Tasmania – The little, forgotten Gem
On my recent holiday to Australia I finally got around to flying over the Bass Strait to the stunning little island of Tasmania. Home to not just the cutest marsupial, the Tasmanian Devil but also the most amazing scenery, some of the worlds cleanest air and clearest waters… not forgetting one of my favourite… delicious providential food and wine and a new one for me… locally brewed larger.
We decided to take a week to see at least one side of the island and being lovers of nature and avid walkers we decided that the mountainous Western Tasmania was the best area to concentrate on leaving the beach East Coast to another time. And believe you me there will be another time as we just can’t wait to return!!!
I used to think that 10 days would be more than enough to cover the whole island but how wrong could I have been. Don’t get me wrong of course any time you can spare to visit the island will give you a taster however with so much to see and do and to do the island justice a min of 2 weeks is required.
Myself and my fiancé decided that we would prefer to self-drive as this would give us some independence and also mean we could spend longer in places which were of particular interest to us.
Escorted touring does have its advantages, especially if you are restricted by time as they give you a wonderful overview of the Island. But on this occasion it wasn’t for us.
We arrived in Hobart on Saturday morning and jumped into a taxi straight to our hotel the Lenna of Hobart a lovely hotel with delightful views across the Harbour and perfectly located at the end of Salamanca Place. It was the perfect spot as our first port of call was the famous Salamanca Markets which I had heard a lot about (as well as seeing snippets of footage on Master Chef Australia) and came highly recommended. The markets stretch all the way up Salamanca Place and runs alongside lovely boutique shops and eateries. One of which was Jack Green! A must to visit and experience! A gourmet burger restaurant but it was not just your average burger joint. Everything was handmade to order with pure locally grown products and on an afternoon when the temperature was well into the late 20‘s to sit outside and watch the hustle and bustle of the markets with some locally brewed beer, well, what can I say, the perfect start to our time in Tasmania. Hobart was a real hit for us and we felt immediately at home and very welcome. The perfect starting or finishing point to any trip to Tasmania.
I have to admit we did spend a bit of time strolling the markets as there was a great vibe about the place and even though it was very tempting to go abit crazy I did manage to reign myself in with only being half way through our holiday I needed to consider the fact that I would have to carry whatever I bought! However with it being a few weeks before Christmas I was able to find a few unusual Christmas presents.
We had pre booked a day trip to Bruny Island operated by Pennicott Journeys who are based at Brooke Street Pier which is only a short walk from any of the centrally located hotels. It is a full day but worth every penny. I highly recommend that you take the time to incorporate this into your holiday. A real highlight as it takes you off the beaten track into the Huon Trail region and gives you access to places that you simply wouldn’t see if doing an escorted tour or if driving out of Hobart enroute your next stop. Also there’s a lot to be said when a small Island like Bruny has won Tasmania’s Best Tourist Attraction 5 years in a row!!!
All I can say is don’t be put off by cruising out on the open water, the guides are amazing and really look after you and you are seeing things which you would simply miss by just staying on the mainland as they are so remote and inaccessible. All I will say is simply stunning and exhilarating at the same time.
We picked up our car in the morning and headed straight up Mt Wellington for a panoramic view over Hobart and the surrounding region. I suggest getting up there early before the hordes of tourists arrive so you can then enjoy it all on your own. Once the pictures had been taken we headed straight out to the Historic site of Port Arthur which started off as a Timber station in 1830 before being turned into a Penal Colony.
We spent the rest of the afternoon there however we could certainly have had longer. There are a variety of different passes you can pre-purchase depending on your duration. Our Bronze Pass was perfectly adequate for ourselves.
More information about the tours can be found on page 60 of our Australia Brochure.
We got up early on our journey waving goodbye to Hobart and hello to Strahan. We had allocated a day to drive this 4/5hr journey and I am so pleased we did as the journey was stop start all the way as there were so many scenic stops and photo opportunities. Speaking to some locals just before we left was extremely helpful as they made a couple of suggestions of places to stop along the way that were off the beaten/touristy track. One of which was Tarraleah Falls.
You can’t put a price on local knowledge, and boy was it worth the 40/50 minute stop to walk into the bush to see some stunning waterfalls. We were the only people around and so we had the most beautiful couple of hours. Along the route we constantly got glimpses of the most amazing scenery with the dramatic landscapes of the National Parks all around us it really was stop start all the way.
We arrived late afternoon into Strahan. We were staying at the beautiful B&B Ormiston Lodge where we were greeted by the delightful Carolyn who made our short stay one of the highlights.
She was the perfect host and made sure we wanted for nothing. She had even made a reservation for us at her favourite local restaurant, Risby Cove as she knew we were going to be arriving late and it’s very popular.
It’s location is truly idillyic right at the end of Risby Cove which offers the most dramatic views of the sunset. We had the perfect view from our table. The perfect way to end a long day.
We headed out on our prebooked Gordon River Cruise. Being walking distance from the B&B we could leave the car and walk to the Pier. We decided to upgrade to the Captains Premier Upper Deck and it was well worth the small supplement.
Not only did you get the best viewing in the house and the chance to drive the vessel!!! You also had all your food and drinks included. This gave us chance to sample more locally grown produce… wombat anyone?
As Gordon River Cruises are the first vessel out on the river it means that you get the most unspoilt views. The tour concludes early afternoon which gives you chance to stay and enjoy the quaint town of Strahan or continue on your journey.
Which is exactly what we did. We picked up our vehicle and after stopping off at the local supermarket to stock up on some provisions we headed north to Cradle Mountain. I would highly recommend you get provisions in Strahan as there is only really one shop in Cradle Mountain and so it can be expensive.
The weather continued to be amazing and we were very fortunate to have unspoilt views of Cradle Mountain as we headed into the National Park. We checked into the Wilderness Village and found that we were staying in one of their Premium Cabins which were located in the slightly more remote part of the resort with our balcony just looking straight into the bush. Perfect for wildlife. We even had a possum visit us in the evening, maybe drawn to us by the smell of BBQ sausage!
We woke up to a rather sorry sight of cloudy skies and rain which apparently is to be expected in Cradle Mountain with the average sunny day being 1 in 10. So I guess we were fortunate to have arrived on such a lovely day. It was shame as it meant walking around Dove Lake was out of the question however it cemented in our minds that we were going to return and be more prepared. That evening we had pre-booked a very special evening. We had a date with the most adorable native creature to Tasmania and that was the infamous Tasmanian Devil, at the new conservation site of Devils@Cradle. All I can say is that they live up to their name being a little Devil as they are vicious little things but are so cute at the same time. So soft to touch and to think that they are near extinction is upsetting. However the islanders know how important they are and the conservation of these marsupials is going well. Seeing the Devils is a must on any trip and there are a number of locations all over Tasmania to see them.
More information about the tours can be found on page 61 of our Australia Brochure.
On our final leg of our time in Tasmania we left the wet Cradle Mountain National Park enroute to Launceston for our final night before flying back to the mainland. The drive was lovely if a little rushed as we had quite abit of ground to cover. Ideally an extra night enroute would have been nice. However we made the most of the journey and did manage to stop off at the Christmas Hills Raspberry farm at Elizabeth town (15mins from Davenport). What can I say… I never knew Raspberries could be so versatile? Oh, and their dark chocolate covered raspberry’s are to die for. They are just on the counter for you to pick at as you browse!!!
Full of raspberries we arrived into Launceston just in time to check into the The Sebel Launceston and drop the car off before starting our afternoon tour of the local Boags Brewery Tour and tasting. I must admit that that it was something that was a little unexpected in our itinerary but was a very good local attraction which I can highly recommend. Who would have thought that Beer and Cheese go so well together. Our final evening was spent on the harbour front watching the world go by and enjoying our last few hours of being on this gem of an island.