Tasmania is an island state located south of the Australian mainland. Proudly recognized as the “natural state”, 42% of Tasmania is covered with protected areas such as national parks and World Heritage Sites. It is like the New Zealand of Australia! A great place for nature lovers. Hence self-drive in Tasmania is a great way to explore the island.
Tips for Self Drive in Tasmania
- Tasmania may seem small compared to the Australian mainland, but the total area for the island is about 64500 KM2. Therefore 10 days is ideal if you were to self-drive in Tasmania.
- The two main cities in Tasmania are Hobart (the capital down south) & Launceston up north. Both cities serve interstate flight. Thus if you want to save time, technically you can fly into Launceston and leave from Hobart. However, you do need to consider the one-way rental fee as the two cities are only 3 hours apart via highway.
- We usually use Rentalcars.com for car rental. It is significantly cheaper if you book early, especially during peak season.
- As the food is not cheap in Australia, staying in motels or AirBnb with kitchens can save a considerable amount of money. If you have not used AirBnb before, click here for discount code.
- The website “Camping Tasmania” provides information on free camping sites around the island. Just remember, it gets pretty cold in winter!
- National Parks are not free in Tasmania. Therefore it would be worth it to plan in advance & see how many national parks you are going to. This will help you decide on which National Parks Pass to get. If going to more than one national park, it would be worth it to buy the 8-week pass instead.
The usual 10-Day Self Drive in Tasmania Itinerary
- Day 1 Hobart
- Day 2 Freycinet National Park
- Day 3 Bay of Fires + Launceston
- Day 4-5 Cradle Mountain
- Day 6 Strahan & Queenstown for the West Coast Wilderness Railway
- Day 7 Mount Field National Park
- Day 8 Port Arthur Historic Site
- Day 9-10 South Bruny Island National Park & Hobart
The usual 10-day self-drive itinerary above is for people who want to do the majority of Tasmania. If you are into hiking, then you may require more time on the island. Below is a rough summary of what we did during our 7 days in Tasmania. One thing to note is that I have done the West Coast Wilderness Railway on my last visit here, that’s why our itinerary this time is more concentrated on what we think we will enjoy. Hopefully, you will still find it helpful though.
Our 7-Day Self Drive Itinerary
Hobart is the second oldest city in Australia and the capital of Tasmania. It has the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) which is a world-renowned, famous for its modern & contemporary arts. Some of the artworks in MONA can be offensive to the conservatives, that’s why they are interesting! Since the admission to the museum isn’t exactly cheap, I would suggest a full day to make it worth it. Unfortunately we didn’t have time this time around, however, it is definitely on my list for next visit to Hobart!
From Hobart, Bruny Island is only a short ferry ride away. The food here (especially the oysters) seems to be a lot better than ones you can find in Hobart city centre. I would also recommend people to do the Free Walking Tour (not available in winter) to learn about Tasmania’s histories. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is worth a visit. Not only it’s free to enter, but it also contains specimen of the extinct Tasmanian tigers.
Salamanca Market is a must if you here on one of the Saturdays here in Hobart. They do sell delicious scallop pies (look out for Smiths Speciality Pies stall!) which is a specialty created by the Tasmanians. If you are serious about your scallop pies, please link to my blog “Finding the Best Scallop Pies in Tasmania” for further comparison. The fish & chips are also great at Kraken fish and chips if you want something more local.
Day 3：Mt Wellington → Port Arthur（100KM）
Picked up on car from Thrifty in CBD where we pre-booked at Rentalcars.com. Made our way to Mt Wellington– the southeast coastal region of Tasmania where you get a full view of the peninsula from 1271M above. As it is part of the Wellington Park Reserve, you can hike to the summit as well. However, due to time restraint, we drove straight up. Highly advisable to check the forecast beforehand, as you won’t be able to see a thing if it’s cloudy.
We then visited the Historical Site of Port Arthur. This is one of the second most haunted places in Australia! It is recognized as UNESCO site as it contains more than 30 historically significant buildings which relate to the convict histories of Australia. English people have been sending their worst criminals here since the 18th centuries. Definitely make a trip here and do the ghost tour at night!
Day 4： Port Arthur → Ross → Cradle Mountain（380KM）
The admission to Port Arthur allows entry into the site for two consecutive days. We left around 11 am and made our way to the small town of Ross. Here you can eat at the famous Ross Bakery that all Asians are fascinated about. As the guy (Hayao Miyazaki) who made the Japanese anime “Spirited Away” got his inspiration of “Kiki’s Delivery” from this bakery.
It also has “Ross Female Factory”– one of the 11 sites that collectively comprise the Australian Convict Sites and is listed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
We then continue our way towards the Cradle Mountains. To be honest, if you don’t want to come to Ross, you can go west towards the mountain ranges and bypass Strahan for the West Coast Wilderness Railway. However, you will be adding one or two day extra to your itinerary.
Day 5： Cradle Mountain Summit
Day 5, to challenge ourselves at Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park and summit the sixth highest mountain in Tasmania- the Cradle Mountain (1545M)! Within this national park, there’s the deepest lake in Tasmania- Dove Lake (183M) and highest peak- Mt Ossa (1617M).
There are various trails at the park, the most popular one is the dove lake circuit that only takes around 2 hours. With luck, you are able to spot the wombats too!
This particular hike is around 13KM return and takes about 8 hours. The hike itself isn’t hard, but the bouldering towards the end of the summit does take a toll on a short girl like me. Having to stretch my body wide open in order to reach the next rock!
Highly recommend people to download the map to get an idea which tracks they are going to do. The two accommodation opens are Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village and Discovery Parks – Cradle Mountain. Both get booked out quite early, therefore we suggest to book as early as possible. Otherwise, there are not many options around the area if you were to live close to the start of the trail.
Day 6： Cradle Mountain → Launceston（145KM）
The drive from Cradle Mountain to Launceston isn’t too far. Therefore, it is a good idea to make a detour to Devonport– a port town where Spirit of Tasmania docks. Spirit of Tasmania is a cruise that travels between Melbourne and Tasmania. The journey takes 11 hours and the price of the cruise ain’t cheap. It’s suitable for people who want to bring their pets along or drive their own car.
Launceston is the second-largest city in Tasmania and the third oldest in Australia. It is well serviced by flights, connecting Launceston to the rest of the Australian mainland. Hence many people would start their trip Launceston and end it in Hobart.
The population of Launceston is just below 90,000. There’s this beautiful natural reserve not too far from CBD called Cataract Gorge. It is actually a gorge within the city! It also has various hiking trails, chair lift, landscaped garden as well as a restaurant and café. Definitely a must-visit if the weather is nice.
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is another free attraction in Launceston. It contains various artefacts and explained the histories of Tasmanian tigers very well. We only visited the museum an hour before its closing time, so didn’t have time to finish all the exhibits.
We also visited James Boag– a local brewery that started back in 1881 and has expanded nationwide! They have changed the face of Australian beer industry forever! You can choose to attend a 90-minute brewery tour for $33 where they show you how beers are made and you end the tour with beer tasting and local cheese.
If you choose to skip all this, you can still have a beer tasting at the actual James Boag Brewery bar! It is situated within an 1826 hotel. Upstairs, there are many displays of the old beer adverts. Some of them are definitely very creative.
Accommodation wise, we stayed in POD INN for a night as I’ve always wanted to try a pod hotel. It was cheap and clean. The only downside was that street parking was a bit hard to find, however, we were lucky to arrive in Launceston on a public holiday, so everything was free.
My first Pod/ Capsule Hotel Experience (Video)
Day 7：Wine Glass Bay→ Hobart （410KM）
The Wineglass Bay of Freycinet National Park is one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world! The hourglass-shaped bay is the ideal honeymoon destination for many newlyweds. However, the actual reason for the name wasn’t quite so romantic.
Back in the days when there were whaling stations here, the water in the bay would turn red due to slaughtering of creatures. From the top of the hills, it looked like a glass being filled with red wine. As it is located in a national park, you will have to purchase the national park pass in order to access.
There are two ways to see Wineglass Bay, one is the easier tourist route which takes about 2 hours, the other one is going up Mt Amos, where you get to see both sides of the bay! The hike itself is only 4.1KM with the altitude of 454M. According to the official website, the amount of time it takes us was around 3 hours. However, it seems like a normal fitness trail for the locals. We saw people jogging up the hill, even saw a mom breastfeeding halfway!
Trailhiking.com.au (link) documented the hike quite well. It is nothing too difficult other than the super slippery rocks! Even with my hiking boot Keen Koven, I felt like the grips were not strong enough. However, bear in mind, I did travel with that boot around the world back in 2019! Therefore, prepare to be using all fours if you here to climb Mt Amos for the first time.
After the hike, we started making our way back to Hobart for our night flight. Bypassing more places and tried fresh oysters. Please link to my blog “Finding the Best Oysters in Tasmania” for a full review. There we go, this concludes our trip to Tasmania!
As I didn’t do any videos for this trip other than Instagram Stories, so please follow me on @travelwithwinny if you want to see our Tasmanian highlights!