TASMANIA - THINGS TO DO
WHAT TO SEE/DO
Hobart, Tasmania’s capital city and the second oldest capital in Australia, is the perfect place to spend a few days visiting coffee shops and art galleries, and eating delicious food near the harbor. Nestled amongst the foothills of Mt. Wellington, Hobart offers a wonderful blend of heritage, scenery and culture – with its fascinating history, scenic waterways, rugged mountains and award winning restaurants, and fresh seafood, the city truly has something for everyone.
Explore Salamanca Place, a short walk from the waterfront, with its galleries, theatres, craft shops and restaurants in 1830s Georgian warehouses and on Saturdays enjoy the food and entertainment of Salamanca Market, Australia's best outdoor market.
Hobart's iconic waterfront, has a host of offerings, including the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Alternatively, take a ferry up river to MONA for an unbelievable modern art experience.
Hobart is also the “jumping off” point for some of southern Tasmania's best travel experiences, from historic Port Arthur and the rugged Tasman Peninsula to Bruny Island, the Huon and Derwent Valleys and Mount Field National Park.
Sitting on the Tasman Peninsula, Port Arthur is a listed as a World Heritage Historic Site. This former 19th-century penal settlement is now an open-air museum and is Australia's most intact and fascinating convict site. The site, which occupies 40 hectares of landscaped grounds, is comprised of over 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes. Ruins include the huge penitentiary and the remaining shell of the Convict Church, which was built by inmates. Solitary confinement cells in the Separate Prison building were used to inflict mental punishment in place of floggings.
The Port Arthur Historic site holds a great many interesting stories and we advise spending at least a night or two to full explore this fascinating site and the surrounding area. Enjoy an introductory Guided walking tour, visit the museum, and dockyard site, or embark on a harbor cruise. If you like you can also take a cruise to the Isle of the Dead and join a tour of the Port Arthur’s island cemetery. If you’re brave enough, take a ghost walk around the ex-penal colony.
Explore Cradle Mountain National Park
Cradle mountain – lake st. clair national park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. With its ancient rainforests, rugged mountains, alpine heaths and pine fringed glacial lakes, the park is a hiker’s dream, and is home to the famous Overland Track which leads from Cradle Moutain to Lake St. Clair. This magnificent six-day walk passes through the heart of some of the world's finest mountain terrain to majestic Lake St Clair, the deepest lake in Australia.
Even if you’re not an avid hiker it’s well worth a visit. The Lake St. Clair area offers leisurely lakeside strolls and longer forest walks. Many of the trails follow a boardwalk, for much of the route, through some absolutely spectacular scenery. Take a 2 hour hike around Dove Lake to see the parks jewel, the majestic Cradle Mountain. The more adventurous can take on the mountain summit. There are also a variety of shorter walks that pass through beautiful old-growth rainforest.
The park also provides a rich habitat for wildlife, including Tasmanian devils, quolls, platypus, echidna and several bird species.
Cradle Valley and the surrounding areas contain many Aboriginal historic sites where the remnants of stone tools, caves, rock shelters and stone sources have been discovered. These can be explored on the Aboriginal Cultural Walk that departs from Lake St Clair at the southern end of the park.
Visitors in late spring and summer can witness a brilliant display of wildflowers including waratahs, orchids, banksias, hakeas and leatherwoods.
Visit St Helens
St Helens has some incredible beaches. Binalong Bay is the star of the show here, but drive a few minutes along the coast and you’ll be rewarded with some gorgeous beaches with far less people on them.
Explore the pristine Tarkine Wilderness
Tarkine Forest Reserve is a huge protected area located in Tasmania’s north west region. Its diverse habitats include mountain ranges, cave systems, buttongrass moorlands, grassy woodlands, a rugged coastline with coastal heath vegetation and beautiful sandy beaches, wild rivers, and Australia’s largest patch of temperate rainforest. Its rich plant and animal diversity reflects these diverse habitats and local residents include wombat, bandicoot, platypus, echidna, possum and glider, as well as the notorious Tasmanian devil, and other predators such as the spotted-tailed quoll and eastern quoll.
The Tarkine is also home to over a hundred bird species including several rare and endemic birds like the threatened Orange-bellied parrot.
The Tarkine is bordered by the west coast, the Arthur River to the north, the Pieman River to the south and the Murchison Highway to the east.
The Tarkine Reserve has strong links to the Aboriginal people of the island, and abutts the 100,000 hectare Arthur Pieman Conservation Area, which also has a wealth of Aboriginal sites which are of great archaeological significance. These include shell middens, hut depression sites, artifacts and rock engravings. The Arthur Pieman area is characterized by an extensive rugged coastline.
The town of Arthur River sits on the border of the reserve and is the starting point for beach and forest journeys and adventures, including a visit to the 'End of the World' at Gardiner Point.
The reserve’s rivers can be explored by canoe, kayak and riverboat cruises through forests of blackwood, myrtle and celery top pine all the way to the sea. There are also numerous walking trails from Arthur River and the nearby South Arthur Forest drive, including the Celery Top pine nature trail and the Balfour Track rainforest walk.
To the south, the Western Explorer touring route leads to the tiny settlement of Corinna on the Pieman River. Here Fat Man punt carries cars across the river to continue their journey. Take a river cruise here to a wild, driftwood strewn, West Coast beach.
Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park on Tasmania’s East coast offers an abundance of activities and natural assets. It’s home to the dramatic pink granite peaks of the Hazards Range, secluded bays including the iconic Wineglass Bay, white sandy beaches and a diversity of birdlife. The park occupies most of the Freycinet Peninsula and looks out to the Tasman Sea from the eastern side and back towards the Tasmanian coastline from the west.
Take the short hike to Wineglass Bay lookout for one of Tasmania's most photographed views, or continue on down to an idyllic curved beach and back to the park entrance via the Hazards Range, offering incredible view of Great Oyster Bay. There are many other short walks across the park that are suitable for all abilities and that lead to secluded bays, pristine beaches and bird-filled lagoons.
For those wanting more of a challenge, take a two day walk along the whole length of Freycinet Peninsula , visiting more remote places like Cooks Beach and Bryans Beach.
The beautiful beaches and pristine waters that surround the park can be enjoyed by swimming, kayaking the peninsula or just lazing on the white sand beaches. The surrounding ocean is home to an abundance of marine life, making diving and snorkeling a popular activity.
The Moulting Lagoon is a RAMSAR wetland sanctuary for black swans, water fowl and other migratory birds. If you're lucky, you might spot a white-bellied sea-eagle gliding overhead.
Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is part of Tasmania’s World Heritage area, and is dominated by dramatic mountain peaks, spectacular gorges and world-famous rivers running through the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness. Much of its landscape has been shaped by ancient glaciers and is remote and rugged in nature.
The park supports a diversity of vegetation types, including cool temperate rainforest, drier eucalypt forests and picturesque button grass moorland. It is also home to ancient Huon pines, some over 3000 years old.
The park is traversed by the Lyell Hwy, offering short walks right off the road. Some popular walks include The Franklin River Nature Trail, east of Queenstown which offers wonderful walks through stunning rainforest to the Franklin and Surprise rivers. Further west, Donaghys Hill Lookout offers spectacular wilderness views. Nelson falls nature trail is an easy boardwalk that winds through ancient rainforest to a stunning waterfall. At King William Saddle you’ll be afforded excellent views across the wilderness, including views to Mt. Rufus and Frenchman’s Cap. You can also see the dramatic change in vegetation and geology that separates Tasmania's east and west.
The park is also accessible by boat and daily cruises depart Strahan on the West Coast for Heritage Landing on the densely forested banks of the lower Gordon River, downstream from where the Gordon and Franklin Rivers meet. Cruise highlights included Hells Gates and Macqurie Harbor. Other cruises call in at the historic World Heritage listed convict penal settlement of Sarah Island.
Rafting and canoeing are popular in summer, with day trip options as well as two-week adventures for more courageous explorers.
The park also contains Aboriginal and convict historic sites.
Liffey Falls State reserve is nestled in the cool temperate rainforest on the slopes of the Great Western Tiers and is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area. The reserve’s main attraction is its namesake - Liffey Falls (otherwise called Victoria Falls). The 45 minute, circular trail leads from the picnic area down through a forest of towering eucalyptus trees and tree ferns to the falls, which are surrounded by myrtle, sassafrass and leatherwood trees. This is a popular sport of locals and visitors alike. Along the trail you’ll a number of smaller waterfalls, which can all be viewed from observation decks. Other short walks include the Big Tree stroll, through a forest of giant Eucalyptus trees. If you prefer a longer walk, continue from the falls along a logging tramway to the Gulf Road Picnic area. The walk offers excellent views of Dry’s Bluff.
Wildlife in the reserve includes platypus and nocturnal inhabitants such as Tasmanian devils, quolls, bandicoots and wallabies. Avian inhabitants include pink robins, green rosellas and fairy-wrens.
The area has a rich human heritage and for thousands of years, it was a meeting place for the Big River, North and North Midlands Aboriginal people. Sandstone overhangs provided shelter, and local stone was used for tool manufacture.
Mount Field National Park
Mt Field National park is just 80km from Hobart and is a popular spot for nature lovers. It was declared a national park in 1916 and is Tasmania's first, and possibly its most diverse national park, offering incredible views, great hiking/walking trails, and abundant wildlife.
It is famed for its alpine moorlands, lakes, rainforest, impressive waterfalls, walks, skiing and wildlife. Tall forest span the base of its mountains, while alpine plants inhabit its summit. Encounter some of the park's bizarre alpine species on the Pandani Grove walk which circles Lake Dobson. Longer walks lead you through Tasmanian conifer forests to spectacular waterfalls, amazing views and small glacial lakes of the Tarn Shelf. During the fall, the slopes of the mountains which back onto Tarn Shelf become a riot of color as decidious beech trees turn shades of red and orange.
The park offers an array of natural wonders, the star attraction being Russell Falls, just a short walk from the visitors center, through a forest of towering tree ferns. It’s not the parks only waterfall, but is considered its prettiest. Other waterfalls include Lady Barron Falls, Horseshoe falls.
Another attraction is Lake Dobson – the Lake Dobson hiking circuit is a relatively short walk around the lake, offering some magnificent views of Mt. Field.
There’s also a wide variety of wildlife that call this park home, including many of Tasmania’s native mammals and endangered species, including the eastern quoll, the eastern barred bandicoot, the Tasmanian pandemelon, and you may even see the platypus at Lake Dobson. Early morning and late evenings are the best time to see this elusive little creature. Eleven of Tasmania’s twelve endemic bird species can also be seen here.
Mt. Field is a popular skiing venue amongst locals, and offers downhill skiing and snowboarding, and good cross-country skiing across the higher plateau.
There are also many caves throughout the park, most only suited to experienced cavers. The Junee Cave, in the Junee State Reserve, south of the national park, is accessible to the general public.
OTHER TASMANIA HIGHLIGHTS:
Walls of Jerusalem National Park