A compact package of rugged wilderness, World Heritage-listed historic sites and seriously good food and wine, Tasmania is a great place for a road-tripping holiday. You don’t have to venture very far from Hobart before you find yourself immersed in some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes.
On the convict trail to Freycinet
Tasmania’s eastern seaboard is a long, ragged, scenic strip of peninsulas, islands, channels and windswept beaches, flanked by rugged mountains with gorges, waterfalls and forests. You could easily spend a week or two driving from the southern tip at Cockle Bay to the Bay of Fires in the north-east corner, but if you’ve only got four days or so, head first to the Tasmanian Peninsula. It’s most famous for the ruins of the convict gaol at Port Arthur.
There are more than 30 historic buildings, some fully restored and furnished, as well as photogenic crumbling ruins and gardens, so allow a full day to see it all. Do the evening ghost tour and take an extra day to explore the dramatic rock formations and extraordinary rock pillars and sea stacks that are a feature of the peninsula’s coastline. The Tessellated Pavement, a vast rock shelf resembling giant tiles, is on the north side of Eaglehawk Neck and the Tasman Blowhole and the ruins of once huge sea caves at Tasman Arch and the Devil’s Kitchen are on the southern side, all easily accessible by car.
It’s a pretty drive north on the A3 climbing up over descriptively-named sections of road such as break-me-gall hill and down break-me-neck hill and across the valley floor, following the river to Orford where the road, carved into the mountain side above the Prosser River, winds its way to the coast.
Between Triabunna and Swansea the cliff-hugging road meanders beside deserted beaches and offers magnificent coastal views across Great Oyster Bay and Freycinet National Park. The distinctive pink granite peaks of The Hazards dominate the scenery as you follow the coast to the tiny town of Coles Bay, a collection of holiday houses clinging to the shore line. Take a drive up to the lighthouse at Cape Tourville for good sunset views and whale and dolphin watching in season.
There are many secluded beaches on the Freycinet Peninsula, but the one everyone wants to see is Wineglass Bay, a perfect semi-circular crescent of white sand washed by teal blue waters, instantly recognisable from hundreds of postcards, posters and tourist brochures. The one-hour walk up to the lookout is worth the climb. What’s more, while you’ll see a few people on the trek, if you continue down to the beach (two hours return), you’re just as likely to have it to yourself, as the walk deters most day trippers. Cruises are also available from Cole Bay for those not keen on climbing up – and down – the hundreds of steps.
Read more at www.eastcoasttasmania.com
Day tripper: Huon Valley
Explore the beautiful countryside south of Hobart on the Huon Trail, a sign-posted route that meanders along the banks of the Huon River towards Huonville and out into the forests, before circling back to the city along the coast. Go in spring to see the hillsides cloaked in apple blossoms, visit the Huon Valley Apple Museum at Gove, taste some cider and stop at one of the many farm gate stalls to buy fresh fruit.
Marvel at the skills of the traditional boat builders in the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin, shop for antiques, walk above the treetops on the Tahune AirWalk, enjoy a leisurely lunch with views of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel at Peppermint Bay and see sheep being milked at Grandvewe Cheeses in Woodbridge.
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