This post independently describes my trip to Tasmania. No considerations were provided by any businesses.
It was only 18 months before this trip when I was last in Australia which often left my fielding questions such as, "You are already going back to Australia? Didn’t you just travel there?" Which I would typically come back with "I've already been to Florida, why would I bother going to Maine?" Australia is huge! And I was keen to see more of the parts I missed on my last trip. This time when visiting Melbourne and Tasmania, it could not have been more different compared to the last trip when I visited the Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest and Sydney areas.
This time I wanted to visit the island of Tasmania. I decided to not attempt to tackle the whole island as it is too large to do everything in a 7-day period instead primarily focused on the Northwestern and Eastern portions.
The cool weather is perfect for the vast amounts of outdoor activities there is to do on the island. Although if laying on a beach or swimming in the ocean without a wet suit is more your style, this might not be the trip for you.
The northwest side of Tasmania is full of rolling greed paddocks and punctuated with rocky peaks that create breathtaking scenes. Landscapes that feel impossible to capture with a camera completely. Besides the views, the area is full of various activities from wineries, small-town exploration, hiking, a tulip farm, lighthouses and beaches.
Tasmania, being a small, hilly island, off the southeastern tip of Australia can have weather that is varied and will quickly change on you. While I was visiting in late September and early October, the weather was cool and could be wet depending on the day or even the hour. But, spring is in progress and everywhere around you will see tiny lambs eating the fresh spring grass, birds and other wildlife are active and plants are blooming and growing which makes it a great time to visit.
Where to Stay
When visiting Tasmania, staying around Launceston or Hobart was not at the top of my list. I was there for nature and didn't want to be burdened with traveling in-and-out of the cities on the way to my nature excursions. Outside of the two major towns in Tasmania, hotel availability drops off. This isn't much of a problem though, as there are many stunning Airbnb (sign-up using my referral code for a discount on your first booking) properties at surprisingly affordable prices.
The two Airbnb locations I stayed at while in Tasmania afforded me amazing views in a modern, spacious, and very comfortable accommodations for more than what would be available from a Hotel. I would recommend looking for an Airbnb close to the activities you want to do.
Most of the roads that are not highways in Tasmania are winding, tight, and steep. A car is a requirement for most of the nature activities and as most towns are small, it is likely you'll want to be traveling to other towns for other sites, restaurants and activities. Seemingly always just a few short seconds away from another slowdown and another twist or turn which can be a bit of a challenge.
Most of the time my average speed throughout my trip was around 50 km/h which is about half of the speed limit which seems to be 100 km/h throughout the whole island unless you are going through a town. Almost assuredly you will get stuck behind a novice or very cautious driver who is not comfortable on the winding turns and will slow you down, which can be frustrating. Stay calm, pay attention but use the slowdowns to sit back and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Tasmanian countryside.
Wineries and Cideries
There are a few wineries in the area that produce Tasmania wines from their local vineyards. Tasmania’s wines are known their sparkling wines which, as a wine novice who usually prefers hoppy and roasted varieties of beers, I found tasty.
Josef Chromy was my first stop after leaving the Launceston airport, as the property is only a short 10-minute drive from the airport. For $5 you can taste 6 of their wines and the cost is waived if you purchase any bottles of wine. I spent approximately one and a half hours here enjoying the tasting, an extra glass of wine, and a cheese board taking in the view of their beautiful property and enjoying a stroll.
Similar to wine, Tasmania is home to several cider producers. I stopped at Spreyton Cider which boasts an impressive range of cold-pressed apples and other fruit ciders grown by Spreyton. It was a pleasure to sit on their spacious outdoor patio to sample a flight of their ciders and snack on the food after a day of exploring the region.
The town of Sheffield Tasmania was my home base for my trip to the Northwest of the island. Sheffield boasts and impressive location that is an hour's drive to the Launceston airport, Cradle Mountain and the coast. The town itself is small, like most of the towns in Tasmania, but provides several local eateries and a few cafes.
Sheffield's claim to fame is the many murals painted around town. The murals depict town past and present, nature, and many of its citizens and can be found painted on many of the buildings while walking down Main St.
A trip to Cradle Mountain is the dominant nature attraction for the Northwestern area of Tasmania. Most people who go to Cradle Mountain take a quick peek at Dove‘s Lake hop back onto the shuttle and drive away, leaving much of the vast area unexplored.
Cradle Mountain is a part of the Tasmania Nation Parks system and requires an additional pass to take the shuttle. They encourage everyone to use the shuttle bus unless you plan on driving into the park outside of hours when the bus is not running. The road is winding, narrow, and dangerous when there is a lot of traffic. Therefore, the bus system helps ease traffic and makes the journey much more pleasant for everyone.
The trail we followed was the Overland trail to Smithie’s peak, across Face Track and down to the Dove’s Lake loop. It is a grueling 7 mile, 2400 feet of elevation in a loop that yields many challenges but presents many wonderful views. You will encounter boardwalks, stairs, scrambling, steep ascents and descents, snow at points, and some ridgelines. You may not reach the peak of Smithie’s peak as the weather and how difficult the rocking climbing is can be a major factor.
Come prepared for this hike with plenty of layers, food, and water. The loop is at least four and a half hours to upwards of six hours long depending on your pace. Because of how lengthy the hike is and the amount of climbing involved, you will get warm, tired, and thirsty. The concessions and toilets are all at the entrance to the park, and you will hike for multiple hours so bring more than you think you would need. Sunblock is also a critical requirement for this hike. Spending hours outside in the harsh Tasmanian sun with little tree cover will definitely result in a burn.
I recommend doing this hike or some portion of it, as there is far more to see at Cradle Mountain than Dove’s Lake. The highlight of my holiday in Tasmania was this trek.
Table Cape Tulip Farm
Heading over to Table Cape is a great way to spend an afternoon when it is springtime in Tasmania. The tulips are in full bloom starting in October and for a small fee you can wonder around their plants and take in the colors with the beautiful Tasmania countryside as a backdrop.
If you are coming from the south and need a caffeine boost, Infuse Coffee Roasters is a great place to drop in on your way up to view the tulips. They had a great coffee and some sweets which were both great and the staff was great. It is right off the highway in South Burnie and offers some of the best coffee I had in Tasmania in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere that reminds me of having coffee at a friend's house.
Finally, Boat Harbour Beach is just a short drive from the tulips. This quiet little town offers a beach and park area great for picnicking, laying out in the sand or, if you are brave enough to test the cool waters, a swim. Boat Harbour Beach has plenty of parking and has facilities on-site which is convenient. For the amount of people who were there you should find plenty of space to relax and enjoy the seaside.
The waterfall is unquestionably worth the drive and the short walk. The drive into the falls is along a gravel road and can be narrow along the twisting route. Be prepared to drive slow and safely to get to the car parks. Overall, for a gravel road, the road is well maintained and not too uneven. There are two car parks called upper campgrounds and lower campgrounds. If you use Google Maps, you will be directed to the lower campgrounds which is a 3 mile in-and-out hike with some up and down walking required. It took me an hour and 20 minutes walking at a brisk pace. The upper campgrounds is much closer and is a 30-40 minute round-trip. The falls themselves are spectacular with a great lookout point. If the water isn’t too high, consider walking out into the middle for some more excellent photos.
King Solomon's Cave
King Solomon’s Cave is great for anyone looking to take a break from the sun and view some amazing cave formations. The walk itself is short, only about 200 meters, but it requires a bit of ducking and weaving around the tight corners and climbing a few stairs. The guide I had for the tour was excellent. He was deeply knowledgeable about King Solomon’s Cave and the neighboring caves, energetic and entertaining.
The tour is approximately 45 minutes and getting there is an easy drive from Sheffield. Plan on arriving 10 minutes before to make sure you have time to buy your tickets if you plan on purchasing them on-site.