Road Trip – Tasmania: Nine-Day Itinerary

Road Trip - Tasmania: Nine-Day Itinerary -- Em Dashed

Welcome to the second post on our road trip through Tasmania! In part one, we went over the “back story” — renting our campervan, deciding how long to visit for, purchasing a national parks pass, and more. If you’re interested in the logistics, make sure to check it out. (Don’t worry; I’ll wait.)

Otherwise, let’s get into the road trip itself!


Day One: Hobart to Tasman National Park (~80 km)

From Hobart, we drove south towards the Tasman Peninsula (if you ask me, they could have been slightly more creative with that one). On the way, we made a stop at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, which has apparently now rebranded as the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo.

Tasmanian Devil Unzoo (Conservation Park) near the Tasman Peninsula

Why do Tasmanian devils require conservation? Two reasons: one, a highly contagious and fatal facial tumour currently sweeping through their population; and two, their fondness for feeding on roadkill, which puts them in danger of being hit by cars.

Since devils were wiped out on the mainland ages ago, the Tasmanian population is all the remains, and must be protected to prevent the species’ extinction.

At the park, staff will explain more about these problems and the efforts being made to combat them, as well as share basic facts about the animals and their way of life. If you’re squeamish or a vegetarian, you might want to skip the feeding demonstration — a couple of devils play tug-o-war with a bit of wallaby to tear it apart, and they spend an extraordinary amount of time making sure nothing of the animal is left behind. (One staff member remarked she’d seen devils “sit for several minutes just licking one spot on a rock.”)

Aside from Tassie devils, you can see a few other animals at the “unzoo,” including wallabies, kangaroos, spotted quolls, and more. (And then you can basically go home, cause Australia = done, no?)

Kangaroo feeding at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo in Tasmania

After a few hours at the center, we carried on towards the day’s destination: Tasman National Park. With a drive of only 80 kilometers, we had plenty of extra time to spare, which I highly recommend. The Tasman Peninsula has some amazing scenery on view, and a bunch of short walks and look-out points worth stopping for.

Tasman Peninsula in southern Tasmania

View from the Tasman Peninsula in southern Tasmania

Walking the red rocks of the Tasman Peninsula in southern Tasmania

Upon arriving at the National Park, we realized we’d made a bit of an error: though we knew it was Easter weekend, we hadn’t considered that would make any difference in our plans (or lack thereof). As it turns out, Tasman NP is a very popular spot for locals on long weekends, likely due to its proximity to Hobart.

Long story short, the campgrounds were booked solid. We were able to snag a spot someone hadn’t shown up for, but it would have been smart to reserve something ahead of time.


Day Two: Tasman National Park + Port Arthur

Warning: This section touches briefly on gun violence, though not graphically.

The next day, we explored the area and visited nearby Port Arthur — the site of one of Australia’s most notorious prisons back in the 19th century. Most of the original structures have been destroyed, but a few have been rebuilt to look “as they would have” back in the day.

Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania, Australia

Upon entry, a staff member gives you a brief introduction and overview of the site (about 10-15 minutes long). You are then free to roam about on your own. Various demonstrations and tours are given throughout the day, including play performances and a boat journey to an island cemetery.

Though an important part of Australia’s history, Port Arthur can be rather creepy and unsettling. After all, this was a place where people were very harshly imprisoned, and the stories shared there are bleak ones.

In addition, Port Arthur was the location of Australia’s deadliest mass shooting back in 1996. More than thirty people were killed, and dozens of others injured. (The site doesn’t focus on this event, but it may still come up at some point during your visit.)

You can learn more about visiting Port Arthur here.


Day Three: Tasman National Park to Freycinet National Park (~200 km)

From Tasman National Park, we headed north up Tasmania’s east coast to Freycinet National Park, home to the famed Wineglass Bay. (For the record, I don’t think the shape is anything like a wine glass; but then, I’ve got a long history of such opinions, so maybe I’m just too picky.)

The walk to the top of the bay takes around 25-30 minutes at an easygoing pace. From there, you can either return to the start of the trail, or head down to the beach. This bit is rather steep and rocky, but well worth the effort; and if you visit in the off-season, there’s a good chance you’ll have the beach all to yourself.

View of Wineglass Bay at Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

Beach on Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

Freycinet wasn’t quite as busy as Tasman had been, but there were still only a few available spots left in the campground, all of them the slightly more expensive powered sites. (Again: probably a better idea to book ahead, at least around holidays or in the high season.)

Luckily, a powered site also means you get a hot shower–i.e., exactly four minutes of hot water for $2. (In Australia, that’s actually a bargain.)


Day Four: Freycinet National Park to Bay of Fires (~110 km)

The next day, we got back on the road and drove up the coast to the Bay of Fires. Here, you’ll find giant rocks covered with splashes of deep orangey-red, set against the bright blue sea beyond. (No comments on the name. I give up.)

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Climbing the rocks at Bay of Fires in Tasmania

View over the Bay of Fires on Tasmania's east coast

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Looking out across the Bay of Fires in Tasmania, Australia

If you’re camping, the bay has a few different spots you can stay for free, right by the beach. They even include toilets. (Eco toilets that don’t use water, but still: toilets. Pretty flashy for a free spot.)

We easily found space to camp here (by this point, the long weekend was over and it was back to regular off-season conditions). That said, I imagine in the summer, it fills up quick. You can’t pre-book these spots, so showing up early in the day (or being prepared to stay a bit farther from the beach) is probably your best bet.


Day Five: Bay of Fires to Deloraine (~230 km)

Camping so close to the water gave us the perfect opportunity to catch a good ol’ Tassie sunrise. We awoke in the dark, brewed two steaming cups of tea, and sleepily dragged our freezing cold butts to the beach.

Sunrise over the sea at Bay of Fires, Tasmania

Do I really have to tell you it was worth it? No one else was around; everything was still and quiet; and as the first rays of light spread over the sand, you could almost feel the earth coming back to life. (Or maybe that was just the numbness in my fingers wearing off.)

After breakfast, we packed up and got back on the road, now heading inland. Our first stop was Launceston, Tasmania’s second-largest city. With a population of just over 85,000, it’s not exactly huge; that said, its location made it the perfect point to stock up on food and other supplies halfway through our journey. We stayed just long enough to hit the supermarket, then continued on our way.

From Launceston, we headed west towards Liffey Falls State Reserve. We drove a short ways into the reserve, then parked our campervan and took a short hike (20 minutes or so one way) to the spectacular waterfalls.

Liffey Falls State Reserve in Tasmania, Australia

Liffey Falls State Reserve in Tasmania, Australia

We camped that night in nearby Deloraine, a town just outside the reserve.


Day Six: Deloraine to Rosebery (~150 km)

Though we didn’t stay overnight, the main focus of Day Six was Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. This park is probably best known for the Overland Track, which spans 65 km through the park and takes around six days to complete in full.

Dove Lake beneath Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, Australia

Of course, we didn’t have six days, so we did a slightly shorter walk around Dove Lake, which sits “in the shadow” of Cradle Mountain itself. (Luckily, the weather realized our time crunch, and gave us sunshine, cloud cover, and snowfall, all in the span of two hours. What a bargain!)

Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania

Chilly walk around Dove Lake in Tasmania

Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania

A teeny tiny snowman, found on our walk around Dove Lake in Tasmania

This walk is a great option for a day visit. It’s long enough to experience the beauty of the park (and maybe get snowed on), but it’s short enough that you don’t need to rush.

If you’re interested in hiking the Overland Track, be aware you must book ahead and pay a fee if you go anytime from October to May. Find more info on the track here.

After leaving the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair, we continued westward without a destination in mind, and eventually stopping for the evening in Rosebery, a small town on the west coast.


Day Seven: Rosebery to Hobart (~315 km)

This day was fairly uneventful. We intended to drive most of the way back to Hobart, and wound up driving the entire way, instead. We didn’t even realize just how close we were till Simon looked at the map and said, “Uh, so…right over there is where we drop the campervan off tomorrow.”

(Did I mention we didn’t really plan this trip?)


Days Eight + Nine: Hobart

Saturday morning, we cleaned out the rental and returned it to the Tassie Motor Shacks office. Back in Hobart, we celebrated our return to the “big city” with a proper coffee and breakfast that wasn’t packet porridge. It was unreal.

Later on, we headed out to the Salamanca Markets, which are held in Hobart every Saturday. Unfortunately, the afternoon was quite rainy, so we wound up heading indoors a bit earlier than planned. We used the time to check out the Tasmania State Museum, which covers natural and cultural history of the area and the people who live/d there. (Each state in Australia has a similar museum in its capital city.)

Harbour in Hobart, Tasmania

Boats in the harbour of Hobart, Tasmania

Salamanca Markets in Hobart, Tasmania

Exploring the Salamanca Markets in Hobart

The next day, we visited Mona — which, though it’s never all capitalized, stands for Museum of Old and New Art. This museum is RIDICULOUS. Like, imagine the wackiest place you’ve ever been, and then add in some flashing lights and people screaming Madonna songs and a bit of general disorientation and, ta-da: you’ve got Mona. It’s pretty fantastic. There are no photos allowed, so you’ll just have to take my word for it till you can visit yourself.

The museum is accessible by road, but taking the ferry up the Derwent River is definitely the more scenic and relaxed way to arrive. The trip takes around 30 minutes, and costs $20 for the basic fare (“sit on a sheep,” and that’s not a metaphor).

After we finished exploring the museum, we visited Mona’s winebar, which features a gorgeous sprawling outside area. Despite the impending winter, the day was sunny, bright, and just warm enough (and if it wasn’t, the wine probably would have helped).

It was the perfect way to end our visit to Mona, and our visit to Tasmania in general.

Taking the ferry on the Derwent River to Mona in Hobart, Tasmania

If you missed it, you can read part one of our Tasmanian road trip here.

• • •

A potential itinerary for a visit to Tasmania, Australia's smallest and wildest state. This nine-day road trip features the Tasman Peninsula, Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain, Liffey Falls, Freycinet National Park, and more. Tassie is often ignored in favor of Australia's mainland; but if you're into camping, hiking, and wilderness, this island should definitely be on your list.A potential itinerary for a visit to Tasmania, Australia's smallest and wildest state. This nine-day road trip features the Tasman Peninsula, Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain, Liffey Falls, Freycinet National Park, and more. Tassie is often ignored in favor of Australia's mainland; but if you're into camping, hiking, and wilderness, this island should definitely be on your list.A potential itinerary for a visit to Tasmania, Australia's smallest and wildest state. This nine-day road trip features the Tasman Peninsula, Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain, Liffey Falls, Freycinet National Park, and more. Tassie is often ignored in favor of Australia's mainland; but if you're into camping, hiking, and wilderness, this island should definitely be on your list.

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