I’m back! I’ve been home for almost a week now and have quickly settled back into the daily grind, although I did spend the whole weekend away in Fremantle at Falls Festival! I love visiting somewhere new and exploring where I’ve not been to before. This past Christmas and New Years my parents, sister and I traveled to Tasmania for a two week festive getaway, spending six nights in Hobart and six nights in Launceston. We’ve just about visited every corner of the state and of course a trip wouldn’t be complete without a write-up of my adventures and so here are 10 things to see and do in Tasmania. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to make it to the world renowned and very beautiful Freycinet National Park but I’m sure it would have made it onto my list.
1. WANDER THROUGH SALAMANCA MARKETS
We popped down to the famous Salamanca Markets in Hobart the morning after we arrived and it was manic seeing as it’s only on Saturdays and this was the last one before Christmas! My parents said this was easily the best markets they had ever been to because there wasn’t any of that cheap imported crap they’d expected to see, instead it was stall-after-stall of beautiful flowers, trinkets, bits and bobs made from local Tassie resources and an assortment of delicious homemade treats that were honestly an orgasm for my nose. As it is only open once a week a tip I heard from the locals is that the best time to visit and avoid the tourist stampede is first thing in the morning at 8:30am or later in the day around 1pm.
2. DRIVE UP MOUNT WELLINGTON
The key word there was drive. One of the first things you’ll notice when arriving in Tasmania is how hilly the landscape is, meaning everyone has a wicked view from above. But the best view overlooking all of Hobart is from the top of Mount Wellington. The drive up the steep, winding roads is almost a theme park ride in itself. Although it was absolutely freezing and blowing a gale the view was breathtaking and one I certainly recommend seeing. There are several lookouts at different points around the summit so you can see something different at each point. On the way back down you must make a stop off at the tiny cafe (it’s about half way up) and enjoy a hot chocolate, honestly the best I’ve ever had, tuck into a homemade sausage roll and/or the cheese selection box.
3. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO PORT ARTHUR
We all agreed as a family that my sister’s birthday, Christmas Eve, at Port Arthur was our favourite day of the whole trip. Although the roughly two hour drive down from Hobart isn’t the most scenic, once you do get there everything is green and you’re right on the water. We took a boat trip which was included in our ticket price around the two islands close by whilst learning about the convicts who lived there and built the prison at Port Arthur. I must say we had a brilliant tour guide (I can’t remember his name) who was so enthusiastic about the history of the site which in turn made exploring around even more fun. I also really liked how they acknowledged the 1996 massacre at the place but instead choose to focus on the convict history.
4. TASMAN ARCH & TESSELLATED PAVEMENT
On the way back from Port Arthur we stopped by a few of Mother Nature’s creations: the Tasman Arch and Tessellated Pavement at Pirates Bay. I love seeing the natural rock formation and how the impact of something as simple as water has changed its shape over time. The Tessellated Pavement is about a five minute drive from the Tasman Arch and you can actually walk out quite a fare distance from the beach as you can see from my “girl pondering life at the beach worthy Insta” pose my sister shot of me.
5. HANG GLIDE AT TAHUNE AIRWALK
Yet another long drive out of town but so worth it is the Tahune Airwalk in Geeveston. There are several walking trails, two suspension bridges that look out over the Huon River, and of course the tree top walk which reaches up to 50m above the forest floor. We actually encounted a wild echidna on our way back who came out to say hello and stuck around long enough for me to get a few snaps. The other main attraction available at Tahune is the hang glider. This one is for all the thrill seekers out there – well, you don’t exactly have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy it. I’m not the greatest fan of heights and I certainly don’t plan on sky diving anytime soon, but this hang glider was so much fun. Plus you get to see an amazing view over all the treetops.
6. VISIT THE OLDEST BRIDGE IN AUSTRALIA
I love a bit of Australian history and so other than Port Arthur my other favourite spot in Tassie was the quaint, old town of Richmond. Home to Australia’s oldest bridge, which in fact is still in use – we drove over it – and the oldest intact goal (jail), where everything has been left as is since 1825. We spent the day wandering through the streets, picked up some old fashioned sweets and tucked into some incredible food at a place called Stone & Barrow. For lunch I had the chilli fried southern calamari with watermelon, Westhaven fetta and coriander salad with a sherry vinaigrette (yes I had to Google the menu to find what I ate) and it was faultless. I would highly recommend eating here if in the area and the customer service was fab.
7. TAKE THE CHAIRLIFT AT CATARACT GORGE
Where we stayed for the second half of our trip in Launceston was situated right at the top of the hill only a stone throw away from Cataract Gorge. This spot is perfect for a morning walk or afternoon picnic with lots of grassed areas and another suspension bridge. Famous for having the world’s longest single chairlift span that delivers an overview of the First Basin and the beautiful grounds, blossoming with vibrant hydrangeas – you may even spot a few peacocks too! The day after we visited a relative informed us that one of my great, great grandparents used to work here in the early 1900s before moving to Victoria.
8. EXPLORE CRADLE MOUNTAIN
Possibly the biggest attraction Tasmania has to offer and is known for is Cradle Mountain. Although the three and a bit hours to drive there was a killer and that we were beyond underprepared for the extreme weather conditions, we walked out to Dove Lake and had a quick wander around. The wind was so strong I could lean back and it would support me. This place is definitely a hikers dream and I know my parents have said they want to come back and stay a few nights at the lodge there to explore more. We visited in the middle of summer and even then it was a brisk 6°Celsius so I would recommend layering up as much as you can and have a hot drink on standby.
9. CHRISTMAS HILLS RASPBERRY FARM
This cafe was the only spot in the whole Tasmania that I wanted to visit and it was only by sheer fluke that we saw it just off the highway on the way to Cradle Mountain. We stopped off on our way back through for some late lunch, a hot drink and a breather from spending hours in the car. Christmas Hills are known for serving everything with a raspberry twist, especially their hot chocolates and coffees. By accident my Mum ordered a raspberry latte and so I got to try both drinks and they were delicious, but then again I am a raspberry fanatic. They also have a little spot inside where you can purchase all sorts of homemade raspberry preserves, sauces and even giant punnets of fresh ones.
10. LILYDALE FALLS & THE ABANDONED RAILWAY TUNNEL
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a real waterfall and so this I guess was the first time I have. The natural beauty was such a nice change from looking out at highways and was so beautifully serene and calm that I probably could have spent all day there with a picnic in the shade. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge nature lover but I really enjoyed walking around the lush greenery and listening to the sound of water trickling and birds singing. Nearby, just off the beaten track is the old abandoned railway tunnel. Let me tell you this place must rarely see the light of day as it was so cool and damp. The ground was so sludgy you had to walk balancing on the old railway track, but nevertheless a quiet spot to have a quick look at.