Tasmania, the island state of Australia, is located in the southernmost part of the country. Surrounded by the Tasman Sea, the island is home to large swaths of untouched wilderness, a storied cultural heritage, and diverse wildlife. Historically, the island was a prominent part of the British convict administration in Australia, resulting in a wealth of well-preserved sites that chronicle this period. In terms of biodiversity, Tasmania is home to a multitude of native species, from the Tasmanian devil to unique bird species. The range of activities in Tasmania is wide, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures, historical learning, wildlife viewing, and more.
Good to Know:
- Getting There: Tasmania can be reached by plane or ferry. Hobart International Airport connects the island to mainland Australia and selected international destinations. Alternatively, the Spirit of Tasmania operates overnight ferries between Melbourne and Devonport.
- Getting Around: Renting a car or campervan allows you to explore the island with ease. However, regular bus services link the major towns and attractions for easy day trips, and guided tours are an informative way to see the sights.
- How Long to Visit: For a quick trip to Hobart and its surroundings, plan to stay for a week. To see more of the island, you should extend your stay by another week.
- When to Visit: Each season in Tasmania has its own character. Summers, from December to February, are ideal for outdoor activities. The cooler months of June to August offer the chance to enjoy Tasmania's historic attractions and cozy heritage accommodations.
- Similar Destinations: Norfolk Island and Kangaroo Island in Australia share similarities with Tasmania. Internationally, Ireland and Scotland mirror Tasmania's combination of rugged wilderness, rich history, and unique wildlife.
Hobart, Tasmania's fascinating capital, will show you a window into the island's history. Your tour of its rich past begins at the Hobart Convict Penitentiary, a building of immense historical significance and a stark reminder of Tasmania's convict heritage. The labyrinth of underground tunnels and solitary confinement cells provides a gripping look at the lives of convicts through the centuries. Battery Point, a picturesque and quaint neighborhood in Hobart, adds another dimension to this historic journey. Walk through the narrow laneways of Battery Point and you'll find yourself among well-preserved colonial buildings. At the nearby Salamanca Place, you can continue your walking tour and experience Hobart's vibrant cultural scene. It is lined with sandstone buildings and galleries and hosts the weekly Salamanca Market which is packed with local produce, crafts, and gourmet food.
Out of town, challenge yourself with a hike up Kunanyi/Mt. Wellington. The adventurous journey pays off with sweeping views of Hobart, the Derwent River, and the peculiar geological formations called Organ Pipes. Take a day trip to Richmond, where even more historic sites await. The Richmond Bridge is Australia's oldest bridge still in use and there are multiple well-preserved colonial-era churches in town waiting to be explored. Finally, no visit to Hobart would be complete without experiencing Tasmania's unique wildlife. At the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, you can get up close and personal with Tasmanian devils, wallabies, and kangaroos.
Tasman National Park:
Tasman National Park, a protected area in Tasmania, is renowned for its rugged beauty and amazing geological features. Prominent among these are the Blowhole and Devil's Kitchen, natural formations carved by the unrelenting force of the sea throughout millennia. Within the park boundaries, Port Arthur Historic Site highlights an important chapter in Tasmania's penal settlement history. Here you'll find the remnants of a former convict colony, its old buildings telling stories of hardship and perseverance. If you enjoy hiking, then the Three Capes Track is the place for you. On this multi-day hike, you'll explore the beauty of Tasmania's wilderness: from eucalypt forests and coastal heathland to high cliffs, the track showcases Tasmania's beauty at its best.
The Nut in Stanley:
This massive, flat-topped volcanic plug is an iconic Tasmanian landmark. A chairlift ride or brisk climb to the top reveals sweeping views of Bass Strait, the town of Stanley, and its sprawling green fields and makes The Nut a worthwhile detour on your Tasmanian journey.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park:
At the heart of the park lies Lake St Clair, an enchanting body of water surrounded by pristine native bushland. The lake, Australia's deepest, reflects the majestic peaks that surround it, creating a tranquil and picturesque setting that attracts both photographers and nature lovers. Among the park's network of trails, the Dove Lake Circuit stands out. This trail takes you around the shimmering Dove Lake, framed by myrtle-beech rainforest and alpine heathland. As you navigate the trail, the iconic silhouette of Cradle Mountain looms in the background, adding to the already beautiful scenery. The combination of well-maintained trails, diverse plant life, and stunning mountain views make the park a must-visit destination for hikers.
Escape the mainland and head to the peaceful Maria Island. The most iconic sight on the island is the Painted Cliffs. The fascinating patterns and hues on these sandstone cliffs are the result of mineral-rich water and wind erosion, a process that has taken thousands of years.