14 tips for an unforgettable trip around Tasmania
Tasmania is incredible! It is not your ordinary state, for it combines all the beauty and characteristics of the others states of Australia onto one island. To ensure your experience is unforgettable, here are some travel tips to consider when booking your holiday around Tasmania.
1. Turn your luxurious holiday plan into an adventurous road trip - hire a campervan or car.
The best way to experience Tasmania's raw and rugged land is significantly aided by having the ability to drive around, especially if it is your first time on the island. You will see so much more than if you were to stay in one hotel and continually make the return trip each day. So hire a car/campervan. There are many camper companies in Tasmania, though as self-drive trips in Tassie are so popular, make sure you book this in advance, especially around peak seasons of November – March. Personally I'd go with the camper, because you may find yourself in a more remote location and want to camp out for the night.
The only exception to this suggestion, is if you intend to go to Tasmania for the purpose of staying in one location, like Hobart, Cradle Mountain or Launceston. But even then, hiring a car would be helpful to get from hotel to destination and back. Unless you’re really fit and can walk everywhere, or really rich and can afford taxis everywhere. Then just skip this first tip.
2. Throw out your day-to-day itinerary - just take it as it comes.
You could plan the most perfect itinerary and map out the best route possible for your stay, but if you do Tasmania right, you'll quickly realise that it's too beautiful to stick to your day plan. Just pick a starting place, know the main destinations you would like to visit, and just drive. You may find that some places overwhelm you with so much awe that you end up being there longer than expected, which puts the rest of your original plan off. Instead of dealing with the stress of making it to the next place by a certain time, just enjoy the moments as they come. You will appreciate what is in front of you much more, rather than simply ticking a destination off a list.
3. Be prepared to stop regularly- the roadside finds will simply amaze you.
This is closely related to the above tip. There is so much to see in Tasmania. A lot of it consists of what you may find roadside.
Fresh air to breath, views to take in. You can't just drive past without stopping to admire it all. I’ll be honest and tell you that we stopped the car to pull over on the highway, or an actual look-out spot at least three times an hour. But it is totally worth it! Anyway, you will actually notice that since Tasmania is a small little island, the major tourist attractions/sight-seeing destinations are usually no more than 2 hours driving. It’s so perfect. If you didn’t want to stop and see the incredible little things- you won’t even need to ‘Stop, Revive, Survive’- because you’ve already reached your next destination… (Joke. Stop always when tired, no matter if it hasn’t been two hours).
4. Apps can be your best friends- download WikiCamps Australia and TripAdvisor App.
Since you’ve now decided to be adventurous by road tripping around Tasmania, and since you’ve thrown out that strict minute by minute itinerary, you will want to download the WikiCamps Australia App and TripAdvisor App.
If WikiCaps was an actual human, like a Tour guide leader, I’d say they were the most entertaining and helpful guide. It is ridiculous how spot on this app is, providing you with all the benefits of knowing where the nearest toilets are, rest areas with BBQ access, walking/cycling/4WD tracks, look-outs and main sights to see, camp sights, wifi areas, bonfire pits, bins, showers, dump sights… oh my gosh, literally the app has it all. Like everything. It wasn't until a few days into our road trip that we actually purchased it, and we thought what idiots to have waited that long. You do need to pay, $7.99, but for the price of a cheeseburger meal from Maccas, and ease of mind when travelling on the road- why wouldn’t you?! Get it. Trust me. The other really hand app is the TravelAdvisor App. Since you’re on the road and taking it as it comes, the honest reviews of nearby cafes/restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions are really helpful. You can even book places to stay or tickets for an attraction straight off there. These are just two easy Apps to refer to when you’re on the go.
5. Lace up those hiking boots- you will be doing a lot of walking.
Yes indeed, lace them up real good! You will greatly benefit from a good pair of walking/ hiking shoes because honestly, there is like a magical walk around every hill. So if you don’t own a pair of good walking shoes or hiking boots, I strongly suggest you purchase a pair before you go. Waterproof hiking boots are excellent when you are in terrains that are muddy or you’re near waterfalls in the National Parks.
Tasmania is now more popularly known for its ‘60 Great Short Walks’, and among them are some of the big ones. Before arriving in Tasmania, we had the preconception that all these beautiful things are just at your feet. Whilst that is true for many, there are also some very special views that you may only see if you make the effort to go on a longer hike. I've never walked so much in my life before- but I have also never seen such beautiful views with my own eyes before. Those 3 hour plus walks are definitely worth it, and a good pair of shoes makes the walk all that more comfortable.
6. Don’t be greedy- you can’t walk them all.
Again, this tip closely links with the above. Of course you'd want to do all the hikes and walks offered in Tasmania, but you most probably will not have all the time, unless you’re lucky enough to live there.
If you go onto the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service website, there is that list of all the ’60 Great Short Walks’ and a handy estimate of how long it will take and its difficulty. If you're like me, don't be disheartened if a 4 hour return walk turns into 6 hours. It just means you're taking it in more haha. But seriously, pick about three or four of the longer walks. And really enjoy them. We chose Cape Hauy, Mount Amos and Marions Lookout at Cradle Mountain. (A blog post about hikes in Tasmania will be coming…)
Note: There is now a new App that has been designed by the Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service which is specifically dedicated to these 60 Great Short Walks. I did not know about this at the time I was travelling, though I’ve downloaded the App now and it looks incredible. There are simple maps, guide and safety tips, photographs and a brief on each of the walks. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in exploring the natural beauty of Tasmania. Download it here!
7. Get a National Park Pass- you will need it.
If you know you’re going to visit some of the major tourist destinations like Cradle Mountain, Freycinet, South Bruny or Tasman, then it will be worth your while to purchase a valid park entry permit. There are many options provided for your travels, though I would recommend the Holiday Pass- Up to 8 Weeks, which is $60 per car. It works out cheaper than purchasing individual permits for different parks, per person. And it also includes entry into Cradle Mountain, which is otherwise separate. There are several places you can purchase the park entry permits, so buy one when you can and you leave it on your dashboard without a further worry.
8. Stop off at small cafés along the way- everyone loves a good coffee and a chat.
I can’t express it enough, but driving around Tasmania is so perfect. You are surrounded by so much untouched natural land, and then you reach adorable little towns, with just the essentials really needed to get by in life. It’s simple and refreshing. One of my favourite memories was stopping off at a little café in The Hamilton Inn Hotel in the small town of Hamilton. I had left my friend in the van and just went in the café for quick take away coffees, but I ended up having a lovely chat with the owner for a while. It turned out that he was originally from my area in Sydney and shared his story of how he ended up living and working in Tasmania. Somewhere in the conversation he described me as a gypsy renegade, so I instantly liked him. Basically, if you’re driving along and see a small town café, stop the car and go in. Not only will you be served deliciously fresh meals, you will meet some amazing people with different stories and just really appreciate the lives they live.
9. Most places close early- get all you need in daylight.
It’s important to remember this tip while you are actually there. If you know you’re going to make a BBQ for dinner, or you want some marshmallows to toast over your camp fire for the night, then you need to buy these in the day. You’re lucky if you can find a grocery store open after 6pm. Restaurants may also be harder to find open past 8pm. So if you know you’re going to be wanting a feast, get in early. Otherwise, stock up on some snacks incase of an emergency evening, when you may have been too busy climbing down a mountain during sunset and did not get back in time to find a place to eat.
10. Get to know the weather- are you packing correctly?
Don't leave on the preconceptions that just because Tasmania is at the bottom of Australia, it will be freezing all year round. So not true. We were there during the middle to end of Autumn and had packed only for the cold. Stupidly we regretted that on those days when the sun was out and we just so happened to be hiking too.
So get familiar with the average weather conditions for your trip and pack accordingly. Definitely have a variety of long and short tops and pants. Layer up, because you will mostly strip off during the day. Unless you're going in Winter... It snows in Winter. Like a winter wonderland, so I'm sure you won't be caught walking in your shorts shorts and a crop top.
11. Pictures tell a thousand words- make sure you take your camera
I get that some people are not camera people and think they are the worst photographers. But when you have epic Tasmanian views in front of your eyes, it is very hard not to get a shot. Even your mobile is sufficient. Don’t leave for the trip without some sort of memory catcher.
There was one instance when I had the most mind blowing experience. I was in a cloud. An actual cloud. There was another man there too, who I later found out was travelling around Australia alone, and didn’t feel comfortable taking photos alone. So he just stood there at the edge of the platform and watched the clouds pass him by. I stood there looking at him, just looking at the clouds. And I took a picture. How can something so incredibly beautiful not be captured for a memory to share?
Before I had even considered booking flights to Tasmania, I had been falling in love with Tasmania’s beauty by stalking Tasmania photos and hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. I knew I wanted to also capture pretty photos to share. So when the bulk of your 23kg luggage limit is consumed by your camera equipment, then you better be getting some good shots. You can check out my Instagram and my Twitter accounts to find more pics from Tasmania.
12. Wildlife dawn to dusk- that’s if you don’t run them all over!
So so very real. One thing you will definitely notice is the sad number of road kill on the highways when driving around Tasmania. They do get removed off the roads, it is not as though the highways are filled with an obstacle course of dead wildlife. But you will notice it. You could even play a game of spot the road kill, for some light road trip enterianment. Really though, there are signs in certain areas prone to late night/early morning wildlife adventurers, to warn you to slow down. From birds, to wombats and possums to kangaroos, and I’m pretty sure I even saw a Tasmanian Devil. The poor little animals just want to come out and play, so be very cautious on the road during dawn to dusk.
13. A sunrise and sunset- just because you can.
If you are in a campervan, you have the ultimate luxury of where you want to be for sunrise and sunset. Make sure that you wake up at least one morning to watch the sunrise, and make sure that you are out an about somewhere during the sunset. With Tasmania’s diverse landscapes, you are sure to wittness something precious at these daily moments. Above is a clip from a morning sunrise in Swansea. I knew the sun was beginning to rise, and I was still half asleep. Forcing myself to get up, I went down to the water- still in my pyjamas and watched the sunrise.
Do you think it was worth it?
14. Book your return trip to Tasmania- you know, for the places you didn't get to visit, because it was all too much amazement for one trip.
You will leave the island calculating the few days of annual leave that you can bundle up, so you can book your return trip back to Tasmania. For all those places you did not get to explore, you will just have to return. That’s my plan!
I hope these travel tips help you out along the way. If you know someone planning to visit Tasmania, I'd love you to share this with them! Leave a comment below if you have any other tips you think will help ensure the most unforgettable Tasmania road trip.
Thanks for reading. Lots of love xx