Tasmania almost feels like a country within a country. Hobart, the flourishing capital of Tasmania, features a perfect blend of classic colonial buildings, culture, and great food.
Tasmania’s gorgeous east coast is home to countless vineyards and lined with beautiful beaches and bays. Meanwhile the wild and dramatic west coast is made up of ancient untouched rainforests.
Tasmania’s north coast is dotted with a number of pretty and historic towns that peer out over the wild Bass Strait.
The rough and rugged north west is the gateway to the beautiful wilderness of mountains, forests, lakes and waterfalls that covers western Tasmania and continues deep into the island’s heartland.
An amazing forty percent of Tasmania is either a national park or a conservation area, and the Apple Isle is also home to an astonishing abundance of wildlife.
The Tasmanian devil may be the most famous inhabitant, but there’s a huge array of other animals here, including kangaroos, wombats, pademelons, possums, wallabies and even penguins.
Tasmania can be reached by both plane and ferry.
If you’re heading to Tasmania from overseas you will need to catch a connecting flight to Hobart from one of mainland Australia’s major cities.
There are several flights a day to Hobart Airport from Melbourne and Sydney, as well as a few from Brisbane and Adelaide.
→ You can find the best prices on flights to Hobart on Skyscanner here.
Although Tasmania is Australia’s smallest state it is still big, roughly the same size as Ireland. To see as much as possible plan to spend at least two weeks in Tasmania.
Many people think that they can see all of Tasmania in a week, which, frankly, is impossible. If you spend 14 days in Tasmania you’ll be able to cover a lot of the island.
To get the most out of a Tasmanian driving holiday you need as much time as possible to take in all of this magical island’s incredible sights.
With that in mind, we’ve put together the perfect 14 day self drive Tasmania itinerary.
If you’re planning a Tasmania road trip you’ll obviously need a car.
We use Discover Cars to find the best rates on car hire for all of our road trips.
→ You can search for the best deals on car hire in Hobart here.
There are also ferry crossings from Melbourne to Devonport in northern Tasmania.
There’s one trip a day on weekdays and two per day on weekends, with the total journey taking between 9 to 11 hours. You can find out more about ferries to Tasmania here.
Deciding where to stay during a road trip around Tasmania will depend on where you want to stop and spend a few nights along the way.
When spending 14 days inTasmania we’d recommend staying in Hobart for at least a couple of nights, and then moving on to spend a few nights each along Tasmania’s east and northern coasts.
The east coast could easily be explored over a few days from one spot, such as Swansea or Bicheno.
Tasmania’s north coast is a little longer and it might be worth spending a couple of nights each in a few different places, such as Launceston and Stanley.
The wilder west coast and central Tasmania has fewer towns and the distances between one place to the next are much larger. Because of this you might want explore those regions from a single location, such as Strahan, Cradle Mountain or Lake St Clair.
→ We make several recommendations for places to stay at each point throughout our Tasmania itinerary.
You can also search for the best prices and deals on accommodation throughout the island here.
We start and end our two-week Tasmania itinerary in the capital of Hobart. From Hobart we take a a counter-clockwise lap of Tasmania seeing as much of the island as possible on a two week road trip.
Here’s a breakdown of our two week Tasmania road trip:
For many people, the first point of entry in Tasmania will be the state capital, Hobart. Allow a couple of days to explore Hobart, a charming city with a beautiful harbour that sits beneath the imposing peak of Mount Wellington.
Rich in history, the influence of the British settlers who established Hobart can still be seen in the city’s grand colonial architecture.
All around the bustling port former warehouses and factories from Hobart’s industrial past have been renovated and re-purposed into a number of galleries, hotels, restaurants and bars.
Here are a few of the must-see sights whilst exploring Hobart.
Not many cities can boast of having a mountain that has a road right to the top, but in Mount Wellington, Hobart can.
It’s around a thirty minute drive from the centre of Hobart right to the summit of Mount Wellington and the sensational view from the top is a worthy reward for the slightly perilous drive.
From the top of Mount Wellington Hobart spreads out surrounded by mile after mile of green fields, mountain ranges and the mouth of the mighty Derwent River.
Arrive at the crack of dawn to witness a spectacular sunrise and also to beat the crowds. Be aware that the temperature at the top of Mount Wellington is often much cooler than in Hobart.
Also, if you’re visiting Hobart in winter check to see if the road that leads to the summit is open before you set off. Pinnacle Road is often closed if there’s been enough snowfall to make the journey unsafe. You can check to see if Pinnacle Road is open here.
In the north of the city is the internationally renowned MONA art museum. MONA stands for the Museum of Old and New Art, and the deceptively enormous subterranean art gallery is known for its risque exhibitions of all kinds of contemporary and traditional art.
Opened in 2011, the gallery’s permanent exhibition is made of nearly 2,000 works from the private collection of one man, David Walsh. The gallery offers a refreshingly unpretentious take on art and needs to be seen to be believed.
Aside from the jaw-dropping art, MONA is also home to the Source Restaurant, several bars, a cafe, a winery as well as its own accommodation in the form of a range of very swanky pavilions on the River Derwent.
MONA can be reached via ferry along the River Derwent from Brooke Street Pier, or it’s around a 15 minute drive from the centre of Hobart.
→ You can also combine a day of sightseeing in Hobart with a visit to MONA here.
If you’re in town on a Saturday do not miss Hobart’s famous Salamanca Market, held in Salamanca Place in Hobart’s beautiful harbour every Saturday, come rain or shine.
Over 300 stalls pitch up selling all ranges of art and crafts, jewellery, fresh food, and locally made produce. What began as a small gathering of local traders in the early 1970s is now often touted as the best market in Australia.
The Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia and a much loved Tasmanian institution.
Founded in 1824, the brewery still producing the nation’s oldest beer and there are daily tours of Cascade’s towering Gothic brewery that include a tasting session of Cascade’s beers and ciders.
Sat at the foot of Mount Wellington, the brewery building is a Hobart landmark. The founding of the Cascade Brewery is indelibly linked with the history of Tasmania, and the guided tours teach all about the brewing process as well as the long history of the company.
Once home to several British penal colonies, Tasmania is very good at addressing and recognising some of the darker moments in its past. This is very much the case with the Female Factory, the site of a former women’s prison.
Today the Female Factory tells the stories of some of the women who were transported to Tasmania from Britain as punishment in the early 19th century, in some cases for extremely trivial crimes.
The site is now a World Heritage Centre, and recounts some of the unimaginable hardships that the many women who were transferred here from the other side of the word had to suffer.
The excellent guided tours are highly recommended and help to illustrate the horrendous conditions and circumstances the prison’s inmates had to endure.
There’s a huge range of accommodation available in Hobart. If you need some suggestions, here are three hotels that we recommend:
If you’re keeping an eye on costs but still want to be close to all of the action, consider the boutique and arty Alabama Hotel right in the centre of Hobart.
If you’d prefer to stay a little out of the way of the centre of town take a look at the Wrest Point Hotel, just a short drive from central Hobart overlooking the River Derwent
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Housed inside a beautifully renovated converted heritage building right on Hobart’s historic harbour, the award winning Henry Jones Art Hotel is perfectly placed to explore the city.
Our Tasmania road trip continues with a day in Port Arthur. From Hobart it’s around an hour and a half drive along the Tasman Peninsula to Port Arthur, one of Tasmania’s most famous and important historical sites.
With so much to stop and see in the surrounding area, and given the size of Port Arthur, it’s best to dedicate a whole day here.
The drive from Hobart along the Arthur Highway is wonderfully picturesque, passing through some of Tasmania’s glorious sweeping countryside. Stop at Eaglehawk Neck to marvel at the naturally latticed rock formations at Tessellated Pavement.
If you’re lucky you may spot dolphins out in the waters of Pirates Bay. Nearby, don’t miss the ferocious sea-battered the rocks at Fossil Bay, the Tasman Arch and the Devil’s Kitchen.
The Tessellated Pavement near Eaglehawk Neck, and Fossil Bay Lookout near Port Arthur
Port Arthur is a fascinating insight into Tasmania’s history. In the 19th century inmates sent from Britain were used as a convict workforce at Port Arthur, carrying out a number of backbreaking jobs, such as collecting timber and shipbuilding.
The crumbling remains of the penitentiary dominate the huge site. The prison once housed over 600 inmates, and around the penitentiary are other reminders of Port Arthur’s harsh past, some also ruined but many still standing and fully restored.
The haunting Separate Prison, built in 1848, is a particularly grim reminder of a time when punishment sought to rehabilitate offenders through complete isolation.
Here prisoners were once locked up in tiny sparse cells in total silence for 23 hours a day, with only one hour permitted for exercise.
Alongside the correctional buildings are a number of traditional buildings that you would ordinarily expect to see at what is a scenic spot. A small town sprang up here after the penal colony closed.
Surrounding the dilapidated prisons are two churches, a number of pretty cottages and rows of quaint bungalows.
Take a cruise of the harbour to really see just how idyllic Port Arthur is, and how at odds the area is with it’s own history.
→ You can book tickets for Port Arthur online in advance here.
If you’re staying overnight in Port Arthur then there’s a number of holiday cottages and B&Bs nearby, including in the neighbouring towns of Taranna and Nubeena.
Here are a few accommodation options near Port Arthur that we recommend:
Ideally located, the Port Arthur Motor Inn is a basic but comfortable choice, practically overlooking the Port Arthur site. Some rooms come with a patio and there’s also a restaurant and a separate bar on site too.
A 10 minute drive from Port Arthur is Norfolk Bay, a former convict station turned guesthouse. Sat right on the water’s edge, this historic house is the perfect base for anybody looking to explore the area.
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Enjoy gorgeous views of the sea and the surrounding countryside from the sundeck at [email protected]. Comfortable and cosy, this is a wonderful place to relax at the end of a long day seeing the sights of Port Arthur.
Tasmania’s east coast is a small slice of paradise. One of the island’s headline acts, this is where tourism on Tassie is really on the up and is the best place to continue your Tasmania itinerary after Hobart.
Home to some of the best beaches in Tasmania, you can still expect to have most of the east coast all to yourself at most times of the year even during the height of summer.
Two of Tasmania’s biggest hitters are on the east coast – the glorious Freycinet National Park and the gorgeous Bay of Fires just a little further north.
A number of pretty towns dot the east coast of Tasmania, along with numerous vineyards that produce some of Australia’s best wines.
Don’t be surprised to see whales pass by in the sea on their way north or south depending on the time of year. If you have the time take a cruise to Maria Island to walk amongst the island’s wallabies and wombats. The east coast is likely to be one of the standout sections of any Tasmania road trip.
The laid back town of Swansea is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and often used as a base to get to Freycinet National Park, which is just under an hour’s drive away.
Swansea directly faces Freycinet, which provides a wonderful backdrop when the sky glows at sunrise and sunset.
Just around the corner from Swansea is the arched and sweeping Nine Mile Beach. This stunningly beautiful beach is somehow usually always completely deserted.
A plate of the freshest home-farmed oysters from Melshell Oyster Shack, just off Dolphin Sands Road, is well worth a detour.
From Swansea it’s an enchanting drive through eastern Tasmania’s captivating countryside to Freycinet National Park. On the way are some of the region’s finest vineyards.
Devil’s Corner Vineyard, with it’s sumptuous views over Moulting Lagoon, is a wonderful place to stop for a spot of brunch. Stock up on a couple of bottles of wine from their cellar door or from Freycinet Vineyard that’s just over the road.
Just before Freycinet National Park are the Friendly Beaches, a long stretch of idyllic and slightly wild coastline.
At the end of a narrow and bumpy track are a couple of small tracks that lead to the beautiful beaches of pale white sand and gin-clear water.
Look out for the wallabies that graze on the plant life nearby surrounded by pristine white sandy beaches and glorious views over the Tasman Sea.
On the edge of Freycinet National Park is Coles Bay, another picturesque small town with another beautiful beach.
One of the most famous spots in Freycinet is the stunning view of Wineglass Bay, a two hour return hike from the start of the trail.
For a more relaxing way to see Wineglass Bay, take a boat trip around the tip of Freycinet all the way there.
Boat trips depart for Wineglass Bay daily from Coles Bay, setting out into the smooth blue waters of the bay before darting between Freycinet and Schouten Island into the bouncy Tasman Sea.
The boat drops anchor in Wineglass Bay and lunch is served on board amongst the heavenly tranquil surroundings. Dolphins regularly dart through the waters racing alongside the boat and whales are commonly spotted on the way to Wineglass Bay.
Just a few minutes drive from Coles Bay is Honeymoon Bay, another gorgeous and tranquil spot where the clear blue water gently laps against the sand and rocks.
From here you can cut across the peninsula along the jagged road to Cape Tourville Lighthouse for the breathtaking views over Carp Bay and the Tasman Sea. At sunset the sky turns a majestic pink over the vast smooth sea.
Half an hour north of Freycinet is the town of Bicheno, famous for the blowhole that throws sea water high above the rocks when the sea waves come crashing in.
High above the town is the Whalers Lookout Scenic Reserve which offers a fantastic vantage point to try and spot the sea mammals as they swim along the coastline.
Whales are commonly spotted around Bicheno – keep your eyes peeled around the rocks just off Waubs Bay.
Just outside Bicheno is East Coast Natureworld, an excellent wildlife sanctuary that cares for many of Tasmania’s vast array of wild animals.
Set amongst 150 acres of grounds Natureworld is an excellent place to see some of Tasmania’s wildlife up close.
As well as large separate enclosures for wombats, quolls, pademelons and wallabies there’s also a large number of friendly Forester kangaroos allowed to roam freely around the grounds. There’s also an aviary that houses some of Tasmania’s colourful and very vocal bird life.
A Tasmanian devil and a Forester kangaroo with a young joey at Natureworld
Natureworld is one of the best places on the island to learn more about Tasmanian devils. Natureworld is working hard to protect and preserve the Tasmanian devils on the island, which are now classified as endangered animals in Australia.
You can learn all about about these fascinating and much misunderstood animals from the keepers at feeding time.
Further north up the Tasman Highway is the small town of Scamander, another tiny and peaceful town that faces out onto the sea.
Scamander is home to one of east coast Tasmania’s hidden gems, Wrinklers Beach. Just like Nine Mile Beach this stunning secluded beach is several miles long and practically always deserted.
Turn off the Tasman Highway at Byatt Court at the top end of town and cut through the snicket that’s partially hidden between the bushes for one of Tasmania’s most glorious beaches.
Just south of Scamander is the Iron House Brewery, part of the White Sands Resort, and a good place to stop for food at the excellent Brewhaus Cafe.
An empty Wrinklers Beach in Scamander and a surfer statue at Binalong Bay
The Bay of Fires is a stunning stretch of beautiful and diverse natural scenery. Starting just a couple of miles north of the town of Binalong Bay, the Bay of Fires stretches for over 50 kilometres along Tasmania’s east coast as far as Eddystone Point.
From Binalong Bay take a drive along Gardens Road, where the beautiful coastline is flanked by the thick windswept trees of Mount Pearson State Reserve on the other.
All along this section of the coast are huge granite rocks stained orange by lichen, forming a multicoloured landscape against the deep blue sea, pale white sands and deep dark greens of the surrounding forests and fields.
Towards the far end of the Bay of Fires is the untouched paradise of Ansons Bay, another of this coastline’s perfect secluded beaches.
If you’ve got a couple of nights on the east coast you can easily base yourself in one location. That way you can explore Freycinet on one day and around the Bay of Fires on the other.
The towns of Bicheno, Scamander and St Helens all have a wide variety of accommodation as well as good places to eat and essentials such as supermarkets, petrol stations and ATMs.
Here are a few places that we recommend along Tasmania’s east coast:
Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park is ideal for those looking for comfort at an affordable price. Cabins are clean and well stocked with everything you need, and the site is close to all of the amenities in the centre of Bicheno.
We can highly recommend the Scamander Dunes, a beautiful private one bedroom apartment right next to the heavenly Wrinklers Beach. A home from home, Scamander Dunes is perfectly located to explore Tasmania’s east coast.
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For a luxurious stay on Tasmania’s heavenly east coast, try The Loft @ Bay of Fires Seascape in Bingalong Bay. The Loft is a gorgeous apartment with truly breathtaking views of the beach and the bay.
Northern Tasmania acts as a gradual introduction to the wild western coast on the opposite side of the island.
The north of Tasmania is packed with colourful and historic rural towns where wide roads pass by beautiful heritage bungalows, and well worn sofas sit on verandas in a distinctly Aussie style.
Along the coastline are countless pretty beach towns that offer breathtaking views over the Bass Straight, whilst the spectacular Tamar Valley region is home to Launceston, Tasmania’s second city.
Away from the coastline farms and forests battle for space beneath the mountains.
To the north east is where the wilderness really begins, from The Nut over Stanley to the mouth of the Arthur River, also known as the Edge of the World.
Coming off the east coast cut inland and begin the steep climb along meandering roads towards the Evercreech Forest.
Having spent so much time on Tasmania’s breathtaking eastern coastline it might come as something of a culture shock to suddenly be amongst dense forests of huge trees thick with moss and fauna.
Tasmania’s Evercreech Forest
The tallest trees at Evercreech Forest are over 90 metres high. Of the two walking routes that are here, one is a forty five minute loop through the forest alongside and then over a narrow river.
The second shorter trail leads to the White Knights, the collective name given to the forest’s white gum trees, the tallest in the world.
Continue with a detour to Legerwood, home to a touching war memorial that honours the town’s war heroes who died in World War 1.
Trees were originally planted here to commemorate those from the town – which is little more than a single street – who lost their lives in a conflict that took place thousands of miles away in Europe.
Over time the trees grew so large that they became unsafe and eventually needed to be cut down.
In order to retain the memorial, the town arranged for a sculptor to carve statues into the remaining tree stumps. The statues depict the civilian and military lives of those who fell in the war, along with the loved ones that they left behind.
Beneath each statue is a plaque that details the young lives of each of the victims and how they came to fight in the war. It is a remarkably innovative and deeply poignant memorial.
From Legerwood head east, through Launceston towards the town of Latrobe. On the way the journey cuts through some of the most spectacular rural landscapes in Tasmania.
The Tasman Highway zig zags through the Mount Arthur Forest Reserve, switching from from farmland to mountainside in the blink of an eye.
Latrobe is a beautiful, historic town, one of many in this part of the world, resting on the beautiful banks of the River Mersey, where platypus paddle early each morning.
Latrobe’s pretty town centre is well worth exploring, as are the heavenly chocolates at the House of Anvers chocolate factory, a very tempting local delicacy.
South of Latrobe is Sheffield which has become a giant canvas with dozens of painted murals throughout the town.
Most of the walls in the town are decorated with huge paintings that depict a moment in the history of Sheffield or the local area.
Against the dramatic backdrop of Mount Roland, the spectacular murals illustrate the development of the region, including some of the important people in Sheffield’s history.
The murals of Sheffield and the model penguin in Penguin in northern Tasmania
From Sheffield continue on your Tasmanian road trip along the north west coast on another glorious drive flanked by the deep blue sea of the Bass Strait.
Along the way stop in at the town of Penguin, fantastically named after the marine birds who make their home in the burrows along the town’s shoreline.
A seven foot statue of a penguin stands on the sea front to commemorate the town’s centenary in 1975.
After Penguin continue further west, past the imposing craggy Rocky Cape and on to Stanley. At almost the mid-way point of our 14 day Tasmania itinerary, Stanley is a quaint and colourful town filled with history sitting on a strip of land that juts out from the coastline.
A one-of-a-kind town, Stanley is wedged between the sea and The Nut, the huge 150 metre stump of land that’s all that remains of a now dormant volcano.
The Nut and Godfreys Beach, a heritage house and Hursey Seafoods in Stanley
The colourful colonial buildings in Stanley have the feel of a film set, which it has been on many occasions. Most of the town dates back to the early 19th century.
Stanley feels unlike anywhere else in Tasmania, its history still visible in the colourful and colonial architecture.
Stanley is also famous for it’s array of wildlife. Southern Right whales regularly parade around the harbour during the migratory months, and penguins can be seen and heard returning to their burrows at night from the sea around the coastline.
Next to Godfreys Beach at the bottom of The Nut, just behind the town’s Gothic graveyard, is a lookout where the penguins can be spotted returning to shore after dark. The top of The Nut is also surprisingly wild.
Alongside the sensational views over the sea is a gathering of animals, such as pademelons, echidnas, wallabies and rabbits.
Stanley is also a superb place to eat and to eat well. It’s in the perfect location to benefit from some of the freshest seafood in Tasmania as well as the succulent Cape Grim beef supplied by nearby farms.
For huge lobsters and succulent fish caught fresh daily, head to Hursey Seafoods at the bottom of Alexander Terrace.
Hursey’s seafood is caught fresh daily from their own fleet of fishing boats in the pristine waters around Stanley, including crayfish, lobster and gummy shark.
Alternatively, call in to the Stanley Hotel, where the bistro serves sensational food using local, seasonal ingredients. The rabbit pie is an absolute must.
Northern Tasmania is a large area and where you’ll want to stay will depend on what you want to see and do in the region.
The most choice can be found in Launceston, Tasmania’s second city, but we’d certainly recommend spending at least one night in the beautiful town of Stanley.
Here’s a few places to stay that we recommend along Tasmania’s northern coast:
For a memorable stay in Launceston, book into the unique Turret House. A charming heritage house filled with character, Turret House is decorated with countless original features, including a gorgeous veranda and original fireplaces. Just outside the centre of the city, Cataract Gorge is also within walking distance.
Set in a historic converted bank directly facing the Bass Strait, the Madsen Boutique Hotel is a gorgeous yet affordable beautifully decorated hotel in the centre of Penguin. Just a stone’s throw from the town’s famous penguin statue, everything you need is right on your doorstep.
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We stayed at the excellent Stanley Village Waterfront Apartments. Sat right on the water opposite Hursey Seafoods, the apartments are a great place to spot penguins waddle ashore past at night – we also saw a Southern Right whale swim around for an hour in the waters from our window.
After Stanley, drive to the far north west coast of Tasmania, where the Arthur River meets the Indian Ocean. This ragged and dramatic stretch of the far north west coast is known as The Edge of The World, and it’s easy to see why.
The Arthur River weaves through a huge stretch of western Tasmania, through the Tarkine Forest before emerging into the ocean. The mouth of the Arthur River is littered with huge piles of driftwood that adds to the dramatic sense of wilderness.
The wild coastline at Arthur River, also known as The Edge of the World, and the Tarkine Forest
Due to its remote location in the far north west of Tasmania, the Tarkine Forest has remained largely untouched for several thousand years and is of huge geological importance.
After initially passing through some of the more agricultural local landscape, the narrow road is suddenly shrouded by the thick imposing forest.
From the Sumac Lookout the rainforest can be seen in all its glory, where the Arthur River carves through an endless sea of trees.
Further along the Tarkine Drive, there’s a short hike along a trail through the enclosed and atmospheric forest that leads to the motionless waters of Lake Chisolm.
The lake has been formed by a flooded sinkhole, and the surrounding forest reflects beautifully in its serene still surface. The forest is quiet and still and evokes a tangible sense of timelessness.
Strahan is a beautiful small town tucked away next to Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area overlooking Macquarie Harbour.
Roughly halfway along Tasmania’s west coast, Strahan and the surrounding area seems to exist in it’s own little microcosm; long pristine beaches, wild forests that meet the ocean, and mountains lacerated by waterfalls are separated by powerful meandering rivers.
Tourism has replaced the mining and timber industries that once made it an important port on the west coast.
The town’s beautiful colonial architecture has been well preserved, retained and augmented, from the historic post office to the hotels and houses that face the bay on Strahan’s esplanade.
Just off Strahan’s esplanade a thirty minute walk past the People’s Park, through yet more deep forest, leads to the crashing waters of Hogarth Falls.
The forest walk to Hogarth Falls
From Strahan there are daily river cruises along the Gordon River into Macquarie Harbour. The cruise passes through the ancient rainforest and on to Sarah Island at the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Alternatively, take an unforgettable trip into the Tasmanian rainforest on a classic steam train on the West Coast Wilderness Railway.
The train journeys into the heart of the rainforest whilst learning all about the history of the area aboard one of the line’s original steam trains.
After the pretty town of Strahan comes the rugged and gritty Queenstown. Buried deep at the bottom of a desolate valley, Queenstown is something of an anomaly in comparison to its surroundings.
Once an incredibly busy mining and timber town, heavy industry still shapes much of Queenstown’s geography.
The much mined landscape surrounding Queenstown in Tasmania
There is a real Wild West atmosphere in Queenstown, and a sense that the town is trying to find a future following the decline of heavy industry, which is visible in Queenstown’s rather forlorn high street.
Many of the surrounding mountains are bare of trees, and the yellow rock that has been chiseled away for decades almost glows.
Just outside of town though is an impressive walkway wedged into the rocky moutainside that leads to the spectacular Horsetail Falls.
We’d recommend staying in the town of Strahan on Tasmania’s west coast. Strahan is small but well stocked with accommodation and essential amenities and is a great place to set up a base for exploring the surrounding wilderness.
Close to the beach and the centre of town Strahan Beach Tourist Park is an extremely comfortable and affordable place to stay whilst exploring the region. All cabins are clean and comfortable and come with cooking facilities.
We stayed in the Wheelhouse Apartments, just a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Strahan. Another beautiful home from home, the apartments feature huge windows looking out onto phenomenal views of the bay.
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Stay in some of Strahan’s most unique properties at one of the town’s three historic Kerrellie Cottages. Take your pick from one of three homely colonial era cottages – a historic bungalow, a former police superintendent’s cottage or the tiny converted Methodist church.
After Queenstown you’re faced with the vast wilderness of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
The scale of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is staggering – it takes six days to complete the Overland Track, the hiking trail that cuts through the park.
From Queenstown head north to spend at least a day at Cradle Mountain at the top of the national park. Cradle Mountain is one of the most popular natural attractions in Tasmania.
Besides the gargantuan Overland Track there are also numerous short walks in Cradle Mountain that pass through the spectacular and rugged wilderness. As well as incredible scenery these trails offer plenty of chances to come in to contact with the local wildlife, particularly wombats.
The two hour Dove Lake Loop Track is a wonderful introduction to the national park, passing through the Ballroom Forest right beneath Cradle Mountain.
The following day choose between staying another day in Cradle Mountain or moving south to Lake St Clair at the opposite end of the national park.
The drive to Derwent Bridge from Cradle Mountain takes around three hours and passes again through Queenstown. Break up the journey with a stop at Nelson Falls on the way.
Nelson Falls between Cradle Moutain and Lake St Clair
A twenty minute return walk leads to the towering and dramatic waterfall, reached by a short walk along the Nelson River beneath the canopy of the forest’s ancient trees.
From Nelson Falls it takes just under an hour to reach Lake St Clair. Nestled at the southern tip of the National Park, Lake St Clair is the deepest lake in Australia.
As with Cradle Mountain this half of the national park is a feast of wilderness and ancient forests. There are plenty of walks and hiking trails to keep you here for a day or two.
Hiking trails through the forests in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
The Larmairremener Aboriginal cultural walk is just one of these, and commemorates the history of the original native people of Tasmania.
At just under two hours to complete, this challenging but manageable walk takes you through Lake St Clair’s dramatic and ethereal forestry and fauna, whilst there’s a chance of spotting some of the lake’s platypus at the water’s edge on the Platypus Bay trail.
Don’t pass through Lake St Clair without stopping at the incredible Wall in the Wilderness.
Just a few miles past Derwent Bridge, the Wall in the Wilderness is a colossal artwork carved by local sculptor Greg Duncan.
Housed inside a grand purpose built building, The Wall is a hand carved series of 100 wooden panels that tells the story and history of the Tasmanian highlands, from the arrival of the first European settlers and the impact of industrialisation on the natural habitat.
The awe-inspiring two sided artwork is 100 metres in length and the level of intricacy in the hand carved wooden panels is simply breathtaking – the tiny details in the clothing or the veins of a hand have to be seen to be believed.
The Wall is a work in progress, and many panels remain deliberately unfinished in order to reveal the hand carving process. There’s also an excellent cafe on site too.
Being in a pretty remote and unspoiled part of the world means that there’s not a huge amount of choice of accommodation near Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair.
That said, what accommodation there is tends to be very good and often set in some of the most spectacular scenery in Tasmania.
In the north of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park is the excellent The Cradle Mountain Hotel. Right on the doorstep of Cradle Mountain, this ultra modern hotel also features an excellent on site restaurant.
Lake St Clair
At the opposite end of the national park is Lake St Clair Lodge. The warm and cosy cabins are perfectly situated right opposite the lake and close to the visitor centre and the excellent on site restaurant and bar.
Lake St Clair
For a luxurious stay in the wild consider booking a stay right on the lake at Pumphouse Point. Pick from the old pumphouse right out on the lake, the former substation or ultramodern Retreat, all beautifully decorated to an incredibly high standard.
Break up the return to Hobart with a couple of detours to squeeze the most out of your 14 day Tasmanian road trip.
There are two stops that are definitely worth trying to crowbar in to your final day.
Around a half an hour drive from Hobart and surrounded by idyllic countryside and several of Tasmania’s finest vineyards is the historic Georgian town of Richmond.
Once a staging post for convicts on their way to Port Arthur, today Richmond’s many beautiful Georgian heritage buildings are home to a number of shops specialising in arts and crafts and antiques, as well as excellent cafes and tea shops.
The charm and beauty of Richmond is slightly at odds with the town’s rather grizzly past. The history of the town as a convict station can be discovered at Richmond Gaol.
Just on the edge of town is the gorgeous sandstone Richmond Bridge, built in 1823, and the oldest bridge in Australia.
A twenty minute drive from Richmond is Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, the perfect place to end your Tasmania road trip.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary provides a 24 hour rescue service across the whole of Tasmania for the island and aims to repatriate every animal that it rescues, health permitting.
Bonorong is home to almost every kind of animal found on Tasmania – all of which need a human helping hand – including Tasmanian devils, wombats, and quolls.
At the far end of Bonorong is an enormous field filled with friendly Forester kangaroos. When you enter Bonorong you’re handed a bag of kangaroo treats and instructions on how to interact with the hundreds of kangaroos that love to laze under the sun.
Forester kangaroos have a remarkably mild temperament and love nothing more than a handful of treats and stroke on the chest.
→ You can buy advance tickets for Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary here.
As we said at the start, Tasmania is a big place with a lot to see and do. Here are a couple of extra things that you might want to add to your road trip around Tasmania.
One obvious oversight is Bruny Island, the gorgeous island famous for the long narrow sweep of coastline known as the Neck.
If you’d prefer, maybe swap one of the days around Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair for a day trip to Bruny Island from Hobart.
As we visited Tasmania in winter we also skipped Bridestowe Lavender Farm. A massive hit with the Instagram crowd, Bridestowe has become a very popular tourist spot when the bright purple lavender is in full bloom. If you’re visiting the island in spring or summer then you’ll probably want to add this to your Tasmania road trip.
It’s around a forty minute drive to Bridestowe Lavender Farm from the carved memorials at Legerwood.
If you need even more inspiration, here are the best Tasmania guidebooks:
Lonely Planet’s guide to Tasmania is a wealth of inspiration and practical information for those looking to truly explore the island. This edition has been fully updated for 2022 and features detailed maps and up to date suggestions for what not to miss in Tassie.
Lonely Planet Experience Tasmania
Lonely Planet’s Experience series of books offers a fresh perspective for a number of destinations worldwide. This is certainly the case in this refreshing take on Tasmania, which features plenty of suggested itineraries and hidden gems that gives you a deeper connection than you get with most guidebooks.
Be aware that you will need to purchase an entry pass if you wish to enter any of Tasmania’s national parks.
There aren’t any ticket barriers at any of Tasmania’s national parks, but the entry permit should be left on display in your vehicle.
A daily pass for a vehicle costs $24, though a holiday pass, which is valid for two months, costs $60 and may be more economical if you plan on visiting more than one national park during your stay in Tasmania.
You can find more information on the types of passes available and buy them online in advance here.
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