Once attached to mainland Australia, Tasmania, an isolated island state off Australia’s south, east coast, is known for its vast, rugged coastline and prehistoric wilderness areas.
While it’s not large, it’s not small either. Approximately the same size as Sri Lanka, this triangular shaped island has a whole lot to offer for eyes, souls and tummies to feast on.
Over these past few years Tassie, as Aussie’s refer to it, has shaken off its dull image and emerged as THE place to visit when heading down under. No longer an add on or an after thought, Tasmania is the headline act with many locals beelining south for a nature hit and overseas visitors skipping other Aussie destinations in its favou r.
It’s been said that Tasmania is the entire contents of all of Australia squashed together. Basically, it’s just one bite sized piece of the country opposed to the whole 7 course degustation meal that typically takes several months to consume.
Tasmania can be devoured in just a few weeks and while that’s still a fair chunk of time for many, you can still get a really good taste of what it’s all about in a week. Though, the real trick to Tassie is not to bite and chew it all in one go!
Here are ten of Tassie’s top notch group tours and activities that truly represent this wondrous isle.
While there are many contributing factors bringing Tassie to the tourist forefront, there’s no doubt that the vision and quirkiness of David Walsh who created MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) inspired people to head south who ordinarily wouldn’t. He needed a spot to showcase all his art pieces and therefore created the largest privately funded museum just outside of Hobart. His collection can be described as total whack to noteworthy, but no matter what it is labeled, it evokes responses, thoughts and reactions by everyone. Even if it’s just the slightest eyebrow raise.
While MONA has great pull power so too does the the weekly Saturday Salamanca Market and Port Arthur’s Historic Site.
The market turns Hobart’s waterfront into a bustling mecca with over 300 stalls promoting their local wares.
It’s a great spot to bounce out of bed to for some breakfast before you’ve even wiped the sleep from your eyes.
Port Arthur Historic Site
The Historic Site in Port Arthur is included on the World Heritage List and is a must ‘step back in time’ experience. The two day entry pass gives you enough time to make your way around 40 hectares of historically re-created landscape grounds which has
30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes that offer amazing insights into Australia’s past.
Gordon River Cruises
This is one of the most relaxing and serene cruises you’ll ever do even if it’s raining! Leaving from Strahan on the west coast, the Lady Jane Franklin II catamaran heads out for a lovely, picturesque cruise through the beautiful Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. A short walk at Heritage Landing along wooden plank paths lead you through stunning rainforests and after a stop at Sarah Island for a vibrant anecdote of the island’s convict past luscious lunch is served on board.
Wineglass Bay Cruises
This charming, four-hour landscape and wildlife cruise on board Schouten Passage II that takes you from Coles Bay along the Freycinet Peninsula and into Wineglass Bay. Dolphins often surf the boat’s bow waves as you cruise out beyond theturquoise waters in anticipation of more wildlife sightings. Looking back at the coastline lined with orange coated lichen is absolutely gorgeous and makes for a pretty backdrop for nesting eagles, sunbathing seals and breaching whales. A lovely ploughman’s lunch is served while at anchor in the tranquil Wineglass Bay.
West Coast Wilderness Railway (WCWR)
There’s nothing like the smell, sounds and motion of an old locomotive while you sit back in your restored carriage and absorb the sights of a cool temperate rainforest. One with rushing rivers and thriving moss covered rocks. The West Coast Wilderness Railway offers a few different tours that give you a true taste of Tassie’s wilderness. It’s a sensational way to get out from under the steering wheel so you can completely relax, inhale the pure, fresh air and digest the mind blowing ancient scenery.
Tasman Island Cruise
This is a thrilling boat ride takes you along the spectacular coastline between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck offering you incredible vantage points of sheer cliffs, blowholes, and tumbling waterfalls. This rugged coastline is stunning and the view from the boat gives great perspective to this part of the world. The tour guides are highly informative and entertaining ensuring your experience is one to remember. You’ll be guided into deep sea caves that you wouldn’t otherwise see and spot wildlife such as seals, dolphins, whales, and seabirds that are either passing through or call this harsh environment their home.
Bicheno Penguin Tour
This tour gives you a front row seat to see fairy penguins emerge from the ocean and head for their burrows the moment the sun goes down. A short bus ride will take you to a private rookery where returning penguins walk between your legs and over your shoes to get to their homes. While the tour is only about an hour long it is one that puts you right in the path of wildlife that are just going about their daily lives.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Seafood Seduction
This is an indulgent day long tour for absolute lovers of the sea!
Heading out from Hobart and up the Derwent River and into the sheltered waters of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel on board a plush 12 seater boat, this tour is a real time ‘dive n dine’ experience. Your guides will shuck oysters straight from the water, crack open rock lobsters and dive for fresh abalone and sea urchins while you sit back and sip on a selection of Tasmanian wines, beers and ciders. Local banter will keep you entertained as they prepare the day’s catch and so too will the local wildlife as you float about in their backyard.
Cradle Mountain Heli tour
Taking to the skies is an incredible way to experience the awe-inspiring Cradle Mountain. You’ll lift off from the visitors centre and within minutes you’ll be high above Dove and Crater Lakes giving you a wonderful view of the mountain behind. The flight path has you zipping over valleys and rivers to Tasmania’s deepest gorge and then hovering around to Mount Ossa, its highest peak, and buzzing by the Cradle apex once again before bringing you safely back down to terra firma.
As you drive from one location to the next, what you see and do between each destination really shapes your down under vacation – the waterfalls, hiking trails, rugged cliffs, wildlife, red lichen covered rocks, ancient forests, fresh seafood restaurants, boutique wineries, star filled skies and southern lights. This is what travel is all about in Tasmania.
Just keep in mind that the Tassie tourist industry is pumping and while the spontaneity of travel is fun and adventurous, being a little organised when popping down to this corner of the world is recommended. It doesn’t constrain your free spirit, rather it enhances it (and your holiday).
Some towns have few accommodations, certain tours close down for maintenance and demand in certain areas can push you from places you want to see. As an online travel company that specialises in travel to Tasmania, we can inform you of these factors and also navigate you to or around events, seasons, weather and even roadworks which can disrupt your travel plans.
We recommend three main self drive travel paths for trekking around Tassie in 7 to 10 days. Either a tour down the west coast, one down the east or a loop which hits all the primary sights and incorporates off the beaten track adventures while sticking to your own tourist clock.
For lengthier trips, we specialise in custom itineraries so you can move around at a relaxing pace taking in every aspect of this stunning isle. It’s important to book 4-6 months out to secure bookings from December through March and you must have a valid driver’s license to rent a car.
Contact tasmania.com for bookings.