What should you consider when planning a Tasmania road trip?
Tasmania is nicknamed Tassie and is Australia’s smallest state. Just because it’s the smallest doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to explore: Tasmania is similar in size to Sri Lanka.
It’s wideness and lack of public transport means that vehicle is the best way to get around this island state. During a Tasmania road trip, you can expect to see everything from golden beaches, rugged mountain ranges, and dense rainforests.
The two main cities, Hobart and Launceston, are sociable and offer visitors all the modern conveniences found in any international city. While some of the smaller towns offer historical buildings, relaxing cafes and glimpse into a past lifetime long gone.
It doesn’t matter if you only plan on visiting a few places, or driving the whole loop, a Tasmania Road trip is the best way to see the state.
Quick Tasmania fact: Protected areas of Tasmania cover about 42% of the land area of the state, which includes national parks and World Heritage Sites.
Getting to Tasmania
There are no international flights to Tasmania, so if you’re flying to Tasmania chances are you will have to come via Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane.
Departing from Melbourne is often the cheapest way and has the most frequent flights to Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie Airports.
For flights to Tasmania I recommend Webjet AU
Car rental is available from the airport or most towns and cities in Tasmania. Campervans are also available for hire.
However, most Aussies prefer to bring their car along from the mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. The Spirit of Tasmania departs from Port Melbourne and takes 9-11 hours to journey across the Bass Strait to Devonport.
Note: The Spirit of Tasmania service from Sydney to Devonport ceased operation in 2006.
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Driving in Tasmania
Tasmania may seem like a small island when compared to the rest of Australia, however, there’s still plenty of opportunities to get lost.
Always plan your route and know where to get fuel from on long drives. Be aware that fuel stations can be few and far between in remote areas. They can also be closed late at night or Sundays.
Mobile phone reception in parts of Tasmania is also limited. The Telstra network has the best reception across the Island.
Driving is the same as other parts of Australia and vehicles use the left-hand side of the road. When driving on the highway, you should stay on the left unless overtaking.
It’s worth mentioning that most rental cars are automatic transmission.
Watch out for animals on the side of the roads; wallabies are notorious for jumping out in front of vehicles!
A 4×4 off-road vehicle is handy for exploring out of the way places, however, a regular road car can reach most places worth seeing in Tasmania.
Speed limits in Tasmania are:
- 50 km/h in built-up areas.
- 100 km/h on rural roads
- 110 km/h on freeways.
Note: non-Tasmanians fined for speeding will have the ticket sent to their home address. If it’s a rental car, they will charge an administration fee to pass it on to you.
Tasmania Road Trip: Places to See
Devonport is Tasmania’s third largest city, and for those arriving by the Spirit of Tasmania, it will be the first stop off. Most people associate Devonport as a terminal point for arriving and departing. Yet over the past few years, it has started to develop to attract more international visitors. The Bluff walkway provides a nice walk along the waterfront up to the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse, with a couple of cafes along the way.
Sheffield is well known as Tasmania outdoor art gallery due to its many murals. Gowrie Park is 14km south west of Sheffield and is the start of the 4-hour climb to the top to the Mt Roland. From Gowrie Park, there are also walks to Minnow Falls and the top of Mt Vandyke.
Deloraine is Tasmania’s largest inland town and it has many restored Georgian and Victorian buildings. It’s history back to the first European settlement of the 1820s. Many craft, antique and second handed shops to explore can be found here.
Mole Creek National Park
Mole Creek National Park is 25 km west of Deloraine. Marakoopa (which translates into handsome in Australia Aboriginal language) is a wet cave worth visiting which also has a glow worm display.
Cradle Mountain is a hiking spot that stretches from the Great Western tier south to Derwent Bridge. The national park includes Mt Ossa which at 1,670 meters is Tasmania’s highest peak. Climbing to Cradle Mountain summit will take around 7 hours to 8 hours return.
With a population of just 500, Stanley is a quiet place to retreat and spend a relaxing few days or weekend away from the crowds. It’s popular with visitors coming from other parts of Tasmania, Australia’s mainland, and overseas. Life doesn’t get any more stress-free when all your day involves is climbing The Nut, relaxing on the beach, finally followed by overeating ice cream at The Chocolate Gallery & Cafe.
Tonight’s view from Horizon Deluxe Apartments of ‘The Nut’ – a volcanic plug located in the historic town of Stanley, NW Tasmania #horizondeluxeapartments #stanley #discovertasmania #tassiestyle #tassie #tas #nwtasmania #tasmania #australia #apartment #travelblog #travelblogger #aus #instapic #travel #australiagram #australia #australia
Strahan is a small town found on Tassie’s West Coast that has river kayaking and plenty of accommodation options. Places like the Strahan Holiday Retreat offer full cooking facilities, and a cosy cabin feel. On the Gordon River Cruise, it’s possible to enjoy views of nearby Hell’s Gates, salmon farms, historic timber sites and Australia’s temperate rain forests. The final stop is visiting Sarah Island. Due to Sarah Island’s mountainous wilderness and distance from Hobart Town, it is the site of the former Macquarie Harbour Penal Station.
The drive into Queenstown from the Lyell Highway is picturesque and unforgettable. Queenstown is an old mining town, and since the mines have closed, it has become the place to visit. It also has wilderness railway that passes through forests and stops at several stations.
Mt Field National Park
Mt Field national park just 64km from Hobart and has some stunning mountain scenery, lakes, rainforests, and waterfalls. The area around Russell Falls was made and reserved in 1885 and by 1916 had become one of Australia’s first national parks. The last known wild Thylacine (Tasmania Tiger) was found here in 1933.
Formally known as Hobart Town, Hobart was founded in 1804 and is Australia’s second oldest city after Sydney. Hobart has a rich colonial history which shows throughout the attractive buildings and harbour. Battery Point and the sandstone warehouses of Salamanca Place are popular spots to see. Don’t forget nearby Mt Wellington.
The island is only about 50 km long but with great cliffs overlooking long sandy beaches and fantastic bush walks, make sure it’s included on your Tasmania road trip. There are lots of options for accommodation, ranging from budget campsites to upmarket beachfront retreats. Bruny Island is accessed via a 20-min crossing on the ferry from Kettering.
Richmond is just is 24km from Hobart and has over 50 buildings dating from the 19th century. It was originally a strategical military post and convicts station. The Richmond Bridge is a good point for taking photographs. Being built by convicts in 1823, it’s the oldest bridge in Australia.
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From 1833 until 1853, Port Arthur was the endpoint for the toughest of convicted British criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations around Australia were also sent here. Port Arthur is now an open air museum and should be on every Tasmania road trip.
Swansea lies on the western shore of the sheltered Great Oyster Bay and is an excellent stop off point for camping, boating, fishing, and surfing. Originally known as the Great Swanport, it is part of Australia’s oldest rural municipality. The town has some interesting historic buildings.
Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park is well-known for its white sand beaches, secluded coves, rocky cliffs and except bush walks. The gateway to the park is the township of Coles Bay, which is a good stopping point for those travelling to Wineglass Bay.
St Helens is an old whaling town that dates back to 1830 and is now one of Tasmania’s biggest fishing ports. The flat waters of Georges Bay are perfect for canoeing, windsurfing, and diving.
Mt William National Park
Mt William National Park often gets overlooked during a Tasmania road trip. It was created as a national park in 1973 to protect the Forest Kangaroo and is home to long beaches and coastal wildflowers. Even though Mt William is only 216 meters high, it provides a perfect viewing point of the surrounding area.
Tamar Valley offers some great fishing spots and has some of the best vineyards in the region. This drive explores the majestic Tamar River from Launceston to the Bass Strait as it spans for nearly 60 km through the heart of vineyard country past orchards, scenic pastures, and forests.
Launceston is the only inland city in Tasmania. First settled by Europeans in March 1806, it’s one of Australia’s oldest cities and is home to many historic buildings. Launceston has also been home to many firsts, such as the first Australian city to have underground sewers and the first Australian city to be lit by hydroelectricity.
Other Places of Interest
Triabunna – a scenic town and the gateway to the natural wonders and historic sites of Maria Island.
Bridgport – overlooking Anderson Bay, Bridgport offers great river and sea fishing, bushwalking, and beach activities.
Ross – arguably the finest nineteenth-century village in Australia
Evandale – another one of the best preserved historic towns in Australia
Penguin – a picturesque seaside town with a pretty esplanade
RACT – provides services such as roadside assistance
Spirit of Tasmania – ferry from Melbourne to Tasmania
Travel Guide – Lonely Planet Tasmania Travel Guide
Camping Tasmania – a guide to camping in Tasmania
Telstra – Mobile phone Sim cards with the best service in Tasmania