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It’s no wonder why Tasmania has a reputation as being at the edge of the world. Its most southerly position from the Australian mainland is a fair hike for some travellers and this fact might discourage some from travelling there. Though, it’s so easy to travel to Tasmania, particularly from Australia’s southern state of Victoria and it’s just as cheap to get on a flight.
With its pristine waterways, ages-old forests and wilderness, organic produce (apples, especially) and convict history, there is so much to love about Tasmania and it’s the perfect destination for a roadtrip. The easy driving, short distances, and the fact that you can either hire a small car or ship your own vehicle over on the Spirit of Australia, there’s no excuse why travellers shouldn’t explore Tasmania. There are many top things to do on “The Apple Isle” and here are just a few of the stand-outs.
Awe over the natural wonder of Cradle Mountain
Drive through to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park for a pocket of Tasmania’s untouched natural beauty. It’s here where the car can be parked for a few days and travellers can revel in the countless opportunities for bushwalking. The jewel in the national park’s crown is, by far, Cradle Mountain which has risen from glacially formed lakes. Its rugged looks, matched by surrounds of alpine vegetation, lure visitors here and it’s clear to see why the area would top Tasmania’s must-visit list.
Visit the historical convict site of Port Arthur
In its early days, Tasmania was known as Van Diemen’s Land, named after Anthony van Diemen, the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, by Abel Tasman who was the first European to land on the island. The island was colonised by the British in 1803 as a penal colony and its where many of Britain’s convicts were transported to. In their minds, they were shipped to a god-forsaken place at the edge of the world to be subjected to some of the most brutal convict conditions and labour. Port Arthur was an industrial prison, and convicts were set to work in ship building, shoemaking, smithing, timber and brick-making.
Skeletons of buildings are the only remnants left in Port Arthur. Visitors only need to hire a small car, like a Ford Festiva or Focus, and take the scenic drive from Hobart along the Tasman and Arthur Highways; part of Tasmania’s convict trail touring route. Spend the day wandering the grounds and through these relics to understand the extent of the conditions that were once experienced by these convicts. History buffs can take guided tours of the grounds and a boat ride along Mason Cove to the Isle of the Dead to learn more about the characters who were immortalised by this place. There are also many eerie stories of the ghosts who are known to haunt these parts.
Sample beers at a historic brewery
One way to sample the natural qualities of Tasmania is to go sample beers at a historic brewery. Tasmania is home to two of Australia’s oldest breweries.
James Boag’s in Launceston embodies Tasmania’s natural strengths both in brew and in spirit. The brewery started in 1881 along the grassy banks of the Esk River by James Boag, an immigrant to Australia who first sought his fortune in Victoria’s goldfields. Boag moved to Tasmania and honed in on the natural resources in abundance to him like pure, crisp Tasmanian water. Since then, James Boag’s has brewed some of the best beers in Australia. James Boag’s are now proud to take you on a tour of their brewery including tastings, starting from their centre for “beer lovers” on William Street.
Cascade Brewery brews its beers on, literally, the edge of the world. Australia’s oldest continually operating brewery is located in South Hobart in an imposing building that was once a saw mill operated by Hugh Macintosh, retired East India Company Officer who immigrated from England, and Pete Degraves, a convicted thief. The brewery was founded in 1831 and ran alongside the mill. Brewery and heritage tours and tastings run each day.
Conquer The Nut
A picturesque roadtrip along the north-west coast of Tasmania will eventually lead you to the town Stanley, located in the Tarkine region. Before heading inland into the dense and towering eucalypts and rainforest, stop along the way to climb The Nut. This huge landform is the plug of an extinct volcano, popping 150 metres out from the coast.
Scaling to the top of The Nut can be achieved by walking, which takes about 20 minutes, or by a scenic chairlift if it’s not too windy. The views from the summit are breath-taking, and visitors can survey the vast expanse of the Tasman Sea in one direction and the emerald landscapes of inland Tasmania. What’s just as good is that entry to The Nut is free! The Nut is located within a state reserve that’s significant to indigenous Australians and Tasmania’s colonial history. Driving along the highway, visitors will be tempted to stop regularly to marvel over crumbling ruins of a township that was once the home of Tasmania’s first European inhabitants. Wildlife is in abundance here too, from penguins to peregrine falcons and mutton birds.
Take a cruise on the Gordon River
After driving through its windy, leafy surrounds, arrive into Strahan that’s known for its historical fishing port roots. Naturally, there’s a chance to discover the waterways here and get up-close and personal with the nearby ancient Huon pine forests. The Gordon River is a river that must be explored and travellers can easily book in a day cruise to experience this unspoilt area. Cruises will bring travellers head to head with the locally known stretch of water named Hell’s Gate, the point where the river meets the sea. The sheer power of the waves gives travellers first-hand experience why the name came about!
Have you been to Tasmania? What are your top Tasmanian roadtrip tips? If you haven’t been, is it on your wishlist?