When we first arrived in Tasmania in September, knowing that in the near future we would need to “settle down” (just a little bit), we decided to hit the road for seven nights of Tasmanian exploration before any adulting was to happen.
Exploring Tassie by campervan (or car) is the best way to get around and see as many sights as possible. It’s an added bonus having a kitchen and a bed in your vehicle, but car camping with a tent would do the trick too!
Tassie is small in it’s physical size, but don’t be fooled – the rugged mountain landscape and winding single lane farm roads are not always easy to zip around on. It’s important to take your time, enjoy the little things and let the hurry fade away. After all, the pace of life in Tasmania is a bit slower than a city slicker might be used to… which makes it perfect for a relaxing vacation.
Being that we are on the North Coast, we started and finished there, but it really is possible to loop around in any which way you’d like. Depending on the type of sights and experiences you’d like to see & have, your itinerary will vary. There’s one thing that’s for sure though, you’ll leave only wanting to come back and see more of this beautiful little island.
Even if you’re not “into” mountain biking, I would suggest renting a bike in Derby for the day. There’s some incredibly well crafted beginner trails, and for those who are more experienced, there’s definitely some gnarly rides too. The trails at Derby have launched Tasmania into a “world class” mountain biking mecca, and people are coming from far and wide to give these trails a go. As you weave through rain forests and into the heights of the hills, you’ll find yourself in awe of the magnificent wilderness and pristine biking trails.
After some fun on bikes, we made our way to the sea. The East Coast of Tasmania is truly spectacular. Drier than the west and providing white sandy (squeaky) beaches lined with red boulders that make a beautiful contrast to the clear blue/green water, some of the beaches here have been deemed most beautiful on earth.
But how is that possible!? Everyone thinks of the tropics as the most beautiful, with it’s warm weather and crystal blue waters… but there are so many more epic hidden places away from the population – and the East Coast of Tasmania is one of them.
My favourite places to stop along the way: St. Helens, Bicheno, & Friendly Beaches.
We then made our way down towards Hobart, enjoying the winding roads and small towns along the way. Hobart is a beautiful small city, with loads of charm and energy. Walking through the streets you’ll find culinary treats, cafes with live music and unique shops to browse through. The pulse of Hobart compliments the rest of beautifully rural Tassie, and it’s a great dose of vibrancy to add to your road trip.
Our next stop took us to Bruny Island (an island off an island) which is an absolute must in a Tasmanian vacation. The pace of life slows down even more (if that’s possible!) and the beautiful beaches, hiking trails and albino wallabies (gasp!) will truly blow you away. We recommend stopping at the Bruny Island Cheese Factory for some cheese board & a cider, checking out the Neck Lookout, swimming at Adventure Bay & walking to the lighthouse at the far south end of the island.
We then made our way back up through Hobart and into Franking Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. You’re inland here, passing through snowy mountains in the winter and rugged landscapes at any time of year. There’s walking tracks everywhere, which are some incredibly challenging feats for the bucket list (ie: the Five Day Frenchman’s Cap) and there’s also some smaller walks, leading to beautiful waterfalls & lookouts. When driving this way, you must stop at The Wall, where you can view life sized carvings out of Huon Pine, highlighting the beauties and difficulties of Australian settlers. (No photos allowed though!)
As you head towards Queenstown, you can’t help but be blown away by how much the landscape has changed over the course of your short drive. Starting from a beautiful city, through rolling farm land, to weaving rain forests that gain elevation and become snowy alpine conditions, and then – the rugged mining hills of Queenstown. The lookout shown below is just a quick drive off of the highway, and was incredibly breathtaking. If you’re scared of heights this one might be a challenge for you, but it’s incredibly neat to get a birds’ eye perspective. While you’re there, read about the boom and collapse of the mining industry in Queenstown. It’s got all the makings of a good story – wealth, greed, rivalry and more!
Making our way in the dark of night to the coast again, the weather was playing tricks on us – one minute it was beautiful and the next – windy and pouring. It’s best to expect all weather on any given day. That’s half the fun of it!
Waking up on the west coast is a completely different experience than the east coast. The winds can roar up the 80km/hour at any time, making you feel like your van might blow over. Rob even said that once when he was younger, his tent polls snapped in half in the wind!
Home to the roaring 40’s (some weather systems don’t hit land between South America and Tasmania) it really is the wild, wild west.
Strahan is beautiful little town and if you can, I’d suggest making your way up to Marrawah, on the top North West corner of Tassie to camp at Greens Beach. Fun fact – Tasmania has the cleanest air on the planet! (Which is measured on the Northwest corner of the state.)
On our final leg of the trip we decided to check out Montezuma Falls. WOW – what a place that is! It’s a lengthy hike in (almost 10km return through muddy conditions) so we decided to take our bikes. (Why not?!)
Once you arrive at the falls, you make your way out onto a very skinny suspension bridge (again, people who are afraid of heights might not love this) but your view once your out there is magnificent.
There are SO many wildly beautiful places in Tasmania that are off-the-grid from most traveler’s radar. Part of me wants to shout them from the rooftop, and the other part of me wants to keep them protected and safe from people who may come and not show respect. Regardless, if you’re reading this – you’re likely an awesome person who I would be more than happy to see travel around Tasmania. SO – give it an add to your bucket list. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.