My husband & I had a wonderful 2-week driving holiday in Tasmania during March. Thanks to all on TA forum for their help with the planning. Sorry this report is rather late but hopefully it’ll still be of some help to others planning a holiday in Tasmania.
Tasmania is a wonderful place – friendly people, beautiful nature reserves, fantastic wineries and great food!
We flew in to Hobart (4 nights) where we picked up our rental car and drove to Bicheno (2 nights), Launceston (2 nights), Cradle Mountain (2 nights), Strahan (2 nights) and New Norfolk (1 night) before heading to Hobart airport.
We collected our car from Europcar office located in Harrington St on day 2. Our car was ready when we arrived - clean & well presented. At the end of our 2 weeks, we returned the car at Hobart airport. The pick up and return process was efficient and hassle free. Our experience of Europcar in Australia has always been excellent. (Pity about their counterparts in Europe)
HOBART (4 nights)
Sleeping : The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel
Convenient location but the hotel was not quite as expected. See our review for this hotel on TA.
Eating : some fabulous places we ate in Hobart
1) 42 Degrees South (aka T42) in Elizabeth St Pier – we had dinner at this place based on recommendations on this forum. Great restaurant, highly recommended. See our review for this restaurant
2) Rendezvous Café in Salamanca Square - great coffee & their cooked breakfast was excellent value. Lovely to have an outside table facing the square area.
3) The Source Restaurant, Moorilla Estate winery. This is a big establishment which includes a very nice cellar door, restaurant & accommodation/chalets. The wines were great but the food was a disappointment (first of 2 really disappointing restaurants during our 2 weeks in Tassie). See our review for this restaurant.
4) Maldini Italian Cafe Restaurant, Salamanca Place – interesting menu, great food, and pricey wine. We didn’t book but managed to get a table outside for dinner which turned out to be better than a table inside (which was very noisy). It was a little cool that night but very pleasant and also great atmosphere al fresco dining. Well recommended.
5) Fish Frenzy, Elizabeth St Pier - casual restaurant. We had dinner there one night, sharing a (large) outside table with another travelling couple. The restaurant was very busy but the service was brisk. Nice friendly atmosphere. Well recommended. See our review for this restaurant
1) Mt Wellington - It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when took the short drive up to Mt Wellington. It was great driving through the woods with the car windows down. It was quite windy and much cooler up at the top and the view was amazing. Highly recommended.
2) Stefano Lubiana Wines (wine tasting) – this winery is north of Hobart along Brooker Avenue in Granton. The cellar door is on an elevated property and the view from the cellar door is fantastic. The cellar door is not fancy but the wines were great with friendly owner serving. Their estate Chardonnay & Pinot Noir were excellent. Well worth a visit for wine lovers.
3) Port Arthur - This was a day trip for us. Some of the roads leading to Port Arthur were windy and it took us longer than expected to get there. The $28 pp entrance fee included a 45 min walking tour with a guide & a harbour cruise, passing the Island of the Dead. Port Arthur was beautiful and serene – sad on reflection of its past and more recent history. Highly recommended.
4) The Salamanca Market (only on Saturday) - as recommended by almost everyone on TA was truly well worth a visit. There was a great variety and number of stalls featuring mainly local goods – fresh produce, arts & crafts, locally made jewellery, cooked food, musicians, etc…Highly recommended
The Tahune AirWalk is basically an elevated walk way (appr 20 m above ground) amongst the trees. The cantilever above the river provides fantastic views of the forests and where Picton and Huon River meet.
Besides the Airwalk, there were several other walking circuits which would be great to do if we had enough time. We only did the swinging bridges circuit (about an hour). The walk took us through the eucalypt forest the smell of which was just incredible.
We enjoyed a fantastic Devonshire Tea at the Visitor Centre at the end of our walks. Highly recommended!
BICHENO (2 nights)
After 4 nights in Hobart, we headed towards Bicheno, our base for the Freycinet National Park area.
Sleeping : Bicheno Hideaway – Chalet #3
The property is at waterfront bush setting – tranquil & peaceful. Chalet #3 is at the end of the property & therefore most private. Our host Nick Gaze was welcoming & helpful with suggestions of activities in the area. Informal & trusting arrangement for loan of video/DVD, books etc from the office. Guests were welcome to help themselves to the vegetable garden. Various animals roaming the property including a family of peacocks that like to come up to our front door. The Chalet was clean and equipped with basic cooking facilities for a comfortable stay with a stunning view of sunrise over the water. Well recommended.
1) Bark Mill Bakery & Rest, Swansea – we stopped at this place (on our way to Bicheno from Hobart) based on recommendation of TA forum. Interesting old mill display but the bakery was rather ordinary.
2) Kates Berry Farm (outside Swansea) - Not That Great!
This place is just outside Swansea. Based on recommendations on TA forum, we made a point of stopping on our way to Bicheno from Hobart. It was not a berry farm we were expecting but merely a tea house with a token small strawberry patch at the front (for tourists?) and serving average snacks. Our tea & scones came to $14.70 pp ($10.20 for scones, $4.50 for tea). For that we were given 2 scones each and tiny serves of cream and berry jam of choice. The place is over rated and misleading.
3) Cyrano French Restaurant
We ate at this place on recommendation of our host at Bicheno Hideaway. It’s a BYO restaurant run by a French mother & daughter team – an average restaurant. See our review for this restaurant
1) Freycinet National Park
We did 2 walks in this park.
i) Wineglass Bay Lookout – it was a warm sunny afternoon and hard work walking up hill but it was well worth it! The blue water of the bay was spectacular as seen in postcards & brochures. The round trip took us 2 hours – at leisurely pace and spending time to enjoy the scenery. Highly recommended (on a clear day)
ii) Cape Tourville Walk – This was a short 20-30 min circuit. It was a clear day and part of the Wineglass Bay was visible. Very windy and cold around the lighthouse.
2) Drive to Bay of Fire
From Bicheno, we took a leisure drive along the coast road (Tasman Highway) heading north towards Binalong Bay, located in southern end of the Bay of Fire, stopping at a few of the beautiful white sandy beaches. The lichen covered rocks in this area were quite amazing.
LAUNCESTON (2 nights)
Sleeping : TwoFourTwo Apartment – fantastic place, highly recommended. See our review
Eating : We ate at some great places in Launceston and one not so great.
1) Josef Chromy Café, Josef Chromy Winery. It’s an excellent restaurant – great food & wine, friendly staff. See our review.
2) Tant pourTant – It’s a French bakery on Charles St (near TwoFourTwo Apartment) serving excellent coffee and croissants - best in Australia, claimed a local.
3) Still Water Restaurant – second of 2 really disappointing restaurants during our 2 weeks in Tassie. See our review for this restaurant
1) Cataract Gorge
Amazing reserve so near to Launceston CBD. It was within walking distance from our apartment in Charles Street. Great walking trails in the reserve with river cruise, chairlifts (very long span) available for those who prefer to take it easy. Highly recommended.
CRADLE MOUNTAIN (2 nights)
We had a leisurely drive from Launceston to Cradle Mountain, stopping at a place called the Honey Farm at Chudleigh. It should really be called the Honey Shop as that was all it was – a shop. Nevertheless it was an interesting shop selling more bee & honey related goods than one can imagine. Worth a pit stop here – to sample a great variety of honey and honey-icecream.
Our next stop was at the Mole Creek cave at Marakoopoo. It was a limestone cave with a good collection of stalactites & stalagmites. The main attraction (for us) was the glow worms that live in the cave. Quite amazing!
Sleeping : Cradle Mountain Highlanders Cottages
We had the “Woodsmoke” cottage. From the outside, it looks like one of those huts in old cowboy movies. It was rugged, cosy with basic cooking utensils. The cottage was clean and the bed was comfy. The bathroom was in-proportionally large compared to the rest of the cottage. Very strange! Breakfast provision at $9 pp was generous – eggs, cereal, bread, jams etc…
Brought our own.
1) Dove Lake Walk
We wanted to take it easy at Cradle Mountain and only did the Dove Lake Walk which took us about 2 hours. It was drizzly and some parts of the track were slippery. We did the circuit clockwise. This meant the first half (easier) of the track was on boardwalk and the 2nd half was through undulating rocky grounds. The Cradle was intermittently visible due to low clouds.
There were many other walking circuits and tracks around the Cradle Mountain Resort.
STRAHAN (2 nights)
We left Cradle Mountain for Strahan via Zeehan (mining town). We were fortunate to be in Strahan on the weekend local skiers were attempting a new world record for the number of skiers in tow. It was fantastic to see skiers from the local ski club broke the world record with 114 skiers (was 100 at the time) towed by Eagle (of World Heritage Cruise). It was jubilant time in Strahan.
Sleeping : Risby Cove
This is a waterfront accommodation along the esplanade. Great location but only some units have good view. See our review
1) Although we stayed in Strahan 2 nights, we had dinner at the Risby Restaurant (in Risby Cove) only once.
See review above.
2)Fish Café at The Esplanade on night #2 was average.
World Heritage Gordon River Cruise - There were 2 major operators in Strahan offering similar cruises to the Gordon River. We chose the “World Heritage Cruise” based on TA recommendations and glad we did. Highly recommended. See our review.
The Wall In The Wilderness (gallery) - We stopped at this gallery in Derwent Bridge on our way to New Norfolk from Strahan, based on the recommendation of some travellers we met on the Gordon River cruise. So glad we did!
Local wood sculptor, Greg Duncan is creating a wall titled “The Wall in the Wilderness” which is a commemoration of the region’s pioneers. The Wall is being created from three-metre high wooden panels. The carved panels tell the history of the region and is a work in progress. When completed The Wall will be 100 metres long. The completed panels are already on display at the gallery together with other exquisite individual pieces (mainly from Huon pine) Greg had created. Well worth a visit.
NEW NORFOLK (1 night)
We arrived in New Norfolk in the late afternoon for an overnight stay before heading home the next day.
Rosie's Inn is run by a husband wife team (Rosie and Colin Wood). Our double suite at $133/n (incl breakfast) was very clean, neat & tidy. In fact the whole place was very neat and tidy – mats and doilies everywhere! The property looked & felt like a B&B in old England.
Colin & Rosie recommended “The Old Colony Inn” for a home cooked dinner. The Old Colony Inn is an interesting historical building currently being used as an antique shop, a restaurant and a B&B all rolled into one. The restaurant (limited tables) is actually located within the antique shop itself. In between meal courses, we were encouraged to wonder around looking at their great collection of antiques on display (for sale). It was a very sociable atmosphere, chatting with other diners. Food was well cooked with wine by the glass for sale. The atmosphere was great – it was like a dinner party in somebody’s house! Highly recommended for an interesting experience.
From New Norfolk we headed for Hobart airport, with a stopover in historical town of Richmond. What a fabulous place Richmond is – full of character and some quaint buildings. We managed to find the bakery that sell scallop pies (recommended by a travelling couple we met in Mole Creek). It was really yummy!