Why don’t you visit Tasmania? That was the question we asked our close friends from South Australia. They wrangled some time off work; added the Easter public holidays; and we all spent a fabulous week together. Of course there’s no way the whole island can be covered in a single week. But here’s a brief outline of what we did achieve.
Visit Tasmania: Opportunity Knocks
We’ve mentioned before that travelling via the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Melbourne allows you to bring a car load of luggage. And that’s what our friends did, so they had their own wheels when they arrived. After a smooth passage, they started their Tasmanian visit in Devonport.
Spending the first night in Launceston allowed a glimpse at some of the highlights at the northern end of the state. There’s no shortage of things to do in Launceston, but we chose the chairlift at the Cataract Gorge as a starting point. The reserve was back to normal after some serious flooding over the Trevallyn Dam recently.
Monkeys! Who doesn’t like monkeys? Launceston City Park is beautiful in any weather, and is especially good on a gorgeous autumn day. The John Hart Conservatory is magnificent in full bloom. Not everyone likes flowers and gardens, but the Automobile Museum of Tasmania is right across the road, which is convenient for groups on a quick tour of Launceston.
Drive the East Coast of Tasmania
We’ve established that time was limited on this visit. Tasmania just has too many things to do! But a coastal trip along the beautiful beaches of the East Coast just had to sneak into the holiday itinerary. Even though a hike in the Freycinet National Park to Wine Glass Bay was unfortunately out of the question, a leisurely drive anywhere between Orford and Binalong Bay was always going to be a winner!
We didn’t set quite the cracking pace of contestants in The Three Peaks Race, which was also held last week. An extreme adventure event, the course follows the east coast of Tasmania. Crews depart from Beauty Point (just north of Beaconsfield) and via Flinders Island and the Freycinet Peninsula, they sail to Hobart.
As if the non-stop, offshore sailing component wasn’t challenging enough, some team members have to race up and down three mountain peaks as well. The final leg of the race includes the summit of Mount Wellington in Hobart.
We were clearly inspired by their efforts, as we set off to conquer the climb as well. We did however, choose to drive, rather than run! The views were amazing, as always. And it was such a gorgeous day, we also took the kids to the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, where they enjoyed a ride on the 1882 steam-powered Gallopers Merry-Go-Round.
Take in The Capital: Hobart
Obviously, when you visit Tasmania, Hobart and the surrounding regions offer up some serious choices. Do you drive to Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula, maybe checking the Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck? Or perhaps you could take a Peppermint Bay Cruise, or maybe even venture to Bruny Island?
All fabulous ideas, but we decided the kids needed another dose of chocolate, and took them to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory in Claremont. Easter Bunny had parked all his leftover eggs at their factory outlet, and we managed to secure a few more sweet treats.
Tasmanian Valley Trio
Choosing something to suit all tastes and ages can sometimes be a little daunting for the poor tour guide. But not when you visit Tasmania! A drive to New Norfolk takes in some of the magnificent Derwent Valley scenery, while Mt Field National Park has some great waterfalls and bush walks, even for young children. And a Tasmanian Devil Jet Boat ride can add a rush of adrenalin to an otherwise relaxing day trip.
If someone from your group is charged with capturing the experience on camera, there’s a great vantage point at Windsor Corner. It’s a ten minute drive west of New Norfolk on the Lyell Highway, enroute to Hamilton.
About a 30-minute drive from the capital of Hobart, the delights of the Huon Trail await. Again there’s a choice: a visit to the D’Entrecasteaux Channel towns of Margate, Snug, Woodbridge, Kettering and Middleton; or you can choose the Huon Valley as we did. We had a BBQ lunch at Franklin (behind the Petty Sessions Gourmet Cafe) alongside the peaceful Huon River, on our way to Geeveston.
From “The Gateway to the Southern Forests” we chose to visit the Tahune AirWalk Adventure. Turned out to be a good decision this time around, but then it’s always a great place to take visitors. The dare-devils can try cable hang-gliding, and the more sedate can enjoy coffee in the cafe. For the majority of visitors, the main attraction (which includes two swinging bridges and the actual cantilevered treetop walkway) is easy to manage.
If you’re local and you do invite friends to visit Tasmania, you can register with Forestry Tasmania as a Friend of the Forest. You’re then given free entry to the Tahune Forest AirWalk when you bring another family along, saving $50 between you; to possibly spend on souvenirs and snacks.
Coal River Valley
Separating into groups by gender, the girls took to the shops before selecting from the delectable array of cakes at the Richmond Wine Centre. The fellas left the car by the historic bridge near Australia’s oldest Catholic Church and walked through town to the Richmond Arms Hotel, where they enjoyed a Cascade beer.
By some strange coincidence, both groups managed to find their way inside the lolly shop in the main street. Amazing!
Visit Tasmania: Final Verdict?
Our friends would be way too polite to say if they didn’t enjoy their visit to Tasmania. But they seemed to have a good time. We certainly did. They also managed to experience a surf beach with some wicked sand dunes and very cold water; and the Salamanca Market on Saturday morning. And of course we sampled lots of the local Tasmanian produce! But there’s no escaping the fact we missed some excellent attractions. They’ll just have to book another Tasmanian holiday!
Some of the photos used in this article were contributed by Jo Kuchel.