Tasmania was my first “longer travel” destination in Australia. I had a long weekend ahead of me and chose to explore the island that I always associated with something wild, crazy and exotic. Not just because of the Tasmanian devil… I thought I would share my Tasmania itinerary, as more and more friends are deciding to head to Australia for holidays and I think that Tasmania should be a stop in this journey.
Tasmania has become a popular holiday destination among Australians – due to the beautiful coastal landscapes, unique rainforest and wildlife, as well as splendid wine 🙂 On the other hand, many foreigners have heard of Tasmania because of the famous Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. If you happen to be in Australia during Christmas, be sure to check it out! Let’s begin the Tasmania itinerary overview.
Day 1: Arrival in Hobart
I arrived in Hobart on a Jetstar flight from Sydney on a Saturday morning. First impression after landing: the airport was one of the smallest ones I have ever seen. You also can’t bring your own food from mainland Australia. After getting my bag, I went outside to search for the shuttle.
I heard that there was a shuttle running to/from the airport, but I couldn’t find locate the proper bus stop and suspected I’d have to wait a long time until one shows up. I also figure that $18 for a 15-min drive is way too much. So, I decided to walk to the city – it’s around 15 km, but there is a city bus that you can take after the first 5 km. As I was slowly making my way along the main road (pulling my suitcase like a proper backpacker 😉 ) – a car stopped near me. An older lady insisted to give me a ride and so, there it was, my first hitchhiking experience in Australia.
The lady gave me a quick ride around the center of the town, which was pretty small. I got dropped off near the harbor and made my way to the Salamanca Market to meet my couchsurfing host. Salamanca Market is a weekly thing in Hobart – every Saturday vendors line up along Salamanca Place and sell all sorts of goods, produce, handicraft etc.
Later in the afternoon, my host suggested we head to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) for a concert of his friend. She played Chinese folk music on her pipa and had the museum owner himself listen to it (there were only a handful of us – a private concert, you can say!).
MONA is one of Hobart’s highlights – it is a museum that gathers antic artifacts as well as very modern art pieces. It is beautifully located at the waterfront and best accessible by a boat ($20 round trip).
We got our ferry tickets and embarked on a culture-filled adventure. I must say that MONA has had some of the most crazy exhibitions I have ever seen. One of them was Cloaka (aka the Pooping Machine) – a working model of human digestive system. It included intestine bacteria actually found in human bodies that, upon feeding with food, defecated in reality. Twice a day. All right there, in front of your eyes. Do not enter the room if you think you can’t handle the stench.
We returned home in the evening and enjoyed some chats about live in Hobart and Tasmania in general. My host was a lovely and welcoming guy, who was a true traveler and polyglot – he spoke around 15 languages!
Day 2: Mt. Field National Park
Few people know that Tasmanian wilderness is actually listed on UNESCO Heritage List. It includes one of the last remaining expanses of temperate rainforest. I decided that the best way for me to explore the wild will be with a small organized tour to Mt. Field National Park. It was simply more cost- and time effective for me as a solo traveler without a car.
The first stop in Mt. Field National Park were the Russell Falls. It was a quite easy and very beautiful walk to most iconic waterfalls (perhaps in all of Australia).
From there, I went on a Tall Trees Track. The tall trees are actually swamp gums, around 80 – 100 meters tall. The scenery around was absolutely unique – a rainforest with eucalyptus and unique wildlife.
Next, I followed the Pandani Grove Trail to the alpine Lake Dobson. We had a little lunch break near the lakeshore, surrounded by local birds trying to steal the leftover crumbs. The landscape around was very vast and “raw” – it was, after all, the end of winter in Australia.
Bonorong Wildlife Park was the next stop and my first interaction with a Tasmanian devil! Apart from those little guys, I had the pleasure to pet a wallaby and a koala 🙂 The wildlife park reminded me a bit of a “natural zoo” concept – the animals there seemed to be taken care of very well with minimum interference in their natural surrounding.
Tasmanian devils are actually endangered – the devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is steadily decimating the population. It is a transmissible parasitic cancer that spreads through bloody wounds that the animals suffer from, as a result of fighting for food in the natural setting. Devil santuaries are aiming to help protect the remaining devils and encourage their reproduction. Some estimations indicate that 80% of devil population suffers from DFTD.
The trip finished with Mt. Wellington and splendid views of Hobart city and the river. Note, if you want to visit the peak of Mt. Wellington, be sure to pack a hoodie, since the temperature there can be even 10C lower than in Hobart. Also, beware of the wind 🙂
Day 3: Tasmanian Peninsula and Port Arthur
Tasmanian Peninsula offers perhaps one of the best coastline views in Australia. As I wandered around, I observed the intricate land forms formed by the interplay of sea and rocks (e.g. the famous Devil Arch).
The highlight of the day was definitely Port Arthur – a UNESCO-listed historic site that once hosted a prison for the most dangerous criminals sent there from Europe. I must say, the beautiful location of the prison made me wonder… if the punishment was really that severe 🙂 My entrance ticket included a free tour of the grounds as well as short boat trip. You should allow half a day to properly explore the grounds.
I was also taken to the Unzoo for some more quality time with the devils and kangaroos.
On the way back, I stopped by Richmond (mostly to see the oldest bridge in Australia). I also had the pleasure to enjoy a really good view of the Tasmanian bridge (note the gap – the bridge collapsed in 1975 in a famous ferry crash).
This marked my last day in Tasmania. I must say that landscape – wise, it is an absolutely gorgeous place, definitely worth visiting. I wish I could have seen some more of Tasmanian highlights – the Cradle Mountain, Lauceston or the Bay of Fires. I think that, in order to really see Tasmania through, an ideal itinerary should be at least a week long – and preferably include your own car for bigger flexibility!