Tasmania is a spectacular and rugged wilderness, broken up by charming cities, stunning beaches and quiet waterways. If this isn’t reason enough to visit, Tasmania also punches well above its weight in historical cultural and culinary stakes. Even though Tasmania is a fraction the size of other Australian states and hosts only a tiny population, it produces food and wine of the highest standard, has a large number of national parks and a rich and diverse colonial past making it a must-visit for any discerning traveller.
Here is our list of the 10 things you simply must see and do in Tasmania.
The Museum of Old and New Art, the project of eccentric art collector and philanthropist David Walsh, has been awash with both controversy and praise since it opened in 2011. The mind boggling collection mixes ancient artefacts with timeless classics and confronting modern exhibits in an award winning building - all located in a stunning natural setting. Walsh’s commitment to authenticity and accessibility in art, sees tens of thousands of visitors enter MONA each month, with no charge whatsoever being made to locals. Villa Howden has hotel deals including tickets to Mona.
Every weekend down at the waterfront in Hobart you will find markets at Salamanca Place. Artisans, craft makers, designers, woodworkers and jewellery makers are just a few of the stall holders you will find with their wares on display and they are only too happy to spend the time talking to you about their products. The Salamanca area of Hobart contains row upon row of heritage and sandstone buildings, dating back to the earliest days of colonial settlement, and housing numerous fine restaurants and art galleries. These stunning buildings overlook the spectacular bay, making this one of the most pleasant market experiences in the world.
Sydney to Hobart Yacht race
In late December thousands of tourists make the pilgrimage to Hobart to watch the ships sail in at the end of the international Sydney to Hobart yacht race. The water pulses with boats and ferries of all sizes waiting to greet the arriving yachts while the waterfront is bursting with activity, music and entertainment. What better way to ring in the New Year than to be in Hobart at this time of year.
Taste of Tasmania Festival
If you are even the most casual of foodies, you do not want to miss the Taste of Tasmania held at the end of December every year. This is Tasmania’s largest food and wine festival. Join the celebratory atmosphere and sample world class cooking and local produce such as Tasmania’s famous cheeses and beef. Enjoy the music and sunshine while you sample wines, sparkling and ciders from all over the Apple Isle.
Port Arthur Prison
The prison building comprising the Port Arthur complex are a short drive from Tasmania and worthy of a whole day (and night) of your stay. The hardship of daily life in Tasmania – as faced by convicts and sometimes their captors - is brought to life by the frequent daily tours of the facilities. It is worth staying overnight so you can take part in one of the nightly ghost tours.
Cradle Mountain National ParkCradle Mountain is perhaps the best known park in Tasmania. This wild and hauntingly beautiful landscape was the star of the recent movie The Hunter with actor Willem Dafoe. Short walking trails make the area accessible to all visitors, but to completely immerse yourself take the 10 day walk along the famous Cradle Mountain track. Be well prepared as it can snow along the track any time of year.
Gordon River Cruise
Head far west to the gorgeous town of Strahan and take a cruise along the breathtaking Gordon River. Once the proposed site for a dam, this region saw lengthy and fierce confrontations between environmentalists and developers - the resulting victory for the pro-Green movement has preserved the vastness and beauty of the Gordon River region and the important plant and animal species. This cruise is without doubt one of the highlights of any trip to Tasmania.
Freycinet and Wineglass Bay
Overlooking the Eastern coastline of Tasmania is the Freycinet Peninsula. Surrounded by a ridge of granite mountains, the peninsula creates a sheltered playground for swimming and kayaking and is a favourite summer destination for locals. Over on the exposed seaward side of the peninsula is stunning Wineglass Bay. One highly recommended way for you to enjoy this part of Tasmania is to join a guided walking tour, enjoying stunning views by day and best of Tasmania’s food and wine by night.
Mountain biking, Mt Wellington
The best view of Hobart is from the top of Mt Wellington, with a sweeping panorama of the city and bay. For the holidaying thrill seeker, the best way to get down from Mt Wellington is on a push bike. Several companies will take you up there comfortably in a mini-bus, taking the hard work out of it, and then you can feel the speed as gravity does its work, returning you safely to the bottom.
Cataract Gorge, Launceston
An easy twenty minute stroll from the centre of Launceston, Tasmania’s largest northern city is Cataract Gorge Reserve. Pack your picnic and wander off through the ferntree glades and beautiful gardens. Be sure to keep your eye out for the abundant the wildlife. There is even a swimming pool and overhead chairlift ride. The reserve is a great reminder at just how close the wilderness is to everything in Tasmania.
Whether you have 2 days or two weeks, you will never be short of amazing things to do in Tasmania. The uniqueness of the landscape and depth of its history combine to make a magical experience for all travellers.
Image credit; Bjørn Christian Tørrissen