Australia's multitude of natural beauty makes it perfect for road trips, but the enormity of the mainland can be daunting when trying to plan a route that includes several different attractions. For an area that's easier to cover, with countless places of interest within a reachable distance, Tasmania is your best bet. From pristine beaches to rugged wilderness hikes, from ancient rock formations to taste testing the produce at local farms, there's a little something for everyone on Australia's island state.
Unsure of what you'd like to see or feel torn between different areas? Not to worry, Tassie's manageable size makes it the perfect place for a little spontaneity. Here are some suggestions that focus mainly on Tassie's famed East Coast.
We started our Tassie trip in Hobart, where we spent three days before picking up our rental car and heading north up the coast. Tasmania's capital and largest city boasts a nearby airport and is a one of the best options for arriving in Tasmania by air. (Prefer to head in by boat? The Spirit of Tasmania is a ferry that leaves from Melbourne and will drop you in Devonport.)
Time your trip
Hobart's famed Salamanca Markets take place every Saturday, so we made sure we'd be in the city for it. A sprawling food and crafts market with more than 300 vendors, it's like my local farmers market at home on (lots of) steroids, and a great place to find arts and crafts, antiques, books, clothing or even just a snack to tide you over while browsing.
Bird's eye view
To check out Hobart and its surrounds from above, take the winding, scenic drive to the viewing area at the top of Mount Wellington, whose peak is situated at a cool 1,269 meters (4,163 feet).
On your way up/down the coast
Great views, misty morning or not, atop Mount Wellington
Kate's Berry Farm is located on the A3 Tasman Highway between Hobart and Swansea. Open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, this adorable spot has become a veritable institution in Tasmania (it even has its own road sign directing you right to it!). Take a seat at one of the tables outside to enjoy the sweeping ocean views and treat yourself to some scones with jam or ice cream (made with Kate's own berries, of course) before getting back on the road.
Freycinet National Park
Kate's Berry Farm: a road trip pit stop with quite the view and great food to boot
Our first destination after leaving Hobart was Freycinet National Park, about 2.5 hours north. The park is a stunning collection of diverse beaches and bays connected by coastal walks and inland hikes. The crown jewel of the area is the pristine Wineglass Bay, which you can enjoy from the designated lookout above or see up close (and even swim in!) by taking the relatively short but steep hike down to the beach itself. If you're lucky, you might catch sight of some dolphins just off shore, but the views will be worthwhile either way.
Getting up close and personal with Wineglass Bay
Be sure to check out Honeymoon Bay (ideal for sunset), Sleepy Bay and the Cape Tourville Lighthouse while you're in the area. We spent a day and a half exploring the park and could have easily taken more time.
Bay of Fires
Dreamy views from the Cape Tourville Lighthouse
The Bay of Fires is another one of the East Coast's famed destinations, extending from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point. Similar to Freycinet National Park, the bay boasts picture-perfect blue water framed by white sand and lichen-covered boulders. Assuming it was given its name due to said orange-hued rocks, it was interesting to hear that it actually received the moniker from Captain Tobias Furneaux, who saw a multitude of Aboriginal fires lit along the beaches as he sailed past in 1773.
The Bay of Fires
Unsure of where to head after the Bay of Fires, we decided to go inland and check out Launceston, or Launy for short. We only stayed for one night but had perfect weather to check out the city's amazing Cataract Gorge Reserve. It's hard to believe this peaceful wilderness refuge is located just a short walk from Launceston's city center.
Hop on the chairlift at Cataract Gorge Reserve for bird's eye views of this beautiful city park
Looking for some caffeine to continue on your road trip with plenty of energy? (Who isn't?) Stop by one of Launceston's many delicious coffee shops on your way out of town. We decided on Sweet Brew (93 George St.) and had great service along with our flat whites.
The Tasman Peninsula was another spontaneous decision that wasn't part of our original itinerary but quickly became one of our favorite parts of our trip. After leaving Launceston, we headed east to cut back over to the coast and then went south (because driving on that beautiful coast one time just wasn't enough), bypassing Hobart to end up at the Peninsula.
Famed for its stunning sea cliffs and epic rock formations, we arrived at Eaglehawk Neck a few hours before sundown and had just enough time to check out the area's major attractions. Do not miss Pirates Bay, Tasmans Arch or the Tessellated Pavement. Though we were able to squeeze everything in during one evening, it would have been great to have at least one full day to explore at a more leisurely pace.
The stunning Pirates Bay on the Tasman Peninsula
Schedule yourself even more time if you're interested in checking out the Port Arthur Historic Site, the former home of a convict colony.
We arrived in the area not sure where we'd be sleeping for the night, as our internet research yielded very vague results. Pulling up at the address of the only hostel we had found online, we immediately noticed a No Vacancy sign on the fence. Luckily, they had noted the phone number of a nearby place, the Bluegum Hostel, which happened to be located on the same road.
Wanted: Clean Bed
The Bluegum Hostel is a small, self-contained guesthouse at the back of a couple's property with one double bedroom and one room with a bunk bed and two twin beds. I would probably characterize it as more of an Airbnb than a hostel; regardless, it was super clean, comfy and cozy, and we felt instantly at home. It was by far our favorite lodging in Tassie and would be perfect for anyone exploring the peninsula.
Where's your favorite spot in Tasmania? Share your response in the comment section below.