How to travel Tasmania
on a road trip?
Guide for adventurers

How to travel Tasmania
on a road trip?
Guide for adventurers

Travel-photography-blog-homepage

Munich, Germany.

- Why to start a Tasmania road trip ? -
The ‘little New Zealand’ made for Nature lovers

To travel Tasmania is a great idea… because it’s not a common one ! The devil island is still a preserved piece of earth, at the most south point of Australia. If you’re into peaceful Nature and chill travels, stick with me a little while. And take away tips to prepare your road trip in Tasmania, from the Eastern beaches to the wild western national parks. All travel tips based on my travelmate Shef and my own experience !

Travel Tasmania for its cute simplicity and rough wilderness

How to explain? To travel Tasmania is a world apart from backpacking Australia’s mainland. It’s a pretty small island, really green. East and West offer two very different travel experiences. Tasmania’s east coast is the place to be to do sunbathing (in summer!) on the shore of clear waters. Maria Island and  Freycinet national park are two gems with cute beaches and postcard landscapes. The center of the island and the west coast are shaped by rough, impressive mountain landscapes and gorges. It reminded me of New Zealand’s north island – very preserved Nature, without fanciness.  And for beach addicts, Tasmania has also got one of the clearest sands and waters in the Southern part – Bruny island.

Tasmania’s lifestyle is also way slower than on the mainland. It makes of it a perfect getaway to get to know a calmer side of Australia. To take a break from the hectic traveling life on the mainland!

Tasmania road trip: made to camp and to disconnect for a weekend or a few weeks

When it can become quickly a headache to plan a road trip, Tasmania has the asset to be easily accessible and well adapted to road trips. Why? Tasman Island is of small size, has (quite) good roads and good connection with the mainland. By plane from Sydney or Melbourne are 2 cheap and quick ways to reach the island, any time you want. Camp spots are spread out along the coasts and near national parks. A 60$ pass gives you access to all parks on the island – which is a pretty good deal. Hostels aren’t as numerous as on Australia’s mainland though – you’ll find them mostly in Hobart, Launceston, Devonport, and a few in towns near touristic landmarks.

Do you want to explore only on a weekend? Or maybe you’ve got a few weeks free on your agenda? Hobart and Tasman peninsula are perfect for a few days getaway. And if you’re on the job hunting, the farm work season goes roughly from November to February – apples and vegetable farms, with less backpackers than on the mainland.

I personally enjoyed my road trip to Tasmania for practicing landscape photography. As a beginner it’s a nice playground to get good-looking pictures… and with almost no crowd coming across the frame!

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- Tasmania’s East coast -
the all-rounder for a chill roadtrip

If you’re an undecided traveler like me, Tasmania’s East coast is exactly what you need ! Hikes or chill on the sand ? City weekend or outdoors trip? You’ll find all in one while doing a Tasmania road trip on the Eastern side. It’s a perfect all-rounder to see very different landscapes of the devil island.

Tasman East coast or the Multitalent: A road trip for all tastes

A difficult thing with travel mates: find cool stuff for everyone. So, maybe Tasmania’s east coast can help! A Tasmania road trip on the eastern side is a surprise box – from chilling on the beach to hiking in national parks or visiting historic sites. Maria Island and Freycinet have got very nice spots to put your towel on the sand. Wineglass Bay and Mount Amos will challenge your hiking talents. Hobart is perfect for going to bars and enjoying a city life made in Tasmania (so, still tranquille). The museum MONA is a cool place to see while being there. And Port Arthur is a milestone on the Tasman peninsula if you’re interested in Australia’s History. A story a la ‘shutter island’, and the most iconic historic place of the country: famous convicts site on the World Heritage List.

The other good news: the ease to travel Tasmania’s east coast – admitting, you get a car. Road trips on Tasmania’s east coast are popular among travelers, so you might find travel mates quite easily if you stay a few days in Hobart, Devonport or Launceston. Start from these towns, rent a car either solo or with travel partners and you’ll be all set.

Tasmania’s road trips on the east coast are also easy to manage in quite short time frames. To travel Tasmania’s east coast without being in a rush, count at least 7 days.

Cool things to see on a Tasmania’s road trip – East side

  • Hobart : Mount Wellington, Salamanca market, MONA
  • Tasman peninsula : beaches and green landscapes, Australia’s most famous convicts site Port Arthur
  • Maria island : beaches, camping
  • Freycinet national park : hikes
  • Bay of fires, Binalong Bay : national parks

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- Off the beaten track -
Tasmania’s road trip on the wild West coast

My travel friend Shef traveled this part of Tasmania and gave tips on what to see there – listed below. Alike Australia’s western and eastern parts, Tasmania’s west coast is the wildest side. Tourists often skip a Tasmania’s road trip in the West… and that’s exactly why you should roam this side if you have time and budget.

Tasmania’s west coast will surprise you. Landscapes are wilder, somehow lonelier than on the eastern side and the few towns seem to have been frozen in time – the most famous ones are Queenstown and Strahan, where you can take a break on your road trip. Landscapes are simple but powerful – rivers between green forests and high grey mountains. 

A nice route can start at Launceston, following the North shore through Arthur river, going down to Strahan, then ending up in Bruny island and Hobart. I’ll attach here the center of the island, as it belongs to Tasmania’s western half. Cradle Mountain and Walls of Jerusalem are impressive chains of mountains. Cradle offers easy hikes, while Walls of Jerusalem is another story – advanced hiking trails. The road between Lake St Clair and Bruny island is also a spectacle in itself: a mini New Zealand, made of mountains, glaciers and lakes!

Must-sees on Tasmania‘s west coast and surroundings

  • Burnie : penguins
  • Arthur river
  • Queenstown / Strahan
  • Macquarie heads
  • Nelson falls
  • Near west coast : Cradle mountain, Walls of Jerusalem, Lake St Clair, Burburry lake, Bruny island

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- How to make the best
of your Tasmania road trip -

tips & tricks

How to travel Tasmania island – transportation

I prefer to make it clear for you: without a car, it’s a headache to travel Tasmania. The island is pretty small but busses and trains connections are… of pretty much no help. There is no passanger transport railways, simply. Except for a few tourist steam locomotives between Queenstwon and Strahan, called the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

Good news: bus routes exist! Between main towns and tourist landmarks, you should find bus services. But I’ve to say: journeys seem to be long and you lose the freedom to move at your own pace. I and my travel mates traveled only by car and it was from far the best solution, also regarding budget. If you need info about bus lines for a Tasmania road trip, check the official website of Tassielink. Some national parks even offer shuttle busses, like Freycinet on Tasmania’s east coast.

You got it : best way to enjoy your Tasmania road trip is to get a car. No worries, it’s easy and you’ve got various solutions, either as solo traveller or with travel mates.

  • Renting a car is the easiest way if you’re in Tasmania only for a short road trip. Book a bit in advance in summer, as it’s peak season. You can book online and pick up the car at the airport – the cheapest option.
  • Buying a car is a good idea if you plan to stay longer and to look for backpacker jobs. You can bring the car back to Australia’s mainland by ferry. A lot of travelers also buy and sell cars on backpackers’ networks every day.

How to plan a road trip based on Tasmania’s weather

A Tasmania road trip means a lot of nights in a tent or in the van – my favorite way of sleeping. And to avoid freezing, it’s useful to check first when the weather goes nuts – which isn’t that uncommon in Tasmania! Even if the weather can be unpredictable, in particular in mountains, Tasmania follows the 4 seasons we have in Europe. Just in another order.

The best bet is to travel Tasmania during summer. Temperatures are bearable – on average, up to 25 degrees. It’s quite sunny and ‘crowds’ of tourists are still at Tasmania’s scale – manageable. Plan your Tasmania road trip between December and March, if you aim to enjoy the outdoors without becoming a penguin.

Winters on the other hand use to be pretty cold and rainy. It makes it difficult, even dangerous, to hike and drive on roads across the island. Temperatures between May and August range from 3 to 11 degrees and snowfalls are also common.

Lifestyle and backpacking life – Is Tasmania for solo travellers ?

My road trip in Tasmania was definitely one of my favorite ones, along with Australia’s west coast. Because I met easy-going locals and backpackers – different from the more ‘touristic lifestlye’ on Australia’s east coast. To travel Tasmania will light you up, if you’re looking for chill-paced road trips and simple lifestyle. Not if you want crazy party every night!

My friend Shef, who gives you tips in the related articles, and I experienced both solo travel and Tasmania road trips with mates. I enjoyed being on my own in Hobart because you meet other travellers pretty easily. For that, Tasmania is adapted to solo travels and makes it easy to find travel mates to hit the road with. 

While being on the road, it’s another story. Solo travelers are concentrated in towns, and towns become rare once you hit the road. If you don’t feel comfortable driving long distances on your own, look for travel partners and rent a car together. I did my road trips with travel mates but Shef did roam the West coast on his own and loved it. He recommends being careful when driving and not take risks when hiking on your own. Just the common sense of solo traveling and it’ll be fine!

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