This is the smallest and the farthest state in Australia and it is the most temperated from all. It doesn’t have an arid inner region, but a lot of cool forests, rugged mountains and orchards full of fruits.
Bass Strait is only 200 km wide, but Tasmania remains an apart world compared with the rest of Australia, this heart-shaped island is compact and accessible. Given the size of Ireland or to Switzerland – 296 km from north to south and 315 km from east to west – “Tassie” is ideal for a vacation by car. The province is strikingly green, surrounded by rolling pastures surrounded by oaks, willows and poplars planted by the settlers, who were homesick. Tiny hamlets are filled with small mansions builted by the prisoners and “Devonshire” houses for tea. The pace is calm and relaxed in a similar fashion to that of the nineteenth century.
But the greatest attraction in Tasmania reside in its empty places. Less than half a million people live in this state, mostly gathered around the south capital, Hobart, and the northern city, Launceston. Because of this, the island has the richest portions of protected wilderness in Australia. In the national parks of Tasmania is a higher percentage of shrubs than in any other part of the country.
Impressive parks system is the result of bitter struggles, and today the island’s environmentalists continue to fight to save the unique ecosystems.
Along the north-western coast
Many tourists arrive at Devonport, on board Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Melbourne, which needs to travel all night, although the new Devilcat catamaran of 90 meters, is only four hours from Melbourne to George Town, an hour east of Devonport.
Situated on the River Mersey and dominated by a brilliant white light, Devonport houses 23,000 people and has a flourishing trade of handicrafts, like most other towns in Tasmania. The road of 133 km from west that leads to Stanley, discovers a classic aspect of Tasmanian landscape. Take a detour to the small village of Penguin, where the municipal Australian art reaches a supernatural peak: even rubbish bins are penguin shaped. The charming seaside town, Wynard, is dominated by a monolithic promontory called Table Cape.
Stanley is a strange village of fishermen, who seems to have changed little over the last century, it lies at the foot of The Nut, at the end of a narrow isthmus. Founded in 1826, Stanley was the headquarters of Van Diemen’s Land Company, a pastoral group which was established by Royal Charter, one issued by George IV. Company’s warehouse, built in 1844, can still be seen on the colonial coast. Company officials have lived in Highfleld House, built in 1828, on the top of a hill overlooking the town and to The Nut. Highfield complete restoration is almost done, and the house is open for visits.
In the west part there are Smithton and Cape Grim, home to the most powerful winds in Australia, but also a graveyard for ships of the nineteenth century. Van Diemen’s Land Company still operates some farms in this wild and remote territory.
Dozens of small valleys start from the coast to the central mountain plateau of Tasmania, discovering some beautiful farms. The most colorful diversion is on the way to Castra, out of Ulverstone, which leads to Leven Canvon: this narrow and winding road passes by red poppies (flowering in January), grown under government control and strict for medical reasons. The canyon is extremely deep, was dug by the Leven River. A sensational view can see only 10 minutes walk from the parking. More recently, was opened a path to the canyon, but it can be steep, slippery and misleading.This is a gateway to Cradle Mountain National Park, Lake St. Clair, the most famous wild area of Tasmania. Moraine lakes, flat lands, mountain views, trails in good condition and the chance to see wild animals such as small kangaroos, marsupials bears makes it to be one of the best walking areas in Australia. Six-day journey across the land the park is considered an essential walking through the Australian bush, although only experienced and well prepared hikers should try. Several companies offers guided trips on this trail.
A common alternative is the visit of one or both ends of the huge park, for some lighter and shorter walks. Northern end is more accessible: one of the most spectacular scenery in Tasmania (that of Cradle Mountain whit the Lake Dove) can be seen from the car park. Around the lake is an easy trail that can be crossed in two hours; other paths of varying difficulty towards to the tea-colored lakes Twisted, to the wetland park and to the valleys.
The Cradle Mountain and The Walls of Jerusalem National Park are part of the great mountain plateau, which rises on the west coast and going to the south, stretching over two thirds of the island. Much of the land is situated at an altitude of 900 meters, with peaks that rise over 1,500 meters, and includes an area dotted by numerous lakes, from small lakes to the Great Lake, which is at the highest altitude in Australia. From this point it spring streams and rivers, flowing in all directions, through deep gorges on the way to the sea.
Tiger from Tassie
Tasmanian tiger or marsupial wolf was a wolf-like animal with pouch, which grows to a length of 1.3 meters. He looks scary, with a yellow body with stripes on the back and with jaws like a steel trap. At first, it hunted small kangaroos and bird, but the sheep brought by settlers proved to be a tasty alternative. “Tigers” were hunted by the farmers who want to protect their flocks, so that their number decreased.
The last four were caught in 1908 at Woolnorth farm in Tasmania’s far northwest, which is then sent to the Hobart Zoo. Unfortunately they have not survived in captivity and the last “Tiger” died in 1936. Since then have been reported observes of these creatures, but none was confirmed.
As you take the road to the east, from Devonport, on the Bass Highway, will appear the historical city of Deloraine, which lies in the valley of Meander river, with Quamby Bluff peak behind (1226 feet) and the Western Tiers peak. Colonized in 1823, and including many examples of old colonial architecture, this village is protected by the National Trust of Australia.
Mole Creek, with its limestone caves, located about 20 km from the city, without discussion worth a visit as well as Trowunna wildlife park where you can see all the animals that are so “invisible” in the Australian bush.
Located in idyllic spring Tamar River and surrounded by a rich agricultural region, Launceston is Tasmania’s second largest city (65,000 inhabitants) and the commercial center of nearly half of the state. It is a pleasant city, covered with hills and graced by historic buildings, parks and gardens. Ten minutes walk from town are two recreation areas: Cliff Gorge Waterfall and gardens connected by a funicular and chairs, which crosses the river South Esk. Another popular attraction is the Penny Royal Mills complex.
One of the most popular attractions of a visit to Launceston is the car ride along Wine Route, visiting vineyards from the 1970s that produced some of the finest wines from Australia (and experts said Chardonnay Pinot Noir are the most strongest in Tasmania). Making a trip of 65 km on a side of the river Tamar, you will reach Batnian futuristic bridge and then you can return on the other way, through the middle of a picturesque country gardens. Nabowla, nearby, 26 km north-east of Lilydale, has a huge lavender farm.
From Launceston, Tasman Highway heads east and then south almost on the entire length of the east coast, to Hobart. The road of 434 km is covered with bitumen on a good surface is wide as two lanes and although in some sections crossing several mountain passes, can be covered in one day. Emerging from Launceston, on 169 km branch leading to St. Helens, the road turns to the northeast, passing through the middle of lush farms, and then winding through forests and fern covered hills, through a passage known as The Sidling up to Scottsdale. Something further is Derby, Ringarooma River, a poor historic city, who, between 1876 and 1929, was a thriving center in the tin mines. Then Tasman Highway towards south-east and down to Pyengana, where a side road of 10 km leads to the beautiful waterfall St. Columbia. By St. Helens there is about 20 km. This is the greatest of cities on the east coast, with a population of 1,200 inhabitants.
Taking it to the south, the road goes along the magnificent surfing beaches over a distance of 20 km, then to the Scamander, and then moves inward, climbs a mountain pass and goes down again to the coast, on the coil of Elephant Pass, from where it can be observed occasionally the distant ocean. Bicheno (700 inhabitants) is a thriving resort and a port for a small fleet of fishing vessels, when European history began in 1803, there was a creepy whales warehouse, known as Waub’s Harbour.
Making a detour of 10 km south of Bicheno, you will reach after 26 km, Coles Bay, gateway to the magnificent Freycinet National Park, which has excellent walking paths through the bush. Fantastic hills Hazards – 300 meters of pink granite that rises from the ocean – forms a dramatic setting for the beaches, ocean basins and quiet paths of Australian bush, where are plenty of animals and birds. A steep two-hour ride along the peninsula takes you to famous Wineglass bay, with superb white sand beach, slightly curved and the blue and crystal clear waters. The landscape here is dry and sandy, so you take plenty of water with you.
From Swansea, a holiday resort and fishing sleeping with some nice old buildings and a population of 400 inhabitants, Tasman Highway follows the southern coast to Triabunna the port of commercial fishing fleet. The coastline here is dominated by Maria island, located 21 km from shore. The island was colonized as a prison station, in 1825, prior to open Port Arthur, and is now a sanctuary for wild creatures. In Orford the nearby village are the ruins of the first settlements in which prisoners were loaded, today, there is a ferry carrying tourists and hikers eager to explore the national park.
After crossing the river Prosser – named after an escaped prisoner who was caught on its shores – Tasman highway continues along its course, leading through a rocky gorge to the old village Buckland, with a beautiful church builted in 1846. The 62 km of highway crosses the remaining chain of hills before falling to Sorell, named after a man who was lieutenant governor in 1821.
As an alternative to the coastal road, Highway Midland, who started in Launceston, passing through three of the most famous colonial city of Tasmania. Ross, founded in 1821, has a splendid sandstone bridge, believed to be the most beautiful in Australia, with 186 sculptures made by artist-prisoner Daniel Herbert. After half an hour further going south lies the former prisoners stop, Oatlands, which has the largest collection of colonial buildings in the country. Finally, Richmond, just 25 km from Hobart, is the favorite Tasmanian historic city.