Why visit Tasmania and why you need a Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary
Tasmania is one of those places that a lot of people have heard of, but not that many have actually been to. Especially in a country like Australia – it is so damn big that it’s impossible to see it all. Taking the time to travel to an island can seem like too much effort when there are so many amazing things to explore without leaving the shores of the mainland.
The fact that it is an island, however, lends itself to the great Aussie dream of nomadic exploring. And this is exactly why it appealed to us. Looking at it on a map, it seems as though almost the entire island is made up of National Parks. It boasts one of the oldest settlements in Australia in its capital city, Hobart, and has a totally unique ecosystem. Known to be rugged, wild, and untamed, Tasmania is full of endless picturesque views and some of the best food and drink Australia has to offer. What’s not to love?
We knew that we wanted to put together and follow a bangin’ road trip itinerary, and we knew we could only really spend ten days in Tasmania. We knew we wanted to take our own car, to save on car or campervan hire costs (backpacker budget remember?). Plus, after living in Melbourne for the best part of five months, it’s fair to say that we had accumulated A LOT of crap. Neither of us felt particularly propelled to try to squeeze all of that into a limited airline luggage allowance. Taking our own car was the obvious solution, so we started investigating Spirit of Tasmania.
Why sail with Spirit of Tasmania?
We selected an overnight sail, which instantly saved us a night of accommodation costs (or a night of sleeping in our car). Spirit of Tasmania also does day sailings. For us, taking a night sail meant that we had the whole day to pack up everything we owned in the Southern Hemisphere, hand the keys of the tiny studio flat we had rented back to our landlord, and say goodbye to Melbourne.
The chilled start to our trip meant that we had plenty of time to finalise our Tasmania road trip route, utilising Spirit of Tasmania’s very own Road Trip Planner. We used this a lot in the lead up to our trip. It inspired us to build our own custom road trip around Tasmania by piecing together parts of their pre-made routes. This is how we prefer to travel; we love planning our own itineraries and drawing ideas from a range of places. However, the Road Trip Planner itineraries are good to go without any tweaking if that’s more your kind of thing.
We spent just under a fortnight in Tassie in total and created an almost circular route for our
Our Full Ten Day Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary
Sailing on Spirit of Tasmania
We arrived at Port Melbourne at around 5pm, ready to sail and excited to explore Tasmania at the other end. We had no idea what to expect from the ship itself; Kez was a little apprehensive as she suffers with motion sickness from time to time. As a kid, family holidays to France always had traumatic starts involving the ferry from Dover to Calais…
The boarding process was quick and painless, surprisingly so. I guess we’ve become so used to air travel and the endless waiting around and packing/repacking of bags that we kind of expected the same thing here. But we started boarding the ship bang on the time given on our
We had a twin cabin, and after taking a few promotional photos for Spirit of Tasmania, we set off, in true Sam & Kez style, to find one of the three bars onboard. We started at Top Deck, which is (funnily enough) located on the top deck of the ship. With garden vibes and lots of windows, it instantly became our favourite, although the Terrace Lounge had an awesome acoustic singer performing.
The crossing was incredible calm, and we slept like babies. Refreshed, recharged, and free from any sickness issues, we drove off the ship the next morning ready for our Tasmania road trip itinerary to begin.
Book your own Tasmanian adventure with Spirit of Tasmania here.
Devonport to Launceston
It was absolutely POURING with rain when we arrived into Devonport, and being winter it was still pitch black. We followed the other cars who had disembarked with us, and were soon on the highway and heading towards Launceston.
Home to Cataract Gorge, we had intended on having breakfast in Launceston town and then spending a bit of time exploring the area. However, the rain did not let up. We had some food in a local cafe and then decided to chance our luck and drive to the Gorge. We umm-d and ahh-d for ages about getting out and just dealing with the rain, but we were tired from the early start leaving the ship. Knowing that it was at risk of descending into a bicker-fest, we opted instead to have a bit of a kip before heading out to Binalong Bay and Bay of Fires.
Launceston to Binalong Bay
It takes about two and a half hours to drive the more scenic route from Launceston, and it continued raining the whole time. It was a shame, as we passed through some beautiful forest areas and valleys. On a dry day it definitely would have taken us longer as we would have stopped for all the photo opportunities! Luckily though, this was the only day during our holiday in Tasmania that we had really heavy rain, which was a complete stroke of luck.
We had booked glamping in a bell tent for our first night. Although our car was big enough to sleep in, we decided that we wanted a bit of luxury on our first day. We’d worked non-stop for five months, so we felt like we deserved a treat!
We stayed at Bay of Fires Bush Retreat. When we arrived, the sky was starting to clear up and after about an hour we finally had some sunshine. The accommodation was incredibly beautiful, with a hand-crafted amenities block and huge camp kitchen. You can pay more to have dinner and breakfast cooked for you, but we chose to feed ourselves. The Bush Camp is eco-friendly and is big on sustainability; you shower with rainwater and see a lot of recycled materials being used around the site. We adored it and even had a cosy campfire in the evening with some other guests.
We used the Postcards Road Trip on Spirit of Tasmania’s Road Trip Planner to help us plan out this leg of our trip. Check it out here.
Days Three & Four
Bay of Fires
We woke to glorious sunshine – a far cry from the torrential downpours of the day before. After packing our stuff back into the car, we drove a short distance along Gardens Road. We stopped at Cosy Corner North at the recommendation of our host, Anna, at the Bush Retreat.
It was actually hot, without a cloud in the sky, so we spent a few hours walking along the empty white sands and taking photos. We hadn’t had breakfast yet, so we drove south for an hour and a half to a tiny town called Bicheno. We found a bakery to grab a panini and coffee from, and carried on our way.
Coles Bay & Freycinet National Park
From Bicheno, it was an easy 30-minute drive down to Coles Bay. We spent the next two nights of our Tassie adventure camping in our car in Freycinet National Park. We stayed at Richardsons Beach campsite, as it is the only one open during the winter months. Needless to say, we were one of about seven vehicles opting to camp in June, so it was pretty quiet and peaceful.
We spent the first afternoon setting up camp and exploring the nearby beaches and bays. As the sun went down, it lit the mountain peaks of The Hazards up in a gorgeous splash of gold. We stood and watched wild seals playing in the bay. Once it was dark, we were accosted by some other wildlife when we were trying to make dinner at the camp.
A local possum, who was the most unafraid wild animal we had ever seen, kept trying to climb up our legs and get a seat for himself at the dining table. At first it was cute, and then it became annoying, so we retreated to our car for an inside dinner of toasted sandwiches and an early night.
It goes without saying – DO NOT FEED WILD ANIMALS. They become a nuisance when they get used to humans feeding them. And they don’t naturally eat people food.
Wineglass Bay Lookout
The next day we walked into the National Park a bit more and climbed up to Wineglass Bay Lookout. It’s a pretty steep but well-formed track, and thankfully it was dry when we did it. We reckon it could get pretty slippery after rain.
There are loads of walks you can do in and around Freycinet, including a few multi-day hikes. We chose this one as a good re-introduction to hiking in Australia after a few weeks off. Plus, the weather forecast said there was a chance of rain and we didn’t want to get caught out in it! We also made the hike longer by walking all the way from our campsite and back again. In
We had already decided after the previous night that we would go out for dinner, so after chilling out at our camp for a bit, we walked to the nearest pub, Iluka Tavern. It was about a 20 minute walk from the campground. As we came around the corner and could see the twinkling lights of the bar, the heavens opened. It rained heavily for the next hour or so, but we had beer, wine, and deep-fried seafood. Plus there was no pesky possum neighbour to contend with, so we were happy to stay put for a little while.
We used the Wine Taster Road Trip on Spirit of Tasmania’s Road Trip Planner to help us plan out this leg of our trip. Check it out here.
Days Five & Six
Swansea to Tasman National Park
The next morning, we woke up early and packed away our camp. We were heading to Hobart. Although it’s only two and a half hours from Coles Bay, we wanted to check out Tasman National Park en route. This meant an extra two hour round trip, so we didn’t want to hang around.
We stopped off for brunch in Swansea, at a cafe/restaurant called Saltshaker. It had amazing views out across the bay. And, because we were so early and it was midweek, we were the only ones there. The food was just what we needed. Plus, the coffee and lovely staff were much appreciated after two nights of sleeping in the car!
Tasman NP has some of the most spectacular coastline in Tasmania. You can even do a multi-day hike across the sea cliffs. Sadly, we didn’t have time for that in our Tasmania road trip itinerary.
Thankfully, sights such as the Devil’s Kitchen, the Tasman Arch, Waterfall Bay, and Pirates Bay Drive are easy to access by car. They are also are all pretty close to one another. This meant that we could check them out without eating up too much of the day. We wanted to be able to explore Hobart in the light still when we got there!
Hobart & MONA Museum
After leaving the national park, we drove for about an hour to get to where we were staying in Hobart. We spent two nights at Hobart Tower Motel, located in the north of the city. We wanted to be close enough to be able to walk into the centre of Hobart. Plus, you could order breakfast to your room, which we totally took advantage of the next morning.
We checked in and spent some time re-organising ourselves and the car from the previous nights spent camping. Then we did what we do best. After googling the best bars in the area, we set off on a loosely organised bar crawl towards the city centre.
A lot of bars and restaurants are located along Elizabeth Street, which was only two streets back from our motel. We started in a brewery bar called T-Bone Brewing Co. It’s a pretty small bar but we loved the decor and the drinks, plus they did a happy hour too.
After a drink there, we headed onto the next place, Rude Boy. It’s an awesome rum bar with
We arrived into Hobart when their winter solstice festival, Dark Mofo, was underway. The city was flooded with people who were there for that. This meant that accommodation prices had spiked, and a lot of places were fully booked. Bear this in mind when planning your own road trip itinerary for Tasmania.
After this, we headed down to the dock to visit The Story Bar, a dimly lit, fancy bar located inside the luxurious MACq 01 hotel. It was adorned with old newspaper front pages, which we loved, and old grainy footage of the now-extinct (or is it?) Tasmanian tiger. It was pretty cool, but not cheap, and we were the youngest in there by about 30 years.
The next day, we spent the morning eating breakfast in bed and catching up on some work on our laptops. Then we drove to MONA, Hobart’s museum of old and new art.
I know what you’re thinking; museums are NOT our kind of thing (apart from the ones where you can press loads of buttons and play with the exhibits), but we’d heard good things about this one so thought we’d leave our hiking boots behind and go and rub shoulders with the cultured elite.
We hit the jackpot before we even got inside, as a couple coming out gave us their tickets as they were valid for the whole day. This saved us about $40 each, so it was much appreciated. The museum is mainly underground, which is partly why we wanted to go and check it out. PLUS it has a bar in it, which sounded even cooler. But, surprise surprise, it was too expensive for us to take advantage of.
We’ll be honest: MONA was a
Our consensus is that it’s good if art is your thing, and if you have a lot of time in Hobart. Give it a miss if you prefer being outdoors and have limited time in the city.
We spent our final evening having some yummy dinner at Veg Bar, a vegan restaurant with some amazing menu options. Then we had a drink at Shambles Brewery, another local brewery bar, before calling it a night.
We used the Bushwalker Road Trip on Spirit of Tasmania’s Road Trip Planner to help us plan out this leg of our trip. Check it out here.
Days Seven & Eight
Salamanca Market & Mount Wellington
Every Saturday, Hobart’s Salamanca Market comes to life. We headed down their before breakfast, and spent a good few hours wandering around the stalls. We picked up a coffee each, an empanada each, and a Tasmanian delicacy: a scallop pie. It’s a pie filled with scallops in a mild curry sauce, and it was DELISH. It’s a beautiful market, with a good variety of local produce. If we lived in Hobart, we’d definitely be down there every weekend.
Thankfully, it was another clear and sunny day. The previous few days there had been thick cloud cover, and Mount Wellington was obscured entirely by the weather. After Salamanca Markets, we hopped in the car and drove up to the top. It was BEAUTIFUL. The 360º views out over the city, sea, and surrounding countryside were incredible.
It was absolutely freezing, and although we had thermals on and were wrapped up, we didn’t spend too long at the top. We took a few photos and then set off to our next overnight stop on our road trip itinerary.
Mt. Field National Park
We spent two nights camping at Left of Field, a private campsite on the edge of Mt. Field National Park. We spent the first evening chatting to our fellow
The next day we woke up early and set up for a shoot in the outside, fire-heated bathtub (!). Then we headed off in the direction we’d loosely been instructed to go the night before. Not before we saw a platypus in the nearby water treatment pond though. It was our second platypus we’ve seen here in Australia!
Against all the odds, we somehow found the trail we were meant to be on. We spent the next few hours exploring Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls, the Tall Tree Circuit, and Lady Barron Falls. It’s a beautiful circuit set amongst fern gullies and giant gum trees, ending at the visitor’s centre where we had a coffee and a slice of cake. We are officially middle-aged.
That evening, we were the only people in the campsite. The nearby pub, The National Park Hotel, was within walking distance so we wandered down there for a drink. However, as it was winter, it closed early. After one drink, we were back at the car by about 7 pm in the pitch black and freezing cold.
We decided to try to start a campfire in a nearby fire pit. However, being less than experienced it took us no less than TWO HOURS to get a fire lit. Where it had been so cold and frosty, the wood was a bit damp. Plus, we had no idea what we were doing. However, we persevered and succeeded, and now we consider ourselves to be campfire pros. No big deal.
We used the Thrill Seeker Road Trip on Spirit of Tasmania’s Road Trip Planner to help us plan out this leg of our trip. Check it out here.
Lake St Clair
There was a long drive ahead of us the next day, as we drove up to Lake St Clair. It is the deepest lake in Australia, and forms the southern end of Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park.
We camped in an unpowered site at the tourist park, which is part of Lake St Clair Lodge. There were loads of really cute little cabins in the park too, but as it was winter we were literally the only people camping. After setting up the car ready for us to sleep in later, we went for a short walk which encompassed part of the Overland Track, a
The Lodge bar and restaurant was thankfully open, and we discovered that we weren’t the only people staying there overnight. After an amazing dinner of veggie burgers and chips, we took ourselves off to bed, tired from the long drive and ready for another long one the next day.
We used the Luxe Lover Road Trip on Spirit of Tasmania’s Road Trip Planner to help us plan out this leg of our trip. Check it out here.
The journey from Lake St Clair to Cradle Mountain took us about 3 hours, as the roads are very windy and small. We also had really bad weather, so we were driving pretty slowly. It’s such a shame it was so misty, as what we could see of the scenery was incredible. There were huge mountains, clear lakes, a cliffside pathway leading to a beautiful waterfall, and some really unique little towns.
As it was the last night of our amazing road trip around Tasmania, we opted for a bit of luxury again. We booked into Cradle Mountain Hotel, and after camping for three nights we were desperate for a warm shower and an actual bed. Again, it was pretty quiet, and we were shattered after the testing drive, so we spent the evening taking advantage of the room service and central heating.
After a yummy buffet breakfast with a real self-serve coffee machine, we packed up the car one last time and headed further into the park.
During winter, the roads up to Dove Lake can be really treacherous. Because of this, visitors have to park in the visitor centre car park and catch a shuttle bus.
Don’t do what we did and ignore all the signs along the road, only to have to sheepishly turn around and go back. Your Tasmania National Parks pass (which you can buy onboard Spirit of Tasmania) acts as your bus pass, so take a photo of it before you leave your car.
Despite it being cold and wintery, the bus we were on was packed. We headed straight to the Dove Lake Boatshed, as we knew we wanted to get a photo there and we wanted to avoid the crowds. Thankfully, everyone else seemed to head left when we headed right from the car park.
It turned out that we were lucky enough to have accidentally taken the route the opposite way around to everyone else, so we had the whole walk around the lake pretty much to ourselves, save for when we came across people coming the other way.
We used the Nature Lover Road Trip on Spirit of Tasmania’s Road Trip Planner to help us plan out this leg of our trip. Check it out here.
Devonport and sail to Melbourne
Cradle Mountain to Devonport isn’t actually all that far, so we arrived into Devonport with
Boarding Spirit of Tasmania was just as speedy as before, and we were lucky again to have another calm sailing. We were both gutted to be leaving Tasmania and we could have spent so much longer there exploring.
Our Ten Day Tasmania Road Trip – Final Thoughts
Our ten days in Tasmania has quickly become a highlight of our time in Australia. It reminded us of Europe, and it wasn’t a landscape we would have expected to see in the land Down Under prior to our travels.
Tassie lends itself to some incredible road trips and camping holidays, and the fact that Spirit of Tasmania allows you to bring all your own equipment with you means you can do it relatively cheaply too.
Planning your own Tasmania road trip? Be sure to check out Spirit of Tasmania’s Road Trip Planner for routes and inspiration. And let us know how you get on!
We received a complimentary cabin and sail with Spirit of Tasmania in exchange for writing this blog post. All of these opinions are our own.