Tour Tassie in 12 days – See | Do | Eat | Stay
Tasmania is renowned for many things: clean air, natural wonders, native wildlife, rich colonial history, gourmet food and excellent local wine.
We set out to experience all of these and more on a self-drive lap of the island in just 12 days during the ‘Off Season’, June. Our mode of transport: Nissan X-Trail.
Days 1, 2, 3 Hobart – Bicheno
The drive from Tasmania’s capital city to the coastal town of Bicheno is less than two and a half hours, but we chose to stop on the way to make it a leisurely day trip.
Our first detour was to New Norfolk’s Stephen Street, a doable 30 minutes from Hobart. Nestled in this country street are an antique hunter’s haven, The Drill Hall Emporium, home goods shop Miss Arthur, and the perfect coffee pick-me up shop-cum-bookstore Black Swan.
Continue your journey 80 minutes north-east and you’ll hit Ross. Head to Bakery 31 in Church Street to sample their famous Tasmania Scallop Pie. Add a vanilla slice to your order for the sweet tooth.
Final stop, Bicheno, about 75 minutes from Ross. On the east coast of Tasmania, Bicheno is a fishing port and holiday destination for beach goers. Penguin spotting is also an attraction: head to Waubs Beach, the Blowhole, Redbill Beach, the Gulch (Bicheno Boat Ramp and nearby rocky outcrop in front of the Lobster Shack at 40 Esplanade. For guaranteed viewings book a Bicheno Penguin Tour. Tours held 5.30pm and 5.45pm in winter (about an hour after dusk). Note: there are fewer penguins in the ‘hood at this time of year.
See Do: Freycinet National Park is 30 minutes from Bicheno. Buy your Park Pass at Freycinet National Park Visitor Centre (138 Freycinet Dr, Coles Bay) before embarking on walks & touring Tassie. Freycinet National Park boasts several walking tracks ranging from easy to moderate and challenging. Friendly Beaches is easily doable. Stroll along the sandy shoreline,inhale deeply the seriously clean air and take in watery vista beyond. Magic.
Eat: Beachfront Bicheno accommodation is conveniently located next door to Beachfront Bicheno Bar Bistro & Gaming hotel. Better than your standard pub grub.
Brekkie at Blue Edge Bakery for award winning scallop pies.
Freycinet Marine Farm, Coles Bay. Farm gate shop selling some of Tassie’s best oysters, scallops, abalone and rocklobster. Do not miss!
Lobster Shack, Bicheno. The best lobster roll, ever! Bonus attraction, penguin spotting while chomping on your overstuffed roll & washing it down with a tidy Tassie pinot noir rose.
Drink: Devil’s Corner Cellar, Apslawn. 16 minutes’ drive from Bicheno. Pop-up cellar door overlooking the vineyard. Stop for wine tasting and chilling.
Freycinet Lodge. Beautiful location. Great for a glass of vino perched on a bar stool on expansive deck. Sweeping views of Great Oyster Bay. Perfect for coffee and warming fire.
Stay: Beachfront Bicheno. Located cnr Sinclair Street and Tasman Highway, the hotel is opposite the beach with views of Waubs Bay. Book a room with private patio and beach views.
Day 4 Bicheno – Launceston
See Do: Cataract Gorge. Take a chairlift across and back (or walk).
Photo ops: rise early and head to Stillwater, 2 Bridge Road, Launceston. Park nearby (or in Stillwater’s carpark if it’s not full of brekkie patrons’ cars) and wander the area for camera-perfect shots of fog rising from River Tamar. Dream-like and atmospheric.
Eat: Best brekkie at Bread&Butter. Located in a zhuzhed-up warehouse in the CBD. Naturally leavened bread, handcrafted pastries baked on premise. Hearty breakfast menu offer. Walnut croissants to die for.
Hungry for filling eats, CBD-located Saigon Kitchen offers freshly cooked Vietnamese dishes at reasonable prices.
Dinner – if budget no option, locals recommend high-end Stillwater.
Drink: Wine tasting at Josef Chromy, Relbia. 13 minutes by car from Waratah on York. Take a taxi. Pre-booked wine tasting showcased a variety of wines from the mid-priced to the high-end variety. Beautiful setting overlooking the vineyard and lake. Knowledgeable sommelier made the experience five-star.
Stay: Waratah on York. Charming accommodation in heritage-listed Victorian-style mansion. Sits high on a hill; surrounded by equally beautiful old homes. 10 minutes’ walk from CBD. No lift; request a ground floor room if you have issues with stairs.
Day 5 + 6 Launceston – Stanley
See Do: Mole Creek Caves. Two options: King Solomons Cave, Liena and Marakoopa Cave, Mayberry. We visited King Solomons Cave. It’s compact and ideal for keen photographers. Booking essential.
Hit the Tarkine Drive, 60km from Stanley. Drive the loop. Highlights: Trowutta Arch and Edge of the World.
Climb The Nut – the remains of an ancient volcanic plug. Looks like a baby plateau. Take the chairlift to the top or walk. Note: chairlift was shut for winter.
Visit recently restored historic Highfield House; built in the 1830s. Nearby is an excellent viewing point to catch sweeping views of Stanley’s northern beaches.
Make time for the Heritage Walk. Soak up the history of Stanley’s ancestors; quaint little stone cottages lining the streets are full of history.
Eat: Brekkie at Leather & Wood (23 Church St, Stanley) for hearty toasties, pasties. Opens earlier than neighbouring cafes.
Dine at Stanley Hotel and Hursey Seafoods.
Stanley Hotel Boasts award-winning bistro food. Try their seafood platter – sensational. Hursey Seafood restaurant gets ticks for its Southern Rock Lobster in the shell & blanketed with a cheesy, mornay sauce. Oh, and garlic, pan-fried scallops. Unbelievably meaty and tasty.
Drink: Stanley Hotel. Head to the rear deck to take in the views; hop up at the bar and chat with the locals; flop into a comfy chair and warm yourself by the fire.
Stay: Hanlon House, Stanley. Welcoming and cosy accommodation in an old two-story home. Similar to an air bnb. Easy walk main streets. Next time, we’ll stay at Ship Inn, Stanley, for some luxe.
Day 7 Stanley – Strahan
See Do: Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake, [email protected], Cradle Mountain Lodge, Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery
Eat: Bushman Pizza and Thai. Great food.
Drink: Hamer’s Bar & Bistro. Mix it with the locals and enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
Stay: Strahan Village
Day 8, 9, 10 Strahan – Lake St Clair
We took the route via Queenstown to pick up supplies. Prepare for the ‘99 Bends’ on the Lyell Highway; section of winding road that could be tricky at night or in inclement weather.
See Do: trek the foreshore of the lake and elevated manmade walkways through forestation to Lake St Clair Visitor Centre.
Eat: Three-course meals at the Pumphouse Point. All inclusive. Superb.
Drink: Indulge in the Honesty Bar. There’s something for everyone’s alcoholic and non-alcoholic predilections. Extensive wine collection plus other tipples.
Stay: Lake St Clair Lodge; Pumphouse Point
Both accommodation options are lakeside. We stayed at Pumphouse Point – three days and two nights of utter heaven in the wilderness. Every need already considered and catered for. A bucket list destination. Our friends stayed at the Lodge. Their feedback was positive. Would be a top spot for families.
Day 10, 11 + 12 Lake St Clair to Hobart
Drive via Zeehan to Hobart. Winding road. Could be precarious during deepest winter and at night.
See Do: Salamanca Markets (Saturdays), guided tour of historic Henry Jones Art Hotel and its art collection (4pm Fridays), visit Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery, step back in time with “in Bobby’s footsteps” Battery Point History Walk, drive to the summit of Mt Wellington for spectacular views of Hobart, Ross Bay and beyond. Bring a coat. Weather can be unpredictable. Visit Mawson’s Hut (replica of the real thing). Take a drive to Tessellated Pavements, Eagle Hawk and walk on spectacular rock formations.
MONA is a must visit especially if this is your first time in Hobart. Ditch the car and book at ticket in the Posh Pit on the camouflaged ferry ‘Mona Roma’. Enjoy a tipple and a nibble while you take in the best views of Mona and Hobart from the water.
Eat: Breakkie at seriously uber cool Machine Laundry Cafe, Salamanca; scallop pies at Salamanca Market (you’ll find the scallop pie man’s van at the market’s main entrance); perfect eggs benedict at Battery Point hotspot Jackman and Mc Ross Bakery.
Take a pleasant 30 minutes’ drive for a glass of vino and bite to eat at the Kiosk, Agrarian Kitchen, New Norfolk.
Dine at Drunken Admiral for perfectly deep friend, crumbed scallops.
Dine at Maldini for al dente Spaghetti alla marinara According to Monty; it was the best he’s eaten for a long time.
Drink: Cocktails at Henry Jones Art Hotel, imbibe at Larks Distillery (not just for whiskey but also for its vibe & historic character), Glass House because of its water location suspended over Sullivan’s Cove
Stay: Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart