Australia’s least-visited state remains something of a hidden gem in the up-and-coming tourist industry Down Under. Tasmania’s inclusion on the Lonely Planet’s hottest destinations to travel to in both 2014 and 2015 has boosted tourism in the region somewhat; yet it is still possible to spend time here in the height of the Australian summer and encounter no crowds whatsoever.
Tasmania can be said to embody the most famous Australian traits: wild, unspoilt and indulgent. Here you will find beautiful views, flourishing natural habitats, fine foods and wines as well as a fascinating colonial history.
These are the top ten experiences not to miss when you visit Tasmania:
1. Bay of Fires
Located in the northeast of the island, the Bay of Fires is Tasmania’s most well-known hiking destination. The coastal hikes here are peppered with untouched beaches, bright blue ocean waves and rocks covered with vivid orange lichen. Bay of Fires is a great place to go camping, relax on the beach or submerge yourself snorkelling or scuba diving.
Hobart has been an up-and-coming Australian city for a few years now. Soak up the beautiful views over Tasmania’s capital from the top of Mount Wellington (and spare a thought for anyone who has taken part in the annual half marathon where runners race from the coast to the top, climbing over 1,200m). Indulge in some meandering, shopping and world class coffee at the famous Saturday Salamanca market. MONA is one of the newest and hottest additions to Hobart’s growing arts scene. This huge art gallery is certainly unique – the property even boasts a vineyard and microbrewery on the premises.
3. Three Capes Track
Although not fully open until late 2015, the Three Capes Track will undoubtedly become Tasmania’s premier coastal walk. The 46km hike among the Tasman Peninsula takes walkers around Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy offering spectacular sea views from the highest cliffs in the southern hemisphere. Until the track is open, visitors can enjoy the final section of the hike to Cape Hauy starting at Fortescue Bay, which provides amazing views of dolerite cliff formations.
4. Tassie Devils
If you think about wildlife in Tasmania undoubtedly the first thing that will come to mind is Looney Tunes’ immortalised Tasmanian Devil. These toothy critters have recently come under threat from a vicious facial tumour that threatened the species’ future. Luckily, the Aussies are well-versed in conservation and have isolated healthy populations of Tassie Devils on several islands around the state, ensuring the continuation of the indigenous mammals. The best way to see Tasmanian Devils on your visit is to take part in the Devils in the Dark encounter near Bicheno on the east coast.
5. Cradle Mountain
This is arguably the best and most challenging day hike you can embark upon during your time in Tasmania. A decent level of fitness is required, as well as a good pair of hiking shoes. Be warned – it rains around 240 days of the year at Cradle Mountain in the Saint Clair National Park, and when I say rains I mean that the summit of the mountain is usually completely hidden by cloud cover. But, on a clear day, the views are simply outstanding and worth all the effort.
6. Wineglass Bay
Possibly Tasmania’s most photogenic bay, Wineglass Bay’s familiar shape has led to it becoming a popular destination amongst travellers. The short hike to the lookout over the bay is easy-moderate and provides the finest view of the sweeping coastline. You can go further and descend down into the bay itself. Bring a picnic and a bottle of wine and chill out for a few hours on one of the best beaches in Tasmania.
7. Port Arthur
A visit to Port Arthur will really bring home to you the convict history of Tasmania. Of around 160,000 convicts transported to Australia by the UK, almost half ended up in Tasmania. The warm and friendly nature of the island’s modern residents is certainly at odds with its dark history. Port Arthur is a former convict site and provides a fascinating insight into the local colonial history. Now a World Heritage Site, the former town is worthy of a full day of your time.
8. Road trip
Undoubtedly the best way to experience Tasmania is on a road trip. There’s not much in the way of decent public transport so self-driving round the island is the only way to see everything. The roads can be a little primitive in places, so a four wheel drive is your best bet. If you decide to camp in Tasmania you will find some excellent quality campsites in beautiful, scenic locations. Free camping is also very easy and leaves you more cash to enjoy the amazing food and drink on offer.
9. The Nut at Stanley
Stanley is a small historic coastal town in the northwest region of Tasmania. It’s worth a visit just for the views from the natural lookout, The Nut. This steep-sided bluff offers a panorama of the Bass Strait, Stanley town and its surrounding coastline. Climbing up is a challenge due to the extreme gradient of the path – there’s always the chairlift for those who don’t feel up to the challenge.
10. Bruny Island
Located close to Hobart, barely populated Bruny Island is a haven for wildlife, gourmet food and outdoor pursuits. You can self-drive around the island if your car is intrepid enough, but a day tour is recommended. Activities usually include fishing, wildlife spotting and tasting local cheeses, chocolate and berries. The sight-seeing cruise around Bruny Island has been named the number one tourist attraction in the whole of Tasmania, so is not to be missed.