When thinking about Australia as a destination Tasmania is rarely one of the first places people consider. Often overshadowed by Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback, Tasmania can be forgotten about. However, this has begun to change in recent years with Tassie gaining recognition as a destination in its own right.
My partner and I recently spent a week circling this gorgeous island and taking in what we could. For such a small place it is jam-packed with unique little towns and gorgeous scenery. A week is barely enough and you’re better off spending at least 2 weeks here. But if you only have a short amount of time here is my quick-fire guide to Tasmania!
We were lucky enough to travel to Hobart during it’s biggest festival, Dark Mofo. Taking over the entire foreshore area stretching around the pier from Salamanca Square, Dark Mofo is a feast for the senses as art installations and performances seem to pop up from out of nowhere. International and domestic artists put on theatre, live music, and other creative performances amid an array of sculptures, lights, and stalls. While in the area, check out the boutique shops and whiskey bars of Salamanca Square and surrounds. Tasmania is famous for its whiskey distilleries and it would be wrong to leave without imbibing at least a little bit.
One of the driving forces behind the Dark Mofo festival and a huge reason for Hobart’s emergence as a destination in recent years is MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. Showcasing some of the weirdest, most wonderful and outrageous art from around the world, MONA’s goal is to challenge its patrons with art that is both provocative and insightful in equal measures. From the pieces that force us to question our own values about human and animal life, to the x-ray machine allowing viewers to view the anatomy of a real Egyptian mummy, MONA has something to entertain everyone. It is impossible to leave without being given something to think about. An easy place to spend hours on end.
After visiting the museum, take a walk around Hobart’s old colonial area. As one of the first outposts during European colonisation, Hobart has plenty of interesting historical sights from the beginning of English occupation. Tour stately houses and penitentiaries and read the often odd history of the first convicts and those who governed them.
Not far off the coast of Hobart lies Bruny Island, a small island housing artisanal shops and native wildlife that is perfect for a day trip from the city. Hire a car and take the ferry across to the island for a day of exploring. On the island, there are a number of shops perfect for preparing a picnic. Pick up some oysters, cheese, and honey and head south to the furthermost point of the island, the lighthouse. Read up on the history of the lighthouse as you look over the dangerous breaking waters below. On the way back be sure to stop at the neck lookout to view what seems to be two oceans coming together. Only the smallest sliver of land separates them.
Leaving Hobart, we headed north towards the forests and lakes that Tasmania is famous for. Our stop for the night was in a gorgeous little Airbnb at Magra. Settled high amongst the mountains, this little cabin was originally built in the early 1900’s and has been fitted out by its owner to be as comfortable as possible whilst retaining its original feel. Find it by searching for ‘Fern Gully Falls Tiny House’ here.
Nearby Russell Falls offers a gorgeous view of the waterfalls as well as a couple of short walks. Try the walk through the Land of the Giants, an area filled with trees almost 100 meters tall. The walk was spectacular and eerie in equal measure.
Heading further north, we wound around the shores of the spectacular Great Lake and headed towards one of Tasmania’s most popular natural attractions, Cradle Mountain. Nestled high in Tasmania’s alpine area, Cradle Mountain is a haven for the adventurous outdoors-type. There are numerous hikes around the area, including the mountain itself. Unfortunately, the day we went featured sub-zero conditions as sleet fell and the wind whipped through the fields, freezing the water as it dripped from our faces.
We settled for the walk around Dove Lake and a climb high up to Marion’s Lookout. Considering the conditions this adventure was more than enough! Along the way, we met a few intrepid hikers as they were finishing the Overland Track, a 6-day hike regarded as one of the best in the world. While we were all tired and cold, it was well worth the effort and I’m glad we braved the conditions. We were even lucky enough to see dozens of wombats as they emerged from their burrows into the rain!
Following the trek, we settled in for a big bowl of well-earned pasta at a nearby tavern. Camping is freely available throughout the area but we were happy to settle into our cozy cabin for the night. Perhaps when I go back during the summer months I will camp and explore the area a bit more.
Bay of Fires
Heading east, it was time for some well-earned rest and relaxation at the gorgeous Bay of Fires. Named as Lonely Planet’s hottest place to visit in 2009, it is easy to see why this area has gotten the reviews it has. Secluded beaches and bushland offer the perfect place to get away from everything and just chill out. Wander along the shore and you’re bound to come across your own little inlet, perfect for a beach picnic, drinks or just a nice little spot to sit, read and take it all in. A particularly beautiful feature is the sunset over the red rocks, creating a gorgeous array of pink and red hues.
We stayed at Bay of Fires Bush Retreat. A popular glamping spot, we loved the hospitality of the owners as we sat around the fire and just chatted. Would highly recommend.
From Bay of Fires, we headed south to the famous Wineglass Bay. Named due to the distinctive shape of the bay, this was a great area to spend our final days in Tasmania. The nearby town offers great little shops and restaurants, while the Hazards rock formation imposes over the area, casting their long shadows and bouncing red light over the beaches during sunset. A walk up to the lookout the following morning gave us a great view over the bay and was a perfect way to end our trip to this terrific little island.
All in all, Tasmania is maybe one of the most underrated travel destinations I have been to. Filled with natural wonders, history, and all the quirky little towns that we long for Tasmania offers it all. This article hasn’t even touched on the wonderful towns you can pass through. These include Sheffield, the town of murals; historic Richmond, featuring Australia’s oldest bridge and interesting convict history; or Penguin, so named for the quirky collection of animals that line the streets.