Tasmania is known for its diverse natural landscape, clean air, and intriguing colonial history. The island state is a lush green triangle just south of the Australian continent, accessible via ferry from Melbourne or short domestic flight from most State Capitals. A state that is sometimes the subject of light hearted jokes from the mainland, Tassie (as it is colloquially known) is a must see destination with mainlanders flocking to discover the mountains, festivals, great food, cheese and wineries.
If you’re looking for a pocket of Australia to escape on this upcoming Labour Day holiday, why not plan a trip to Tasmania. Below are some must-see spots on the island state.
Hobart, Australia’s second oldest city, is located in the south east on the banks of the Derwent River, and has blossomed from a sleepy country town to a boutique travel destination. With the opening of the MONA Gallery in 2011 and a rise in local festivals; the southernmost capital is now on the Aussie cultural map, showcasing a variety of music, contemporary arts and home grown wine. With these cultural additions, plus being long admired for amazing ports, historic buildings and incredible natural beauty, Hobart has been listed by Lonely Planet in their Top 10 Cities to visit in 2013.
The Tasmanian capital is host to many food and wine festivals including The Taste of Tasmania Festival, Tasmanian Beerfest, Cygnet Folk Festival plus many more. Late December to January is also a good time to be in Hobart with the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race finishing in Sullivans Cove Foreshore. There is a real buzz in the city during this summer festival season.
The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) opened in January 2011 on the Berriedale Peninsula and is the largest privately funded museum in Australia. From Hobart shores, MONA houses antiquities, modern and contemporary art. The museum also hosts the MONA FOMA (MOFO) festival held in January, featuring many well-known acts in modern music. The MOFO festival held annually in Hobart was established in 2008 and is curated by rock legend Brian Ritchie from the Violent Femmes.
Despite these exciting newcomers, not all of Hobart’s events are new to the scene. Salamanca Markets have been in the city every Saturday since 1972 and features over 300 stalls selling food, coffee, fresh fruit and vegetables, croissants, as well as art and crafts. The markets are situated in Salamanca Place which also has many shops and restaurants nearby.
Cradle Mountain is part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area which is protected to preserve the natural wilderness of the area. The mountain attracts a quarter of all visitors to the state each year and is a great destination for hiking. The area is home to beautiful Lake St Clair as well as featuring an abundance of distinctive fauna and flora, plus wallabies, platypus and echidnas and even wombats. Cradle Mountain is a 2 hour drive south west from Launceston.
Launceston or “Lonnie” as it is known to the locals is the 3rd oldest city in Australia. The northern city of Tasmania features historic Victorian buildings from the 1870s and 1880s, as well as impressive modern architecture. A major tourist attraction in Launceston is Cataract Gorge, which is found at the lower section of the South Esk River and is just a 2 minute drive from the city centre. A pathway built in the 1890s runs along the north bank, and you can still see the original toll house built on the King’s Bridge. Discover Tasmania⁴ has a great list of attractions and nearby places to visit.
If you’ve been hiking, then you may want to relax and refresh in the Tamar Valley. The Tamar district is one of Tasmania’s biggest wine producing areas, and is just outside Launceston. The valley has historic roots, with the first settler arriving to the area in 1789*. Tamar is known for its fresh, gourmet produce and cool climate, producing many wines including Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and sparkling. Tamar Valley Wine Route has a list of wineries that are open for cellar door tastings.
Regarded as one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world, the Tasman Peninsula is perfect for a heart raising hike. This coastline has some of Australia’s highest sea cliffs and the best walking tracks in Tasmania. Take a walking tour with a guide who can take you along the trails. The area is also close to the historic Port Arthur, which has some hectic stories of the early settlement’s prisoners and convicts. Other nearby spots to visit include: Tasman Island with its lighthouse, Cape Raoul and Pirates Bay. Park Trek organise walking tours of the Tasman Peninsula.
If a spring break is on your agenda for this coming Labour Day weekend, then Tasmania is a great option. Discover great scenery, wilderness, culture, arts, food and wine, all on the one buzzing island. Still on the brink of a new cosmopolitan identity, now is the time to travel Tassie, before the rest of the world does.