Lying around 240 kilometers to the south of mainland Australia, the island state of Tasmania boasts some of the country’s most beautiful scenery and is an increasingly popular tourist destination. Due to its remote location, lots of unique flora and fauna can be found in its national parks, while its jagged coastline offers up kayaking, boat trips, and dolphin watching.
Known affectionately as Tassie to locals, the majority of the island’s population is found around the cities of Launceston in the north and Hobart in the south, with vast swathes of mountains, forests, and farmland in between.
Renowned in Australia for its fresh produce, exceptional cuisine, and delicious wines, it also hosts a staggering array of fantastic festivals, art exhibitions, and music events. With plenty of interesting Aboriginal and colonial tourist attractions in Tasmania, the island offers up the perfect mix of culture, cuisine, history, and nature.
12. Russell Falls
Located in Mount Field National Park in the Central Highlands of the island, Russell Falls looks spectacular and is well worth checking out if you have the chance. Appearing very much like curtains of water, its tiered-cascades tumble down a series of horizontal stone benches, which are surrounded by dense undergrowth with ferns and trees threatening to engulf them.
From the viewing platform at the bottom of the falls, you can snap loads of fantastic photos of them rising dramatically before you. The equally charming Horseshoe Falls lie just a short walk away. As the national park boasts lots of wonderful natural sights, many people combine a visit to Russell Falls with stops at some of its other attractions.
11. Bruny Island
Actually made up of North and South Bruny, which are connected by ‘The Neck’ – a long, narrow isthmus – the island is home to lots of astounding scenery, with each part delightfully different from the other. While the northern realms consist mainly of farmland and picturesque countryside, the south is wonderfully wild; the mountains and forests of its national park lie beside windswept beaches and rugged cliffs.
Consequently, it is very popular with nature lovers, and many people come to catch a glimpse of its penguins and wallabies. Located just a short ferry ride to the southeast of Tasmania, Bruny Island is mainly visited by daytrippers from Hobart, although it certainly warrants spending a few days exploring its natural sights and delicious local produce.
10. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Home to everything from kangaroos and wombats to koalas, emus, and, of course, Tasmanian devils, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places on the island to see some of Australia’s amazing wildlife. Set on a spacious site, the sanctuary protects and preserves their natural environment. Everything certainly looks idyllic as you see kangaroos happily hopping about the outdoor enclosures.
Besides learning all there is to know about these Ozzie critters and the center’s conservation projects, visitors can also meet a sugar glider or echidna or help out feeding Eastern quolls and Tasmanian devils. Located on the outskirts of Brighton, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary makes for a fun and educational day out for all the family.
9. Mole Creek Karst National Park
Boasting a remarkable array of karst landscapes, with caves, rock formations, streams, and springs, Mole Creek Karst National Park will delight nature lovers with all that it has to offer. Established in 1996, the park now includes some 300 caves and sinkholes. The most impressive of these are Marakoopa Cave and King Solomons Cave.
While the former is larger, has a couple of streams running through it, and is magically lit up by glow worms, the latter exhibits some awe-inspiring stalagmites and stalactites. Asides from its two main draws, the national park also has some lovely gorges and forests above ground, with most other caves only accessible to recreational cavers.
8. Freycinet National Park
Located on the east coast of Tasmania and encompassing a large part of the peninsula of the same name, Freycinet is the oldest national park on the island and was founded all the way back in 1916. Awash with stunning scenery, its dramatic landscapes include everything from magnificent pink-tinted mountains to sweeping bays and glorious white sand beaches. Of its many fine sights, Wineglass Bay stands head and shoulders above the rest and is regularly included amongst the world’s best beaches.
Besides lounging on the beach or swimming in the park’s inviting waters, visitors can also go hiking in The Hazards mountain range. Covered in lots of unique flora, the mountains also boast a wealth of beautiful birds and animals. The views from up high of the surrounding area are breathtaking.
7. Cascades Female Factory Historic Site
Once a workhouse for convicts, the Cascades Female Factory was in use between 1828 and 1856 and is now an important historic site. Located in Hobart, it was here that female convicts were housed and set to work either as cooks, hospital attendants, or making and washing clothes for the penal colony.
Nowadays, exploring its buildings and yards makes for an interesting experience. A number of informative displays and exhibits inform you on what life would have been like for the incarcerated women. In addition to this, you also learn about how punishment and reform were seen back in the 1800s, Britain’s influence in Tasmania, and how the nation of Australia came into being.
The largest privately-owned museum in the country, the Museum of Old and New Art boasts an incredible collection of ancient, modern, and contemporary artworks. Opened in 2011 just outside of Hobart on the banks of the River Derwent, the museum is located in a hulking building with a cavernous interior that reaches three levels underground.
As such, there is quite a heavy and oppressive feel about the place. Many have found the themes, design of the collection, and at times the artworks themselves to be quite provocative.
Indeed, David Walsh, the Tasmanian multimillionaire who collected the 1,900 or so artworks on show, once described the MONA as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland.’ While it has often courted controversy, it is certainly worth checking out, as it is sure to be unlike any art museum you’ve ever visited before. Its engaging and interactive material will certainly grab your attention.
5. Port Arthur Historic Site
Set in a remote spot on the Tasman Peninsula, the Port Arthur Historic Site is one of the most important heritage sites in the whole of Australia. Established in 1830 by the British Empire, only the most hardened criminals were sent to the penal colony, and a sprawling town soon rose up around the prison.
Nowadays, it is a popular tourist attraction. Its dozens of buildings give us a fascinating insight into what the lives of the prisoners and guards would have looked like. Taking a tour around the complex is simply a must. These take you past all of the main landmarks while teaching you about the history of Port Arthur and the many convicts who passed through the prison.
In 1996, a gunman killed 35 people and injured many more, with visitors, staff and locals among the victims. After burning down a guesthouse, he was finally captured and remains imprisoned in Hobart. Memorials to those who died can be found at the site.
4. Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park
Located in the Central Highlands, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park encompasses many of the island’s most incredible landscapes, as glistening lakes lie tucked away amongst majestic mountains. In the north part of the park, the most famous mountain in the state, Cradle Mountain, is just one of the many lofty peaks to be found, while around Lake St. Clair in the south, lots of reflective lakes are dotted about.
In addition to this, deep river gorges can be found snaking their way amongst the alpine scenery, with lush rainforests and flower-filled meadows also on show. Due to the astounding array of natural sights and abundance of wildlife, such as wombats, echidna, and Tasmanian devils, the national park attracts lots of hikers and has a well-maintained network of paths and trails.
3. Cataract Gorge Reserve
Just a short drive from the center of Launceston, Cataract Gorge Reserve has a wealth of recreational activities for visitors to indulge in, and the scenery isn’t half bad either. Lining the South Esk River, the gorge is coated in beautiful bushland, with the Alexandra Suspension bridge spanning its width and a swimming pool and park lying in its basin.
From here, you can take a ride on the longest single-span chairlift in the world; the views from up high are phenomenal. As it is also home to cafes, restaurants, and a number of fantastic hiking trails, it is very easy to spend a whole day at the reserve, so it is no wonder that it is a popular draw among both locals and tourists.
2. Salamanca Market
Held every Saturday between 8.30 AM and 3:00 PM, the award-winning Salamanca Market is loads of fun to visit and is a must when in Hobart. Lying along the waterfront next to the gorgeous sandstone warehouses of Salamanca Place, the market was founded in 1971. Due to its popularity, it has burgeoned in size considerably since then.
Now, over 300 stands can be found selling everything under the sun, with local cheeses, breads, and wines sold alongside handicrafts, jewelry, and of course, mouthwatering food and snacks. The lively and laidback atmosphere is infectious, and there is no better way to start the weekend than by perusing its many stands.
1. Kunanyi/Mount Wellington
Towering imperiously over Hobart, Kunanyi/Mount Wellington reaches a height of 1,271 meters. Its lofty summit is often coated in snow, even during the warm summer months. The highest mountain in the Wellington Range, its lower slopes are blanketed in verdant forests, with lots of lovely hiking paths and mountain biking trails meandering their way here and there.
Referred to simply as ‘the mountain’ by locals, Mount Wellington also goes by the name Kunanyi, which is in palawa kani – a constructed Aboriginal Tasmanian language. Marvelous to gaze upon and visible from anywhere in Hobart, Mount Wellington is blessed with stupendous views from its summit; from up high, you can even see the ocean shimmering faintly in the distance.
Best Time to Visit Tasmania
Much cooler and wetter than mainland Australia, Tasmania is best to visit during its warmer, drier summer months. From December through February, averages of 18 to 20°C (64 to 68°F) are ideal for exploring its national parks. You’ll still need an umbrella though in December as rain showers are quite common.
As the temperatures and conditions are best, all its towns and hotels are packed and prices are more expensive. Aside from biking, kayaking and wildlife watching, there are tons of fun events to enjoy, including the popular Taste of Tasmania, MONA FONA and Festivale.
After this, the prices and crowds drop as the weather gets colder and wetter. March to May has amazing autumnal foliage but some tour operators close after Easter.
With average temperatures of just 9 to 11°C (48 to 52°F) and lots of days of rain, most people stay away between June and August. Prices are cheapest but some trails and off-road tracks are inaccessible or unpleasant to explore.
After winter, springtime sees visitors return to Tasmania as the weather is warmer and all its flowers are blooming. Rain showers are still frequent though and snow can fall until October. With fewer crowds and lower prices, it can be a great time to visit before summer kicks in.