Experience Tasmania on an epic road trip
24 May 2021
With pristine beauty, distinct wine and gourmet regions, a buzzing capital city and a plethora of outdoor and cultural activities, it’s no wonder Tasmania is a popular holiday destination.
Adding to Tasmania’s appeal is its driveability with great roads, few highways and plenty of scenic views at every turn.
For a road trip that ticks off the state’s spectacular wilderness, culinary landscape, fascinating history, top attractions and diverse arts and culture scene, here is our itinerary of the highlights of what to see and sample and where to stay in Tasmania.
Tasmania’s cosmopolitan capital is the ideal spot to embark on your road trip. You can easily spend a couple of days exploring this walkable city, starting at the historic waterfront and wandering around the iconic Salamanca Markets, Salamanca Place, Battery Hill and St David’s Park.
Mona – the Museum of Old And New Art – is another cultural highlight. Set aside a few hours or a whole day to explore this eclectic multisensory arts collection. For a complete immersive experience, take the high-speed ferry from the Brooke Street Pier to Mona (choose the Posh Pit private lounge) and stay for lunch at onsite winery Moorilla Wine.
Hobart is also the perfect place to begin sampling Tasmania’s gourmet landscape. From high-end dining at Peacock and Jones restaurant along the waterfront to a classic scallop pie from the Scallop Pie Stall at Salamanca Market, a cornucopia of edible delights awaits the ‘epicurious’ traveller.
Check-in to MACq01, a luxury waterfront boutique hotel within a historic building on Hunter Street. Woven throughout the hotel are the stories and history of the area to complete your immersive Hobart experience.
Once you’ve picked up your hire car, drive to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, a 300km trip northwest from Hobart. Taking just over 3.5 hours’ driving time, prepare to be wowed by the pristine beauty of this national park.
Cradle Mountain is the spot to get outdoors and explore the natural flora and fauna with plenty of walks and hikes available for all abilities. Highlights include Marions Lookout for a panoramic view and the picture-perfect Dove Lake on the Dove Lake Circuit for a highlights reel of Cradle Mountain. Expect to spot plenty of enchanting wildlife such as wombats amid mossy rainforests, wildflowers, alpine lakes and cascading falls.
Pack a gourmet picnic from Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge and find a spot on a private beach at Dove Lake to soak up the views. With everything from local cheeses and meats to gourmet sandwiches and fruit, it’s a special way to experience an extra-special location.
Located right on the edge of the World Heritage-listed national park, Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge is considered one of Australia’s premier wilderness experiences. The secluded spot offers a range of timber cabins – our pick is the luxurious King Billy Suite that includes spectacular views from the private deck and your own hot tub.
From Cradle Mountain, head northeast to Tasmania’ second-largest city, Launceston – a 1.5-hour drive. Located on the Tamar River and framed by Cataract Gorge, Launceston straddles stunning landscape and historic architecture with ease.
Cataract Gorge is just a short 15-minute walk from the city centre and this natural rocky formation offers an array of leisure activities such as hiking and walking trails, a swimming pool and beautiful gardens. Get a sky-high view from the suspension bridge or take a gentle ride on the scenic chairlift over the natural basin.
Nearby Tamar Valley is another unique destination with myriad experiences on offer – from gravelly beaches to bushwalks, wineries and farm-to-table produce in a naturally beautiful location. Embark on the Tamar Valley Wine Route to sample Tasmania’s oldest wine-growing area. Explore the stunning surrounds of Josef Chromy Wines and linger for wine tastings and lunch featuring local produce in the exceptional onsite restaurant.
For a stately stay steeped in history and Victorian character, The Florance hotel is a must. Located within the Launceston Art Precinct and with just 12 suites, it’s an intimate and charming boutique experience and the ideal base to explore Launceston and surrounds.
Coles Bay and Freycinet
Travel around two hours south to Tasmania’s east coast to encounter different terrain again. Coles Bay is a pretty seaside village and the entry point to explore the epic scenery of Freycinet National Park.
With the Hazard Mountains as its backdrop and lapped by the shallow turquoise waters of Coles Bay, Freycinet Lodge is a wonderful place to slow down. Stay in the elegant Coastal Pavilion immersive accommodation amid the bushland of Freycinet National Park and enjoy hikes to the famous crescent of Wine Glass Bay, swimming in Honeymoon Bay and toasting to glorious sunsets at Hazards Bar and Lounge.
Visit Freycinet Marine Oyster Farm for freshly harvested oysters straight from the shell as well as mussels, abalone, scallops, lobster and salmon. Paired with a crisp glass of local pinot and views over Coles Bay, it doesn’t get better than this.
For a luxury lodge with a different view, stay at the award-winning Saffire Freycinet. Naturally embedded in the landscape, this retreat offers exclusive experiences from mountain biking and kayaking to birdwatching and cooking classes. We love the Private Pavilion suites for the ultimate in indulgence and seclusion.
Complete your immersive itinerary with the leisurely 184km trip back to Hobart, ambling down the coast past the pretty seaside village of Swansea to Triabunna, the gateway to Maria Island National Park where you can stop off and take the 30-minute ferry ride to this historic island.
Back in Hobart, why not opt for a stay at The Henry Jones Art Hotel? Hobart’s oldest waterfront warehouses in the historic Hunter Street precinct have been reimagined as a modern hotel with an industrial past complete with decadent spas and indulgent suites.
Add-on: King Island
Venture away from mainland Tasmania to King Island for the ultimate escape. A short flight north from Launceston or Hobart, King Island offers a respite amid untouched nature with gourmet experiences and abundant wildlife.
King Island is a golfer’s paradise with two world-class links golf courses to tee off from. Cape Wickham on the northern tip contains the tallest lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere, while Ocean Dunes seaside links course hugs the western coastline. There are plenty of other one-of-a-kind outdoor pursuits on offer too. With 145km of coastline and protected nature reserves, even a beach walk can net wildlife sightings and shipwrecks.
One of King Island’s most famous attractions is undoubtedly King Island Dairy. No visit is complete without a trip to the King Island Dairy fromagerie for a complimentary tasting of their finest blues, cheddars and soft cheeses. Settle in for a delicious cheese platter or an oozy baked brie.
Perched on a secluded oceanfront spot surrounded by the ocean, sandy dunes and private land, Kittawa Lodge is both remote and welcoming. This hidden gem offers self-contained architecturally designed eco-lodges that offer a cocooning retreat from the elements while immersing you in this stunning environment.