Home to just 500,000 people, the island of Tasmania is as intimate as it is beautiful. Its gorgeous capital city, Hobart, is home to one of the world’s most intriguing art galleries, while northern Launceston is one of the few cities on the planet to be wrapped around a gorge. Drive anywhere in the island state and you can go from beach-lined coasts to World Heritage-listed mountain areas in just a few hours. Along the way you’ll pass welcoming farm-gate producers, cellar doors and restaurants specialising in local produce so fresh it’s the envy of the culinary world.
Come to Tasmania, Australia’s heart-shaped island state to indulge in history, vast wilderness areas, Australia’s most spectacular mountains, dazzling beaches and the freshest food and wine imaginable.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Tasmania has four distinct seasons with the warmest months being December to March.
But if you prefer cooler temperatures and less crowds, visiting Australia’s island state in either autumn (March – May) or winter (June – August) is a great choice as it provides a pleasant ambience for exploring UNESCO World Heritage Sites, sampling the best Tasmanian produce and becoming immersed in Tassie-style festival buzz.
Regardless of where you travel in Tasmania you should be prepared for sudden, temporary deterioration in the weather, especially if bushwalking. Always carry additional warm clothing, including a waterproof outer layer.
TOP 5 ATTRACTIONS
Set among the historic Georgian sandstone buildings of Salamanca Place in Hobart, this famous market attracts thousands of locals and visitors every Saturday of the year.
Salamanca Market is one of those special places where you actually meet the people who create, make or grow what they sell.
The nearly 300 stallholders include makers of hand-made Tasmanian pieces from woodwork to jewellery, fashion to fanciful glassware and ceramics. Of course, there are also fantastic fresh fruit and organic vegetables, all accompanied by buskers and music.
From the market, it’s a short walk up historic Kelly’s Steps to the Georgian cottages and early maritime village atmosphere of Battery Point.
Also nearby is Hobart’s picturesque waterfront where you’ll find fishing boats berthed close to cruising yachts and the occasional square-rigger or two.
Salamanca Market is held every Saturday from 8.30 am to 3 pm – rain, hail or shine.
Museum of Old and New Art – MONA
The Museum of Old and New Art – Mona is Australia’s largest private museum and one of the most controversial private collections of modern art and antiquities in the world.
Described by its owner as a “subversive adult Disneyland”, the collection includes everything from ancient Egyptian mummies to some of the world’s most infamous and thought-provoking contemporary art.
With around 300 art works on display, the collection takes up three floors within a subterranean architectural masterpiece and is guaranteed to impress.
The 3.5 ha site includes a function centre, Moorilla winery and vineyard, a cellar door and wine bar. There’s also the Source restaurant, a 63-seat cinema, the Mona Library and Gallery and eight stylish accommodation pavilions.
Visitors can catch a high speed ferry from Hobart’s waterfront for a 30-minute ride up the River Derwent right to the steps of the museum.
Mona is open six days a week, closed Tuesdays.
Kunanyi / Mt Wellington
Kunanyi / Mt Wellington is a wilderness experience just a 20-minute drive from Hobart and is much loved by locals.
The 21-km drive to the summit passes through temperate rainforest to sub-alpine flora and glacial rock formations, ending in panoramic views of Hobart, Bruny Island, South Arm and the Tasman Peninsula.
No other city in Australia has a vista like this one. The interpretation centre at the top protects you from the blustering winds while an open viewing platform on the western side of the car park looks out to the World Heritage Wilderness Area beyond.
There are barbecues, picnic facilities and bushwalking trails for all fitness levels. Mountain activities also include trail biking and abseiling.
Park entrance fees do not apply and there are no opening or closing hours.
The Pinnacle shelter at the summit is open to the public during the summer months (daylight savings) from 8 am – 8 pm, and during the winter from 8 am – 4:30 pm.
Port Arthur Historic Site
The Port Arthur Historic Site is Australia’s most intact and evocative convict site and one of Australia’s great tourist attractions.
Located on the Tasman Peninsula, the site has more than 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes dating from the prison’s establishment in 1830 until its closure in 1877. During this time around 12,500 convicts served sentences and for many it was a living hell.
Today, the site sits in 40 hectares of landscaped grounds and you’ll need plenty of time to fully experience all that it has to offer.
Entry is valid for two consecutive days and includes a guided walking tour, harbour cruise, entry to the museum, the Convict Study Centre and Interpretation Gallery, and the site of the dockyard.
For a small additional fee you can also cruise to the Isle of the Dead and join a guided tour of Port Arthur’s island burial ground. The tour offers an insight into the lives of those who were part of the penal settlement including convicts, soldiers, civilians and their families.
Or instead, you can take a trip to Point Puer Boys Prison. This was the first reformatory in the British Empire built exclusively for juvenile male convicts. Point Puer was renowned for its regime of stern discipline and harsh punishment.
The Port Arthur Historic Site is open every day of the year.
Cataract Gorge Reserve, known locally as the Gorge, is a unique natural formation within a two-minute drive of central Launceston – a rare natural phenomenon in any city.
In an easy 15 minutes, you can walk from central Launceston along the banks of the Tamar River into the Gorge. From there, follow a pathway originally built in the 1890s along the cliff face looking down onto the South Esk River.
The First Basin on the southern side has a cafe and a swimming pool surrounded by bushland, known to locals as Launceston’s beach.
In contrast, the shady northern side, named the Cliff Grounds, is a Victorian garden with ferns and exotic plants.
The beautiful Kings Bridge over the Gorge was floated into place in 1867.
With a kiosk, restaurant and swimming pool, rolling lawns and a rotunda, a footbridge and a chairlift across the river, as well as peacocks and wallabies at dusk, this may be Australia’s most alluring urban reserve. And entrance is free.