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Tasmania isn’t often on the list when tourists visit Australia for the first time. Many head for better known places like Melbourne and Sydney. But geez, you are missing out on a gem if you skip Tasmania off your itinerary.
It is a truly beautiful state in the land down under, and one that has something for everyone whether you’re in to culture, history, food or exploring the wilderness. Tasmania has even been voted the most beautiful island of Australia, and the fourth best island in the world!
Earlier this year, Dave and I spent a fortnight road tripping around Tasmania with my parents and we cherished every moment. We’ve compiled some of the highlights of what to see in Tasmania for you to experience on your own road trip throughout this undiscovered state.
Explore Hobart’s culture
Kick your road trip off in the capital, Hobart. It is here you can get the best taste of Tasmania’s culture.
Take the ferry up the river, arriving at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Prepare to be wowed as you walk down a spiral staircase, deep under the ground, entering the gallery space, which wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond film as a villain’s lair.
The art is a little confrontational, and the wall of vaginas and room replicating a digestive system complete with poop might have you questioning modern art. But MONA will certainly spark your imagination.
In the afternoon, grab your car and head up Mount Wellington, taking in the view over the city.
Hit the road for history
For the next stop on your road trip, experience some of Tasmania’s convict history. About a one and a half hour from Hobart is Port Arthur, the state’s most well-known former convict colony. Here, boys as young as 11 were shipped from the UK to live out their sentences, some for simply stealing a loaf of bread.
Don’t let the idyllic location fool you – this was a harsh place to be locked up. Even if the convicts did manage to escape the prison cells they had nowhere to run, as the rugged landscape that surrounds the jail still kept them prisoner. You can read more about our adventures in Port Arthur here.
If you are looking for a location that’s a little less crowded than Port Arthur, the town of Ross is a quaint rural community to visit to also get a sense of the convict past.
Ross is roughly an hour and a half drive north of Hobart and although it’s a small town, it has a rich history. On the outskirts there are ruins of a Female Factory where woman prisoners were taken and put to work back in the mid-1800s. There is also a picturesque church that is worth exploring, and afterwards you can take a stroll down the main street of the town to admire the old buildings that have been beautifully preserved.
Don’t miss the Ross General Store, where you can pick up a delicious pie – their scallop pies are known for being the best in the whole of Tasmania!
An island… and a foodie heaven
Speaking of food, Tasmania has some of the freshest and tastiest food in the whole of Australia. Thanks to the state’s fertile soil and clean air, it has a booming farming community and a bustling fishing industry, all vying to get the freshest produce on to the tables of local restaurants. It’s no surprise then that The Wall Street Journal named Tasmania as the next big foodie destination.
To start your culinary adventure, head to Bruny Island. You can put your car on to the ferry and motor out to the island. To get to the port, drive to Kettering, 40 minutes south of Hobart.
On Bruny Island, a foodie paradise awaits. Make your first stop the Bruny Island Cheese Factory, where you can sample some of the country’s best cheeses before deciding which ones you want to purchase.
Next, drive up the road to the Get Shucked Oyster Bar and dine on some of the best oysters you’ll ever have in your life. I wasn’t previously a fan of oysters, but now I realise it was because I’d never eaten extremely fresh ones. What a difference this makes! Instead of a slimy texture, they are plump and sometimes even a little sweet as well as salty.
You’ll be converted into an oyster lover immediately. And there’s the perfect option for your road trip too – an oyster drive through!
Finish your foodie tour of Bruny Island at the Berry Farm in Adventure Bay, where you can pick berries straight off the tree. Their jam is delicious and I recommend purchasing a jar.
If you have time before you leave Bruny Island, head out on a speedboat tour, allowing you to see the beautiful landscapes of Bruny from the sea.
Nominate a designated driver
The next part of the road trip revolves around wine, so pick an unlucky designated driver for the upcoming leg of the journey.
First stop, head to Jansz Winery, makers of one of my all-time favourite champagnes sparkling wines. Set on top of a hill, the beautiful yet unpretentious vineyard overlooks a lake and in the summer months you can take your glass of bubbles outside to enjoy on a deck chair.
You might be wondering why the sparkling wine in Tasmania so tasty. Mainly it is because its Southern Hemisphere longitude is the mirror image of the French region of Champagne in the Northern Hemisphere. Hence, the climate is perfect for growing bubbles.
At Jansz’s Piper’s Brook vineyard you can try the best of these sparkling wines, and no doubt you will end up taking home a bottle or two.
Another winery not to miss on your road trip is Frogmore Creek. Twenty minutes from the heart of Hobart is this lush vineyard and its gourmet, fine-dining restaurant. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I believe I had the best meal of my life at Frogmore.
Yes, quite the statement.
Six courses will set you back $120 per person, with an extra $60 for wine pairing, but it is certainly money well spent. Not only is the food freshly sourced and full of flavour, it is presented so well that the plate wouldn’t look out of place in an art gallery.
Get active and burn off the food
There’s no doubting Tasmania is a foodie haven, but its natural beauty shouldn’t be overlooked. From its stretching white sandy beaches to its large forests with towering trees, Tasmania has many outdoor places to explore.
One of our favourite hikes from our road trip tour of Tasmania was down into Wineglass Bay. This hike itself takes about two and a half hours, winding through the beachside bush and down into the bay.
If you visit in the summer months, you can take a refreshing (read – freezing!) dip in the crystal clear waters of the beach.
Another stunning beachside hike is the Bay of Fires. You could be mistaken for thinking the bay got its name from the red coloured rocks, but this isn’t the case. The first settlers named it The Bay of Fires because when they approached Tasmania in their ships they saw the cooking fires the Aboriginal people had lit along the beach.
Making the most of your time in Tassie
So have I tempted you to go on a road trip around Tasmania? It was certainly a highlight of our travels this year and we plan on returning soon. Next time we want to head further west and explore regions like Cradle Mountain, which we’ve heard is the perfect place to hike our socks off.
Want to go to Tasmania for an epic road trip?