When we planned our visit to Australia last year, we made sure we reserved enough days for Tasmania too! Many of our friends said it was a waste of time. But we love all things natural like waterfalls, coasts and mountains and didn’t care much for large cities. So we decided to explore this place for hidden gems and we simply fell in love with Tassie! Here is our 9 day road trip in Tasmania!
How to Get to Tasmania
Tasmania is an island south of Australia, the size of Florida, population 500,000. You can fly to Hobart or Launceston from Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane, or take the ferry from Melbourne (9 and half hours). We flew Melbourne-Launceston (Launnie!!) in an hour.
Where to Stay and What to Eat in Tasmania
In a relatively small area, say Wales, we make a central location our base and make day trips to see the sights. This would not work in Tasmania during our 1,700 KM journey.
We prefer rural B&Bs, hotels being the second choice. Aussies are friendly and hospitable, a smile and hello from any stranger, and a cheery “no worries, mate” response to “thank you”. B&Bs are cosy and comfortable, and breakfasts are very generous.
Aussie food is broadly English. Breakfast, particularly in B&Bs, is “full”. There are several choices for other meals – soup/bread, pub fare, Chinese, and Indian – available in almost every village.
Here’s our route:
Day 1 – Launceston to Wynyard
We reached Launceston at mid-day and set off on a 165 KM drive to Wynyard on the north coast in our rented car. Tasmania has excellent roads with light traffic. Watch out for wildlife on the roads, though! If you hit one you will probably kill it and damage your car, too.
A warning – Google maps may not work due to uncertain coverage. Try to carry two cell-phones supported by different telecom companies and have a good map as backup.
Wynyard is a small seaside town with just one main street lined with cafes and shops. Our rural B&B was a farm teeming with ducks, chickens and friendly dogs, with wide expanses of open land all around to gaze at from our little sit-out. When exploring the town we encountered friendly smiles and ended up with a sumptuous dinner of home cooked chicken and vegetables. We heard of the beaches, fishing, swimming and kayaking that attracted tourists to Wynyard, but alas, those were not for us.
Day 2 – Wynyard
We timed our Wynyard visit to the tulip season. Vast fields exploded in the vivid colors of long rows of blooming tulips. Walking amongst this splendour, surrounded by green and brown fields with a glimpse of the sea in the horizon was a wondrous experience for us city dwellers who are used to seeing flowers in vases.
Nearby was the Table Cape lighthouse standing watch over the blue Tasman sea. A lovely walk along the seaside cliff and around Table Cape made it a beautiful day out.
Day 3 – Wynyard to Cradle Mountain
The tulip fields enticed us back the next morning. Finally, we tore ourselves away and drove due south to Cradle Mountain. The hilly and curvaceous road ran up and down through shaded gorges emerging suddenly into bright sunshine. Bikers and cars love this spectacular scenic route. Speed limits in Tassy are generous but beware, speeding fines are very heavy!
En route, we stopped at the Hellyer gorge for a couple of lovely walks starting from the Hellyer River. The Cradle Mountain lies in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Like other national parks visitors need a permit. When touring it makes sense to buy a 15-day, all parks pass, rather than pay at each park separately.
Day 4 – Cradle Mountain
We set off for the Cradle Mountain, so named because from afar the two main peaks look like a baby’s cradle. We left our car at the Visitors’ Center and took the shuttle bus that crawled on a narrow road, letting us take in the lovely expanse of unspoiled countryside. We saw a cute wallaby by the roadside. We stopped near Dove Lake for a stunning view of the ‘cradle’ mountains and trudged off to explore.
Dove Lake lies at the foot of the Cradle Mountains. The still water reflects the peaks and the colors change as clouds fleet over the mountain peaks. All around are some of Tasmania’s best walking tracks, some easy for folks like us, and others for the true experts.
Day 5 – Queenstown
Continuing south, we missed out on Strahan’s famous river cruises because of rain and drove to nearby Queenstown, a sleepy, picture postcard town that was once the world’s richest mining town. Its glorious past is still visible in many quaint old buildings.
The main highway (Lyell) to Hobart runs right across Tasmania. Just outside Queenstown, atop a hill, is a marvellous lookout spot with a lovely panoramic view of Queenstown and rolling, multi-coloured hills in every direction – grateful for our 9X binoculars!
Further down the highway is “Iron Blow”, a not-to-be-missed spot presenting a unique sight, a deep pit filled with azure water. Looking down into it from the cantilevered lookout point can make you dizzy, but the view all around is spectacular.
We drove on alongside Lake Burbury, a picturesque lake with many lovely views particularly from a bridge that spans a narrow neck of the lake. You can fish, go boating, have a picnic or a barbecue, or just enjoy the lake’s serene beauty.
Next came the cascading Nelson Falls. A flat, wide boardwalk to the falls runs alongside the Nelson river through a little rain forest, charming in its own right. You will hear the waterfall as you walk and suddenly you will see a 100 foot wall of water shaped like an inverted wine glass, sparkling in the sunlight. If you close your eyes and listen, the sound of the cascading water will change as you tilt your head up or down.
We drove on eastwards hoping to find a nice place to settle down for the night. Eventually we reached our rural B&B – Hamlet Downs Country Accommodation in rural Fentonbury – perfect place which has home-made dinner options too!
Day 6 – Russell falls and Kingston
The next day morning, we set out to explore the Mountfield National Park. The Russell falls, just a short walk from the visitor centre was a pleasure to visit – a picturesque multi-tiered waterfall!
We drove further, beyond Hobart, to Kingston and Blackman’s bay. Located about 3 kms from Kingston, Blackman’s Bay has a beautiful beach and a blowhole. Viewed from above, the waves surging in and out of the deep channel was a pretty scene.
Day 7 – East Coast Attractions
We continued driving north-east to explore the magnificent East coast of Tasmania.
Our first stop was Devil’s Corner – The Cellar door and lookout. A climb up a little tower revealed a sweeping view across the Moulting Lagoon, all the way to the distant Hazards mountains at Coles Bay. Despite the chilling wind we sat on benches outside a nice café and sipped a glass of wine while admiring the magnificent view across the lake, and the play of sun and shade on the rippling water.
Further North came the Freycinet National Park – a lovely combo of pink granite mountains (the Hazards) jutting into turquoise bays lined with white beaches, and a eucalyptus forest adorning the land.
The courteous staff at the Visitors’ Center told us of the choice of walks and drives to several bays. The most challenging walk was the mile-long journey to the beautiful Wineglass bay, very aptly named. Sleepy Bay and Honeymoon Bay are more options to visit.
We were glad to have stopped at Cape Tourville Lighthouse and lookout, reached after a steep 15 minute drive and a short walk. All around are sweeping views over the Tasman Sea from various angles during our stroll on the boardwalk along the cliff edge.
Further north lies Bicheno, a popular holiday destination renowned for its blowhole which was dormant at the time of our visit! It was getting dark, so we hurried to our B&B at St Mary’s.
Day 8 – More to See in the East Coast
We drove to Pyengana Dairy in the beautiful Pyengana Valley which produces specialty cheeses from the milk of free range cows. It was fun to watch the cows line up to be milked and enjoy their automatic back-scratcher!!
St. Columba Falls, a 300 foot waterfall, was amazing. Not content with the distant view from the car park we ventured on the lovely walk to the falls through the rainforest that clings to a gorge. The beauty of waterfall kept us energized on the steep climb back !
Back on the coastal drive northwards, we passed the deep blue Binalong Bay to reach the stark beauty of the Bay of Fires! The rocks were covered with bright orange lichen which stand out against the turquoise blue sea – an amazing sight.
Day 9 – Launceston
Launceston was our last stop in Tassie.
We visited the Cataract Gorge – unusual to have a magnificent gorge almost right at the city centre. It has an outdoor swimming pool (seasonal), chairlift and lovely gardens where peacocks strut. There are walking tracks and lookouts too.
If you are a car buff, do visit the Automobile/Transport Museum to check out the vintage cars and bikes.
Finally, we drove North to Low Head, the northernmost end of Tasmania located at the mouth of the Tamar river. It has Australia’s oldest light house and pilot station (still operative). A beautiful but windy spot to gaze sitting in Coxwain’s café over a nice cup of coffee and quiche.
We flew back to Melbourne the next morning, carrying lovely memories supported by great photos, determined to come again. Goodbye, Tassie – until next time! Yes, we loved this tour so much that we want to do another driving tour soon.
This is a guest post by Jan & Benu – empty nesters, serial travel addicts and amateur photographers. Their style of travel is to drive to remote, scenic places avoiding big cities and exploring hidden gems. Enjoy their stories at their travel blog Leisurely Drives. Follow them at Instagram and Facebook.
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