I’d heard great things about Tasmania, but was not expecting to fall in love with this place so much! The scenery, the people, the coastlines, the mountains, the camp spots, the towns, the cities, the wineries, the breweries, even the weather (ok, we were there in summer – its not that always great)… need I go on.
For 12 days, we hired a car from AAA car rentals for our road trip. Highly recommend using this rental company for excellent value and service! We also stayed at the owner Paul and Madi’s amazing AirBnb, near Hobart which was super too.
From Hobart we drove through Richmond, a pretty little town on the River, then along the coast down to our first stop – the Tasman Peninsula.
Our first evening we went on a ghost tour in the historic Port Arthur – convict settlement built by convicts, when they were sent over to ‘Van Dieman’s Land (as Tasmania was originally named) from the British colonies.
Unfortunately the tour wasn’t great (in hindsight, when you don’t believe in ghosts maybe don’t go on a ghost tour…?) but we got to see the site including the prison block, which housed the hardest criminals who had offended again once they were in Australia. Definitely worth a visit to find out more about the history of Tasmania.
During the daytime we had more pressing adventures to attend to, like hikes. Many, many hikes…
Cape Huay Hike
Part of the famous ‘Three Capes Walk” (a four day and expensive ($$$) guided hike), we chose to just do the start of it which was a 12km, four hour (or three if you’re quick) hike. I LOVED this walk – the views were spectacular the whole way, from beautiful bays to dramatic dolerite cliffs.
Cape Huay is also famous for the ‘totem-pole’ that attracts climbers from all over the world. They go across a rope to the top, abseil down to the bottom, where the waves are crashing up at them, then climb back up. Easy-peasy, right?
Cape Raoul Hike
Next up, was Cape Raoul – further south, through more forests and the scenery was very different. The hike was 14km, recommended walking time of five hours, but we, of course, did it in three-and-a-half. This was becoming a habit…
Other things to see in the park
After two fairly tiring hikes, it was time to explore the rest of the park at a more leisurely pace…
Time for a coffee stop, at the delicious Cubed Espresso which is a coffee van overlooking Eaglehawk Neck.
Back in the day, on this narrow piece of land, they kept a line of half-starved dogs, to stop any convicts escaping from Port Arthur…
We stayed two nights at Bluegum Hostel, which was a cute cabin in the woods, with a double and a dorm room.
From there, we drove on north, up the east coast and stayed in Orford for the night. This was the base to visit Maria Island, reached by a passenger ferry. It was once a convict settlement, and is still intact, and the island is now famous for it’s wildlife and cliffs.
The next day we. drove up to Freycinet National Park, and stopped off for some wine tasting at Devil’s Corner vineyard.
Freycinet National Park
Mount Amos Climb
Yes, a climb. Not just any climb, there was very strong winds when we were going up it. Several people had turned around saying it was too windy for them. But not us…
We met some lovely Tassie people at the top and sat chatting with them for a while. This really was one of the best things about Tasmania – EVERYONE we met was super friendly and helpful.
Wine Glass Bay Beach
After seeing it from above, we knew we had to see this pristine white sand beach up close. So off we set on yet another hike to get there, but wow was it worth it!
Friendly Beach Camping
We’d been recommended a free camping site (there are a lot of these all over Tassie) at Friendly beaches – and what a fantastic spot it was!
Our car rental company had a free supply of camping gear, so we packed the boot full – tent, sleeping bags, an esky (ice box to everyone who isn’t Aussie), a stove, chairs, and even a cafetière!
After Freycinet, we made our way up towards the Bay of Fires for our next night camping.
On the way, we stopped in the small town of Bicheno and I went for a swim in the beautiful bay.
Bay of Fires
The stunning coastline and crystal waters, named Bay of Fires after European sailors saw Aboriginal Fires as they sailed past.
A more leisurely day
After all that hiking and camping, we were both exhausted, so it was time for a day at a slower pace. But there was still plenty to see….
One of my highlights was Melita Honey Farm – there was over 50 types of honey that you could try, testers for honey moisturiser, hand cream and more. Plus information about how honey is made, run by a lovely Dutch family who moved to Tasmania about twenty years ago. My favourite was the ginger honey – we bought a jar and it did not last long. A very tasty addition to my morning porridge!
Next stop was for a well deserved cup of tea and game of chess at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm.
We stayed in an old Church one night – Barrington Church B&B, run by a super friendly couple Rob and Anne. They moved over about a year ago from Victoria, to set this up. It was full of character, had a jacuzzi bath, and Anne cooked us a scrumptious breakfast in the morning, and we had a lovely chat with her. It was the best Airbnb of our trip to Tasmania – by far!
Cradle Mountain Hike
The most famous hike in Tasmania is no mean feat… It’s in the world-heritage Cradle Mt – Lake St Clair National Park, and is the start of the popular six-day Overland Trek. As my back can’t handle a big backpack for multiple-day treks, we did just day one of the hike – up to the summit of Cradle Mountain. Again, what should have taken us six to seven hours, took us just four and a half hours – it was becoming a habit. This time we had a reason – we had a date with the Tassie Devils, so had to hop, skip and a jump – up, and down there, pronto.
This was one of my favourite hikes, but my gosh was it tough. The final 1.5km was scrambling over huge dolomite boulders up to 1545m.
On the way down, my legs were like jelly. The two hours of rock scrambling had really taken it out of me. I was not the happiest…
We like to give ourselves some free time, so we had at least ten minutes to wolf down some food to replenish our energy stores, before driving to the Tasmanian Devils Sanctuary ‘Devils at Cradle’, for feeding time. For the Devils, not us….
Seeing Tassie Devils at ‘Devils at Cradle’
Tasmanian Devils are now only found in Tasmania – they used to be on mainland Australia too, but have been killed off, probably by foxes. They are marsupials and were given their name by European settlers, as they sound like little devils when they are feeding.
A perfect camp spot
After a very long day, we were ready for a good sleep so drove to a nearby town, Tullah, where there were no rooms at the Inn. Luckily the owner told us about a camp spot next to the lake – it was ideal!
It was on the banks of the lake with no one else there, so we went for a dip, before cooking up a feast for dinner.
The end of a great trip…
We drove back via the forests in the West of Tasmania, through some more small towns, via Mount Field National Park, and back to Hobart.
What better way to finish the road trip than with a visit to Australia’s oldest brewery… Cascade Brewery in Hobart.
Tasmania was one of the highlights of my travels so far – I definitely recommend you add it to your itinerary next time you’re in Aus. We had the bonus of it being beautiful weather during January – this was “peak” season, but it didn’t feel too busy at all.
Hobart is an amazing city too – we did so much there that it will get it’s own blog post – coming soon!
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Next stop is New Zealand! It’s been 12 years since I last visited and I absolutely loved it then, so I’m hoping I still do this time!