When planning our honeymoon, the international borders remained closed so we turned our attention to Australia and boy, are we glad that we did!
We embarked on an ultimate Tasmania road trip; 14 days around Van Diemen’s Land which would take us to many pockets of the Apple Isle. Parts of our Tasmania itinerary may help you plan your own east coast Tasmania road trip or perhaps a Tasmania west coast road trip.
This comprehensive blog post will be the Tasmania road trip planner to inspire you to organise your very own Tasmania road trip itinerary!
THE BEST TASMANIA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
DAY 1: ARRIVE HOBART > COLES BAY
We flew from Brisbane to Hobart direct with Virgin Australia arriving around midday. We opted to collect our rental car from Hobart CBD rather than Hobart Airport as we calculated a material difference in price.
We caught an Uber from Hobart Airport to Hobart CBD (approx AUD $33) to collect our rental car before backtracking out east to Coal River Farm for a late lunch at the farmhouse kitchen.
Coal River Farm is open 7 days a week for breakfast or lunch as well as high cheese tastings and chocolate delights. It serves modern Australian cuisine, real hot chocolates and has plenty of fine produce for you to take away with you.
From our late lunch spot, we drove north 2 hours 30 minutes to Coles Bay. We broke up this drive with short stops at Orford and Swansea but unfortunately, had to skip the Tasman Peninsula and Maria Island on this trip.
TIP: If you book accommodation in Coles Bay with a kitchen and plan to cook meals, be conscious that the IGAs close between 6.00 – 7.00pm. The closest IGAs are in Swansea and Bicheno. The Iluka General Store in Coles Bay is open daily between 7.30am – 7.30pm but may have limited meal supplies.
DAY 2: FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
We gave ourselves two full days to explore Freycinet National Park. We woke relatively early on day one so that we could start hiking in Freycinet National Park to beat the rain and the crowds.
We chose to walk up to Wineglass Bay Lookout, a completely marked trail up rugged coastal hills offering panoramic views over Coles Bay first before you reach the lookout overlooking famous Wineglass Bay. From the carpark, the hike will take approximately 40 minutes at a steady pace.
MUST KNOW! To visit National Parks in Tasmania, you need to have a valid National parks pass. Details of the different types of park passes, length of validity and prices can be found HERE. We purchased a Holiday Pass for AUD $80 (valid for 2 months across all National Parks in Tasmania including Cradle Mountain as at November / December 2021). To book your parks pass, click HERE.
The weather turned bad for us this morning so we decided to head back down and explore the surrounding area instead. Here are some options for you on those wet weather days:
Granite Freycinet – a cafe in Coles Bay serving coffee, breakfast rolls, muffins, jam doughnuts, sandwiches and light snacks. Open 7 days. A tad expensive in our view but is understandable remembering the fairly remote location. Food quality and service are solid.
Freycinet Marine Farm – a must visit for any seafood fans. Here, you can taste some of Tasmania’s best fresh seafood. Oysters and mussels are harvested daily from the marine farm, whilst scallops, abalone, fish and rock lobster are sourced from local fisherman.
Bevan sampled a plate of six natural oysters with different toppings including shallot, wakame, apple cider vinegar, cucumber, native finger lime, mirin, creme fraiche, salmon caviar and wasabi. The restaurant has an undercover seating area on a wooden deck and outdoor picnic-style area on a bed of old oyster shells.
Interested folk can book a water or land-based tour of the farm through the partner business, Oyster Bay Tours.
Devil’s Corner Cellar Door – Only 30 minutes drive from Coles Bay will bring you to Devil’s Corner Cellar Door. A popular pit stop along the East Coast, visitors can drop in for wine tastings, lunch and a short climb to the lookout, offering views over Hazards vineyard and the brooding ocean.
Bicheno – Bicheno is a small seaside town 15 minutes drive from Coles Bay. It is famous for being home to nesting fairy penguins. The penguins come to shore around dusk but numbers and times will vary all-year round. Other sights include the Bicheno Blowhole and the Lobster Shack is a popular eatery to sample Tasmania’s best lobster roll.
DAY 3: FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
The weather gods were on our side on day two. We set off earlyish again, our destination being Wineglass Beach. Given that Jasmine was 19 weeks pregnant, we deemed it unsafe to attempt Mt Amos as it required some bouldering and scrambling to get to the summit. Perhaps we will attempt this hike later on in life! If you are planning on climbing Mt Amos, make sure to have the right equipment with you and hike with at least one other person. Also be mindful of the weather conditions.
The walk up to Wineglass Bay Lookout takes about 40 minutes and then from here, it is around another 40 minutes down to Wineglass Beach. It is a completely marked trail and it is practically all stairs. If you’re coming back this way (like we did), factor in some extra time for the uphill climb. The sand down on Wineglass Bay Beach is pristine and reminds us of the sand on Whitehaven Beach up in tropical North Queensland. On a sunny day, the ocean water gleams a sparkling turquoise but despite visiting at the beginning of summer, it was still a cool 17 – 18 degrees in the water!
You can complete the Hazards Circuit, either in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction which will take you past Wineglass Bay Beach either way.
RECOMMENDATION! Other than a decent water supply, we recommend packing a good supply of snacks or a packed lunch.
A half day hike deserves a reward so pop into The Ice Creamery to sample their Tasmanian ice cream. Depending on when you return from your hike, you could eat a fish and chips lunch here.
For our last dinner in Coles Bay, we booked a table at The Bay Restaurant in Freycinet Lodge. Reminiscent of a dated ski chalet, almost every table from inside the restaurant offers a glimpse of the bay.
If you have time, a drive up to Cape Tourville Lighthouse and Lookout is also an option. The road is sealed but quite steep. There is a boardwalk around the lighthouse and lookout over Carp Bay. Take a windbreaker because it gets mighty windy up there.
DAY 4: FREYCINET > BAY OF FIRES
From Freycinet National Park, we continued up the east coast of Tasmania.
The drive from Freycinet to Binalong Bay is around 1 hour 40 minutes. A great pit stop on the way to Binalong Bay is Swims East Coast Coffee. The tiny cafe is housed in a converted shipping container but has a lovely wooden deck out the front and plenty of bean bags and crates to lounge and sit in the lovely sunshine.
Then, a bit further up, we recommend pulling into Shelly Point, Beaumaris. There is a lookout as well as a gorgeous sandy beach which we would have loved to lounge on if we had a bit longer.
The famous flaming boulders known as the Bay of Fires stretches from Binalong Bay up to the Gardens, the base of the Bay of Fires Conservation Area.
If you need to pick up supplies for snacks or your own meals, make sure to stop at St Helen’s township where there is an IGA and East Coast Providore.
We checked into the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat for two nights which was the perfect base for exploring this part of the east coast of Tasmania.
DAY 5: BAY OF FIRES
The flaming orange boulders begin as far south as Freycinet National Park but the core area for exploring and discovering the Bay of Fires is further north stretching from Binalong Bay up to the Gardens, which is at the southern tip of the Bay of Fires Conservation Area.
There are several campsites along this part of the coast. They are all free however they are all unpowered. You’ll discover so many coves, beaches and boulders. All public access starts with the Gardens at the very top and stretches all the way down to Skeleton Reserve in Binalong Bay.
To find and swim safely in the rock pools, you’ll need to check the tide times because they will not be evident at low tide.
DAY 6: BINALONG BAY > GOULDS COUNTRY
From Binalong Bay, we headed west into Goulds Country. One popular destination is Pyengana Dairy Farm Gate Cafe where visitors can come for a farmhouse lunch and then watch the cows being milked or cheese being made through the cheese windows.
We were fortunate to be invited to stay at The Keep Tasmania in Goulds Country. This secluded retreat is the ultimate couples getaway so make sure to check out our review for more information. The outdoor bath will make you want to book immediately.
DAY 7: THE KEEP TASMANIA > DERBY > LAUNCESTON
Waking up at The Keep was luxuriously peaceful without any shrill alarms, only the soft serenading from the birds.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to linger and had to make a move for our booking at the now famous Floating Sauna Lake Derby.
Derby is a world-famous mountain biking region with several boutique B&Bs and stays popping up in the township to accommodate enthusiastic riders. Other than the trails, a floating sauna sits on the edge of Lake Derby, welcoming guests to sweat it out in the sauna before jumping into the freshwater lake.
We booked a Shared Sauna Session at $45 per person and ended up sharing the one hour experience with another Queensland couple. We briefly considered booking a private session for one hour but at a cost of $225 for the hour, we decided not to and we’re glad we didn’t. It’s a maximum of 5 people per session and there was enough time and space for each couple to take photos plus enjoy the sauna and cold plunge experience. Advance bookings are a must.
From Derby, we made a brief pit stop at Bridestowe Lavender Estate but we were a few weeks too early to see the lavender field in full bloom. Instead, we sampled the lavender scones and lavender and honey ice cream before continuing the drive through the countryside to Launceston.
It was self check-in at our accommodation, Change Overnight Hotel, perfectly positioned on York Street where we could leave our car and walk into the CBD.
Given our weakness for fine food, we booked ourselves a table at the highly lauded Stillwater. The entire dining experience was superb and we certainly recommend it if your budget stretches this far and/or you are interested in fine dining. The sommeliers are also able to provide recommendations for local wineries in the Tamar Valley.
DAY 8: LAUNCESTON / TAMAR VALLEY
As many of the cellar doors don’t open until 10 – 11am, you have some time to wander the streets of Launceston and nab a spot of breakfast.
We planned our afternoon exploring the vineyards in the Tamar Valley based on recommendations from friends and the wine list at Stillwater. If you don’t have a designated driver, you can also book a half day or full day tour so that you can sit back, drink and dine, all whilst soaking up beautiful views of the vines.
For more ideas, check out this extensive Tamar Valley wineries guide by The Bucket List Seekers.
DAY 9: CRADLE TO COAST | LAUNCESTON > STANLEY
Our last morning in Launceston was a Saturday so we were fortunate to swing by Harvest Market to check out the local wares whilst picking up some coffee and pastries too.
Afterwards, we stopped at Cataract Gorge. This beautiful nature spot is so close to Launceston CBD featuring walking trails, a suspension bridge, a chairlift and swimming pool.
The drive from Launceston to Stanley is approximately 2 hours 30 minutes direct, however, we’d encourage you to factor in at least half a day if not an entire day to make your way up to the north-west.
The Cradle to Coast trail is a gastronomic treasure hunt where you’re invited and encouraged to sample local food and beverages from many different Tasmanian businesses. This part of the state would need to be factored in as part of a north-west Tasmania road trip.
Some places may need reservations whilst others could have seasonal trading hours so if there’s a spot you don’t want to miss, check ahead before arriving on the doorstep disappointed. En route to Stanley, we stopped in at Dixie Blue Gelato, Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe, Ashgrove Cheese Dairy Door, House of Anvers, Buttons Brew Pub and The Chapel.
We arrived mid-afternoon in Stanley and self-checked-in to our accommodation, The Ship Inn Stanley.
TIP! Unless your Stanley accommodation has cooking facilities, you’re likely to be eating out but dinner options are limited in Stanley. Advance reservations are advised, particularly on weekends and peak season.
DAY 10: STANLEY
After breakfast, we decided to climb The Nut. The core of an extinct volcano, this geological formation protrudes from the mainland, towering over the town at 152 metres, overlooking Bass Straight and out to Rocky Cape National Park.
After our extensive morning walk, we stopped in for a light lunch at The Brown Dog Cafe before hopping on the bicycles available at our accommodation and going for a wee ride down by the water.
At dusk, we headed back to Godfrey’s Beach Penguin Viewing Platform to catch sight of the little penguins returning to their nests on the shore. The wait is worth it and the viewing is free!
READ HERE | A BRIEF GUIDE TO STANLEY
DAY 11: STANLEY > CRADLE MOUNTAIN
We departed Stanley after breakfast and made our way down to Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park.
We arrived mid-afternoon so still had time to ask any questions at the Visitor Centre, obtain our shuttle bus passes and head into the park to complete one of the short walks. This short visit also meant we could assess the car park situation (refer to Day 12 note below).
We hopped off the bus at Dove Lake and decided to do a short walk back to Ronny Creek. This is the perfect spot to spy the wombats grazing in the open field and on the hillside. Some even clamber up on the boardwalk! The wombats are most active around dusk.
DAY 12: CRADLE MOUNTAIN - LAKE ST CLAIR NATIONAL PARK
We rose in the dark and drove to the Ronny Creek car park, arriving just after sunrise. The walk from the carpark up to Dove Lake took us approximately 35 minutes along the sealed road. Although we were not positioned at the edge of Dove Lake for sunrise, our timing was actually quite perfect as the sun was still behind the mountain tops.
After taking photos by the lake, we caught the first shuttle bus back to our car at Ronny Creek car park, repacked our backpacks and set off on the first part of the Overland Track aiming for Marion’s Peak.
We made it to the base of Marion Peak and decided that Bevan would ascend solo because the route would be too dangerous for Jasmine at 19 weeks pregnant. Fortunately we were blessed with a clear weather day and the views from this point were breathtaking. Once Bevan returned, we headed towards Dove Lake, passing by Wombat Pool, before catching the shuttle bus back to the Visitor Centre.
All in all, this one way short trek took longer than we had planned. It was hotter than we anticipated and we probably should have packed a bit more water and snacks. With a day pack and hiking buddy, it’s certainly a manageable and scenic route.
We grabbed lunch at Elements Cafe next to Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre before catching the bus back to our car at Ronny Creek. Mid-afternoon, we walked along the boardwalk from Ronny Creek up to Snake Hill.
NOTE! As of December 2021, visitors are permitted to drive into the National Park before the shuttle buses start running and park as far as Ronny Creek car park. You are not permitted to drive up to Dove Lake car park as it is currently a construction site. You cannot drive into the National Park once the shuttle buses start running, at approximately 8.00am. To exit the National Park, you must follow one of the shuttle buses out of the park as the road is very narrow in parts and the drivers communicate with walkie talkies. If you do not follow a bus out of the National Park, you risk a fine and should you have an accident, your insurance will not cover any loss.
DAY 13: CRADLE MOUNTAIN > STRAHAN
We hopped onto the first shuttle bus into the park and completed the Dove Lake Circuit. Out of all the short walks in the area, this is probably the flattest and most manageable, particularly if you are concerned about mobility.. The trail is marked, a mix of wooden boardwalks, gravel and stone stairs and is partially shaded too. We completed the circuit in around 2.5 hours (recommended estimated time is 2 – 3 hours).
From Cradle Mountain, we began our drive down to Strahan. The drive on the western side consists of more forest scenery and the last section along the Lyell Highway is a windy 40 minutes. If you have a weak stomach and are prone to motion sickness, this will be an unpleasant drive for you into Strahan.
We unfortunately didn’t leave enough time to explore Strahan and in hindsight, we should have factored in an extra night with a full day so that we could book a day tour on the Gordon River.
Other attractions include Hogarth Falls and a train ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway.
DAY 14: STRAHAN > HOBART
We departed Strahan early, given the 4 hour drive to Hobart. En route, we stopped at Lake St Clair to have a peek at Pumphouse Point.
We arrived in Hobart just after 1pm and returned our rental car to the car rental agency before checking into MOSS Hotel.
We found Hobart CBD to be quite walkable to plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops. If we had held onto our rental car a little longer, other places we would have liked to visit include Mt Wellington and North Hobart.
TIP! The majority of car parking in Hobart CBD is metered. If you’ve booked a hotel, don’t presume your hotel can provide parking as space is limited. It would be wise to check with hotel management before you arrive to plan accordingly.
DAY 15: HOBART
We decided to catch the ferry to and from MONA and with our hotel perfectly located in Salamanca Place, it was a short walk across the square to the ferry terminal. The ferry ride is approximately 25 minutes but you then need to climb 90 steps at the other end to reach the entrance to MONA.
A visit to MONA requires at least 3 hours but you could easily spend an entire day out at the museum and its grounds. There are lunch and dinner options available; some restaurants require reservations. Advance bookings for tickets, ferry transport and restaurants are always recommended.
David Walsh, the owner of MONA is also the patron of Dark MOFO in winter so if you find yourself in Hobart during the colder months, check the calendar for this epic event.
DAY 16: HOBART
Our last full day in Hobart was a Saturday so we were lucky to wake up on the doorstep of Salamanca Place and the famed weekly Salamanca Markets.
The markets didn’t have as many food stalls as we expected so we ate a full breakfast at Straight Up Coffee & Food before coming back to browse the market stalls.
Early evening, we made our way to sonny, a hole in the wall wine bar in the CBD which locals definitely want to keep secret. This is a great spot for a pre-drink before dinner plans. We nabbed a window seat at Frank Restaurant down at Hobart wharf, where the South American share plates were the perfect way to end our amazing Tasmanian road trip.
DAY 17: HOBART > HOME
Our Tasmanian road trip completely exceeded our expectations and we are super happy to have had the chance to explore this beautiful part of Australia. If you are looking for a mix of nature and city, Tasmania is an ideal destination for you. We hope that our Tasmania road trip itinerary will be the inspiration to help plan your own Tasmania itinerary.