By Emma Harrington
Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Whether you’re in search of natural wonders, gourmet food and wine or immersive cultural encounters, a self-drive journey will give you the freedom to discover the best of Tasmania.
From walking through a temperate rainforest to tasting some of the world’s best cool-climate wines, a trip to Australia’s island state is all about the pursuit of simple pleasures.
Time seems to slow down once you step foot onto Tasmanian soil, allowing you to savour sensory experiences and come down for air.
While you can drive from Hobart to Launceston in 2-and-a-half hours, Tasmania’s exceptional natural beauty, rich history and warm hospitality are best enjoyed at a leisurely pace and by taking a detour or two.
With the help of local experts at TasVacations, we’ve put together a 7-night, self-drive itinerary that will help you linger a little longer.
Day 1 – Hobart and Bruny Island
With stunning clifftop views, abundant wildlife and plenty of epicurean delights, a visit to Bruny Island is the perfect way to get acquainted with Tasmania’s bountiful offerings.
Leave the car in Hobart and jump aboard a full-day Bruny Island Traveller tour with Pennicott Wilderness Journeys.
Taste your way across the island, visiting farm gates and cellar doors where you’ll meet passionate producers inspired by the region’s rich soil, pure air and clean water.
Enjoy freshly shucked oysters, local honey, handmade fudge and a guided tasting at Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Co. You’ll also get to take in the island’s breathtaking scenery with visits to The Neck lookout, Mavista rainforest and Two Tree Point beach.
Day 2 – Hobart
Start out with a walk along Salamanca Place, lined with heritage sandstone architecture and the hub of Salamanca Market. The market has been a Saturday ritual for locals and visitors alike since the 1970s.
Wander along the historic strip and explore more than 220 stalls offering arts and crafts, local produce and delicious food. The Mona Roma high-speed ferry from Hobart’s waterfront will have you at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) within 30 minutes.
Mona is Australia’s largest private museum, housing one of the world’s most controversial collections of contemporary art and antiquities. With more than 300 works of art on display across 3 subterranean floors, Mona is sure to leave an impression – be it shock, awe, perplexity or a combination of all 3. Definitely expect the unexpected.
Enjoy lunch or an afternoon drink at one of Mona’s impressive restaurants or bars before returning to Hobart aboard the ferry.
Day 3 – Hobart to Launceston
Set off early for the 200km drive to Launceston. Soak up the countryside scenery and plan a stop in Kempton to visit the Old Kempton Distillery. Located in Dysart House, an 1840s colonial inn, the distillery offers a range of whiskies, gins and liqueurs, impressive antipasto platters and seasonal dishes.
As you head further north, stop and stretch your legs in the quaint village of Ross and visit the Ross Village Bakery for its famous vanilla slice and custard tarts.
As you drive into Launceston, admire one of Australia’s best-preserved Georgian and Victorian cityscapes and keep your eyes open for bustling restaurants and bars where you can enjoy the city’s thriving food and drink scene.
In the afternoon, visit tranquil City Park, which surprisingly houses an enclosure of Japanese macaque monkeys, or take a 90-minute tour and tasting at Boag’s Brewery, established in 1881.
Enjoy dinner at one of Launceston’s many exceptional restaurants such as charming French-inspired Brisbane Street Bistro, trendy Geronimo or Black Cow Bistro, housed in an old art deco butcher shop.
Day 4 – Launceston to Freycinet National Park
Start the day with a visit to Launceston’s star natural attraction, Cataract Gorge. Enjoy an easy 15-minute walk from the edge of the city centre along the banks of the Tamar River into the gorge, where you may spot peacocks and pademelons.
Cross the South Esk River on the chairlift or follow a pathway, originally built in the 1890s, along the cliff-face. After a morning of walking, head to Josef Chromy Wines for lunch and a glass of pinot noir or sparkling, surrounded by picturesque vineyards. Nearby is Evandale – a National Trust classified Georgian village with unspoiled heritage buildings. Stroll along High St and browse antique stores brimming with treasures from bygone eras.
As you travel towards Freycinet National Park along the Tasman Hwy flanked by eucalypt forest, you’ll see glimpses of the dramatic East Coast shoreline as you near Coles Bay. About 40% of Tasmania is protected in national parks and reserves, and Freycinet National Park is one of the jewels in the island’s crown. The 10,000ha national park is home to pink granite peaks, unique birdlife and white sandy beaches including Wineglass Bay, rated one of the world’s top 10 beaches. If you arrive before sunset, enjoy the Cape Tourville Lighthouse walk.
Day 5 – Freycinet National Park
Early morning risers can enjoy the climb to Wineglass Bay Lookout for one of Tasmania’s most spectacular views. Steep in parts, you should allow 90 minutes return for this walk.
After your morning exercise (or perhaps a leisurely breakfast), hop aboard Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ Wineglass Bay Cruise. Take in the spectacular coastline on the 4-and-a-half-hour voyage and keep an eye out for fur seals, dolphins, sea eagles and penguins. If you’ve timed your trip during whale migration season (September to December and May to July), you may spot one of the majestic giants of the ocean.
If you’d like to tuck into some fresh local seafood, head to Freycinet Marine Farm, where you can enjoy oysters, mussels, scallops, abalone, salmon and rock lobster.
Day 6 – Freycinet National Park to Richmond
After departing Freycinet National Park, follow the spectacular scenery of the Great Eastern Drive visiting the seaside towns of Swansea, Triabunna – the departure point of the Maria Island Ferry – and Orford before heading to the historic town of Richmond.
At the heart of the Coal River Valley wine region, Richmond is a step-back in time to Australia’s colonial era. Picnic on the green banks of the Coal River and admire Australia’s oldest bridge built by convicts – prisoners from Richmond Gaol – over 2 years from 1823. Soak up some country charm and stay in Richmond overnight before heading the next day to Hobart Airport, less than 30 minutes’ drive.
Top 6 places to rest your head
1. Lenna of Hobart
A stone’s throw from the vibrant waterfront, experience Hobart’s historic charm in this magnificently restored sandstone mansion with a separate accommodation wing.
2. Macq 01, Hobart
A luxurious hotel offering stunning waterfront views, sophisticated dining and 114 rooms – each named after characters from the state’s past and present.
3. Peppers Silos, Launceston
Designed and built to encompass four large grain silos, this stylish hotel offers beautifully appointed rooms, views of the Tamar River and an in-house restaurant and day spa.
4. Hotel Verge, Launceston
One of Launceston’s newest offerings, Hotel Verge exudes industrial luxe vibes and is conveniently located near City Park and shopping and dining options.
5. Freycinet Lodge
In the heart of Freycinet National Park, choose from eco-friendly one room, family or premier spa cabins, or the opulent Coastal Pavilions.
6. Prospect House, Richmond
This lovingly restored Georgian manor, built in the 1830s, will transport you to another time. It’s a charming country escape with all the creature comforts.