The Apple Island of Australia offers a very different experience to the rest of the country. The landscape reminded us more of New Zealand than the rest of Australia, and the weather is more similar too! It's a green and lush place with some of the best food you'll have down under. One of the things that might surprise you are the spectacular white sand beaches, some of the best you will find in Australia, and that's saying something!
It is the rural parts of Tassie that we love and it offers some of the best wildlife watching and hiking in the whole of the country. With so much to choose from, we've whittled it down to an an adventurous two weeks exploring the wilderness of Tasmania.
Day 1: Maria Island
Maria island is the perfect place to start your getaway in Tasmania. This beautiful island has only a couple of historic buildings and the rest is still truly wild.
In the evenings you'll have to watch your feet to ensure you don't trip on a wombat, there are so many!
The hiking, beaches and sunsets are out of this world.
The accommodation is basic but highly atmospheric, in the old penitentiary. There are private rooms with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities. When else might you get to say you've spent the night in jail? If that's not your bag then there are also several beautiful camp sites.
Start the day early by driving to Triabunna which is 1 hour 15 minutes from Hobart and 2 hours 30 from Launceston. The 30 minute ferry journey to Maria Island departs from Triabunna, it is passengers only, so just. bring a small bag of essentials (including all food) and leave the rest in your car in the car park.
Time to relax after your long trip. You can take one of the gentle strolls around the island that take you to one of the many beautiful beaches.
As the sun goes down, keep an eye out for wombats, wallabies and maybe even a Tasmanian Devil.
We've never seen so many wombats in our life and they are EVERYWHERE!
If you fancy a good sunset view, head over to Painted Cliffs which are only a short walk (approx one hour return) from Darlington (the main village).
Day 2: Bishop & Clerk, Maria Island
Today is the day to enjoy one of the best views in Tassie.
The Bishop & Clerk Walk is a moderately hard day walk, but the views from the top are worth the exertion.
In total the hike is approximately 13km and takes 3-5 hours to hike. It is steep in places and there's a small section which involves hiking over rubble. If you want an in-depth account of this beautiful walk, check out our blog all about it.
The view is worth every last step, it will blow you away, quite literally if you go to the very top in high winds, this is definitely one for fair weather!
Day 3: Freycinet National Park/Bicheno
After visiting Maria Island, it is time to get the ferry back to Triabunna and drive 1 hour 30 north to Coles Bay. Here you'll see one of the wonders of Tasmania: Freycinet National Park. The whole area of Freycinet is pristine wilderness and has several stunningly beautiful white sand beaches, including one of the best beaches in Australia.
The drive up has several incredible views, so take your time to admire the beautiful East Coast of Tasmania.
Head to Bicheno to see the stunning quiet white beach.
The first view is unforgettable and you'll feel like you've arrived at a tropical island, not a place that is the last land mass before Antarctica.
After a dip in the sea you can grab a coffee or some food at Pasinis (the best coffee shop in town). Then drive onto Coles Bay for sunset. Our favourite spot was along the esplanade where you can park up and get a stunning view of the Hazards.
If you would prefer to stay closer to Bicheno this evening why not head out in the evening to see the little blue penguins? We've heard that you can find them on your own (though we couldn't), for a guarantee you can take a tour with Bicheno Penguin Tours.
Where to stay in Freycinet: We chose to stay in Bicheno because it was a more affordable option than Coles Bay. The beach at Bicheno is incredible and it's only a 45 minute drive to Coles Bay. It was also nice to stay in a more local area with less tourists.
Alternatively you could stay at Coles Bay itself.
(Map shows sunset spot in Coles Bay below)
Day 4: Wine Glass Bay
There are two great view points for sunrise.
One is for the adrenaline junkies (and rewards you with an phenomenal view) and the other is more leisurely, but also offers a beautiful sunrise view.
If you are happy with precarious ledges on your walk, then definitely hike to the summit of Mount Amos (dry weather only). The views from the top are spectacular, but you'll have to walk up slippery rock and traverse one sheer ledge in the dark.
It's a 4km three hour return walk. We wimped out and hiked to the Wineglass Bay Lookout (40 minutes return), which was a beautiful lookout, though relatively steep, the terrain is easy. In the morning, you'll likely have it all to yourself.
After the lookout, walk down to Wineglass Bay Beach and see the stunning white sand and azure water up close. It is one of the best beaches in Australia and is miles away from roads and any civilisation. If you like your beaches flanked by forest and mountains, Wineglass Bay Beach is the one for you. Again if you go early morning you are highly likely to be there alone.
If the weather is in your favour, take a helicopter scenic flight over Wineglass Bay.
Sadly when we were there the wind was too high and it was too cloudy, but it was something we had booked and were really keen to do.
If it's not in your favour you can chill at the beach or take one of the scenic boat cruises.
Day 5: Bay of Fires
Continue driving up the East Coast to the picturesque Bay of Fires (roughly a two hour drive). Here the coast keeps the white sand beaches, but adds bold orange coloured lichen to the rocks.
It is also home to possibly the best free campsite in the whole of Australia (Swimcart Beach) where you can pitch your tent within metres of this stunning beach.
There are several great beaches and lookouts to explore in the Bay of Fires. Our favourite was the main beach at Binnalong Bay which had beautiful white sand and stretched for miles! You were guaranteed plenty of space.
We also enjoyed exploring the orange rocks all around Skeleton Bay. Here you can get the contrast between the turquoise blue water and orange rocks.
Where to stay
If you don't fancy camping, then head to Pelican Point. This guesthouse has self contained, really comfy rooms with kitchenette. We enjoyed being able to cook for ourselves and it was great value whilst still being very close to Binnalong Bay.
Day 6: Launceston
After a day spent at the beautiful Binnalong Bay, it is time to leave the East Coast and head inland. If the weather is looking good then don't miss the opportunity to watch sunrise at the lookout at Binnalong Bay, you won't regret the early start!
After a three hour drive you'll arrive at Launceston: Tasmania's second biggest city. It is worth having a look around the town and checking out some of the great coffee shops.
After exploring Launceston, head over to the Bridestowe Lavender Estate. This huge Lavender Farm has a little obsession with this purple flower, including putting it in just about every food they serve. We'd never thought about lavender flavoured scones before Bridestowe...
However, the main attraction here is the fields of lavender themselves. During the summer, the fields are a bold purple, and the landscape is just incredible, the fields are so vast. The smell is also divine, the perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon.
Day 7: Mole Creek
Just an hour from Launceston, Mole Creek is a sleepy little village that isn't far from the Walls of Jerusalem where you'll head tomorrow.
While here, head to the Westmorland waterfall. There's a short hiking trail (around one hour 15 minutes return) that takes you through the forest to the foot of the falls and you will likely see a wallaby or two along the way.
Westmorland Falls are only a 15 minute drive from Mole Creek
Mole Creek is a great spot to see the elusive platypus and it is really close to the village centre. At the back of the Mole Creek guest house is a stream which has its own resident platypus. Hang around at dusk and you may just be in luck!
Alternatively, you could explore the Mole Creek Caves. Sadly we didn't have time to do this ourselves, but we had heard really good things about them.
Where to stay
The best place in town is the quaint and cosy Mole Creek Guesthouse. The rooms here are traditional and comfortable and we found it to be a really relaxing base for exploring the area. It also has a good restaurant downstairs.
Day 8: Walls of Jerusalem
The hike up to the Walls of Jerusalem is one of the best in Australia. After a very steep climb, you'll arrive on the Central Plateau, a place which is unlike anywhere else we've been.
Here you'll feel on top of the world and walk across open plains, beautiful forests and below epic bluffs.
It is another one of those experiences in Tassie where you feel like you're a million miles from civilisation. It is worth camping overnight to see the best of the Walls, especially as the walk up and down are quite tiring.
We've written a whole blog on this spectacular hike here.
Day 9: Cradle Mountain
The majority of the morning will be spent on walking back from the Walls of Jerusalem and then driving onto Cradle Mountain (a 2 hour 30 drive).
In the afternoon check out the famous Dove Lake Circuit.
It takes a couple of hours and offers superb views of the lake and Cradle Mountain which dominates the sky line.
Where we stayed
There's no better place than Cradle Mountain Highlanders to stay whilst exploring Cradle Mountain. The rooms are individual cottages, each with their own kitchen and fire place, making them really cosy for the cold nights. The cottages are all spaced apart with beautiful forest views, you will definitely spot some pademelons! We found it to be perfect for resting after a long day hiking, and there's no doubt we'll be back.
Day 10: Cradle Mountain
Cradle Mountain is phenomenal, it is definitely one of the best things to do in Tasmania, if not Australia. It offers some of the best hiking in Tasmania, so why not take in the best views of this stunning area.
Starting at Ronny Creek, walk along the boardwalk (wombat sightings are virtually guaranteed) and hike to Dove Lake (via Crater Lake, Wombat Pool and Lake Lilla). Add on the extra side trip to Marions Lookout for a truly superb view. If you are really keen from Marion's Lookout you can also go on to summit Cradle Mountain itself, we were told not to by the ranger on our visit due to adverse weather conditions but otherwise would have loved to.
If you were feeling a little lazy the day before and skipped Dove Lake you can also add the Dove Lake Circuit on to this hike and the whole walk including Marion's Lookout but not Cradle summit will be around 12km. It's a truly special walk and will give you a great overview of the national park.
Day 11: Lake St Clair
After Cradle Mountain, drive onto the beautiful Lake St Clair. If you had a spare week, you could have walked the world famous Overland Track between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair! It's definitely on our bucket list.
After a 3 three hour drive, you'll arrive and the best way to shake off the cobwebs is the hike up to Mount Rufus. The 15km return walk is moderate with a steep climb at the end. However the views from the top are stunning and worth the effort. From here you'll see the whole lake and where you'll be staying (the Pumphouse). If you want to extend the walk slightly you can make it a circuit which adds on a further three kilometres.
After all that hiking and adventure it is time to chill in some much deserved luxury! The Pumphouse at Lake St Clair is situated at the end of a long pier in the middle of Lake St Clair and the rooms are in a renovated hydro electric pump house. It's one of the most unique hotels in Australia.
The setting is unique and the rooms are stylish. They are also kitted out with everything you'll ever need including a pantry full of local produce and warm sourdough bread that is delivered fresh every day. We really enjoyed the communal meals in the evening where you eat delicious food from local ingredients whilst comparing stories with everyone else who stayed there. We'd been a little dubious about the whole communal idea but it was one of the highlights of our stay.
If you get lucky, you may even see a platypus swimming outside your room. It is one of the best places we've stayed in four years exploring Australia. We had ummed and ahhed about it due to the price, but we have to say it was well worth it.
Day 12: Jackeys Marsh
After the two hour drive, head over to Liffey Falls, one of the best waterfalls in Tasmania. The walk is pretty short (40 minutes return) and there are plenty of viewpoints and places to take it in. If it has rained recently the falls will be in full flow!
For lunch, head to the town of Deloraine. It has the Deloraine Deli which offers great local food. It was so good we went twice!
Top tip: there are two ways to get to the upper car park for Liffey Falls (the lower is a long walk from the falls) and google maps likes to take you on an unsealed dirt road for over 20km! The best way is to avoid Bogan Road (C504) and go via the A5 and approach from the west. There is a dirt road but it is a lot shorter.
Head to the Forest Walks Lodge at Jackey's Marsh for a rural getaway unlike any other in Tasmania. The road here is a long dirt track (but perfectly doable in our little rental car), but it takes you deep into the Tasmanian bush.
Here you'll find a really cosy lodge with terrific panoramic views run by a couple who make the best local food. We had a three-course meal, with lots straight from their own garden, it was some of the best food in the whole of Tasmania!
There are plenty of walks to choose from or you can just do as we did and chill with a book and a glass of wine!
Day 13: Bruny Island
The journey to Bruny will take a while from Jackey's Marsh, so head down to Kettering (about 3 hours 30 minutes) and then hop on the ferry (another half an hour).
It might seem far away but Kettering is actually only half an hour from Hobart so you will be back in the right place for your flight home.
Whilst on the way to your accommodation, check out the Bruny Island Cheese Company. The food is amazing and they make their own delicious cheese ($5 for a tasting plate refundable on purchase of a cheese). You can drink a locally brewed beer as well to wash it all down.
Handy tip: If you are visiting in summer the restaurants on Bruny that open for dinner (few and far between) get very busy! One night we couldn't actually get any food at all and had to go back and cook with the meagre rations we had in the car. Book early for dinner, especially on a weekend. The only dinner options we found were the pub (Hotel Bruny) and the Bruny Island Wines Grill.
Head over to the Neck (the small spit of land that joins both parts of Bruny Island together) and walk up the stairs to the viewing platform. From here you'll get some incredible views of the island and get that highly Instagrammable shot.
If you love your penguins, then you could come to The Neck for sunset. Here you may get lucky and see the fairy blue penguins: the smallest penguin in the world, come in to roost. At dusk they can be seen going into their burrows, but you'll need a keen eye and some patience!
Where we stayed
We stayed at the fabulous Hundred Acre Hideaway. We chose it because of the amazing outdoor bath, which was incredible, and the perfect place to watch sunset from. The cottage itself is nice and cosy with full kitchen facilities. We loved watching the wallabies play in front of the cottage at dawn and dusk.
Day 14: Bruny Island & Home
Stop off and explore Adventure Bay to the South of Bruny Island. If you're not up for a hike, you can either chill at the beach (which has some stunning azure blue water) or go in search of Bruny's famous albino wallabies! We weren't lucky enough to see them, but we have heard they can be seen at the national park end of the beach regularly. Early morning would be your best chance.
Alternatively take the Fluted Cape Walk. This 6km return walk It is pretty steep in places, but the views from the top of Bruny's wild coastline are worth it.
In the afternoon head back to the ferry and over to Hobart ready for your flight home. If you wanted to spend a bit more time in Hobart or look at a few other places to go, check this itinerary.
Know before you go
Getting to Tasmania
The easiest and most convenient way to get to Tasmania is to fly to either Hobart and Launceston. Sydney and Melbourne operate multiple flights per day, but you can also fly from Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.
Alternatively you can get the ferry from Melbourne and take a car from the mainland using the Spirit of Tasmania.
Best time to visit Tasmania
The summer months (November - February) is the best time to visit Tasmania as the days are long and the weather is at its warmest. The biggest drawback is that Tassie is at its busiest and most expensive.
Autumn (February - April) and Spring (September - October) are also decent times, but you can face pretty cold weather and snow.
Car rental and campers can be pretty good value in Tassie, but they are in high demand in the summer. We recommend booking one well in advance, so why not get a quote below?
Packing List for Tasmania
Icebreaker Merino Wool Thermals
Tasmania is the coldest part of Australia and places like the Central Plateau and Cradle Mountain are cold all year round. Icebreaker are a world-class brand and one we used all round our Great Walks of New Zealand . You will want base layers (top and bottom) as well as other warm layers for some of the hikes.
Merrell Hiking Boots
We’ve gone through a lot of hiking boots from a lot of companies, but have found the brand that is perfect for long multi-day hikes. Merrells are comfortable, hard wearing and we won’t use any others from now.
Black Diamond Hiking Poles
We are hiking pole converts, making descending a lot easier and taking the weight of your pack from going entirely through your knees. Black Diamond are light, reliable and a brand we’ve been using for years.
Black Rapid Camera Strap
Traditional camera straps will give you severe aches and pains in your kneck when hiking. We bought the Black Rapdi Camera Strap a few years ago and it has made multi-day hikes with a camera a lot easier. This strap sits on your shoulder with the camera hanging by your waist, meaning you don’t have 2-3 kgs swinging round your neck.
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