Australia was never on my top 3 lists of places to visit, however, a recent trip to Australia this year made me change my view of this Southern continental country, especially Tasmania.
Road trips are said to be the most chill way of taking in the many scenic sights - definitely true. Here’s a 5D4N self-drive itinerary covering Tasmania's famed nature sights such as Coles Bay and Cataract Gorge, while also discovering some forgotten charming quaint townships, tips on the best times to visit and the less touristy spots to make the perfect chillax getaway.
Tasmania is most known for its vast, rugged wilderness, with an abundance of wildlife native to only the island.
Currency: AU$. While ATMs are not difficult to locate within Tasmania, you will want to have sufficient cash with you on a road trip, as smaller petrol stations and marts may not accept credit cards.
SIM Card: Do note that there are NO telco stores in Tasmania’s Hobart Airport, so do get your SIM Card when you are in mainland Australia before heading to Tasmania. Optus’ mobile network connectivity is pretty strong across Tasmania.
Car rental: There are many rental sites, but Budget is a good choice. You can rent and pay for it online before your trip, and collect the car keys from Hobart Airport terminal upon arrival. The rental cars are conveniently parked at an open carpark next to the airport terminal. They also have a standing promo with UOB till July 2018 - you get 10% off car rental when you pay with a UOB Credit Card. The offer is also valid at all other Budget rentals worldwide.
Best Time to Visit: The Summer months of December through February.
For this itinerary, we’ll be arriving in Hobart Airport, but departing from Launceston Airport, as that saves time returning back to Hobart Airport which can be used to explore more of Tasmania.
*Protip: Get the car from Budget, the sister company of Avis, which offers cheaper car rental. Avis and Budget seem to use the same pool of cars, so you pay less and get a reliable car. Do take note if it’s the school holidays, as prices tend to increase exponentially during those days.
Try to plan your trip to Tasmania with a Saturday, as you will not want to miss the Salamanca Market. A street market in Hobart, Salamanca Market attracts many locals and tourists alike with almost 300 stalls selling everything and anything you can think of.
From hand-made pieces of jewellery to woodwork, fresh fruits to cured meat, vintage vinyl to brand new kitchenware, you’ll get to see all kinds of things that represent the culture and identity of the Tasmanians.
*Pro-tip: Surprisingly, Australian vendors are open to price negotiation. So don’t be afraid to bargain before purchasing to save some bucks!
Address: Salamanca Pl, Hobart TAS 7001, Australia
Opening Hours: 8:30AM-3PM, open on Saturdays only
Willie Smith’s Apple Shed is not only an apple farm, but also a cider house, a distillery, and a museum. A 25-minute drive westwards from Hobart, Willie Smith’s is a great place for a healthy lunch and educational trip.
Try a variety of their home-made apple ciders with the testing paddle (AU$ 12).
*Pro-tip: If you happen to visit Willie Smith’s Apple Shed on a Friday, do stay on till evening for the weekly music event organized by local musicians.
Address: 2064 Huon Hwy, Grove TAS 7109, Australia
Opening Hours: 10AM – 5PM (Mon – Thu), 10AM – 9PM (Fri), 10AM – 6PM (Sat – Sun)
Located by the River Derwent, MONA is accessible by car and ferry, which sails from Brooke Street Pier.
The general exhibition at MONA is called ‘MONANISM’, showcasing an eclectic mix of old and new works. They also have several ongoing temporary exhibitions from time to time, at times with international collaborations, so if you’re an art buff, do check it out.
Not someone who understands or appreciate arts as much? MONA is still a place worth visiting if you are in Hobart, especially during the twilight hours as that's when the skies by the River Derwent turn stunningly pink.
Many may find MONA’s exhibits whimsical, and that’s not nearly as odd as the unusual membership program MONA offers. The "Eternity Membership" not only includes lifetime free admission, but also earns members the right to be cremated and have their remains housed in the MONA Cemetery.
Address: 655 Main Rd, Berriedale TAS 7011, Australia Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm (Closed on Tue)^
Admission Fee: AU$25-28/adult^ ^Refer to MONA’s official site, as rates and operating hours varies between seasons.
*Pro-tip: Entrance is FREE an hour before closing, perfect for those who just want to check it out.
Where to stay: Airbnb in Hobart
After a fruitful day in Hobart, it’s time to head on with the adventures. En-route to Freyninet Peninsular, swing by the quaint township that is Richmond Town.
Richmond Town is a sleepy old town seemingly forgotten by time. Streets are decorated with neat blocks of Georgian Buildings refurbished as cafes, souvenir shops and galleries. Friendly shop owners are always keen to share some history of Richmond Town and Tasmania to visitors.
The most notable landmark in Richmond is the Richmond Bridge, the oldest stone span bridge in Australia. Appreciate the peace and tranquility of this old township with a picnic by the park overlooking Richmond Bridge.
Address: Bridge St, Richmond TAS 7025, Australia
After an enriching afternoon soaking in Tasmania’s history, we continued our drive to Kate’s Berry Farm. Have a delightful lunch at the Just Desserts Café, overlooking rows of berries. At the café you’ll be able to taste the locally farmed and produced berry jams.
*Pro-tip: Locally farmed and produced fruit jams make great souvenirs to bring home!
Address: 12 Addison St, Swansea TAS 7190, Australia
Opening Hours: 930am to 430pm daily (closed in winter)
The drive towards Freycinet National Park will be a long but extremely scenic one.
Freycinet National Park is where you find stunning pink-granite mountain also known as the Hazards, beautiful secluded beaches and the iconic Wineglass Bay.
Once you enter the national park, do purchase a Park Pass at the self-help ticketing booth. Passes are valid for 24 hours, and you are free to park your vehicle at any permitted lots in the national park.
Park Pass Fee: AU$ 12/pax or AU$ 24/car. Each pass is valid for 24 hours.
It is also at the Freycinet National Park where you get to see one of the most beautiful warm sunsets.
The sunset signals the start of dinner. Check out Tombolo Freycinet, perhaps the best pizza house with great food and coffee in Coles Bay.
Address: 6 Garnet Ave, Coles Bay TAS 7215, Australia
Opening hours: 9am – 8pm (Tue – Sat), 9am to 4pm (Fri), Closed on Mon.
Where to stay: Airbnb in Freycinet
Nothing feels better than waking up early for a morning hike in one of the most beautiful national park in Australia. Breathe in the fresh morning air and hike a simple 3km path up to the lookout of Wineglass Bay.
If you are lucky, you may even spot wild wallabies along the way. The easy hike will take about 2 hours at a leisurely speed, and one hour if you are a fast walker. However, we really recommend you to walk slowly and take in the scenic views.
If you are feeling more adventurous (and have more than 5 hours to spare), challenge yourself to the 11km Hazards Beach Circuit hike for an even more magnificent view of Wineglass Bay.
Freycinet National Park has more than just Wineglass Bay to offer. There are several other sites that offer breath-taking views you can spend hours ogling at. The Sleepy Bay and Honeymoon Bay are other spots you must not miss.
After the healing trip at Freycinet, it’s time to head out to Launceston, Tasmania’s second major city that’s known for her food, wine, culture and nature.
An hour away from Freycinet National Park, Campbell Town is the perfect pitstop for a meal before we continue the drive to Launceston.
It’s not difficult to notice something peculiar while walking down the main road of Campbell. There’s an entire stretch of red bricks laid in the asphalt. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see words that read the fates of people of the past. That’s the Convict Trail.
The red bricks stamped with names and crimes of convicts line the road, as though openly shaming the convicts of their crimes, mostly seemingly out of desperation. Crimes such as “Stole Pig”, “Stole Bread”, and “Stole Sheep” were common, rampant even. Who would have imagined stealing a pig in those days would exchange for 7 years of imprisonment?
Round the corner is Zeps, a cosy café that serves really delicious hot food and desserts. Just looking at the pretty cakes in the refrigerator can send you to food heaven. Grab a Steak Sandwich (AU$ 14.50) and Lemon Tart (AU$ 7.50) for lunch - you won’t regret it.
Address: 92-94 High St., Campbell Town, Tasmania 7210, Australia
Opening Hours: 7am to 8pm (Mon - Fri), 8am to 8pm (Sat & Sun)
After lunch, visit The Book Cellar and The Overflow book shops, which are respectively housed in an old cellar and the town’s old court house. This clever use of old spaces acts as a conservation of the rich historical past of Campbell Town, which will otherwise be demolished.
If you are a lover of vintage-everything, you’ll find it hard to resist not picking out old vintage Dickens or Shakespearen books printed close to a century ago. Most of the finely-bound pre-loved books are for sale at only AU$ 2-5 per copy. That’s a steal for bringing home a fine piece of history back with you.
The Book Cellar
Address: Foxhunters Return, High St., Campbell Town TAS 7210, Australia
Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm daily
The Overflow Book Shop
Address: Old Courthouse, 103 High St, Campbell Town TAS 7210, Australia
Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm daily
For the great variety of displays and exhibits it carries, the Queen Victoria Museum is definitely a highlight of Launceston. There’s almost anything and everything you can think of in a museum, including natural history, fine art, decorative arts, locomotive and even astronomy. Best of all? Admission is FREE.
Admission Fee: Free
Address: 2 Invermay Road, Launceston TAS 7248, Australia
Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm daily
End the day with a fine dinner at Leevee Food Co., a favourite among locals and tourists alike for its prime selection of Tasmanian steaks and seafood.
The Mushroom Pizza (AU$ 9.5) is generously topped with creamy garlic sauce, leaving an explosion of flavours in your mouth.
Tasmanian Pacific Oysters (AU$ 16.70/6pc, AU$ 26/10pc) are served fresh with a wedge of lemon and cracked pepper.
Address: 27 Seaport Blvd, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia
Opening Hours: 1030am – 830pm (Sun – Thu), 1030am – 9pm (Fri – Sat)
Where to stay: Airbnb in Launceston
With a car, nowhere is too far. Have breakfast at Stillwater, a restaurant set in an old flour mill, which overlooks the stunning scenery of Catarat Gorge. Breakfast meals are at AU$ 9 – 25 per plate.
Address: 2 Bridge Road, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia
Opening Hours: 830am – 1130pm (Tue, Thu – Sat), 830am – 4pm (Sun – Mon), 830am – 11pm (Wed)
After breakfast, it’s time to explore the unique river gorge that offers a piece of stunning nature in the middle of a bustling town.
Go for an exhilarating chairlift ride (AU$ 15/pax) for a bird’s eye view of the breath-taking sights of Cataract Gorge. The chairlift ride is also the longest single span in the world at 457m.
Five days of fun and chill in Tasmania is nicely brought to an end with a hearty meal at Chi Chi Café, a Chinese restaurant that has reasonably-priced food items (AU$ 10- 20) and if you’re craving a tea fix, you can get it at AU$ 4.
Chi Chi Café
Address: 127 St. John Street, Launceston TAS 7250, Australia
Opening Hours: 930am – 830 pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 9pm (Sat), Closed on Sun
Road trips are great for those who enjoy taking things slow and travelling in a group. Aside from travelling at your own pace, you’ll get to bond over snatching for snacks in the car and trying to sing songs on the radio. If you’ve never been on a road trip, Tasmania is a great place to start your first self-drive adventure. Roads are generally wide and straight, while offering endless breathtaking views that seem to go on for miles and miles. Take mini pit stops along the way till your next destination, and take in as much of Tassie’s beauty as possible.