Hikes, breweries and the dark arts: amazing things to do in Tasmania
The island state of Tasmania is one of Australia’s hottest destinations because it caters to a range of travellers and their different needs. Nature lovers can enjoy hiking around areas of outstanding natural beauty with frequent sightings of local wildlife and, while the foodies out there will be delighted by the fresh, seasonal produce on offer and high quality of restaurants and cafés around the state. Art enthusiasts, we haven’t forgotten about you – Tasmania has some sleek and modern art galleries – while history buffs are able to trace both the modern and natural history of the island state. You can have a holiday filled with utter luxury or travel on a shoe-string budget – either way, you’re still going to have a good ol’ time. Here are some fun and fascinating things to do in Tasmania during your trip to this island state.
Things to do in Hobart
Let’s kick things off with a visit to Tasmania’s fantastic capital city, Hobart. There are a lot of things to do in Hobart, no matter what your age, style of travelling or budget.
The Museum of Modern and New Art is the largest privately funded gallery in Australia. Open since mid-2011, it mostly showcases the private art collection of David Walsh, a Tasmanian who struck it rich on the gambling circuit and created the museum as a way of giving back to the state (particularly as Tasmanians get free entry).
Tip: try to time your visit to the capital with the Dark Mofo Festival. It runs for around ten days across the month of June (including the winter solstice) and is quickly becoming one of the country’s most controversial celebrations of art and culture.
Check out the Salamanca Market
This outdoor market is held every Saturday in Hobart, right next to the waterfront. It showcases 300 stalls featuring everything from food to clothing, jewellery, handmade timbers and leather goods. If you like to shop locally and fancy bringing a little piece of Tasmania back home with you, Salamanca is the place to go.
Explore Battery Point
Battery Point is Hobart’s oldest suburb and its prettiest too. Fun fact alert: it’s also the birthplace of Hollywood Golden Age actor Errol Flynn. If you’re on a budget and are looking for free things to do in Tasmania, exploring this part of Hobart should be up at the top of your list. The streets of Battery Point have remained largely unchanged since they were first built in the 1800s and early 1900s. Start your walk on Kelly’s Steps at Salamanca Place, continue along to Arthur Circus where you’ll find Hobart’s oldest cottages and finish it in one of the many restaurants, pubs or tearooms scattered along the way.
Eat at some of the fabulous restaurants in town
Hobart has a small, but an impressively good, restaurant and bar scene with the entire state of Tasmania slowly making a name for itself on the international food circuit. Sample some of the city’s best at Aløft (gourmet eating with harbour views), Ettie’s (European bistro with cocktails), Templo (a tiny wine bar with Italian-Australian dishes), or Dier Makr (a boutique bistro and wine bar). If you’re in the mood for dessert, head straight to Sweet Envy to feast upon some mouth-watering cake.
Climb to the top of Mount Wellington
Hobart lies in the shadow of Mount Wellington and it’s possible to walk, pedal or drive to the top of the mountain (depending on your levels of motivation at the time). From here, you’ll be rewarded with 360° views of Hobart’s urban sprawl and let me tell you, it’s certainly worth the effort.
Tip: remember to check the weather forecast before making your way up, as Mount Wellington can often be shrouded in clouds and it’s even been known to snow in the summertime.
Have fish and chips on the pier
If these options are out of your budget, or you feel like a relaxed meal out in the elements, you should head straight to the pier. There are plenty of options for seafood here, from cold seafood platters to the humble fish and chips. Grabs some food, pull up a chair and enjoy the view.
Grab a tipple at Cascade Brewery
Established in 1824, Cascade is the oldest operating brewery in Australia. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hobart, being only 4km from the city. If you are interested in the tour of the brewery be sure to book it prior to your trip. Alternatively, you can grab a tasting paddle, featuring a mixture of four beers and/or ciders on offer – take them outside to drink and relax in the surrounding grounds.
Other things to do in Tasmania
There is, of course, a whole state to explore outside of Hobart. Here are some other places you should consider visiting during your time in Tasmania.
Take a day trip to Port Arthur
Port Arthur has seen many incarnations, from a small settlement to convict site and now an open-air museum. It’s also sadly the setting for the largest massacre in Australia’s recent history, which occurred in 1996. It’s around a 90-minute journey from Hobart –driving by car is a popular option or alternatively, you can take an organised tour. Port Arthur is certainly a place in Tasmania that is worth visiting – there are guided tours on offer and scheduled talks throughout the various buildings on site. If you plan your visit for after dark, you can jump onto a ghost tour in the most active haunted place in Australia.
Explore Bruny Island
North and South Bruny Island are easily accessible from Hobart (less than two hours from the city) via car or coach, including travelling onboard the vehicle ferry. Apart from its rugged natural beauty, the real highlights of the island are the wildlife and produce. Penguins and seabirds call it home and it’s possible to see seals and dolphins frolicking around the water’s edge. You can also eat ‘til your heart’s content, particularly on freshly caught fish (Tasmania is a seafood lover’s dream).
Wander through Tasmazia and explore Lower Crackpot
Located in an area known as the “Promised Land” in the state’s north, Tasmazia is home to the largest hedge maze in the southern hemisphere – now that’s an impressive activity not to be missed, surely? In the heart of the maze lies “Lower Crackpot”, a hilarious model village filled with terribly brilliant puns and celebrating Australian culture. This is a great destination for families but can also be a lot of fun exploring it as a single, couple or with a group of friends.
Tip: Try to get there earlier rather than later and preferably on a weekday – if you fancy avoiding school-age crowds.
Stroll around Cataract Gorge
Located just minutes from Launceston’s CBD, Cataract Gorge and First Basin are a natural marvel. The Gorge is home to a public park filled with walking and hiking trails, beautiful gardens and restaurants. You might even find yourself making some new friends with peacocks and wallabies wander the grounds. There’s a suspension bridge, which leads to a lookout with stunning panoramic views. You can also travel across the world’s longest single span chairlift and even take a dip in the local swimming pool (what a sight to see when doing laps). If you find yourself in Launny, it’s well-worth dedicating a morning or afternoon to explore the park, particularly as it’s free to enter.
Visit Freycinet National Park and gaze upon Wineglass Bay
Freycinet may just be one of the most beautiful places in Tasmania, even with the stiff competition. It’s an ideal destination for hiking and bird-watching. Keen walkers will be rewarded with gorgeous views from the Lookout of the park’s most famous beach (which routinely makes its way onto the list of best beaches in Australia), Wineglass Bay. Entry to the park with a car will cost you $24. You can alternatively skip the park and jump on a cruise that will take you straight out to the bay, seeing plenty of wildlife (seabirds, seals and dolphins to name just a few) along the way.
These are just a few of the best things to do in Tasmania, simply a taste of what the state has on offer. You’ll be planning further trips to Tassie before you’ve even stepped back on the plane (or perhaps the ferry if you’re coming from Australia) home.
About the author
LC Hunter is an ex-expat, who is currently exploring her home country of Australia. She has two ambitions in life – to travel plastic-free and to one day live on a farm in Tasmania with 11 dogs, a miniature pig and several pygmy goats. Follow her travels around Oz and attempts to embrace a greener lifestyle on her blog Birdgehls and on Facebook.
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