5 Must-Do Drive Journeys in Tasmania
Life is about the journey, not the destination
Tasmania – where any road can lead to adventure. A journey here is not about taking a wrong turn. A wrong turn is simply a detour. Quiet roads, empty beaches, well-stocked cellars and an entire lush island to explore, now is the perfect time for a road trip. To get your holiday underway, we have road-tested five new Tasmanian self-drive journeys around the state. Pick an area, savour the journey, and factor in time for the detours to uncover somewhere special. So, take a road, any road, and discover what this compact island has to offer.
This is a journey to feed your soul. Take time to stop at farm gates, cellar doors and distilleries and meet the makers. Linger in rural towns and stay in quirky seaside towns along the way. Slow down and breathe deep – this is some of the cleanest air in the world.
3 reasons you must do this:
GO FORAGING. Unearth rare black truffles with Doug the truffle dog at Tasmanian Truffles, pick your own fresh berries at Hillwood Berries, and tour the groves at Hazelbrae Hazelnuts. Stop for lunch at Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory,set in a chic converted greenhouse, and sample delicious local produce and a great selection of Tassie wines, gin and whisky. The drive to Bridport skims across the northern edge of the Tamar Valley Wine Trail, passing through Pipers River, known for its sparkling wine. Taste Tasmanian bubbles at wineries including Bay of Fires Wines, Jansz Tasmania and Pipers Brook Vineyard.
GET YOUR NATURE FIX. Visit Australia’s largest cool temperate rainforest at takayna/Tarkine and stop for mobs of wildlife at Narawntapu National Park. Make a sunset stop for platypus-spotting at the Empire Hotel. Rocky Cape National Park is a place of sea caves, sheltered beaches and coastal walks. A 15-minute walk from the lighthouse leads to North Cave, once used as a shelter by Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Fill your lungs with the freshest air in the world at Cape Grim. Stand atop The Nut, the impressive remains of an ancient volcanic plug in the quaint village of Stanley. Catch your breath near Arthur River at the windswept Edge of the World and watch swells roll in from across thousands of kilometres of unbroken ocean.
ALL OUT ADVENTURE. The Northern Forage spans some of the world’s great mountain-biking destinations. Penguin Mountain Bike Park has six kilometres of single track, and links to more trails on the Dial Ranges. The centrepiece is at Blue Derby, with more than 120 kilometres of purpose-built trails. Unwind after a day of riding in the Floating Sauna Lake Derby – Australia’s only floating wood-fired sauna. Swing through the trees at Hollybank Wilderness Adventures, where you can also try a zipline or Segway through the forest.
Ready to go? Check out the Northern Forage itineraries: https://www.discovertasmania.com.au/what-to-do/road-trips/northern-forage
Great Eastern Drive
Go slow. Follow a coastal track to a pristine beach, sip a Tassie pinot overlooking The Hazards, and feast on seafood straight from the ocean at a fish shack. This is a journey on the Great Eastern Drive.
Make sure you:
EXPLORE THE COASTLINE. The flawless arc of Wineglass Bay steals hearts, but the Great Eastern Drive is lined with stunning beaches you’ll probably have all to yourself. Appreciate the unusual colour palette of white sand, orange boulders and blue seas at larapuna/Bay of Fires. Wineglass Bay Cruises delivers stunning views of the island’s most photogenic beach. Explore waterways by kayak with Secret River Toursor try game fishing at St Helens with Keen Angler Charters.
DISCOVER WILDLIFE AND PARKS. Step ashore on Maria Island to see wombats, wallabies, Cape Barren geese and Tasmanian devils. Join Bicheno Penguin Tours to watch little penguins shuffle ashore, or stop at East Coast Natureworld for cuddles with rescued fur-babies. Freycinet is the state’s oldest national park, with postcard beaches draped across the toes of bare granite peaks. Douglas-Apsley National Park flies under the radar, but its hills and spectacular gorges are ideal for hiking and swimming. In Mount William National Park, it’s empty white beaches by day and crowds of wildlife by night.
SIP WINE AND EAT SEAFOOD. Rustic Gala Estate has been owned by the same family since 1821, and another pioneer of east-coast wine is Freycinet Vineyard, first planted in 1979. Visit Spring Vale Vineyard and its cellar door in a stable built by convicts in 1842. Sip a Tassie pinot while gazing at The Hazards at Ninth Island Wines. Sample oysters and mussels plucked straight from the leases at Freycinet Marine farm, and Oyster Bay Tours offers a detailed look at the farm’s briny life and instruction in the art of oyster-shucking. Or settle with a seafood meal on the Lobster Shack’s dining deck, just steps from the fishing fleet.
Are you ready to indulge? Check out these Great Eastern Drive itineraries:
Head straight to the heart of Tasmania and detour along convict-built roads and country lanes hemmed by hedgerows. This is where you will be greeted with old-fashioned hospitality. Venture into the Central Highlands to discover a wild landscape of lakes and small towns with a rich hydro-industrial legacy.
What you’ll find:
HERITAGE TOWNS & CONVICT STORIES. Strolling through the Heartlands’ colonial towns is like stepping onto a live set of a period drama. Colonial-era gems include Ross, Evandale and Oatlands, which has Australia’s largest collection of sandstone Georgian buildings. Much of the colonial architecture of the Heartlands was built using convict labour. Learn about pioneer farming at Woolmers and Brickendon heritage-listed convict sites. Stop to admire the intricate carvings of Ross Bridge and hear the stories of Ross Female Factory.
WHISKY & TREASURE. Stop by the charming roadside stall at Shene Distillery and stay for tastings and a tour of the convict-built estate. And nearby, step into the grandeur of the transformed coaching inn at Old Kempton Distillery. Antique stores dot the heritage streetscapes of towns including Oatlands, Campbell Town and Evandale. Don’t miss the Book Cellar, located beneath a former coaching inn in Campbell Town.
FLY FISHING. The Central Highlands landscape is carved by hundreds of waterfalls, lakes and rivers, harbouring the purest strain of wild brown trout on Earth. Try your hand catching them with fly fishing guides from companies including RiverFly 1864, Red Tag Trout Tours, Driftwater and Rainbow Lodge.
Get to the heart of Tassie with these Heartlands self-drive itineraries:
Get lost in Tasmania’s Western Wilds. Discover untamed wilderness – cool temperate forests, alpine plains, mountains and glacial valleys, raging rivers and windswept coasts. Follow in the footsteps of pioneers and uncover stories of mining booms and busts while exploring the region’s ghost towns.
Top 3 things to do:
HAVE AN ADVENTURE. Lace up your walking boots to conquer the likes of Cradle Mountain or Mount Murchison. Or journey by steam train along 35 kilometres of wild rainforest track, including the King River Gorge, with West Coast Wilderness Railway. Take the plunge on the southern hemisphere’s highest commercial abseil at Strathgordon with Aardvark Adventures. Navigate the raging rapids of the Franklin River with King River Rafting. Shred the steep mountain bike trails at Maydena Bike Park, and kayak in World Heritage wilderness with Tassie Bound Adventure Tours.
UNRAVEL THE PAST. Spend an hour or two haunting a ghost town at Linda and Gormanston, thensettle in for a performance of The Ship That Never Was, a true story about the convict shipwrights who hijacked the last ship built on Sarah Island. Cruise on the Gordon River with World Heritage Cruises or Gordon River Cruises. Explore Zeehan’s West Coast Heritage Centre, housed in four remarkable old buildings, where themed exhibitions interpret the area’s rich industrial and social heritage. In Queenstown, stop for a classic movie in the warmer months at the Art Deco Paragon Theatre.
INDULGE IN THE PRESENT. Stop. Breathe. Listen. Immerse yourself in nature. At the southern edge of the vast takayna/Tarkine wilderness are some of the densest cool temperate rainforest in Australia, a living link with Gondwana. Kayak to Lovers Falls or float serenely on the river in an early-morning mist. Replenish with a meal at the Tarkine Hotel. Above the glacial waters of Lake St Clair, Pumphouse Point is a wilderness retreat like no other. And Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge offers creature comforts and spa treatments overlooking World Heritage wilderness.
Now’s the time to get lost. Chooseone of these Western Wilds self-drive itineraries:
Take a drive to Tasmania’s southern edge. Next stop, Antarctica. Swing by cider houses for tastings and peruse farm-gate stalls. You’ll pass lush green pastures and tranquil waterways with bobbing wooden boats. Take a detour on the ferry to Bruny Island for freshly shucked oysters and farmhouse cheeses.
Why you’ll love it:
GRAZING & TIPPLE TRAILS. Dawdle between farm gates, roadside stalls and markets in the Huon Valley. Take a short ferry ride across to Bruny Island for oysters and artisanal cheese. Or, roll up your sleeves for cooking classes with Farmhouse Kitchen and Fat Pig Farm. Follow the Huon Valley cider trail, taking in the likes of Pagan Cider, Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, and Frank’s Cider House & Cafe. For something a bit different, swing by Hartshorn Distillery for sheep’s whey vodka and the Bakehouse Distillery at Dover for Evoke sassafras spirit.
NATURAL WONDERS. Is seeing the Southern Lights still on your bucket list? Tassie is one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to see the elusive natural lightshow of Aurora Australis. Chances improve the further south you head. Head underground to explore the labyrinth of dolomite chambers on a tour at Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs. Venture into the remote waterways of the South West Wilderness with charters by Peninsula Cruising, or under sail with Yukon Tours.
LIFE ON THE EDGE. Take a drive to Cockle Creek, Australia’s southernmost point. Standing at the edge of a vast expanse of wilderness, whipped by air fresh from Antarctica, is nothing short of exhilarating. Or, rise above it all at Tahune Airwalk, a 600-metre canopy walk suspended in the forest with a final cantilevered section 50 metres above the Huon River.
Time to hit the road? Check out the Southern Edge self-drive itineraries:
See full self-drive itineraries at discovertasmania.com.au/journeys
Top Image: Road to Sentinel Range | Credit: Stu Gibson