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Australia’s southern island state of Tasmania is often overlooked by visitors to our vast country. It is referred to as the “Apple Isle” for it’s former status as an important apple grower and exporter, but also because it is kind of shaped like an apple! However I believe that Tasmania should be on everyone’s itinerary when they visit Australia, and for my fellow Australians it is an absolute must see. Here is where I consider to be the best places to see in Tasmania.
The Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas are approximately 60 kms from the capital of Hobart and are well known for their rugged eastern coastline and the highest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere, rising 300 metres above the Tasman Sea at Cape Pillar.
The entry to the Tasman Peninsula is at a place called Eaglehawk Neck, a narrow isthmus that was once guarded by ferocious dogs and guards to prevent the escape of convicts from Port Arthur Penitentiary.
A visit to Port Arthur Historic Site is an absolute must see with it’s incredibly well-preserved convict penitentiary ruins and around 30 historical buildings that formed the settlement. It is situated at the most southern tip of Tasmania on the Tasman Peninsula.
The Bay of Fires, so called because explorers from the ship saw fires blazing lit by native Aborigines, when they passed these shores, extends from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point on the East Coast of Tasmania.
Bay of Fires is around 200Kms north of Hobart and 100Kms east of Launceston. Further north of the Bay of Fires coast is the Mt William National Park where there is even more scenic coastline with granite boulders and long sandy beaches.
This slice of absolute heaven was a big highlight of our Tassie trip and I am going to go out on a limb and say, forget Wineglass Bay or Whitehaven Beach, these beaches are the best I’ve seen in the world!
The Freycinet Peninsula, is a long skinny land formation carved into Tasmania’s eastern coastline. It is mainly renowned for its pink granite mountain range, The Hazards and its sheltered, white sand beaches.
Most of the Freycinet Peninsula is a National Park and it is one of the most popular places in Tasmania for walks and hikes. The Wineglass Bay lookout and Wineglass Bay walk is generally upper-most on the majority of visitor’s itineraries when visiting Tasmania. Wineglass Bay is rated as one of the top ten beaches in the world.
Freycinet Peninsula certainly lived up to my expectations and has earned its place as one of the finest national parks in the world. No wonder this place is considered a jewell of the island state of Tasmania.
Tasmania’s capital city, cosmopolitan Hobart, sits under the watchful eye of Mt Wellington and hugs the wide expanse of the Derwent Estuary. The wonderful thing about Hobart is that is has retained much of its original charm and heritage which is evidenced in its many historical Georgian-style sandstone buildings spread around the city.
The convict history, the Derwent River waterfront, the Salamanca Markets, Australia’s oldest brewery – Cascade Brewery, Cascade Women’s Prison, the astonishing Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), the glorious Royal Botanical Gardens and the abundance of restaurants and cafes all added to the charm of Hobart. I simply loved the place and found it so easy to get around the city on foot. Hobart is one place that I could easily lose myself for days!
Stanley on Tasmania’s North West coast, is a town of perfectly preserved colonial buildings, genteel cafes and quality B&B cottages. It is difficult to describe your first glimpse of Stanley and the famous Nut as you drive on a winding hilly road into the town. Is it a rock or is it an island jutting out into the Bass Strait? It is in fact an immense flat topped, volcanic plug rising 150 metres straight up from the water’s edge and it looks over the quaint township.
Stanley has plenty of fascinating stories. You can take a history tour through Stanley’s streets, lined with quaint stone cottages dating back to the town’s early days when it hosted the headquarters of the Van Diemen’s Land Company. Guided tours are available.
Tasmania’s second largest city, Launceston sits in the fertile Tamar Valley at the juncture of the North and South Esk Rivers. Being at the gateway to the Tamar Valley Food and Wine Trail, it offers many fine restaurants and local wines. Launceston also has many impressive examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture in a city that proudly displays a rich heritage.
An oasis in the city, Cataract Gorge is only 15 minutes walk from the city and offers walking and hiking trails, chairlift ride, steep cliffs, swing bridge, gardens, outdoor swimming pool, cafe, cable hang gliding, rock climbing or abseiling and a cantilevered viewing platform.
North of Launceston, following the Tamar River to the ocean.The Tamar Valley region features some of Tassie’s most awarded wines with its unique range of cellar doors.
Maria Island is a natural wildlife sanctuary and off-shore island on the East Coast with historic ruins, sweeping bays and dramatic cliffs which are accessible by ferry from Orford. The island offers excellent walking and cycling journeys. You can explore the buildings and ruins of Darlington – a ghost town with a convict past. The waters around Maria Island include a Marine Nature Reserve and are visited regularly by seals and whales. The abundant marine life and clear waters makes for spectacular diving and snorkelling.
Bruny Island located off the south-east coast of Tasmania, is blessed with an extraordinarily diverse range of distinct environments – spectacular coastlines, geological wonders, beaches, rainforests, mountains, lagoons, and abundant flora and fauna.
Bruny Island offers tantalising locally produced food and premium quality wine. You will find hand made fudge, chocolate, truffles, berries, cheese and fresh oysters. Bruny Island is also home to Australia’s southern-most vineyard and there are some excellent restaurants and cafés scattered across the island’s townships.
The western wilderness area of Tassie consists of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Parks, Franklin-Gordon Rivers, mining areas of Zeehan and Queenstown and the West Coast town of Strahan.
Nestled on the shores of massive Macquarie Harbour, Strahan is the gateway to the World Heritage listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. You can take a cruise out into the harbour to Hell’s Gates, the spectacular entrance to the harbour and then continue down to the Gordon River enjoying the timber-rich forests lining the river banks.
Strahan is an attractive village with lovely little shops and eateries lining the main street alongside a very picturesque harbour. It is also the destination – or departure point – for the West Coast Wilderness Railway that runs between Queenstown and Strahan.
Cradle Mountain is widely considered one of Australia’s most iconic wilderness experiences. Located on the edge of the spectacular World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, it is one of Tasmania’s premier wilderness regions.
With its ancient rainforests and alpine heaths, is home to the world-famous Overland Track, a gruelling 65 km or 6 day walk from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. However there are plenty of shorter walking trails available to experience a rich habitat for wildlife, including Tasmanian devils, quolls, platypus, echidna and several bird species.
The North West Coast of Tasmania is referred to as the ‘Great Nature Trail’ and stretches from Narawntapu National Park to Tarkine. The region is considered to be Tasmania’s food bowl with lush green farmlands dotting the countryside. But it also boasts some very pretty seaside towns along the coastline.
Starting from the the third largest city in Tasmania, Devonport, located on the mouth of the Mersey River, you can beach hop along the North West Coast to coastal villages such as Ulverstone, Penguin, Wynyard, Boat Harbour and Sisters Beach.
Tasmania is a treasure trove of traveller’s delights, with a burgeoning food and wine scene, sophisticated cities, stunning pristine beaches, remote and rugged beauty, mountainous terrain, untamed wilderness areas and a history that takes you back to where Van Diemen’s Land all started. Make sure you put it on your travel itinerary as it is something not be missed!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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