Your journey begins in Port Melbourne as you depart on the Spirit of Tasmania across Bass Strait towards Davenport. Sit back in a recliner, choose from a range of private accommodation options or book a day ticket and roam the ship. On board, you’ll find three bars, a buffet-style eatery, two cinemas, live music, kids’ activities, a tourism hub and more. The voyage takes between 9 and 11 hours with both day and night trips available. Vehicle fares start from AUD $89.00 and human fares start from AUD $79.00. To make the most of your time in Tasmania, we recommend bringing your car or camper van over from the mainland as there are no passenger trains on the island.
If you’ve opted for the overnight trip, you’ll arrive into Davenport between six am and seven am. Disembark and take the National Highway 1 towards Launceston, Tasmania’s second largest city and one of the oldest cities in Australia. The drive is just over an hour, allowing you to spend the rest of the day exploring this charming riverside city. Only a 15 minute walk from the city centre is Cataract Gorge Reserve, which features the world’s longest single span chairlift as well as walking trails, a swimming pool, Victorian gardens, wildlife and panoramic lookouts over the icy South Esk River. For an award winning dining experience visit Stillwater, a restored flour mill on the Tamar River serving contemporary Tasmanian cuisine. Stay the night at The Sebel.
Follow the Tasman Highway/A3 for two and a half hours northeast to Binalong Bay, the gateway to the Bay Of Fires which was named after the Aboriginal fires spotted by Captain Tobias Furneaux when he sailed along Tasmania’s east coast in 1773. Stretching over 50 kilometers from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point, the striking shoreline is renowned for its string of pristine white beaches, turquoise waters and tangerine granite boulders. We recommend staying at Tidal Waters Resort in St Helens.
Moving south down the Tasman Hwy/A3, Freycinet National Park is a pristine outcrop home to Wineglass Bay which is considered one of the top ten beaches in the world. Dive into the crescent cove, go sea kayaking, or laze on the luminous white sand. One of the best ways to see Wineglass Bay is to step aboard a four hour cruise where you’ll be treated to spectacular views, wildlife sightings and a Ploughman’s lunch courtesy of the Head Chef at Freycinet Lodge. We recommend staying at the peaceful Freycinet Lodge.
Travel further along Tasmania’s East Cost to the fishing village of Triabunna where a 30-minute ferry ride costing AUD $50.00 will bring you to the historic Maria Island. Watch as wombats graze undeterred by visitors, wander through the ghost town that is Darlington, see the convict station and stroll to the breathtaking Painted Cliffs at Hopground Beach. Once back in Triabunna, it’s time to hit the road again on route to Port Arthur via C335 and Arthur Hwy/A9 which will take less than two hours. Upon arrival, check into Stewarts Bay Lodge where you can tuck into dinner at the on-site restaurant Gabriel’s on the Bay.
A ten-minute walk down Church Street will bring you to the World Heritage Listed Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania’s top tourist attraction that welcomes over 250,000 visitors each year. Site entry tickets cost AUD $39.00 and include a guided walking tour, access to over 30 historic buildings including the museum which contains artifacts from the Convict era and a harbor cruise on board the MV Marana. Other ticket packages are available, including the must-see lantern-lit ghost tour featuring unsettling paranormal accounts dating back to 1870.
Tasmania’s capital city is only 90 minutes from Port Arthur. We recommend staying at the waterfront Grand Chancellor Hotel which overlooks River Derwent and Constitution Dock. If you happen to be in Hobart on Saturday, don’t miss Salamanca Market which has over 300 stalls selling a variety of goods from fresh produce to arts and crafts. Another popular attraction is David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art. Australia’s largest privately owned art gallery houses a collection of 1,900 works of art from Egyptian antiquities to contemporary art. Admission starts at AUD $25.00. For dinner we recommend Da Angelo.
If you have time, visit the Huon Trail, about an hour south-west of Hobart and pick up a bag or two of apples at one of the many farm gates within the area which use an honesty-box system. Just be sure to carry coins with you as pay wave isn’t an option.
Before setting off to the western side of Apple Isle, mosey through the maritime village of Battery Point and see gorgeous Victorian homes before grabbing breakfast at Jackman & McRoss bakery. Looming over Battery Point is Mount Wellington, located just 27 minutes away. Mount Wellington is 1,271 metres high and the pinnacle observation shelter offers panoramic views of Hobart. Once back down the mountain, make your way onto the Lyell Hwy/A10 for two hours and 45 minutes until you reach The Wall in the Wilderness in Derwent Bridge. Artist Greg Duncan’s sculptural site features carved wooden panels commemorating the history of Tasmanian’s Central Highlands. Two minutes away is Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest freshwater lake at a depth of 160 meters. There are a number of short and longer walks to choose from as well as overnight walks. National park passes are required. Resting on the water’s edge is Lake St Clair Lodge, which has a range of accommodation options as well as a restaurant and wellness centre.
From Lake St Clair, journey three hours via A10 to the picturesque Cradle Mountain. From alpine heaths to chiseled mountain peaks and glacial lakes, the landscape is one of Tasmania’s most awe-inspiring attractions. Hike through the iconic region on a self-guided or ranger led walk, visit the reflective Dove Lake and glistening Enchanted Forest, climb to Marion’s Lookout, go horse-riding, fly fishing and see magnificent waterfalls. While in Cradle Mountain, you may come across native wildlife, but if you’re keen to see the Tasmanian Devil then visit Devils@Cradle. Spend the night nestled by the fireplace at the cosy Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. If you can’t get enough of Cradle Mountain, explore the region further on the renowned 65km Overland Track.
After a well-deserved sleep in, enjoy a buffet breakfast at the Highland Restaurant before setting back out into the national park. When you’re ready, pack the car and drive the final leg of your road trip back to Devonport along Cradle Mountain Rd and C132 which will take you less than 80 minutes. The Spirit of Tasmania night cruise typically leaves at 7:30pm, allowing you to see Devonport. From the Mersey River, to Bass Strait Maritime Centre and Devonport Regional Gallery, there is plenty to do before you wave goodbye to Tassie.