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Tasmania Road Trip

2 Weeks in Tasmania - The Best Parks, Restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts, and More on Our Tasmania Road Trip Itinerary (Plus the "Must-See Attractions" We Wish We'd Skipped)

We've been home almost a week and I still haven't done any serious Tasmania blogging. Even with my best tip for long flights, jet lag is no joke! Plus, we seem to have brought home a cold (me) and the flu (SN) from when we visited my family in Perth at the end of our trip. 

(His is totally the same thing I have, morphed into a man cold.) When traveling to Australia, keep in mind that it may be their flu season when you visit.

Here is the detailed road trip itinerary we began our trip with, including notes on the best restaurants per stop. Locations that are in bold are the main focus of the day. 

I'll share the changes we made to the actual trip (and the ones we wish we'd made!) in the coming days. Enjoy this list - it took me months of research to put it together!

You can also find lots of photos and funny trip stories on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tasmania Road Trip
Everywhere to go in Tasmania - the best restaurants, hiking, hotels, and must-see stops of our 2-week road trip

If you've ever wanted to visit Australia, now is the time because of the generous exchange rate compared to the US dollar. Be sure to make Tasmania a priority. My husband and I have visited Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne - Tasmania beats them all.

I'd love to move there one day, to Hobart or Bicheno or maybe Penguin. Perhaps we'll open a bed and breakfast in retirement.

Tasmania Road Trip

Cradle Mountain in May
Cradle Mountain in May = Brrrr!

Arrive in Hobart (Starving at the Melbourne airport? Brunetti or Nando’s = okay food)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Maylands Lodge (Post-trip note: This hotel is one of the best we've ever had the pleasure of frequenting. It cost more than the others on our trip and wasn't in the main tourist area, but it was worth it to have a luxurious room with soaking tub and gourmet tea and breakfast. After almost 24 hours of traveling from the USA, it was nice to have a little pampering.)

Nearby Food Options: Bar Wa Izakaya, New Sydney Hotel Restaurant, Zero Davey Café, Culinary King (Indian) (Post-trip note: We ate at Bar Wa Izakaya, which was a long walk from Maylands Lodge, but doable. It was good, though a little on the expensive side.)

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (closes @ 5 pm) (Post-trip note: This is the best botanical garden we have ever visited in the world. It's a pleasant walk from Maylands Lodge.)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: St Ives Apartments

Nearby Food Options: Honey Badger Dessert Café, Ettie's $25 prix fixe lunch (entree, wine, & coffee), Jackman and McRoss bakery, Shamrock Hotel (restaurant with huge portions and low prices/#1 on TripAdvisor), Cafe Lola, Machine Laundry Café, Sawak Cafe (Post-trip note: We ate at Honey Badger Cafe, which was alright, and Machine Laundry Cafe, which was nothing special for the price. If I could go back in time, we'd go to Ettie's instead.)
Hobart Free Walking Tour (2 hours; 10:30 am Thurs & Fri; departs St David's Park, look for the bright pink shirts in the middle; bring cash for a tip)($10 per person?)  (Post-trip note: This free walking tour was one of the highlights of our entire trip. We learned so much about Tasmania. If you already know everything about Tasmania, you might not enjoy it.)

abel tasman statue hobart
Hobart Free Walking Tour
(SN and I are next to the statue of Abel Tasman.)

Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery (free) (Post-trip note: We had 2 hours here but needed at least 3.)

Look at pretty homes and sculptures in Battery Point - the prettiest houses are on Napoleon Street, Cromwell Street, De Witt Street, Sloane Street, Marine Terrace, Mona Street, Francis Street, Kelly Street, McGregor Street and South Street. (Post-trip note: I'd expected the sculptures to be easy to find - wrong. If this interests you, Google it and print directions ahead of time.)


TONIGHT’S LODGING: St Ives Apartments (free parking; walking distance to Salamanca Market for tomorrow) (Post-trip note: This hotel had no problem allowing us to keep our car in their lot after checkout so that we could walk to the market. It sounded like they do that all the time.)

Pick up rental car @ 7 am on the way to Port Arthur (Post-trip note: Everyone says you have to visit Port Arthur. If we could go back and do this trip again, we would actually skip it. I've read online that you need an entire day, possibly more, to see everything, but when we were actually in Tasmania, the consensus from fellow travelers was that it takes about 3 hours. 3 hours was just right.)

1. Breakfast @ Sorrel Cafe (Post-trip note: I ordered the "Big Brekkie" and it was scrumptious.)

2. Tessellated Pavement (Post-trip note: This was unlike anything else we've ever seen. If you're in the area, it's worth a stop.)

3. Port Arthur (open 9-5)  

4. Remarkable Cave (Post-trip note: The cave was closed in May.)

5. Federation Chocolate (if time) (Post-trip note: We did have time but should have skipped it. The $20 we spent on tiny chocolate bars would have been better used at the grocery store, Coles.)

6. Tasman Arch & Devil's Kitchen  

TO EAT: Cubed Espresso in Eaglehawk Neck (9am-3pm); Havnabite Tucker Spot in Eaglehawk Neck (pies and steak sandwiches)

(Hobart to Mount Field National Park)(Driving: 2.5 hours; 100 miles)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Tarraleah Cottages and Cabins (Post-trip note: Tarraleah is an entire town, built for the construction of the hydroelectric power station, turned into a resort. Although we visited during the off-season when everything was closed, it was still a memorable night's lodging. Be sure to say hello to the friendly ducks and Fergus the world-famous highland cow!)

1. Salamanca Market (opens @ 8:30 am - the earlier, the better b/c things sell out; Cantina Latina empanadas; Smith's or Banjo's scallop pie; Viking ice cream - huge portions; "Highlight are the tempura mushroom and fried donut stand at the far end of the market, toward the docks. A Bowl of delicious mushroom is $8, and 4 scrumptious donuts is $6. Or, the Salmon sausage on a bun. Amazing salmon sausage of the best bun perfectly warmed and crisped, with rocket and drizzle of lemony mayo. Just $8.") (Post-trip note: The tempura mushrooms were gross! They were like little sponges of oil. The Smith's scallop pie and the salmon sausage were excellent. There's no shortage of good ice cream in Hobart, so don't fill up on it at the market. We were unable to find Cantina Latina. Perhaps they don't participate in the Salamanca Market during the off-season?)

2. Mount Field National Park (Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls)(Post-trip note: I'd probably skip this park next time. It was nice, but the other parks we visited were better.)

3. Late lunch/early dinner in Hamilton (eat at Jackson's Emporium or Wild Fennel)(Wild Fennel closes @ 3:15; Jackson's is open until 8) (Post-trip note: We ended up buying food at the Salamanca Market to take for dinner instead of stopping at a restaurant, which saved time and money.)

4. Stay the night in Tarraleah at Tarraleah Cottages and Cabins (if time, walk to the power station lookout and Tarraleah Falls)(Post-trip note: We did have time to meander the town and pet the furry highland cows. The power station is a short, easy walk. We didn't make it to the falls but did see a friendly wallaby.)

(Tarraleah to Lake St Clair to Nelson Falls to Queenstown)(Total driving: 91 miles/2 hours )

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Comfort Inn Gold Rush in Queenstown (Post-trip note: SN did not like this hotel.)

Food Options in Queenstown, starting with the best: Tracks Cafe in Queenstown (best coffee & scones); JJ's Coffee Lounge in Queenstown; Serenade Cafe in Queenstown (good meat pies) (Post-trip note: Everywhere was closed when we got into Queenstown, which was around 5:30 pm and dark outside. For dinner, we went to the local grocery store, which had great prices.)
Food Options in Derwent Bridge: Hungry Wombat Cafe

 1. Lake St. Clair (the Watersmeet Walk & The Platypus Bay Walk, then the Aboriginal Cultural Walk back to the visitor center - all easily done in a couple of hours)(Post-trip note: This road trip was heavily focused on the national parks of Tasmania. Lake St Clair was one of our favorites. You can't beat a hike through the temperate rainforest, even in cool weather.)

2. Nelson Falls (~15 minute walk)("The next stop should be the Frenchmans Cap car park on the Lyell Hwy (just walk to see the Franklin River from the suspension bridge) and then stop at the Nelson Falls carpark. There are toilets and it is a lovely short (30min) flat walk along a well made trail to the falls. The Iron Blow Lookout is just before Queenstown and the lookout is next to the carpark.")

3. Ahead of schedule? Continue to Strahan. (1 hour each way)(Post-trip note: Due to the weather, we ended up visiting Strahan the next day for a Gordon River Cruise. I wouldn't drive out of my way for Strahan unless doing a similar activity there.)

(Queenstown to Cradle Mountain to Mount Roland)(Total Driving: 95 miles/2 hours)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Roland Bed & Breakfast (Post-trip note: This bed and breakfast left fresh eggs and bacon in the fridge for us. In the morning, it was fun to cook our own meal while listening to the song of kookaburras.)

1. Cradle Mountain (Shuttle to Dove Lake Walk then down to Ronny Creek (don't do this in reverse or it's all uphill), Enchanted Forest Walk, Pencil Pine Falls Walk, Rainforest Walk; Marions Lookout (strenuous) only if it's dry - otherwise the rocks to climb over are too slippery/dangerous)

(Mount Roland to Tarkine Drive to Wynyard)(Total Driving: Full Day; bring a picnic lunch and snacks)(Post-trip note: Due to the weather, we missed the Tarkine Drive. Next time!)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Alexandria Bed & Breakfast, Wynyard

tasmania b&b
Our scrumptious breakfast from the Alexandria B&B, including homemade yogurt

Food Option: The Wharf Hotel in Wynyard (share an enormous schnitzel, possibly with a Yorker topping)(Post-trip note: What a happy coincidence that Tuesday happened to be discount schnitzel night. Be sure to order a large Lemon Lime & Bitters here, as it was the best I've ever had. Seriously, I'm going to email them for their secret recipe.)

1. House of Anvers (chocolate samples - get a chili hot chocolate to share and maybe waffles)

2. Tarkine Drive (The best of the "worth it" stops are Trowutta Arch, Edge of the World, and Couta Rocks; the other good ones are the Julius River Walk, Lake Chisholm, Sumac Lookout, Kanunnah Bridge, Greenpoint Beach, and Dip Falls/The Big Tree) 

(Wynyard to Rocky Cape National Park to Sheffield)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Sheffield Motor Inn

Food Options: High Tide Takeaway restaurant in Burnie, The Chapel (ultimate toastie, hotcakes) in Burnie, Penguin Country Bakehouse in Penguin

1. Boat Harbour Beach 

2. Rocky Cape National Park (Sisters Beach to Anniversary Bay; Blandfordia Spur Circuit)

3. Fossil Bluff Lookout

4. Table Cape Lighthouse Tour ($10 pp; every 20 minutes)

5. Explore the nearby towns (Burnie, Penguin, Ulverstone, Devonport)

6. Do the Gunns Plains Caves on way to hotel today (tours @ 10, 11, 12, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30)(Post-trip note: We had a private tour of the Gunns Plains Caves, courtesy of it being the off-season in Tasmania. This was sufficient for our caving interest and we skipped the Mole Creek Caves the next day. With two cave options to choose from in the area, I think we made the right choice.)

7. Extra time? Preston Falls and the Wings Wildlife Park are near the caves.

(Sheffield to Mole Creek Caves to Launceton)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Hideaway on George (breakfast)

Food Options: Indian Curry Devonport, Crusty's Bakery in Ulverstone, The Apple Tree Café in Sheffield

If we still want to go to Mole Creek Caves after yesterday's cave, there is a discount for doing both Mole Creek Caves; the King Solomon cave does not accept cash.

Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm for cheese samples in Elizabeth Town  

Stop @ Brady's Lookout and Notley Fern Gorge State Reserve if there’s time

Still time? Beauty Point and the Tamar Triple Pass for admission to Platypus House, Seahorse World, and the Beaconsfield Mine & Heritage Museum (Post-trip note: We did the Tamar Triple Pass and it was actually one of the highlights of our trip. I held a seahorse! An echidna sniffed my shoe! Make these three attractions a priority on your trip to Tasmania.)

Dinner @ Saint John Craft Beer Bar in Launceton (get the vegan duck burger; food served after 5 pm)(Post-trip note: I had the vegan duck burger and it was just as yummy as online reviews had led me to believe. SN had a lamb burger, which he enjoyed more than my vegan burger. The beer here is just okay. They have Dark & Stormy on tap.)

(Tamar Valley Wine Tour)(Full day) 

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Hideaway on George (Post-trip note: Great hotel with an even greater breakfast - real, drip coffee instead of the instant coffee packets provided everywhere else!)

1.   Cataract Gorge (Post-trip note: We ended up taking a 50 minute Cataract Gorge Adventure Cruise through Tamar River Cruises, which was a relaxing way to see the gorge. A coupon was provided at the Alexandria Bed & Breakfast in Wynyard)

2.   Tamar Valley Wine Tour - starts @ 11am (Post-trip note: This was a nice wine tour, but our day could have been better spent seeing other sights in Launceston. We needed more time here. Rather than booking a wine tour during a Tasmania road trip, simply stop at cellar doors along your route. Even if you spend a $5 tasting fee per stop, you'll still come out money ahead and get to try more wineries. None of the cellar doors we visited on our own had any problem with the two of us sharing a tasting.)

(Launceton to Bay of Fires)(3 hours; 118 mi)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Sweetwater Villas in St Helens

1. Harvest Launceston Farmers Market (walking distance from hotel; try the Japanese omelette and 'sandy sourdough' cinnamon scrolls)

2.   Bridestowe Lavender Estate (Still hungry? The Tuscan Fox Pizzeria in Branxholm)(Post-trip note: We were not still hungry. You do a lot of eating on a Tasmania road trip! At the lavender farm, we shared a plate of lavender scones and a lavender latte. The latte was sort of gross, but the scones were nice. There's a friendly cat on their patio, but be careful about allowing him onto your lap - he drools!)

3.   Bay of Fires: Binalong Bay, Sloop Reef, North & South Cosy Corners, The Gardens (at the end of Gardens Rd)

4.   Eat @ Skippers (seafood; walking distance from hotel)(Post-trip note: We had the fish and chips here. It was just okay.)

(Freycinet National Park)(2.5 hrs; 107 mi)

TONIGHT’S LODGING: Freycinet Waters in Swansea

Food Options: Purple Possum Café in St Marys (10-3 on Sun); Blue Edge Bakery in Bicheno (6 am-3 pm on Sun) (Post-trip note: We made it to Blue Edge Bakery, which had great meat pies and great prices.)

Wineglass Bay Lookout and the Hazards Beach Circuit
Honeymoon Bay
Cape Tourville Lighthouse
Friendly Beaches

(Post-trip note: Freycinet National Park was one of our favorites. It and Cradle Mountain were also the most crowded national parks we visited though.)

(More time in Freycinet? Hobart? Maria Island? Wine tasting in Richmond? Mount Wellington? Huonville and Willie Smith's Apple Shed? Hastings Caves?)

If Maria Island, take the 9 am ferry there and the 3:30 ferry back.

"On your last day, you can drive down the East Coast to Orford with a couple of sightseeing stops, then turn inland on the A3, then turn off on the C350 towards the Coal River Valley. You can visit a couple of wineries there, and have lunch at one of the good winery restaurants. Frogmore Creek and Riversdale Estate have good restaurants with beautiful rural views. Continue on to Richmond for more sightseeing, then you could return the car directly to the airport without having to go back into Hobart."

(Post-trip note: On our final day, we wanted to go to Maria Island but thought it was too risky with our 6:20 pm flight. We made our way leisurely to Richmond, with stops at The Fish Van in Triabunna and random beaches we saw signs for along the way. We were perhaps a little too leisurely, as I wish we'd had more time to explore Richmond.)

fish van triabunna
In addition to great fish & chips and scallop pies, The Fish Van scoops a delish Rum Raisin.

I asked my husband if my eyes were closed when he took this photo. He said no.

Also, my outfit is sans-jeans on our last day in Tasmania because...they reeked. For your trip to Tasmania, be sure to pack enough clothes! One pair of jeans for 13 days of hiking and outdoor adventures was insufficient. Whoops.

(Flight departs from Hobart to Perth at 6:20 pm.)