When we started our trip around the world we never thought that our first destination might be our favorite one: Tasmania, Australia. As soon as you step foot there you feel you are jumping into some kind of adventurous fairytale. So let me tell you my top things to love in Tasmania in 8 days through an incredible tale.
Once upon a time…
… THERE WAS A FAR FAR AWAY AND MAGNIFICENT ISLAND…
The first thing you will love about Tassie is that it is a far away island. Being far from everything makes one feels it managed to stay protected from mass tourism, and in a way, from general mass problems. Nested in between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Van Diemen’s land (as it was called in the 19th century) was the furthest place Britain could think of to send thousands of convicts (men, women and even children from age 9, yep… age 9!) to do their sentence. Braving the sea, they arrived in an unknown and distant land and worked very hard. Today, things got smoother: it only took us a 1 hour flight from Melbourne to get there and the only type of chain available on board is the seat belt. Interested by the convicts past? Want to picture how your life would look like if you had stolen a sheep in England in 1820? Then don’t miss out visiting one of the old prisons. You will have plenty of choice but I would warmly advise the most famous one of Port Arthur (and if you are looking for some thrill you can do the Ghost Tour at night).
… WHERE TRAVELERS LANDED IN HOBART, THE CITY WHERE EVERYTHING STARTS AND ENDS (AND WHERE YOU EAT. A LOT)
As so many convicts before you, you will probably land in the capital: Hobart. We arrived on a Saturday morning and were surprised to find an empty town. Where did all the good people go? The answer is: Salamanca Market. And so would you if you were in Hobart. Knowing that the city has little over 200 000 inhabitants, this is one of the largest week-end markets I have ever seen and certainly one of the most beautiful and tempting. If you are a foodie you will not be disappointed, your only problem will be to make up your mind… Salmon sausages rolls? Fresh scallops pizzas? Lamb burgers? Good luck. It is also the perfect occasion to try in one single day ALL of Tasmanian specialties: honey, jams, salmon, oysters, apple juices, whisky, chocolate… You will be able to sit in the garden and hear one of the several concerts performed by local artists. I really hope for you you will be in Hobart on a Saturday.
Next to Salamanca Market is Salamanca Place. A trendy square with a great breakfast at the Machine Laundry Café and drink options (we had a nice wine and drought beer at Barcelona). A great option if you can’t see the Salamanca Market. After filling your stomach and chilling out another surprise awaits you: the Battery Point neighborhood. It feels like entering a 19th century movie set with its pretty cottages, rose gardens and apple trees. But those are real early 19th century houses with real people living in them. All is calm, all is quiet. Except for the restaurants around that seem to have a good idea of what good food means.
If you want to see where the hipsters from Hobart are hanging out head to North Hobart and walk through Elizabeth Street and you will understand how this city is much more cosmopolitan, hipster and foodie than you would ever think.
At last but not least, if you are an art fan, take the MR-1 Fast Ferry to MONA (the “subversive adult Disneyland” according to its founder David Walsh). This surprising museum has been putting Hobart in the top of mind of the international artistic scene. To sum up, Hobart feels like a mini-Melbourne. It is a cosmopolitan, arty and foodie scene that has been underestimated by the world. But for how long?
… WHERE TRAVELERS WOULD DISCOVER WHITE-SAND BEACHES AND HIDDEN BAYS,
Even if Hobart is a city you get easily attached to, it is time to leave because great adventures await for you in Tasmania. The first one is the road trip in itself, so if you can rent a car and drive around I would warmly advise you to do so. In a land made of 1/3 of National Parks, Tasmania is beautiful from every point of view, even from the car (if you are driving stop looking at the passing landscapes, please watch the road!).
To discover the first National Park you will fall in love with, head North to Freycinet National Park. You will first have to purchase your National Parks Pass (we have chosen the one that allowed us to visit all National Parks including Cradle Mountain, it costs 60 AUD and you can buy it online). Once you get your pass it is time to walk around. Put on your walking shoes and try one or several of the Tasmanian Short Walks (or longer walks if you are a true warrior). The most beautiful walks we did until now are all in Tasmania and that island has a power on you that is quite amazing: it makes you want to go the distance. Try the Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit, you will start by the Wineglass Bay view and then go through Hazards Beach. The views are breathtaking, there a lot of birds to observe and a few wallabies will cross your path. If you have additional time I would suggest you to do a series of short walks, like: Sleepy Bay, Little Gravelly Beach and Scenic Lookout. For other activities renting a kayak might be an excellent idea to see the Bay from another point of view and don’t miss the sunset , rent a kayak or see the sunset with a bottle of Tasmanian wine on the rocks of Honeymoon Beach (and get ready to make some bird friends).
… WHERE ADVENTURERS WOULD TREK MAGNIFICENT MOUNTAINS
“Tassie” as it is kindly called by the Aussies is also known as the Natural State. After your beachfront adventure it is time to go deeper in the island and go upper. Under no circumstance miss Cradle Mountain, probably my N°1 thing to love in Tasmania. You will find Cradle Mountain at the northern end of the Cradle Mt – Lake St Clair National Park, which themselves are part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Just be aware that despite being in the same NP, they are quite far one from another so you might have to chose and we went for Cradle Mountain. There is no point using adjectives to describe the place because they would not be good enough. Just imagine seeing rainforest flora bordering a deep blue lake. Half an hour later you will be surrounded by alpine trees and crystal clear streams. So if you like walking this is the perfect place to go to. No wonder the world-famous 6 days Overland Track starts. Which we did! Ok for 2 hours only, but still 🙂 If you are not a big trekker or hiker, here are our tips:
- Dove Lake Circuit –2 hours return
- Crater Fallls, Crater Lake and Wombat Pool – 2-3 hours return (add 2 hours more if you leave from the visitor center as we did)
- Pencil Pine and Knyvet Falls – 20 minutes return
- Enchanted Nature Walk – 20 minutes return
- Weindorfers Forest Walk 20 minutes return
Looking for wildlife? Sure, no problem mate! You will see in Tasmania wallabies and wombats just beneath your hotel window. You might cross a kangaroo when walking on a boardwalk and realize it is quite interested in your cheese sandwich. And of course ou can watch Tasmanian Devils being fed at the sunset. As Mr Stevens would say it: oh baby, baby it’s a wild world.
… WOULD HAVE A BREAK IN LAUNCESTON & A GLASS (OR SEVERAL) OF WINE IN THE TAMAR VALLEY BEFORE CHECKING OUT THE NORTH COAST.
Launceston. What a surprising city. Second highest population of Tasmania it is home to pretty houses and a real surprising park – Cataract George – with outdoor public pools facing a waterfall and a lake. With an urban park like that who wouldn’t fancy running? The pets around? Peacocks and wallabies. Just like home (except that in Paris ours are pigeons and mice). Before leaving, if you have time, head to the Tamar Island. A beautiful walk in the wetlands where you can observe the bird wildlife. Despite the warning against potential snakes, we haven’t actually seen one.
Tamar Valley. A must-go to if you are a wine lover. A good idea is to find a vineyard that has lodges to make sure you can actually enjoy the different wines and avoid drinking and driving. The views from Tamar Ridge at Rosevears on the river are marvelous.
North Coast. You will find (as everywhere is Tasmania) beautiful beaches. If you are heading that way as a stop, I would advise you to try to find a room in Penguin or Wynyard, but avoid Burnie. It is an industrial/maritime city where there isn’t much to see.