Our Top 13 Places To Visit In Tasmania
As we farewell Tassie, we think back on the must-see spots we went to.
During three months over summer 2020 and autumn 2021, our family travelled the Tasmania terrain in our caravan. Our trip was laced with awe-inspiring architecture, harrowing history, incredible landscapes, breathtaking nature, spectacular sunsets, and plenty of laughter.
When we crossed the Bass Strait all those months ago, we went armed with a long list of places to see and things to experience. Whilst we had the luxury of three months to explore and uncover all the character and charm that Australia’s Island State had to offer, we understand many travellers don’t. This is why we’ve provided a snapshot of our top 13 places to visit in Tassie – consider this the perfect checklist for your travels to Tasmania.
Bruny Island is considered Tasmania’s premier island, which explains why she made our top 13! Located off the bottom south-east corner of the state, Bruny Island is a playground of breathtaking scenery, an abundance of wildlife and roots rich in history.
It is a short 20 minutes ferry ride from Kettering, which is 40 minutes south of Hobart. We spent a week exploring Bruny Island, but because it is so quick and easy to get there, many travellers pop over for just a day.
Whilst we were there we visited the lighthouse which sat upon dramatic cliff tops, we got a front row seat of sea cliffs and seals on a wilderness boat cruise, we visited beautiful bays, did scenic walks, and took in views that seemed to stretch on for days.
The Bay of Fires is a compelling combination of crystal-clear waters, bright-white sands and striking orange boulders. It stretches over 50 kilometres of Tasmania’s north-eastern coastline, from Eddystone Point right down to Binalong Bay.
There are a number of campsites within five minutes of each other that provide a good base for exploring this area. We stayed at Swimcart Beach Campground which allowed us a beautiful beachfront campsite right on the Bay of Fires, and the best bit? It didn’t cost us a cent!
If you’re wanting an amazing location to check out the rock formations and pools, we’d suggest heading to The Gardens, which is about a 10 minute drive from Swimcart Beach Campground. Binalong Bay is the main beach in the area, and a popular spot for swimming, surfing and snorkelling.
We’re definitely not the only ones who recognise the striking beauty of this natural wonder of the world. Back in 2009, Lonely Planet described Tasmania’s Bay of Fires as the world’s ‘hottest’ travel destination. From what we saw, we can only assume this place is like a fine wine that’s gotten better with age.
The small Tasmanian town of Coles Bay sits right at the gate of Freycinet National Park on Tassie’s mid-east coast. It’s a funky town with cafes, an awesome gelato shop, amazing walks, and some pretty epic 4WD tracks.
This peninsula is a Tasmanian gem that features an aqua sea, white sand beaches and towering granite lookouts. If you are lucky enough to visit Coles Bay, you must check out these three spots.
Friendly Beaches: An amazing location right on the water where you will be welcomed by beautiful white sands and deep turquoise-blue water. During the summer months you will definitely need to be patient and sometimes asking when people are leaving is the only way to secure a spot to stay. We weren’t lucky enough on this occasion but it means we just need to come back.
Cape Tourville Lighthouse: this spot is just around the corner and accessible by 2WD. It’s an unbelievable location with impressive coastal views across Freycinet National Park. The wind nearly blew us away, but it was magnificent all the same.
Bluestone Bay: five kilometres of moderately trafficked outback trails, scenic views and lush bushland landed us at Bluestone Bay. The small cove had the most amazing smooth rock surfaces and the clearest water we had seen in a long time. The kids even took the time for a quick swim and snorkel, with our eldest daughter Zali spotting a few large fish and a lobster whilst diving around the rocks.
We stayed at Freycinet Paintball Campground which offers affordable, basic campsites conveniently located near all these must-see spots – we even had a crack at paintball one night, which was a hoot!
Cradle Mountain is definitely a special space well-worthy of its heritage listing. It is located at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, in the north-west quarter of Tasmania.
When we visited, the lush green landscape was beginning to yellow due to autumn, and we’re told the landscape changes drastically with the seasons. In the peak of autumn it becomes a blanket of red, yellow and orange, whilst winter brings snow-capped mountain peaks and glacial lakes.
The lake was beautiful and crystal-clear when we visited, with small waterfalls scattered about. Perhaps its this ever present source of water that allows so much wildlife to kick about. There were wombats, wallabies and even pademelons!
The world-class walking tracks that lace the mountain, enable you an up-close and personal appreciation of all that Cradle Mountain has to offer. We wanted to do the Summit Walk but it was simply too overcast and windy, so we did the 1.5 kilometre Ronny Creek to The Boat House walk instead. Trust us though, you will not be short on walking track options – they are everywhere!
There are lots of accomodation options within the park, however we stayed at Lake Gairdner Campground, which is at the base of the mountain. It’s a beautiful free camp located on a private property in Moina, only 30 minutes from Cradle Mountain.
We were very surprised when we first laid eyes on Port Arthur Historic site as it’s far more than we initially expected, both in size and history. We recommend you book a tour or two to hear the stories and get a better understanding of the convict settlement. We decided to book the introduction tour that gave us a good entry level understanding on the site alongside the Isle of the Dead Tour.
Allow a full day to visit everything at Port Arthur, and prepare for a lot of walking.
There are a lot of other fabulous locations only a short drive away. If you are stying in the area, we’d recommend including the following four destinations in a day trip (you can visit them all in just one day!).
Tasman Blowhole is a natural blowhole that can spurt water up to 10 metres high! It’s part of the Tasman National Park and is an unusual rock formation that’s come about after thousands of years of thrashing by the sea.
Tessellated Pavement is an extraordinary pattern of naturally occurring saltwater pools that resemble a human-made pavement. This geological oddity is located near the sea at Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania.
Waterfall Bay Lookout is well worth the 1.5 hour round walk, with stunning views from the edge of sheer cliffs that plummet straight down into the Tasman Sea below. The final view is the money shot, with a waterfall that drops over the perpendicular cliffs to the unforgiving sea below.
Tasman Arch is a huge naturally archway that has been worn into the sea cliffs in the Tasman National Park. The natural bridge has come about from around 6,000 years of erosion caused by the Tasman Sea.
We nearly didn’t stop here, which is crazy considering how much the whole family loved it!
Derby is an amazing small town in the north-east of Tasmania which has not only the most epic mountain bike tracks ever, but a picturesque floating sauna at Lake Derby too!
There’s an amazing walk that takes you over a bridge and down the trail to this delightful sauna and lake. The water in the lake is freezing, but the sauna temperature is pretty much perfect and the views are beautiful beyond words.
If you’re a mountain biker then you’ll definitely want to head to Derby! It’s famous for its downhill and cross country mountain biking, and is a great place for all skill levels.
Ben Lomond National Park is in the top north-east of Tasmania, and Jacobs Ladder is the must-see (and frankly hair-raising) highlight of the park. A spectacular steep and windy road that reaches up the side of the mountain to the Summit Walk and ski fields above.
Above this steep climb is the Summit Walk and the lookout, which the kids loved. If are going to embark on the drive up Jacobs Ladders, we would definitely not recommend towing anything due to the tight corners.
This small town and former port on the West coast of Tasmania delivers quite a few must-see sights, and is a good base for exploring the rest of the South-West coast.
The first highlights for us was the boat tour with Gordon River Cruises, which was a six hour round trip that took us along the Gordon River, to Hell’s Gate, Heritage Landing, and out around Sarah Island.
We were able to get off and explore Sarah Island which was so rich in history. The island was established as a penal settlement for convicts due to the harsh and inescapable conditions and landscape. It was a great educational experiences that showcased the beautiful world heritage wilderness area.
COST: for a family of five, with a full buffet dinner experience included on board, it was $395.
If you’re in Strahan, make sure you take the one hour inland drive to Nelson Falls. It is an absolutely beautiful waterfall that provides easy access for children and elderly – it even has wheelchair access. It’s definitely landed a spot in our top 5 best waterfalls we’ve seen to date.
20 minutes back towards the coast from Nelson Falls is Iron Blow Lookout, another spectacular must-see sight! This is a reminder of Tasmania’s tortured mining history; a spot where miners descended back in the 1800s after gold was discovered nearby. After years of unearthing profitable deposits of copper, Iron Blow is now a discarded mining pit filled with beautiful turquoise water.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you love 4WDing, head to Macquarie Heads (15mins from Strahan) which is a great beach for driving along the dunes.
Strathgordon is a township nestled deep in the wilderness, in the south-west quarter of the Tasmania. It sits on the banks of Lake Pedder, which is a man-made impoundment and diversion lake. When coupled with it’s companion Lake Gordon, these lakes form the largest inland freshwater storage in all of Australia!
Make sure you check out the impressive Gordon River Dam too! The mouth-dropping 198 metre long and 140 metre high curved concrete wall houses Tasmania’s tallest dam. You can walk along the top of this wall and get a bird’s eye view of the world – if you’re not a fan of heights, you may want to sit this one out.
We stayed at Teds Beach Lake Pedder Campground whilst in the area, which is a free campsite right on the beachfront.
Huonville is in the south-east of Tasmania on the Huon River, and offers loads of fresh produce to see. There’s the Willie Smiths Apple Shed, which is the cider brewery, The Honey Pot, and loads of local wineries.
We drove an hour south to visit the quaint town of Southport, otherwise known as the most southern township in Australia. It’s a sleepy place with a fishing village feel. There were numerous beach shacks, beautiful blue water and bright-white sand. We didn’t throw out a rod here, but have heard it’s a great spot to fish.
Whilst we didn’t make it all the way down to Cockle Creek (the furthest south you can drive in Australia), it looks awesome and offers walks to the most southern point.
We stayed at Huon Valley Caravan Park, which is a well-maintained camping spot and a good base for exploring the area.
Mount William is just north of the Bay of Fires, on the far North-East Coast of Tasmania. It’s a peaceful and relaxed part of the world that’s perfect for kicking back and taking in the beautiful bays.
We checked out Stumps Bay and camped one night at a free site in Musselroe Bay, right on the estuary system just north of Mt William. If you love peace, quiet, and the opportunity to cast a rod, then these bays are worth a visit.
Policemans Point is about 40 minutes south of Musselroe Bay, and is the southern boundary to Ansons Bay inlet. This is another fabulous spot for fishing or scenic walks, with lush green vegetation, white sand and aqua blue water.
The top of Tasmania is definitely worth an explore! We stayed a couple of nights at Marrawah Beach, in the north-west of Tassie – it’s actually Tasmania’s westernmost settlement. Well-known in the surfing world for outstandingly big waves, Marrawah Beach can get waves up to 19 metres high in extreme weather! Outside of surfing, this town is a small outpost that services the surrounding farming and dairy properties.
We stayed at a free campsite right on the beach called Marrawah Beach Point Campground.
About 50 minutes east of Marrawah Beach is the town of Stanley, and this spot delivers perhaps the most popular attraction in north-west Tasmania… The Nut. It’s an ancient volcanic plug that can be reached via a steep 152 metre climb, or a 250 metre chairlift. The top is flat, and offers 360 degree views that take in Bass Strait and the beaches and town below.
We did the full loop on the chairlift, then went back up so we could do the walk down – it was very steep!
Once down the bottom, make sure you spend a little time exploring the the town of Stanley. It’s beautiful, historic, and has a quaint fishing village feel. We stayed at the Stanley Cabin and Tourist Park whilst visiting.
Continuing a further 90km west along the Tassie coast will get you to Sulphur Creek. We stayed here at a free campsite called Hall Point Sulphur Creek Camping and it was right on a penguin colony. During the day they hid away in their burrows, but come nightfall hundreds of them emerged!
This place is definitely worth a visit, just be sure to take a red light so you can see the penguins, as normal lights hurt their eyes.
Mount Field National Park is only a short 64km drive north-west of Hobart. It’s a pretty place that offers a number of beautiful walks and tracks to some amazing waterfalls.
Russell Falls is an easy 20 minute return walk on asphalt and boardwalks, which is also suitable for wheelchairs. Once you’ve seen Russell Falls you can continue another 30 minutes up a steep stair section to get to Horseshoe Falls.
Tall Trees Walk is an easy 30 minute walk through the tall swamp gums and can be accessed from the top car park.
The Lady Barron Falls circuit is approximately two hours return and is better suited for people with moderate fitness levels. This walk goes via Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls and the Tall Trees Walk. We chose to walk this full circuit and it was a great track that was well sign posted. A couple of long stair climbs gave us a goof leg burn but well worth it for the views and experience.
One last thing! Don’t forget to check out the Westerway Raspberry Farm on the way to Mount Field National Park. The kids will love the berry picking and ice creams!
We struggled to narrow Tassie’s must-see places down to 13, so we’re sneaking in this last bit of love for the Little Blue Lake. You can read our Facebook post on this epic location here.
Until next time,
The Wallaces x