Many visitors to Tasmania focus their activities around the south of the state. This is where you’ll find Tasmania’s capital city Hobart, which has a busy airport connecting the island with mainland Australia.
Hobart is a wonderful city break destination, with a vibrant food scene, plenty of arts and culture, and year-round markets and festivals.
But make sure you leave time to explore a little further afield too. Just an hour’s drive can lead you to spectacular beaches, mountains and bushwalks. You’ll also find plenty of accommodation to suit every style and budget.
Whether you’re here for a weekend or a fortnight, Tasmania’s south will leave you wanting more.
People often say that if you’re visiting from Sydney or Melbourne, Hobart feels more like a large country town than a city – and to some extent that’s true. Everything is within walking distance, the locals love a good chit-chat, and there’s a CWA Gift Shop right in the CBD – you won’t find better home-baked goods anywhere.
It’s a spectacularly pretty city, with a lively working harbour that’s perfectly suited for sunshine strolls. Pick up fresh fish and chips or an ice cream from one of the waterfront punts, and find yourself a bench with a view of the river in one direction, and a view of kunanyi/Mount Wellington in the other.
Hobart’s mountain makes it easy to get your bearings in the city, as you’re rarely more than a block away from an unobscured view. It’s also the best way to keep an eye on the weather. If you see rain clouds scudding over the summit, you’ve got twenty minutes at the most to find some shelter.
Food wise, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Hobart, with everything from casual brunch cafes to award-winning restaurants. Many of the best – Sonny, Templo and Fico, for example – have limited seating and fill up fast, so advance bookings are always recommended.
Whatever your interests, you’ll find something to suit in Tasmania’s capital city. Enjoy a meander around Salamanca Market on Saturday morning, or Farm Gate Market on Sundays. Step onboard the fast ferry up the river for a day admiring the artworks at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Or hop on the kunanyi/Mount Wellington Explorer Bus to ascend the mountain and enjoy the city from above.
Huon Valley and the Far South
Some of Tasmania’s most beautiful scenery is a short drive south of Hobart in the Huon Valley. The Huon River winds gently through this deep valley, with lush farmland and apple orchards on either side.
This is a region where you’ll want to take your time. Stop off at vineyards and cider houses, choose something delicious from a roadside produce stall (Little Black Fridge at Geeveston is one of the best), and explore the characterful towns and villages that are scattered along the banks of the river, each with a stunning backdrop of World Heritage Area peaks to the west.
The foreshore at Franklin is a beautiful spot for a picnic and a walk, or if you’re feeling more ambitious make your way inland to Hartz Mountains National Park where there are hikes ranging from twenty minutes to a full-day.
If you continue south through the Huon Valley, you’ll reach Southport and Cockle Creek – the southernmost point you can drive to in Australia. There are some stunning beaches down here, and nearby Hastings Caves State Reserve is also worth a visit. Bring your bathers for a dip in the thermal springs.
The Tasman Peninsula is best known for the Port Arthur Historic Site. Many visitors drive straight down the rugged peninsula to get there, without realising how much they’re missing out on.
From panoramic views of the coastline and award-winning wildlife cruises, to blowholes and caves, relaxed wineries and some of Tassie’s best fish and chips… don’t be in too much of a hurry when you visit this southern region.
Much of the peninsula is protected as a National Park, making this a wonderful place to enjoy bird watching, wildlife spotting, and wilderness walks. It’s also a popular destination for diving, kayaking and rock climbing – including at the iconic Totem Pole in Fortescue Bay.
Check out the Tessellated Pavement if you’re keen to see a striking, unique geological feature. Or sign up for the multi-day Three Capes Track for exhilarating views and a uniquely Tasmanian experience.
The Derwent Valley is a short drive north-west of Hobart. With a diversity of landscapes ranging from farmland and orchards to historical towns and pristine rainforest, there’s truly something for everyone in this unassuming area.
The pretty riverside town of New Norfolk makes a great base for exploring. There’s a wonderful restaurant at the Agrarian Kitchen, and plenty of quirky shops for browsing books, antiques and boutique stationery. Fishing and kayaking are both popular activities that are available nearby.
Head deeper into the valley and you’ll find Mount Field National Park (visit in autumn for the turning of the fagus), the scenic salmon ponds, and some of the state’s best mountain bike trails at Maydena. You can also do the world’s highest commercial abseil at Gordon Dam, or just sit and enjoy a glass or two of wine at Meadowbank Wines or Stefano Lubiana.
Coal River Valley and Richmond
The Coal River Valley is one of Tasmania’s premium wine producing regions, just a short drive from Hobart. If you’ve got a designated driver it makes for a wonderful road trip, enjoying wine tastings and vineyard tours along the way.
It’s also a great route for tasting fresh local produce. You’ll find delicious cheese, handmade chocolates, Barilla Bay oysters, and a handful of berry farms that offer pick-your-own in the summer months.
The main town in the Coal River Valley is Richmond, where the historic stone bridge was convict-built in the 1820s, making it the oldest bridge in Australia. There’s a pleasant walk to do nearby before you amble around the town itself, which offers antique shops aplenty, a quirky science museum (you’ll know it when you see it), and the recently revamped Richmond Maze.
There are also several great lunch spots if you still have an appetite, and a well stocked traditional sweet shop that’s perfect to pick up some gifts for friends and family back home.
Known as the island under the island under the island, Bruny Island’s reputation for premium food and drink has exploded in recent years.
Two of the best known producers on the island are the Bruny Island Cheese Company and Get Shucked Oysters, but you’ll also find great things to eat and drink at Bruny Island Wines, Bruny Island Chocolate Company, and The Bruny Baker – where else in the world would you find perfect loaves of fresh woodfired sourdough for sale in a fridge by the side of the road?!
After all that food, you might need to stretch your legs, and it’s not hard on Bruny to find a long stretch of sand with no-one else around. Head to Dennes Point in the north, Adventure Bay on the east side of the island, or Cloudy Bay in the South Bruny National Park. Stay the night if you want to settle in at a viewing platform on The Neck and watch little penguins come up the beach and return to their burrows.
– Ruth Dawkins ( commissioned by Freycinet Resort)