Road Trip! – Ten Day Tour Through Tasmania
By our Jetstar gate in Sydney Domestic Airport, there were advertisements for Hobart. One of which asking if we had remembered to pack our thermals for Mt. Wellington. What?! It was 32°C in Sydney, and seeing as Tasmania, although an island state, was still in sunny Australia, I thought / hoped that it was a joke. A really obvious joke that only my dad and I didn’t get.
As our plane descended through the clouds over Hobart, the rain trickled down our window and onto the wet runway. Now, we weren’t totally clueless, we had swapped our shorts for jeans in the terminal earlier. We saw the temperature and knew it would be a bit chillier than the mainland, but this was as if we’d never left England!
Anyway, we optimistically caught a taxi to our hire car pick up spot and then we cruised on down to Hobart. WHOO! This was where our adventure began, and we were pretty excited to be touring Tasmania for 10 days.
Hobart, Richmond & Mt. Wellington
Hobart is a nice town to look around for half a day, a day tops. It’s not that there’s nothing there, it’s just that there’s nothing there for visitors that particularly stands out from other towns.
There’s some really nice, “old” buildings. (Sorry, but being from Europe and nothing in Australian cities strikes me as being actually old, as in more than a couple of hundred years.) My favourite thing to do in Hobart were the Salamanca Markets on a Saturday morning. That was fun. There were lots of stalls, lots of people, and an all-round good vibe. If you happen to be around the city centre at a weekend then you should go to the markets. It’s down near the harbour, but if you’re parked the other end of town then there’s a free shuttle that you can catch from pretty much anywhere that will take you right to the marketplace.
Richmond is a ~30 minute drive from Hobart and is one of the sweetest towns you will ever see! They’ve kept and restored over 50 old Georgian buildings and it looks gorgeous for it. The main street is lined with cutesy houses, cafes and shops and it’s almost like stepping back in time!
Mount Wellington is a must-do. From the Pinnacle at the very top (don’t worry, you can drive up!) you can see stunning views of Tasmania’s capital and if you’re lucky, maybe a wallaby or two! We went in the morning and there were warnings of frost and ice (that advert wasn’t a joke, it seems!). All the way up the temperature reading on the car was getting lower and lower, and when we finally arrived at the top it was 3°C! And there was still some frost in the shadows! But it was fresh and blew the cobwebs away, and I’m glad we did it. It was really nice up there and if it does get too cold for you then they have a cosy observatory deck!
South Arm Peninsula
While we were in Hobart we drove down to the South Arm Peninsula to Opossum Bay for the day. There wasn’t much when we got to the end but it’s a nice, chill drive and the peninsula itself is an unsual shape, which you can see from Mt. Wellington too depending on the weather.
Mt. Field National Park
From Mt. Wellington you can drive to Mt. Field National Park and it’s lovely there. We walked through the Tall Trees to Russell Falls and Lady Baron Falls. The waterfalls are gorgeous, but I think my recent trip to Iceland kind of spoiled them a bit for me (it’s a hard life!), but trust me, they are still great. I mean, there’s no such thing as a bad waterfall really, is there?
And! AND! We saw a wombat. An actual wild wombat. Wow. He was just crossing the road in front of us so we couldn’t miss him. Dark brown on a yellow track. We stopped the car and took some (lots of!) photos. We didn’t get too close to the little (not so little) guy, I’m not into freaking out wild animals, but it was so cool to have that chance. Apparently they’re not so common to see.
Lake St. Clair is right beside Mt. Field and is a beautiful place to walk through while you’re in the area. Also, keep your eyes peeled for sleepy little wallabies under the trees and echidnas. A word I can finally pronounce now after seeing so many of the adorable, spiky critters!
From Hobart you can drive down the Convict Trail to Port Arthur. I would like to tell everybody reading this that the historic site of Port Arthur is a jail, or the ruins of one. I was mistakenly under the impression that Port Arthur was going to be a little town which just so happened to have a historic site, so please bear this in mind and bring a pile of supplies with you. It’s a bit expensive ($37 AUD) but it is interesting enough to look around if you like your history / have a crime fetish. To add to that, they have heavy chains you can try on…
Strahan & Queenstown
After we left our base in Hobart we headed up north-west towards Strahan. Remember I mentioned Russell and Lady Baron Falls earlier? Well, we saw a sign for Nelson Falls on the way up and needed to stretch our legs so thought we’d give it a bash. Turns out, Nelson Falls is actually a much more impressive waterfall than the other two. So if you’re pushed for time and are venturing outside of Hobart, then you should definitely check out Nelson Falls.
As we approached Strahan we passed through a town called Queenstown. It was fun getting closer because it’s a huge winding road down through the mountains, but we noticed all of the rocks around us were a strange yellow-y colour and there were black stumps where the usual lush trees of Tasmania should be. We stopped at a roadside info point welcoming us to the Queenstown below us (great photo opp!) and found out something that I find cool and crazy – Queenstown was the victim of a nuclear gas explosion!
We were beginning to wonder if Strahan was going to be any better off than poor old Queenstown as they weren’t far apart. But our worries were short-lived. Strahan is a diamond in the rough. A lovely old-style station with a running steam engine, beautiful waters dotted with colourful boats, a handful of shops and a gorgeous rainforest perfect for blue fairy wren watching!
After a night in Strahan we drove north-east, cutting across the edge of Mt. Cradle National Park. We saw the eerie, magnificent looking mountain but didn’t go into the main park. If you don’t want to fork out the $30-something dollars then you can still do the short and sweet Enchanted Walk which is just by the car park near the Alp-style hotel. Click here for info on the Tasmanian National Park Pass.
Devonport & Launceston
Devonport is a bigger coastal town in north Tasmania. It has all of the shops you need to restock and if you want to see LOADS of wild wallabies then this is the place to be. There’s a park by Mersey Bluff and if you go up there at dusk and sneak around the trees it’s extremely likely you’ll see tens of wallabies and their joeys! Totally worth it! I’d suggest grabbing a Hungry Jack’s for dinner (yum!), eating it in your car (everyone does it) and then aww’ing at little wallabies for dessert. I know how to party, right?
After Devonport we began to go back down south again via Launceston. Looking back, we realised that we should’ve spent a night less in Hobart and made time to stay here. We didn’t have much time to look around Launceston town itself, but we did drive through it and it looked nice. We did visit The Gorge though and if you do ever go to Tasmania you have to see it. There’s a slightly-wobbly bridge to walk over which helps in making you feel quite inferior to this giant gorge, and then there’s the park around it which has peacocks (first time seeing one spread his feathers!) and some super friendly wallabies who don’t mind hanging out with you so long as you have some grub. Really neat place.
Returning to the Mainland!
From here we drove back down to Hobart for two more nights before our flight to Melbourne. We missed Wineglass Bay but we went by Swansea and from there you can see Oyster Bay and The Hazards on the horizon. If you’re in a hurry, it’ll do.
Other places of interest we visited were: Blowhole and Tasman Arch, Tessellated Pavement, Hobart Royal Botanic Garden. These kind of things can be found on most maps at the Tourist Information.
Tasmania is a wonderful part of Australia and like most of the license plates say: Explore the possibilities.
Here’s something else I’ll just add. Melbourne has a couple of airports. If you’re flying there just make sure you don’t do something stupid like fly to Avalon and book your rental car from Tullamarine 70 miles away… Pfft. As if.