Hobart to Hobart in 10 Days (1,090 km)
Your 10 day Tasmanian adventure begins and ends in Hobart, Australia's second oldest capital city. The first half of your trip takes you to historic town of New Norfolk, to Strahan, where you can take one of the famous Gordon River Cruises to Sarah Island, and then to the breathtaking Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Then you're off to Launceston, the center of the 'Valley of the Senses', and to St. Helens, a working fishing port famous for the Bay of Fires stretch of beaches.
In Bicheno, take the popular evening fairy penguin tour; in Swansea, tour the Bark Mill and Museum. The last leg of your trip takes you to Port Arthur, where you can explore the Port Arthur Historic Site, and finally back to Hobart, where you may choose to extend your trip and explore the vibrant waterfront, lovely gardens, heritage buildings, and arts scene. ]
The first leg of your trip is a short one, 36 km north and west (about 40 minutes) up the Brooker and Lyell Highways to the Derwent Valley region. Located on the Derwent River, New Norfolk is considered 'Tasmania's best kept secret.' Founded in 1808 by settlers from Norfolk Island, New Norfolk is a town rich in history. Here you can see the oldest continuously run inn, the oldest Anglican Church, and other historic homes and sites. The grave of Betty King, the first white woman to set foot on Australian soil, is located in Magra not far from New Norfolk. Take a drive up to Pulpit Rock Lookout for great views of the river, and then dine out at Tynwald, a historic mansion built in 1830.
Where to Stay
Base Camp Tasmania
Located in the Glenfern, the quiet valley north of New Norfolk, this park features a meals area, common room, and BBQ, laundry facilities, optional continental breakfasts, car parking and gear storage, as well as daily ration of food for the walking track, maps and track notes, and equipment for hire. Massage appointments available. Choose from self-contained cabins, dorms, and camping areas. (www.bctas.com.au)
New Norfolk Caravan Park
Just a short walk to town, this park features laundry facilities, BBQ areas, walking tracks, a boat ramp and walking tracks. Cabins include bedding and electric blankets. (http://newnorfolk.org/~caravan_park/)
Tasmanian Devil Jet
Take a wild ride on the Derwent River aboard the Tasmanian Devil Jet, a high-powered jet boat designed and built in Tasmania. This thrilling ride through the Derwent rapids is fun for all ages; all safety gear is provided. If you plan to go, reserve a space at least 24 hours in advance. (www.deviljet.com.au)
The Oast House Hop Museum
A working oast house for more than one hundred years (until 1969) the Oast House is now a museum, gift shop and craft market, and tea room. Learn how hops from the nearby fields were farmed and processed.
Cadbury Schweppes Chocolate Tour
Stop in for a tour of the famed Australian chocolate factory, located in Claremont about halfway between Hobart and New Norfolk. Here you can see how your favorites are made, tour modern facilities and 18 heritage buildings, take advantage of factory discounts at the chocolate shop, and indulge a little in the on-site cafe. (www.cadbury.com.au)
Today, drive 254 km north-west (about 3 hours) via the Lyell Highway to the west coast of Tasmania. Strahan, a working fishing port located on the Macquarie Harbour, was a wild town in pioneer days. Little of that rough and tumble time is evident as you walk down the main street, the Esplanade, peeking in shops and indulging in the catch of the day. Spectacular wildlife can be found in and around Strahan, from Ocean Beach, Tasmania's longest beach at 33 km, to the Gordon-Franklin Wild Rivers National Park, to the Henty Sand Dunes.
Where to Stay
Strahan Holiday Park
Located a short walk to the village of Strahan and 150 meters from West Strahan Beach, this park is situated on four lush acres and features a wandering creek throughout the property. The park offers guests laundry facilities and a BBQ area, and is close to a swimming beach, children's park, jetty and boat ramp, and general store. Accommodations include full self-contained family cabins and budget onsite units.
World Heritage Cruises
Explore the Gordon River; the old convict ruins on notorious Sarah Island, the Gates of Hell (the entrance to Macquarie Harbour named by the convicts), and the beautiful mountain ranges of the South West Wilderness National Park, a World Heritage site. Choose from a variety of cruise options, depending on your schedule. Discounts for families. (www.worldheritagecruises.com.au)
Gordon River Cruises
This is the same type of cruise, and both are of excellent quality. However, the Gordon River Cruise (operated by the Federal Group) is aboard the Lady Jane Franklin II, known for the Captain's Premier Upper Deck. Room to move around and delicious food and wine might inspire you to choose this tour. (www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/)
West Coast Wilderness Railway
Along this 35 km journey back in time, you will hear stories about the pioneers who built the railway, stop at several stations for lunch and refreshments, and enjoy the magnificent views of rainforests, rivers and gorges. After 5 hours aboard the traditional steam locomotives, you arrive in Queenstown and are shuttled back to Strahan. If you are living large on this trip, book a seat in the Premier Carriage, where you can indulge in delicacies served by an attendant.
Indulge in the local seafood, especially West Coast lobsters (Tasmanian crayfish), Atlantic salmon and ocean trout. Try Macquarie Restaurant on the hill for a buffet and great views, or the century-old Franklin Manor for the best in upscale dining. Or, just make your way to the Esplanade and find the restaurant with the best specials!
Drive 146 km north and east (about 2 hours) via Henty Road, Zeehan and Murchison Highways, and Cradle Mountain Development Road to the beautiful Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Known worldwide for it's six-day bushwalk, the Overland Track, this magnificent park boasts countless natural wonders. Set out on your own, or take a guided tour on foot, in a canoe, or 4WD. Guided fishing tours are also available. Plan to spend two days here in Cradle Mountain, especially if you love the outdoors. If you prefer to wander through galleries, shops, and dining out, spend 2 days at your next stop, in Launceston. Both stops are worth more than one day.
Where to Stay
Cosy Cabins Cradle Mountain
Located near the entrance to the Lake St. Clair National Park entrance to Cradle Mountain, and features two large camp kitchens, outdoor BBQ areas, open log fires, shops with extensive provisions, a disabled-friendly, environmentally safe ablution block, laundry facilities, wilderness walks, and an information center. Choose from self-contained cabins, deluxe cottages, spa cottages, backpacker hostel, powered caravan sites, campsites, and alpine mini huts.
Though the Overland Track is too long for your itinerary, do make time to take a shorter walk in the park. Purchase a Day Walk Map at the Visitor's Centre at the park's entrance, or ask one of the guides to assist you. The Enchanted Walk (about 1 1/2 hours) takes you past waterfalls, pools, and moorland; the Dove Lake Loop Track (about two hours) takes you around the lake, through the Ballroom Forest, and back to your starting point at the Dove Lake carpark. (www.parks.tas.gov.au/natparks/cradle/activities.html)
Calm Day Spa at Cradle Mountain Chateau
Just because you are enjoying a campervan adventure, does not mean you can't indulge in a little four-star pampering! Book a massage, facial, or other spa treatment for a reward after a long day of walking.
Historic Park Drive
For those who would rather sit back and enjoy the view, the Historic Park Drive is an excellent way to see and learn about the park. Your guide will go over the history and highlights of the park, and a Devonshire Tea will be served at Waldheim, a historic section of the park. Tours leave from the Cradle Mountain Chateau.
Your drive today takes you 144 km east (about two hours) to Launceston, via a series of roads including Cradle Mountain Road and the Bass Highway. Located at the center of it all, Launceston is a big change from Cradle Mountain, with an abundance of Victorian and Colonial architecture, arts and culture, and varied attractions. Within the 'Valley of the Senses' you will find vineyards, the famous Boag's Brewery, and amazing dining experiences.
Where to Stay
Launceston Holiday Park Legana
Located just north of Launceston, this award-winning park is situated on eight park-like acres and features a fully equipped amenities block, children's playground, covered BBQ area, tennis court, disabled showers and toilets, laundry facilities, and carwash facilities. Choose from deluxe spa cabins, premium cabins, self-contained park and budget cabins, on-site caravans, powered sites and camping sites.
Launceston Treasure Island Caravan Park
Located two km from the center of Launceston, this park is situated on three hectares of former parkland, and features three amenities blocks, laundry facilities, free BBQs, tour booking assistance, camper's kitchen with TV, car washing facilities, and a bathroom for babies. Choose from full self-contained deluxe and standard cabins, and onsite caravans, as well as powered caravan and campervan sites, and camping sites.
The Cataract Gorge
A short walk from the city center, the Cataract Gorge is a fun attraction for families. Victoria gardens, walking trails, lookouts, a swimming pool, cafe and restaurant enable everyone in your group to find something they enjoy. Take a ride on the longest single span chairlift in the world!
Boag's Centre for Beer Lovers
Take a tour of the J. Boag & Son Brewery, producers of Australia's most famous beer. A museum, shop, and tastings take place in the Tamar Hotel across from the brewery. Make a reservation in advance. (www.boags.com.au)
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Galleries
Visit both of the art museums in Launceston, one at Royal Park and one at Inveresk. At Royal Park, enjoy exhibitions of Tasmania's natural heritage, the Royal Park Planetarium, a children's interactive space, and a Chinese Temple all housed in a Victorian heritage building. At Inveresk, tour exhibitions of fine art, decorative art, and craft collections, history of the state's railways, and the Blacksmith Shop, all housed in the former Launceston Railway Workshops. (www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/)
Today, make your way to the northeast coast of Tasmania, 148 km east (just under two hours) via the Tasman Highway and other minor roads. The largest town on the east coast, St. Helens is a fishing port known for great beaches and huge sand dunes. Protected by Georges Bay, St. Helens is adjacent to St. Helens Point and Humbug Point, both with extensive recreation areas. St. Helens is also famous for its Suncoast Jazz Festival in June.
Where to Stay
St. Helens Caravan Park
Located 1 km from the center of town, this park features a campers kitchen, rec room, shared laundry facilities (fee), kiosk, children's playground, and boat parking. Choose from premier, standard, and budget ensuite cabins, ensuite sites, powered sites, and a camping area. (www.sthelenscp.com.au OR www.big4.com.au)
Bay of Fires
Just ten minutes north of St. Helens is the Bay of Fires, 35 km of pristine white sand beaches, beautiful rock formations, and glorious blue water. The entrance is at Bingalong Bay, with Mount William National Park at the end.
St. Helens is Tasmania's largest fishing port. Why not charter a fishing boat (and perhaps hire a guide) and try your hand at fishing for deep-sea marlin and tuna?
St. Columbia Falls
Drive 28 km west to Pyengana to see the St. Columbia Falls, Tasmania's tallest waterfall. Walk 20 minutes in the rainforest to get to the falls, and then take photographs from the platform at the top.
Drive 76 km south (about an hour) down the north east coast via the Tasman Highway. Once known for its whaling and sealing industries, Bicheno is now famous for crayfish and penguins! Tour the Governor Island Marine Reserve, walk the beautiful north east coast, or explore the Freycinet National Park, just south of Bicheno.
Where to Stay
Bicheno East Coast Holiday Park
A short walk to shops, restaurants, and the beach, this park features a camp kitchen, laundry facilities, modern children's playground, and electric BBQs. Choose from fully self-contained ensuite cabins and holiday units, powered and unpowered sites, and camping sites. The park is right next door to the Penguin Tours, a must when visiting Bicheno. (www.familyparks.com.au)
Bicheno Penguin Tours
This tour is your chance to see fairy penguins up close, as they return to their burrows at night. The illuminated tour begins at dusk daily, and lasts about an hour. The owners of Bicheno Penguin tours are noted conservationists, succeeding in dramatic increases in the Bicheno penguin population. (www.bichenopenguintours.com.au)
Bicheno Dive Centre
Considered one of the best temperate water dive locations in the world, the Bicheno Dive Centre offers guided dives with one of the foremost SSI diving instructors in the world. If you travel during winter months, you may find yourself swimming alongside dolphins or whales as they migrate. Fishing charters and diving equipment rental are also available. (www.bichenodive.com.au)
Bicheno Sealife Centre
Giant Tasmanian crabs, seahorses, crayfish and other marine life can be viewed in giant glass tanks in the Aquarium. See Tasmanian ketch, dubbed 'The Enterprise', built in 1902, and pick up souvenirs in the gift shop. The restaurant serves lunch, morning and afternoon tea.
A short drive today, 43 km south and west via the Tasman Highway to Swansea. A charming town situated on Great Oyster Bay, its heritage buildings, museums, and views of Freycinet National Park make Swansea a relaxing stop on your Tasmanian adventure. Located in the center of the oldest rural municipality in Australia, Swansea is home to many buildings from the mid-1800s.
Where to Stay
Swansea Holiday Park at Schouten Beach
This park occupies two locations in Swansea, one at Schouten Beach and one at Jubilee Beach. At Jubilee Beach, features include beachfront, a seasonal holiday pool, amenities block, laundry facilities, camper's kitchen, BBQs, children's playgrounds, rec room, and Internet access. Choose from premium seaside cabins, self-contained family cabins, and powered sites for caravans and tents. At Schouten, features include proximity to the beach, spa and sauna, as well as all of the amenities available at Jubilee Beach. Choose from self-contained family cabins and powered sites for caravans and tents. (www.swansea-holiday.com.au)
Swansea Bark Mill & Museum
First operated in 1885, the Swansea Bark Mill is the only restored Black Wattle Bark Mill in Australia. After processing, Black Wattle bark was used mainly for tanning, The Swansea Bark Mill complex includes the mill, the East Coast Museum dedicated to the life of early settlers; the Swansea Wine and Wool Centre, a gift shop featuring fine Tasmanian woolen products, Tasmanian wines, and gourmet food items; and the Swansea Bark Mill Tavern. This award-winning museum complex is a must-see. (www.barkmilltavern.com.au/museum)
Kate's Berry Farm
Just outside Swansea overlooking Great Oyster Bay is Kate's Berry Farm. You'll find freshly picked raspberries and strawberries for sale from November to April, as well as Kate's homemade ice cream, jams, and berry wine (available year round).
Glamorgan Community Centre & War Memorial Museum
Located in a heritage building, the Glamorgan Community Centre houses a museum dedicated to Swansea's pioneering history, as well as memorabilia from World War I and II. Pick up a copy of the booklet, Heritage Walk, Swansea, and enjoy a leisurely walk through Swansea, learning about the historic sites as you go.
Drive 149 km south (about 2 hours) down the north east coast via the Tasman and Arthur Highways (and minor roads). Port Arthur, with only 200 inhabitants, is entirely dedicated to the former prison, the researchers who study its history, and the tourists who visit it. You can take one of several guided tours to see the prison buildings, the officers' homes, the dockyard, church and hospital. The museum shows artifacts from convict days, many recovered through on-going archaeology.
Port Arthur hit the headlines in 1996, when a man went on a shooting spree and killed 35 people. Many of the staff lost close relatives and friends so, please, read the memorial plaque, but do not discuss this tragedy with staff.
Where to Stay
Port Arthur Caravan and Cabin Park
Located at Garden Point, 1 km from Port Arthur and the Port Arthur Historic Site, this park is situated on 40 landscaped acres and features a shaded swimming area at Stewart's Bay and a boat ramp at Long Bay. The park offers a modern amenities block, laundry facilities, enclosed BBQ shelters, camper's kitchen, and a kiosk. Choose from full self-contained cabins, some with private balconies, as well as powered, drive through and private ensuites, caravan and camping facilities, and bunkhouse accommodations. (www.portarthurcaravan-cabinpark.com.au)
Book your ghost tour ahead of time. Then follow your guide by lantern light and learn about all the ghostly apparitions and weird happenings that have been documented from convict days up to the present. (www.portarthur.org.au)
Convict Water Supply Trail
This 600-metre trail from the Hospital to the Commandant's House takes you into the bushland, where you will see the remains of a failed attempt at self-sufficiency for the convict settlement reservoirs, aqueducts, flour mills and water wheels. You will also see how a free community grew up; how white occupation affected the landscape; and how native plants have recovered.
The catamaran MV Marana will take you on a short cruise on which you can see the gorgeous coastline, the Isle of the Dead, and the boy's prison, and learn about the convict ship building industry.
The last leg of your trip takes you 94 km north and west (a little over an hour) back to your starting point, via the Arthur and Tasman Highways. Hobart, the second oldest capital city in Australia, is a vibrant port city with a rich and diverse history and thriving arts scene. Situated on the Derwent River at the foot of Mount Wellington, Hobart offers visitors spectacular views. Founded in 1804 as a penal colony, the city has integrated its convict heritage into its everyday charm. Be sure to stop in a bookshop; Hobart is fast coming a book buy.
Where to Stay
Hobart Treasure Island Caravan Parks
Located on the banks of the Derwent River ten minutes from Hobart, this park features a children's playground, laundry facilities, BBQ area, three amenities blocks, and a camper's kitchen. Choose from self-contained holiday cabins, ensuite caravans, powered caravan and campervan sites and foreshore camping sites.
Barilla Holiday Park
Located 14 km from Hobart, this park features a hydrotherapy spa pool, putt and play golf (fee), and a cafe and licensed bar offering live entertainment, wood fired pizzas, fish and chips, and scooped ice cream. Choose from ensuite cabins, cabins, powered sites, and campsites. (www.barilla.com.au)
Walk straight down Main Street to Hobart's bustling waterfront. Start out at Salamanca Place, the preferred hangout of 19th century mariners, where you will find sandstone warehouses converted into shops, and the famed Saturday Market. Here you will also find Kelly's Steps, the gateway to the Battery Point suburb; the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is nearby. For more shops, crafts, and galleries, head to Gasworks Village, home of Australia's only commercial whisky distillery. Get your seafood fix on Constitution Dock, and then stop in one of the pubs.
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
Explore an extensive collection of native Tasmanian plants from ferns to conifers and the world's only sub Antarctic plant house. The gardens also include Japanese and Chinese collections, an epacrid garden and a rain garden. See the famed Arthur's Wall, a heated wall built in 1829 in an effort to protect precious vegetables and other plants from frost. If you are traveling with children, pick up a Kid's Treasure Hunt Map at the Visitor's Centre. (www.rtbg.tas.gov.au)
Opened in 1837, Hobart's Theatre Royal is Australia's oldest theatre. This impressive historic building is a site in and of itself, but the theatre continues to provide world-class entertainment throughout the year. Legendary performers have taken the stage at Theatre Royal, including Sir Laurence Olivier, who saved the theater from demolition in the 1940s. (www.theatreroyal.com.au/)
End of Trip
Return your campervan and begin working on that scrapbook!