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Tasmania in 10 Days - PART ONE

I had been wanting to visit Tasmania for years, and for some reason in my head made it into a bigger trip to get there than it actually is. A short flight to Launceston and I was there, ready to start a ten day lap of the island, camera in hand.

Tasmania road trip map

I planned this itinerary with the goal of getting to as many places as I could during my ten days, but that also meant a lot of driving and not spending a lot of time in each place. This worked for me on this trip as it means I now know my favourite parts to revisit for more time on future trips to the apple isle. I also got a lot of information in planning from Lap of Tasmania website and Facebook group.

Day 1

I flew from Sydney to Launceston, arrived in the afternoon and caught a taxi into the city. Dropped off my stuff at my AirBnB @the.greeenroom , which was a really funky one bedroom city apartment. It was really central, and uniquely styled, complete with cocktail bar cart and record player.

I spent some time walking all over Launceston and then stopped for dinner and a cocktail at @themetzlaunceston (as recommended by my lovely AirBnB host).

Day 2

My AirBnB had a great pod coffee machine but I have turned into a coffee snob since having an espresso machine at home, so I was up early and walked to get coffee and a pastry from @breadandbuttertasmania

I hired a campervan from Camplify for this trip, because although I had some AirBnBs booked I wanted to also have the #vanlife experience of staying in holiday parks and sleeping in the van.

Before heading out of town I stopped at Cataract Gorge, Launceston's river reserve and walked one of the trails in the park and across the swinging bridge. It's a great spot to explore or a picnic by the river in the sun.

It was time to get on the road to Stanley, but on the way I stopped at Van Diemens Land Creamery for scones and ice cream, and in the tiny coastal town of Penguin for a photo stop.

I arrived in Stanley mid-afternoon and checked in at The Ship Inn. I stayed in the Moo-Nut-Re-Ker room with its own courtyard and access to the gardens. The Inn is beautifully decorated and retains the feeling of its history. The Guest Lounge is a gorgeous space

The Inn (and the rest of the small town of Stanley) sits at the base of "The Nut", which is essentially a large mountain bluff, the remains of an ancient volcanic plug with a plateau at the top which is fairly flat and can be explored on foot. To get to the top you can walk, or take the chairlift, and enjoy the views over the town and out to sea.

It was too windy for the chairlift to be running that afternoon so I took the steep walk to the top. It was incredibly windy and not very pleasant at the top, despite the views, so I didn't spend much time up there that day!

I took a recommendation from the Inn owners for dinner at Herseys Seafoods, a local restaurant with views of the bay, serving seafood caught locally with their own fleet of fishing boats. Afterwards I stopped in at the unique Stanley Wine Bar until it was late enough to go and see some penguins.

Stanley is home to a colony of Fairy Penguins, and they come ashore most evenings on Tatlows Beach and Godfreys Beach. Godfreys Beach has a designated viewing platform, and the penguins come right up and under the platform on their way to the nesting area. It is recommended that you leave all torches at home and stay quiet while on the platform to avoid scaring the penguins away. There are small red lights lighting the penguin viewing platform and boardwalk enough to find your way, and its quite an experience to be huddled along the fence with a number of other hopeful people whispering and trying to catch a glimpse of these cute creatures.

You can see my very short clip of penguin footage here

Day 3

I started the next day with a proper espresso coffee in the guest lounge of The Ship Inn and then took the chairlift to the top of “The Nut”. Taking the chairlift was much more pleasant than trekking up the steep path up this time, and I did the walk around the top to take in the views and wildlife, spotting a couple of macropods along the way.

Leaving Stanley, I drove to Cradle Mountain, and the drive took a couple of hours. I checked into the Discovery Park for my first night sleeping in the van and then took the shuttle bus to Dove Lake.

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park is an icon of Tasmania's spectacular wilderness and natural beauty. The park has many trails ranging from short, easy walks to the 5-6 day 80km Overland Track hike, and is home to an abundance of Australian wildflife. I spent a couple of hours that first afternoon walking the Dove Lake Circuit track. The circuit is a 6km walk, circling the lake, passes under the mountain and ventures through rainforest to return to the starting point via the iconic boat shed. Some other people I passed had seen an echidna on the trail but unfortunately I missed it, and didn't know to get off the shuttle bus at Ronny Creek stop to look for wombats in the afternoon, so didn't get any wildlife photos that day.

I headed back to the Discovery Park, made dinner in the camp kitchen and chatted to some other travellers before getting comfy in the van bed for the night.

Cradle Mountain National Park
Day 4

I was awake and eating breakfast early before packing up and getting to the visitor centre, ready for the first Cradle Mountain bus of the day.

The weather was cooler, cloudy and misty which would affect views on some of the hikes further up the mountain so I opted to stop at Ronny’s Creek to have a look around the start of the Overland Track for wombats and did the Cradle Valley Boardwalk back to Snake Hill. No wombats to be found (they’re nocturnal and usually come out in the afternoon but I hoped there’d be an occasional early morning wanderer).

I spent the afternoon driving from Cradle Mountain to Strahan on the west coast. The drive featured a lot of winding mountain roads, passing through old mining towns, including Rosebery where you can see the open cut mine as you drive through town, and treated to coastline views after Zeehan and eventually arriving at the sheltered, picturesque harbour of Strahan.

Strahan is at the head of Macquarie Harbour, with a history of mining and pine milling, but these days is a hub for tourism and fishing. I stayed at The Quarters, a unique AirBnB divided into four cosy rustic apartments, walking distance to town. One of the things I found to see in Strahan (a recommendation from the Lap of Tasmania Facebook group) was a long-running, local theatre production called "The Ship That Never Was". It's a play that tells the comedic true story of the last ship built at the convict settlement of Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour, and the subsequent convict escape.

Another Strahan attraction is a Gordon River Cruise, and also nearby are West Coast Wilderness Railway, Ocean Beach and Henty Dunes. If you have less time for daytrips, Hogarth Falls is a short walk from town through beautiful rainforest.

Day 5

Early coffee at @thecoffeeshack.strahan and then on the road towards Hobart. This was my biggest day of driving of the whole trip, with lots of winding mountain roads, particularly the “99 Bends” stretch outside of Queenstown. I stopped at Iron Blow Lookout at the top of the bends, and then stopped again at The Wall in the Wilderness, which is an incredible 100m long timber sculpture, you guessed it, in the wilderness.

I had booked an AirBnB just outside of Hobart, near Richmond, so I stopped at historic Richmond Village to grab some supplies, and then headed to @tinygeorge_tas. A simple, architecturally designed cottage, overlooking acres of bushland, this AirBnB is one of my new favourites! Timber interior, with a combustion heater, full kitchen, mezzanine bedroom, functional bathroom and laundry, you can really make yourself at home during your stay. I'd booked a couple of nights here so I could have a full day in Hobart and to get some washing done, so I made some dinner and settled in for the afternoon.

You can read PART TWO of my ten days in Tasmania blog here.

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