I’ve always had the notion of visiting Tasmania since finding out that my grandpa’s sister emigrated there as a young woman. That part of Australia, disconnected from the mainland, standing proud on its own. We only had 5 days there so we tried to do the best bits. Let me tell you about my experience and recommendations.
Flying to Hobart, we paid $235 (AUD) each, one way, which is approximately £133 with Virgin Australia. However flying back from Launceston was only $89 one way with Jetstar, approximately £50 each! We did it this way so that we could see a bit of Tasmania by car, but do the maths and if it’s cheaper to get a return to and from Launceston it may be worthwhile. We rented a car with Europcar for $366 (£207) for 4 days. It was their most basic car with a gear stick which we’re obviously fine using, but we just assumed we’d be getting an automatic as that’s what most cars are in Australia, so I’d recommend checking with them if you have a preference.
The Salamanca Market is held every Saturday from 8:30am until 3pm in Hobart. It’s been running since 1972 and is somewhat of an institution. You can get foodie delights such as fresh coffee, cakes, biscuits, sausage sizzles, paella you name it! There’s also lots of crafty nick nacks to discover on a leisurely Saturday, with musicians dotted about to keep you entertained.
The Drunken Admiral on Hobart’s waterfront had been recommended to us. On entry to the restaurant, it was kitted out like a functioning ship. As I’m not the fishiest of people, I was a little nervous that there wouldn’t be something that I’d like on the menu. However they do cater for non-seafood lovers. There’s steak and chicken dishes to choose from and the most luxurious fish and chips for those who are partial to white fish in batter with chunky chips. I surprised myself nonetheless and dived straight into The Sultan’s Wok Pot, a Thai inspired cashew satay prawn & scallops curry served on top of steamed rice in my own little wok. Gavin had Yachtie’s Seafood Mixed Grill, 4 different types of seafood served on sizzling skewers. We washed down our beautiful meal with local Tasmanian wine and Hobart Brewing Co beer. The restaurant is extremely popular so booking is recommended.
The Standard is a funky place with lots of 80s and 90s music and film memorabilia. We went looking for it on Hudson’s lane but it didn’t appear very open so we went back on to the Main Street which has a bar where they also sell their burgers. It was the perfect antidote to my hunger that evening after a long day travelling around from mountain to waterfall to historic site in and around Hobart. I had the Heisenburger and the burger literally melted in my mouth, it had a certain texture about it that was soft and not as rigid as any other burger I have ever eaten. They also had an array of sauces you could choose from to dunk your chips into. I chose the curiously named ‘Animal Sauce’ and it was super tasty, a tint of orange coloured subtly spicy mayo. It’s a very laid-back atmosphere here, we didn’t stay long as we were tired but the food hit the spot!
There’s some pretty good steak to be had in Tasmania overall, but we gave into the temptation in Launceston at Steve’s Grill. You can choose your cut i.e. rump, porterhouse etc and your size: small, medium, large and your sauce: peppercorn, red wine jus etc. My eyes were bigger than my belly and I went for a medium Scotch fillet steak with a Hollandaise accompaniment but I couldn’t finish it which was an atrocity! The chips are pretty standard and there’s a salad buffet. It felt like the place I’d go with my gran for a Sunday meal as it’s part of the Centennial Hotel, but the steak is the main event here.
Great Scot just opened in Launceston a year ago. With Tasmania’s often cooler climate, it does remind me somewhat of home, so to see a Scottish restaurant here was quite exciting! We missed breakfast however as we were stuffed from last night’s steak! A rookie mistake, because this place sounds like it’s really in its element at breakfast time with menu choices such as black pudding, lorne (square) sausage and tattie scones. We headed for lunch and although the food was delicious, there wasn’t enough of it for me and it wasn’t particularly Scottish come lunchtime. Bagels seemed to be the main option which I didn’t fancy so I had the black pudding with goats cheese which was more a starter plate than a main meal option. I did have some tablet however (Scottish fudge) and felt happier for that. The decor pays homage to Scotland and the chef and owner is a very friendly Glaswegian.
Mt Wellington, take your car up to the top of the mountain for great views over Hobart. We went up early morning and the mist hadn’t quite settled yet, so we were very comically running around in the 6 degrees Celsius conditions (we’ve been used to 30c in Queensland these past few months) feeling freezing, trying to get a glimpse of the view. There’s a cute little eco coffee shop on route to the mountain which I loved the look of but didn’t have a coffee as I’d already had my caffeine fix for the morning.
Russell Falls waterfall is approximately an hours drive from Hobart, a scenic walk with waterfalls galore and if you’re lucky you might spot a pademelon, a small wallaby species only found in Tasmania. You pay to get into Mt Field National Park, but you can pay a discounted fee for more than one National Park, we did this as we were also visiting Cradle Mountain and Freycinet national parks.
Port Arthur, steeped in history, this place imprisoned British convicts. Prisoners began coming here in the early 1800s and the building has been through quite a lot in the past few years from bush fires to a hotel, to residents houses and very sadly a mass shooting, not long after Scotland’s gun tragedy in 1996. I really enjoyed my visit here which involved a short cruise on the water, a guided tour from a fantastic French lady and a wander around the many buildings. You can even check if any of your ancestors may have been exiled here. There’s a cafe and restaurant on site also.
Freycinet National Park encompasses many walks for all fitness levels. We did the most popular walk up to the viewing point for wine glass bay which only takes approx 1 and a half hour return trip. We had been buying sandwiches from bakeries and coffee shops to eat on our excursions which proved to be a good plan as we could just eat when we felt hungry. As we were leaving we spotted a wallaby in the car park, he didn’t seem scared, he was very placid, allowing some other tourists to get up close to him to pet him which I wouldn’t be doing to a wild wallaby. Nevertheless he was very cute.
We continued on our drive to the Bay of Fires which relates to the orange tinge present on the rocks at the bay. We only did a snapshot of this area, you could spend a lot longer exploring here. The beaches, like most Australian beaches, were breathtakingly beautiful.
Cradle Mountain, this was the big one and we ummed and ahhhd over whether to do the day walk. In the end we settled for the approximate 2 hour round trip of Dove Lake, taking in the iconic boat shed. Cradle Mountain is said to be a good spot for spotting wombats in the wild but unfortunately I never saw one. We did however, spot an echidna crossing the road. It was too fast for me to snap a photo of its face. We never saw a Tasmanian Devil, they are an endangered species. However you can visit some wildlife centres in Tasmania that have some. We’d already seen them in this kind of environment at Australia Zoo in Queensland.
City Park in Launceston is a nice way to spend some time. We visited the monkey enclosure, which houses Japanese Macaque monkeys. I could watch them getting up to mischief for hours. The Park is a lovely pleasant spot to while away some time. They also have a lovely coffee shop to stop and take some stock. We had a lovely light breakfast in there of toast, raspberry conserve and a plentiful fruit salad.
Launceston’s Cataract Gorge was a delight, I didn’t know about it until speaking to our hotel manager. The gorge is free to walk around and costs $12 one way ($15 return) if you want a ride on the world’s longest single span chairlift, which I highly recommend you should do. The gorge is a tranquil place with lots of trails, and an outdoor swimming pool. There are wild wallabies wandering around and they get really close to you it’s amazing to see! There’s cafes and nice places to sit it’s a lovely way to spend your afternoon.
The hotels weren’t a lot to write home about. We stayed in the Midcity Quality Hotel, Hobart which was basic but clean, there were a few things broken in the room like sockets and the air con (not that we needed it). We also had to request to move rooms as they’d positioned us right next door to the noisy lifts. Otherwise the location was good and you don’t have to pay for the hotel parking if you just want to park overnight and leave before 8am the next day, there’s plenty of spots on the road adjacent to the hotel. Be aware though, on Sunday there’s a lovely little market that runs right outside the hotel, so no parking overnight on a Saturday.
We had a loft room in Launceston’s Art Hotel on York. It was a little clunky and old-fashioned, not quirky and boutique like It was advertised to be, but it was clean and the bed was incredibly comfy. We paid average prices for accommodation as we knew we wanted something comfortable but nothing extravagant as we were only using it for sleeping after a long day exploring all that Tassie had to offer.
I think it’s clear to see that I really loved my time in Tasmania, a state not to be overlooked on your Aussie adventure.