Revelling in isolation, Tasmania is busting out with fab festivals and sensational food and drink, riding a tourism-fuelled economic boom that’s the envy of all Australia.
Separated from mainland Australia by the 240 kilometres (150 miles) stretch of Bass Strait, Tasmania is a land apart – a green island of wild, mountainous and beautiful landscapes; friendly, welcoming people; temperate climate; quality cool-climate wines and food; a spirited history; and a creative arts community – all wrapped up in a relaxed lifestyle.
More than 40 per cent of the island is protected as World Heritage Area, national parks and reserves. And because Tasmania is so compact it is easy to walk through an ancient alpine meadow in the morning and be on a pure white beach in the afternoon.
To understand Australian colonial history you first need to understand Tasmanian colonial history…and before that Tasmanian Aboriginal history. Tragic stories of the island’s past play out through its haunting, gothic landscape: the sublime scenery around Port Arthur only reinforces the site’s grim history. It’s just as easy to conjure up visions of the raffish past in Hobart’s Battery Point and its atmospheric pubs. Elsewhere, architectural treasures include convict-built bridges at Ross, Richmond and Campbell Town. Meanwhile, the state’s obsession with the (probably) extinct Tasmanian tiger continues – are you out there, thylacine?
Tastes of Tasmania
First it was all about apples…but now the Apple Isle’s contribution to world food extends to premium seafood, cheese, bread, honey, nuts, truffles, stone fruit, craft beer, whisky, gin and intensely flavoured cool-climate wines. Many smaller producers are owned and operated by passionate foodies: Tasmania is seemingly custom built for a driving holiday spent shunting between these farm-gate suppliers, boozy cellar doors and niche providores. After you’ve sampled the produce, book a table at a top restaurant and see how the local chefs transform it.
From wine, beer and food festivals to hot-ticket arts and music events, Tasmania packs a lot of parties into the calendar. Hobart’s photogenic docks play host to many, from Taste of Tasmania over New Year to the heritage glories of the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Art and culture get their game on during Ten Days on the Island, while winter’s brooding, edgy Dark MOFO is building to rival the New Year party procession. MONA FOMA and Festivale bring the celebrations to Launceston, and The Unconformity unearths Queenstown’s character. Escape for a long weekend – how many more reasons do you need?
Into The Wild
From the squeaky white sand and lichen-splashed granite of the east coast to the bleak alpine plateaus of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania punches well above its weight when it comes to natural beauty. Hiking opportunities range from short, waterfall-punctuated forest trails to multi-day wilderness epics with no one else in sight. You can explore the island’s craggy coastlines and wild rivers by kayak, raft, yacht or cruise boat. Tassie’s native wildlife is ever present: spy Tasmanian devils after dark, share the Southern Ocean swell with seals and dolphins or watch penguins waddling home at dusk.
Farm Gate Market Grab a bag full of top local produce at Hobart’s Sunday-morning farmers market.
Fat Pig Farm Sydney food critic turned TV Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans cooks and eats with you in Cygnet.
Bruny Island Home to a cheesemaker, an oyster farm, a smokehouse, a berry farm, a whisky bar and a fudge maker.
Freycinet Marine Farm Briny oysters, mussels, octopus and crayfish, fresh from the sea.
King Island Dairy Show-stopping dairy on remote King Island with a walk-in tasting room…enjoy!
Harvest Launceston’s excellent foodie market happens every Saturday morning.
Summer Kitchen Bakery This little bakery hidden in the southeast bakes the best sourdough you’ll ever taste.
Taste of the Huon This annual Huon Valley festival plates up much more than just apples.
Melshell Oysters Far-flung, forlorn oyster shack in the dunes somewhere near Swansea. Magic!
Cradle Mountain Give yourself a full day to reach the summit of this iconic mountain.
Three Capes Track Raoul, Pillar, Hauy – tick them off your list on this four-day Tasman Peninsula hike.
Wineglass Bay You’ve seen the photos…now do the walk. It’s a three-hour return hike over the saddle to the sand.
Bay of Fires Lodge Walk Four-day guided walk with all the perks of luxury accommodation and gourmet food.
kunanyi/Mt Wellington Check out some challenging tracks a short drive from Hobart. And how about them views!
Mt Field National Park In spring and summer Mt Field’s high-country tracks are awash with wildflowers, chuckling streams, tarns and waterfalls.
Overland Track Tassie’s big-ticket trail is an epic through 65km of majestic highlands and forests.
South Coast Track Ever been to the edge of the known world? Here’s your chance.
Maria Island Walk Luxury guided (and catered) four-day hike along Maria Island off the east coast.
Port Arthur Historic Site Beautiful coastal scenery (almost) masks the tragic melancholy infused in every building.
Callington Mill Organic flour from this meticulously restored 1837 mill in Oatlands is transformed into baked treats around the state.
Hobart Historic Tours Take a guided walking tour and uncover the history of Australia’s second-oldest capital city.
Midlands towns Piece together Tasmania’s rural history in photogenic Oatlands, Ross and Campbell Town.
The Ship That Never Was Hear a true tale of convict escape in this entertaining production in Strahan.
Evandale The whole town’s listed by the National Trust. Don’t miss historic Clarendon mansion!
Woolmers Estate Longford farming estate dating from 1819; one of the 11 Unesco World Heritage Australian convict sites.
Stanley Historic northwest fishing village sheltering beneath the Nut.
Richmond Bridge The oldest road bridge in Australia is in picture-perfect little Richmond, near Hobart.
Maria Island National Park For all things furry and feathered. The wombats are supersized!
Mt William National Park Rare Forester kangaroos gambol on the grassland behind the beaches.
Trowunna Wildlife Park Check out some Tasmanian devils, koalas and wombats in the northwest.
Tasman Island cruises Astonishing coastal scenery and the chance to see seals, dolphins and the occasional passing whale.
Bonorong Wildlife Centre Conservation-savvy wildlife centre near Hobart, starring Tasmanian devils, koalas, wombats, echidnas and quolls.
Bruny Island Winning birdwatching, including penguins and mutton birds at Bruny Island Neck.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park Wombats, birds, possums, devils, snakes…any visit here (especially along the Overland Track) is a zoo-like experience.
King Island Everything seems so healthy and well fed here: the cows, the seagulls, the snakes…
Beaches & Swimming
Boat Harbour Beach Locals say the water here is the warmest in Tasmania!
Ocean Beach Long, wild beach walks, giant waves and west-coast sunsets.
South Cape Bay It’s a two-hour walk from Cockle Creek to one of the world’s wildest ocean beaches.
Douglas-Apsley National Park Cool off in the deep, dark waterholes of Douglas River on the east coast.
Seven Mile Beach Hobart’s best beach: safe swimming, undulating dunes and nearby camping. Righto, that’s summer sorted.
Fortescue Bay Gloriously isolated and definitely worth the national-park entrance fee. Camping a must!
Binalong Bay The southernmost beach in the Bay of Fires is just begging for swimmers.
Kingston Beach South of Hobart, this little suburban beach has safe swimming and before/after distractions (pub, bar, cafes).
Dark MOFO Cometh the winter solstice, cometh Dark MOFO – an eerie, unnerving and very hip winter festival.
Falls Festival This touring music fest visits Marion Bay around New Year’s Eve.
Taste of Tasmania Tassie’s top food festival is a true gourmet feast.
Cygnet Folk Festival Folky good times and groovy summer vibes south of Hobart.
Unconformity The west coast can be bleak, but this quirky Queenstown festival warms the mood.
Ten Days on the Island Tasmania’s loftiest arts festival.
Festivale Launceston’s showpiece event is a delicious melange of food, wind and good times.
Festival of Voices Tune up your pipes for a little winter singalong in Hobart.
Targa Tasmania How does Tasmania look from inside a speeding sports car? Classic cars, classic scenery.
Getting Out on the Water
Bruny Island Cruises See vertigo-inducing sea cliffs, towering ocean-eroded rocks and the wild expanse of the Great Southern Ocean.
Wineglass Bay Cruises Sail into the bay’s perfect curve of sand and liquid turquoise.
Kayaking Bathurst Harbour Join Roaring 40s Kayaking for a remote expedition in Tasmania’s southwest.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Explore jagged Tasman Island off the Tasman Peninsula, with a look at Port Arthur to boot.
Gordon River Cruises Take a leisurely cruise on the mirror-flat Gordon, with a look at Macquarie Harbour and Sarah Island en route.
Rafting the Franklin Undertake a classic, remote, 10-day river journey.
Lady Nelson Sign on to crew this majestic tall ship sailing out of old Hobart town on the Derwent.
Lake St Clair Ferry Walk the length of the lake’s shoreline if you want, or catch the ferry to complete your Overland Track hike.