not wrong.
The Convict Trail is popular among travelers looking to delve into Tasmania’s history.
The first leg starts in Tasmania’s capital, Hobart and weaves down through heritage-abundant Richmond, past vineyards and wineries in the Coal River Valley, and into Port Arthur where the famous open-air prison museum awaits.
Here, you can learn about the convict colonies that plagued Tasmania and mainland Australia back in the 19th century.
Just a short drive from here you can explore the impressive coastal rock formations of the Devils Kitchen, Tasman Arch, the Blowhole and Remarkable Cave.
If you’re up for something a little more adventurous and you’re not working to a time frame, we suggest heading out on the Coast-to-Coast road trip.
This 14 to 21-day journey is genuinely spectacular and combines all the best parts of Tasmania in a self-drive touring holiday in a round trip circuit.
It’s a sure-fire way to say you’ve completed Tasmania.
There are plenty of pre-planned road trips waiting to be driven on the Discover Tasmania website, from scenic to adventurous and foodie to relaxing.
Divine natural beauty
People often think of Australia as hot and arid, but this state couldn’t be more different.
Tasmania is a treasure trove of natural wonders, from alpine ranges, wetlands, and grasslands to temperate rainforests and beaches.
Here’s a selection of some of Tasmania’s most outstanding natural beauty.
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
Ben Lomond National Park
East Coast Tasmania
Adventures upon adventures
Not only is Tasmania a walker’s paradise with world-famous hikes including Overland Track and Wineglass Bay, there’s also plenty of adventure to be had at sea and in the air.
Tasmania has lots of easily accessible self-guided cycling trails, from day-long scenic tours along stretches of coast to trails that lead you across the state from coast to coast.
Also, there are heaps of mountain biking trails so if you want to put your bike’s suspension to the test, we suggest heading to Hobart’s Mount Wellington, Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park, or Clarence Mountain Bike Park.
If you can’t resist the siren’s call from the ocean, grab a wetsuit and head to almost any beach around the island to check out the surf.
There’s also kayaking, fishing, diving, rafting and sailing organizations across Tasmania, happy to lend you a helping hand, equipment, and safety advice.
Meet cute and ferocious wildlife
Tasmania’s most notorious creature is the infamously feisty Tasmanian devil and this island is the only place in the world you can see them in the wild.
They may look sweet and innocent but they have a temper especially when it comes to mealtimes. But they’re nothing like the tornado-spinning, growling creatures Warner Bros. would have you believe. They’re actually pretty cute and very intelligent.
However, you may be hard pressed to see one in the wild and even if you catch a glimpse, they will scarper in a second. So it’s best to visit them in one of the many sanctuaries dotted around the island.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best in Tasmania. Their expertly trained team run several conservation and breeding programs to prevent many of the animals here from going extinct.
Once the rescued animals are fit and healthy, they’re released back into the wild. And as Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary director Greg Irons puts it, “to see them just waddling off to where they belong, with this feeling of happiness which they cannot hide, it is just so special.”
Among the other furry friends living at the sanctuary are kangaroos, wombats, koalas, sugar gliders, eastern quolls, bettongs and one rather prickly echidna.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is open daily from 9 am until 5 pm including public holidays and there’s also the choice to book in for a nighttime visit to see the nocturnal creatures.
If you prefer seeing animals in the wild, head to Geeveston to try and spot the nocturnal and mysterious platypus.
If marine life gets you excited, book one of the many cruises which sail around the island.
You might even be lucky enough to see a humpback whale having a stretch.
Discover its history
Tasmania has a long history as a convict colony and it was also an industrial mining state and a place of maritime interest.
The convict colonies remain historically significant in Tasmania and many of the original buildings, such as Port Arthur remain preserved today.
Although you can stop off at Port Arthur along your scenic tour, you may want to take a day or two to explore the 30 buildings, ruins and resorted period homes dating back to 1830 which tell harrowing tales.
The West Coast Wilderness Railway is also a must do for people who want to experience a bygone era.
The steam trains cut through verdant forests and offer you a side of Tasmania many don’t get to see.
It does help to have little extra spending money in Tasmania if you want a full spa treatment, as there are some incredible therapeutic escapes you’ll want to enjoy.
The spas, lodges, wellness retreats and sanctuaries embody Tasmania’s unhurried pace of life and spectacular location.
Make the most of Tasmania’s unique herbal and plant extract oils which have been sourced from flora dating back to the Neolithic era.
You can even combine an adventurous trek with a relaxing spa treatment at the end.
Arts and culture
Everywhere you turn is a showcase of art.
Whether it’s in the form of small artist-run spaces or world-class museums such as the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
There are also plenty of festivals on throughout the year including the brilliant MONA FOMA event hosted by Hobart every summer.
The Salamanca Market hosted in Hobart every Saturday is also a treat for anyone interested in art, vintage fashion, and the freshest produce.
It’s also a great place to get chatting to locals who can give you tips for your journey around Tasmania and to pick up picnic treats or a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Hop on a regularly departing flight from Sydney, Brisbane, or Melbourne and fly directly to Hobart.
For more information about Tasmania and how to plan your trip there, head to the official tourism website.