Local's guide: Tasmania

Snow Cradle Mountain Around Tasmania in 12 days my nrma road trips
Snow Cradle Mountain Around Tasmania in 12 days my nrma road trips

Doctor Who fans will know what it means when you say Tasmania is small on the outside and big on the inside. The island is just 364km from north to south and 306km from east to west, so it's perfect for a self-drive holiday.

The distances might be comfortably short, but there's something different to admire around every corner - no surprise, given 40 per cent of Tassie is national park or a World Heritage Site.

Be prepared to come across mountains, rainforests and crystal clear beaches. Here are just a few things to check out.

  • Cradle Mountain National Park
  • White Sands Estate
  • Eaglehawk Neck Historical Site
  • Cape Grim
  • MONA - Museum of Old and New Art

1. Smithton/Cape Grim

Smithton is on the northwest coast and an hour’s drive from Burnie. Like much of this part of the world, it’s surrounded by rainforest. Cape Grim, a bit further north, is located amid the Roaring Forties, which means it’s windy.

The Bureau of Meteorology has measured the cleanest air in the world here, and it has travelled across oceans from the tip of South America, so make sure you take a big breath of it. Not surprisingly, Tasmania’s first wind farm is located here.

2. Cradle Mountain

The iconic Cradle Mountain is one of the most photographed mountains in Tasmania. It’s located at the northern end of Cradle Mountain National Park and is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area.

The mountain looms over the dark waters of Dove Lake, which was gouged out by an ancient glacier. A circuit around the lake will take a reasonably fit person six hours – or you could just walk a little way and immerse yourself in the lake’s abundant beauty. The area is home to wombats, pademelons (small wallabies), Tasmanian devils and wedge-tailed eagles, to name just a few.

3. Strahan

Arriving in Strahan is like visiting a frontier town 100 years ago. This part of Tasmania is stunningly beautiful and feels very remote (in a good way). It’s the gateway to the Gordon River and taking a boat tour up this waterway is a highlight of any Tasmanian road trip. On the way you’ll stop at Sarah Island, which was once a brutal convict prison. Strahan gets only 15 days of clear weather a year, so make sure you pack a coat and an umbrella.

4. White Sands Estate

White Sands Estate is a beachfront resort about halfway between Freycinet and Bay of Fires. It has ocean views that go on forever, an on-site brewery and a vineyard. There’s also a stocked trout lake and, best of all, a private secluded beach. If you can tear yourself away, it’s an easy drive to Douglas Apsley National Park, Maria Island and the famous Wineglass Bay at Freycinet National Park.

5. Hobart

When you go to Tasmania, everyone talks about "MONA’ and for good reason. When the Hobart-based Museum of Old and New Art opened its doors just over five years ago, it led to a huge spike in visitor numbers to the city and still brings in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Its art collection spans from more traditional pieces all the way to modern installations designed to shock. To make the most of the MONA experience, catch the MONA Ferry – if you choose, you can make the journey sitting on a plastic sheep. It’s a bit surreal, but fun.

6. Eaglehawk Neck Historic Site

Eaglehawk Neck is a narrow strip of land connecting the Tasman Peninsula with the Forestier Peninsula. Following prisoner escapes from nearby Port Arthur in the early 1830s, a line of tethered dogs stood guard on the isthmus to deter further attempts. The guard quarters – constructed in 1832 and possibly Australia’s oldest wooden military building – are now a museum illustrating early life there.

Where to stay?

Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge provides the closest accommodation to the spectacular Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Set in the wilderness are 86 private timber cabins, from contemporary Pencil Pine Cabins through to luxurious King Billy Suites, and family cabins.

Cradle Mountain Hotel has comfortable, spacious rooms and a great bar and restaurant. While you’re there, don’t miss the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery. Located onsite, the Gallery includes 10 interconnected rooms of wilderness-inspired art and entry is complimentary for Hotel and restaurant guests.

NRMA members can also save on car hire in Tasmania at SIXT with 15% off daily rental rates.

Image credit: Pierre Destribats


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