Because of it’s geographical location, I've heard Tasmania being often described as the love child of Australia and New Zealand. Tasmania is a small island just south of the main island of Australia, known for its mountainous landscape, beautiful coastal region and vast variety of wildlife - with Tasmanian devil and wombats being the most prominent of all.
Due to it's compactness it is one of the best places in Australia to plan a road trip. Nowhere else in Australia you will experience so much beauty without having to drive for hundreds kilometres per day. Being a mountainous region with endless hiking and photography possibilities it's a place you can't miss when visiting or living in Australia.
How much time do you need to see Tasmania?
I always think it's a relative question. You can spent a lifetime exploring Tasmania and still not see everything but that would also mean you would have to move there. If you want to get a good taste of Tassie and see most of its highlights, I personally think 10 days, +/- 2 days either way is an optimal time. Remember that the slower you travel the lesser cost per day your vacation will have as you won't be cramming too many activities and sights in a shorter amount of time! Best time to visit is between December and March during the summer.
Tasmania road trip plan - the logistics
There are two ways of getting to Tasmania. One is to cross over on an overnight ferry from Melbourne and dock in Devonport on the north tip of the island. The Spirit of Tasmania is the only company that operates on this route and offers passenger ferry rides across the Bass Strait. This choice is great for someone who already owns a car and wants to save money on a rental. You can just bring your camping equipment along and off you go. If camping isn't for you and you prefer a bit more luxury just stay in hotels.
If you don't cope with travelling on ferries very well and get sea sick, the second, faster and most popular way is to fly in to Hobart - Tassie's little capital. Companies like Virgin Australia and Jetstar are leaders when it comes down to flight connections between Australia's Mainland and Tasmania.
The best way to explore the little island is by self driving. If you brought a car with you, you're all set to go. If you need to rent one, check out rental cars for best deals on compact cars.
My preferred way for road tripping is by travelling in a small camper van or motorhome, as it gives you a lot of freedom when it comes down to accommodation. Essentially your home is where you park it! If you are after renting one - check out Motorhome Republic. You will be able to compare the rental options and you will be guaranteed lowest prices. Plus they have fantastic reviews! They've partnered up with 10 different fleets in Hobart including companies like Britz, Maui and Apollo, which are the most reputable camper van companies, and can be all found on their website by following the link above.
Parks & Wildlife Entry Pass
Since most of the island is a protected area, you will require parks pass to enter national parks in Tasmania. I can tell you straight away, that purchasing separate day passes is not worth it. For example a day pass for Cradle Mountain National Park costs AUD16,50 per person/day. If there is 2 of you that's already 33 dollars. And that's only for one day! A way more economical option is to purchase 8 week pass for 60 dollars, which will cover up to 8 people for all national parks on the whole island! That's way better value for money and it will save you time too as you will only have to purchase it once! You can get one at the Parks and Wildlife office located at the gates of any of the national parks or online through Parks & Wildlife Service prior to your travels.
10 day road trip itinerary around Tasmania, Australia
I spent 5 months working and travelling around Tasmania during my working holiday year in Australia and though I still didn't manage to see everything I wanted to see, I certainly have been there longer than an average visitor. Since photography and being outdoors are my two favorite things I wanted to put together an itinerary that will encompass both great places to photograph and best places to hike in Tasmania.
This road trip begins and finishes in Hobart*. You can just simply fly here from mainland Australia, pick up you rental car right at the airport without having have to spend money getting a taxi or shuttle bus into town. You will then travel counterclockwise through some of the most scenic spots on the island including Freycinet, Cradle Mountain and Mount Field National Park, just to name a few.
*If you came to Tasmania on a ferry you will start in Devonport. In this case you can start your exploration in Cradle Mountain NP and follow the loop from there.
Day 1-2 Hobart and the surroundings
Hobart is a brilliant capital city, very old by Australian standards but still modern enough to have everything you’ll ever need. A city is still a city however and chances are you came to Tasmania to do an adventure road trip and to get some fresh air in your lungs. After all you did search for Tasmania road trip didn’t you? If you do have to spend a day here exploring though here’s a few things to get you started.
Things to do in Hobart, Tasmania
Drive up Mount Wellington for Sunrise and walk the Rivulet Track
Mount Wellington is about a half an hour drive (20km) to the west of the city. It’s so well sign posted you can't miss it. At 1,269m above Hobart, which is at sea level, it’s pretty inconspicuous and it’ll probably be the first thing you notice when flying or driving into Hobart. It's quiet common to have an inversion day when on the top. With clouds rolling just below the peak, Mount Wellington is a perfect introduction to Tasmania's landscape.
Salamanca Market/Farmers Market
If you’re lucky enough to be in Hobart for the weekend, every Saturday the Salamanca market turns into a busy jamboree with loads of food stalls, live music and people trying to sell all kind of odds and sods. Sunday is the Farmers Market which is way less touristy than Salamanca and a great chance to pick up super fresh fruit and veggies for your journey.
Best places to stay in Hobart
If you are solo traveller, it will be a great place to kick off your road trip and meet fellow backpackers.
One of the top picks in Hobart. Located in the best part of the city and short walk from all the attractions.
Day 2-3 Tasman National Park
After you’ve enjoyed Hobart’s great seafood and local delicacies start your roadtrip by heading east. The drive to the Tasman Peninsula should take you about an hour and a half of continuous driving. Continuous driving however is not going to happen. You should stop at the beautiful geological attractions at Eaglehawk Neck. The Tessellated Pavement (photo above) is my favourite spot especially for sunrise as it look East.
Things to do in Tasman National Park
Once you’re on the peninsula there are several hikes in the area that are popular. These are my favourite two:
A beautiful hike in the south west of the peninsula. The 14km 5 hour return walk gives you a chance to see Ship Sterns Bluff from the first lookout. There’s an awesome campsite at the trail head which has a wood fired sauna! If you are travelling in a camper this is where you should stay overnight!
Situated on the eastern side of the peninsula. The undulating 8km and 4 hour return track gives spectacular cliff views. If you’re a rock climbing daredevil this is also where the world famous Totem Pole is.
Visit Porth Arthur's famous historic prison
Port Arthur’s historic site is was basically an old prison from the mid 1800’s where all the murderers and rapists from England were sent to. It’s a creepy place where a lot of people were tortured and lost their lives. If you are not easily scared consider joining the night tour around the prison.
Places to stay in Tasman National Park
Water views, free WiFi and fantastic reviews all without breaking your wallet
10 min drive from Port Arthur. Idyllic waterfront location with gardens and BBQ facilities.
offers a private beach area, a waterfront restaurant and accommodation surrounded by natural bush.
Day 3-4 Freycinet National Park
Driving for 3 hours (200km) up the eastern coast, you’ll love the views on your right hand side. Eventually you’ll make a right at Swansea toward Coles Bay which is the closest place you can drive to on the Freycinet Peninsula. The Freycinet peninsula is one of the most stunning pieces of land in all of Australia and it's also one of the oldest national parks too.
Things to do in Freycinet National Park
Hike to the top of Mount Amos (photo above)
The famous viewpoint here of Wineglass Bay can be seen best from the top of Mount Amos which is relatively steep, 3 hour uphill, 4km return walk. Be warned this should not be attempted in the wet conditions as the rocks become very slippery. If the weather isn't in your favour do the less extreme walk to the viewpoint overlooking the bay. For trail conditions and maps visit the visitor centre located right at the park entry.
Photograph the Hazards
If you love to photograph seascapes this spot is for you. The hazards are a mountain range in Freycinet National park separating Coles Bay from Wineglass Bay. Mount Amos is amongst one of the peaks in the range. The best spot to snap a photo of them is at the opposite end of the bay, looking just across towards the range. Both sunset and sunrise will work.
Places to stay in Freycinet NP
Free parking and close proximity to Wineglass Beach. Free Wifi provided.
the best value rated property in Coles Bay. Includes breakfast and free bicycle rental.
Cabins with spectacular views over Coles Bay with fresh local produce restaurant.
Day 4-5 Bay of Fires
Once you’ve enjoyed Freycinet then it’s time to keep driving up the east coast to the Bay of Fires. Don’t worry it’s not really on fire, most of the forest fires in Tasmania normally occur in the north west. It’s named the Bay of Fires due to the orange rocks which stand out so prominently against the white sand beaches and the crystal clear water. Tassie’s Bay of Fires is another of Australia’s pristine locations. It’s relaxed atmosphere is perfect for unwinding, hanging out, having a BBQ and then enjoying a cold beer with a fire on the beach whilst watching the sun set.
Things to do in the Bay of Fires
Visit Binalong Bay
Sit on your butt down and enjoy the beach at the Binalong Bay located at the southern tip of Bay of Fires. The sand here is so fine it will squick under your feet as you walk along the shore. This is a perfect place to take a break from hiking, sip few cocktails on the beach and enjoy the sea breeze. You’ve got some hiking coming up at your next destination, hence you should probably be well rested.
Photograph the rocks
If you are the type that simply can't sit still you should drive along the Bay and search for some awesome photography spots. The rock formations and the bright orange colours make for some awesome compositions. Since you are facing east sunrise is the best time for capturing memorable shots.
Where to stay around Bay of Fires
great value if you are travelling with a family or group of friends.
Imagine waking up amongst the tree tops to the sound of chirping birds and the sea waves. It sells quickly so make sure to book quick.
Day 5-7 Cradle Mountain National Park through Bridestowe Lavender Estate
Now that you’re all relaxed it’s time to go to the Tasmanian Highlands and get your hike on. Cradle Mountain National Park is my favourite place in Tassie and if there is one place you should stop longer than one night this is it! I've worked just at the border of this National Park for total of 4 months and still didn't get my fill.
If you are travelling during December/January make sure to stop at the Bridestowe Lavender Farm first. It's 120 kilometres from St Helens in the Bay of Fires. The entry fee is just 10 dollars and you can admire the purple fields, which seem to have no end. Make sure to try their lavender ice cream or tea as well!
After getting your dose of the moreish lavender smell, drive to Launceston to stock up on food before going to Cradle Mountain. You can thank me later! There’s no supermarkets in Cradle Mountain village, just a little and very overpriced convenience store, visitor centre, a gift shop and 4 hotels, so replenishing your food in a bigger city, like Launceston, might be a good idea.
Best hikes and places to photograph in Cradle Mountain NP
In Cradle Mountain National Park hiking and photography go hand in hand, so if you are after some awesome shots from your travels be prepared to break the sweat. The trails in the park are very well maintained and marked. Pleas note that there are a few spots where the chains have been placed and where you will have to scramble a bit. Most walks start from Dove lake car park.
After the Dove Lake Circuit this is the most popular hike in the park and for a good reason. There are two ways you can get there. First one is from the Ronny Creek carpark via Crater Falls, this is also where the famous Overland Track starts. The second path leads from the Dove Lake car park and takes you via Wombat Pool. If you do the hike in the late afternoon it's pretty common to meet wombats on the trail, this is the reason it's so popular. There is also a third alternative route to Marion's lookout (called the link track), though shorter in distance it is a lot more steep and best to avoid, especially during bad weather conditions. Whichever way you choose account for at least 2-3 hours roundtrip. (photo above: bottom right)
Cradle Mountain Summit
Although it is Tasmania’s fifth highest peak, if you are relatively fit like me, summiting Cradle Mountain isn’t too strenuous. The walk starts from the main carpark at the northern end of Dove Lake. The most popular route which goes around the Wombat Pool ascends firstly to Marion's Lookout. From there to the base of the mountain is flat and easy and shouldn’t take you long. The last hour is the hard part, climbing over big, but easily manageable, boulders. You can make a lunch stop at the Kitchen Hut to recharge your batteries before the last push. Do yourself a favour and leave your heavy bag there whilst getting up to the summit. Remember to still carry your water though. Parks Tasmania reckons that it should take around 6-8 hours return but I’ve done it in 5 and I’m not exactly a quick walker. So I reckon if you’re fit you can get up and down in 4/5 hours from the Dove Lake carpark.
Dove Lake Circuit
If you are after something less demanding on your knees this one is for you. The circuit is a great introductory walk to the park. The trailhead leaves again from the Dove Lake carpark.
Though Parks & Wildlife Tasmania recommend doing it clockwise, my advice would be to go anticlockwise. It will be a bit easier that way. Your first stop will be the famous Boat shed where
photographers from all over the world swarm to capture this famous scene.
A lot less popular, which boggles me a lot, is the hike to Hanson's Peak. With that said it is definitely my all time favourite and I've done it a few times. It's a perfect spot to see the sunset and has a good view toward the Weindorfers Tower and Cradle Mountain Summit. Again the trailhead is at the Dove Lake carpark. Head left along the lake first following clockwise the Dove Lake Circuit. After around 20 minutes the track will splits into two. Follow the left side (Lake Rodway Track) and start going up. After another 45m-1h, and a bit of scrambling on the last part, you will reach the top and the spectacular views that go with it! (See below)
This is an unofficial track and no longer maintained but I thought I will include it anyway. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous and prefer off the beaten path hikes, than completing this one should be your top priority when visiting Cradle Mountain NP. The hike to Mount Campbell starts the same way as Hanson's Peak. Once you reach the saddle you will see lake Hanson to the left and Dove Lake to the right. Instead of following the path to Hanson's Peak, turn around and start going up the opposite direction, with your back facing Cradle Mountain. After around 45 minutes of scrambling you will reach the top. This was by far my favorite sunrise spot in the whole park! (photo below)
Best places to stay in Cradle Mountain National Park
Discovery Parks - Cradle Mountain holiday cabins with cooking facilities, dorms, tent sites and powered sites for your campervan
selection of wood cabins surrounded by the Tasmanian Wilderness equipped with either gas or wood fire
Day 7-8 Mount Field National Park
It's time to see some waterfalls! The drive out of Cradle Mountain towards Mount Field National Park is a long one but can be broken up by stopping at Nelson Falls (photo below) just 700 meters off the A10. This part of the drive through the native rainforest passes many photogenic roadside lakes. Montezuma Falls would be another interesting walk to do, but it's a bit longer (8km). I personally didn't find the waterfalls as spectacular as the other ones you are about to see but the choice is ultimately yours.
Upon arriving in Mount Field National Park you’ll notice there’s nothing there except a visitor centre and a campsite. The newly refurbished visitor centre is packed with information about the local flora and fauna and deep down I’m glad there’s no shops and hotels there. It adds to the whole scenic experience.
There are many beautiful photography spots here in Mount Field but these two are my favourites.
These are one of the most easily accessible falls in all of Tasmania, they are also one of the most awe-inspiring too. The short 400m track leads to a huge two tiered waterfall that appears out of nowhere. You’ll definitely hear it before you see it.
A further 10 minutes past Russell Falls will take you to the more secluded Horseshoe Falls. The whole walk can be a made into a loop via the Tall Trees Walk.
Places to stay in Mount Field NP
Campsite inside the park. Basic amenities but an incredible experience. You can pay for the site at the visitor centre.
Rustic country decor and antique furniture. It includes a fully-cooked breakfast, a guest lounge with a log fire, and free WiFi access.
ca 20 min away from Mount Field NP and on the way back to Hobart. Breathe the fresh country air, drink the fresh spring water and eat the fresh seasonal fruit and veg from this eco friendly hotel in the Derwent Valley
Day 8-9 Bruny Island
This leg of the agenda will take you south away from rainforests and toward the southern coast os Tasmania. The ferry to Bruny Island leaves from a small town called Kettering and costs 38$ return during peak season. Timetables for the ferry can be found here, and the journey last approximately twenty minutes.
Bruny Island is basically two islands connected by a small stretch of road called The Neck, which happens to be one of my favourite photography spots in Tassie. This is a great part of the road trip. Once on you find yourself on the island you’ll get the chance to eat local cheeses, meats, whiskeys, seafood, wines, beers, berries and much more. You won't need to look far to find such frivolities, most of them are located just off the main road.
Bruny Island is a place of sheer indulgence, you’ll love it.
Best hikes on Bruny Island
Fluted Cape Track
This 2.5 hour hike (5.4km) leaves from the beach at adventure bay on the southern part of Bruny Island. It winds up the cliffs and offers spectacular views of local fauna and flora.
Cape Queen Elizabeth
This is longer than the fluted cape track but is quite flat in comparison. It’s a 12km route, going in and out on the same track, and it should take 4 hours. You’ll get spectacular views of cliffs but instead of being on top of them as on the Fluted Cape track you’ll be on the beach looking up at them.
Places to stay on Bruny Island
The Campsite at the neck
There is no booking system for it. It's on the first come first serve basis. With basic and clean facilities it's perfect for budget travellers.
This park is directly opposite the beach with its white sand and sky blue sea and it isn’t uncommon to see pods of dolphin and migrating whales in the Bay.
Just minutes walk from a beautiful white sand beach and set in the native bushland.
Day 10 Fly out of Hobart
Unfortunately your time in Tasmania is coming to an end. Take the ferry back and travel to Hobart to drop off you rental and catch a flight to the mainland. This tour can be adapted into a week by taking out a few days on the Tasman Peninsula and Cradle Mountain or can be extended into a two week itinerary by adding extra days in Strahan and doing side trips to either the Hartz Mountains just south of Hobart or to Mount Eliza in Southwest National Park.
If you found this itinerary useful please use the affiliate links I have provided in the itinerary. It won't cost you anything extra (in fact it'll actually save you money) and every time you make a purchase I make a small commission of the products and places I recommend. It also helps me to maintain my website and create more awesome itineraries like this one! Thanks.
Useful websites and apps for planning your trip around Tasmania
- Booking.com - for booking hostels and hotels around the island
- Rentalcars.com - for finding best deal on compact car rentals in Tasmania
- Motorhome Republic - search engine for motorhome hire in Tasmania
- Parks & Wildlife Services - official website for National Parks Services in Tasmania. Includes information about hikes, maps and current trail conditions.
- Wikicamps Australia - fantastic smart phone app for finding campsites and roadside stops for all of Australia. It will pay for itself after it's first use.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am Marta Kulesza - the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since
I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.