The Ultimate Road Trip Guide to Tasmania, Australia

Make sure a stop at the magnificent Cradle Mountain is on your Tasmania itinerary
Make sure a stop at the magnificent Cradle Mountain is on your Tasmania itinerary | © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kylie McDowell
1 December 2020

There’s no better way to explore Tasmania, Australia’s island state, than taking to the open road. Mother Nature’s finest work is here – mountains, oceans, waterfalls and forests aplenty – so take your time and stop frequently. There are plenty of routes to explore, but here are our favourites.

Great Eastern Drive

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Bicheno Tasmania, coastline and rocky ocean shore at Bicheno a small town on the north east coast of Tasmania,Australia
Tasmania has many beautiful places to explore | © martin berry / Alamy Stock Photo
Explore pristine beaches on Tasmania’s dramatic east coast. Starting in Hobart, the 176km (109mi) Great Eastern Drive passes poster-worthy beaches such as Bicheno, Taylors Beach and Binalong Bay. The route also cuts past 19 of Tasmania’s national parks including the oldest, Freycinet. Along the way, scuba dive among dolphins at Governor Island Marine Reserve, eat seafood at one of the many waterfront locations or discover vineyards on the East Coast Wine Trail.

Tasmania's Southern Edge

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Stalactites, Newdegate Cave, Hastings Caves, Southern Tasmania, Australia
© David Wall / Alamy Stock Photo

A two-hour drive from Hobart is the southernmost road in Australia – the gateway to Tasmania’s southern islands. By boat, cross the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, named after French explorer Antoine Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, the first European to sail the waters. Follow his 1792 journey to Bruny Island, now a favourite for seafood and spotting marine life. From May to August, this is the best to see the Aurora Australis. You can also visit the adorable little (or fairy) penguins at the Neck Game Reserve.

Western Tasmania

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The Lyell Highway descends into Queenstown
© martin berry / Alamy Stock Photo

Cruise along western Tasmania to explore some of the state’s most gorgeous natural wonders. Starting in Hobart, take Lyell Highway. Your inner racing driver will love the section known locally as the 99 Bends, a contorting collection of sharp turns and hairpins. As you travel, enjoy forest walks such as Huon Pine Walk and Creepy Crawly Track. When you reach the historic mining town of Corinna, kayak the Pieman River in search of the secluded Lovers Waterfall.

Tasmania's Cradle Coast

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Cradle Mountain reflections in Dove Lake.
© Ingo Oeland / Alamy Stock Photo
Cradle Coast, on the north-west of the island, is wild Australia at its very best. A two-hour road trip from Launceston to Cradle Mountain takes you into woodlands, across rivers and through historic villages. You could stop at Sheffield, a quirky hamlet where artists have covered every available wall with captivating murals. The goal, however, is Cradle Mountain. Here epic hikes await. You can also camp under the stars at Lake St Clair and spot the local platypuses, echidnas and Tasmanian devils.

Northern Tasmania

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Launceston - Tasmania
© Adwo / Alamy Stock Photo

Starting in Launceston, head west across the top of the island, taking in the dramatic Bass Strait coastline en route. Stop at the fishing village Stanley, famous for its fresh seafood and views of the Nut, an extinct volcano rising from the sea. Explore Rocky Cape National Park – where wild treks await – and watch the surfers at Green Point Beach in Marrawah. The journey ends in Burnie, a former port town now home to a thriving community of artists.

Central Tasmania

Architectural Landmark
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Ross Bridge on the Macquarie River in the Town of Ross, Tasmania. Built using convict labour, it is the 3rd oldest bridge still in use in Australia.
© Brian Fairbrother / Alamy Stock Photo

Explore the centre of Tasmania and uncover the island’s recent history. It’s here you’ll find colonial architecture built by convicts, historic homesteads and remnants of the wool-farming industry. Visit the 19th-century town, Ross, home to Georgian buildings and Australia’s third-oldest bridge. Also stroll down the streets of Bothwell, which are lined with listed buildings. From here, you can take the self-guided Highlands Power Trail to visit the revolutionary Waddamana Power Station, the state’s first hydro-electric power plant.

These recommendations were updated on December 1, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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