Tasmania Travel Guide
The smallest Australian state by land area and population, Tasmania has an appeal to it that you won’t want to ignore. Home to only 500,000 people (many of which live in the Hobart area) and possessing a landscape closer to New Zealand in appearance than the hot semi-arid deserts of the Australian mainland, it is a place that stands apart from the rest of the country.
Arrived in the capital city of Hobart in time for the weekend? Make Salamanca Market your first stop in Tasmania. Held on Saturdays from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, it is a hub for artisans, agricultural producers, and street performers.
There are cafes and restaurants alongside the market which are excellent spots to get breakfast before joining throngs of citizens on a hunt for the best local goods. With over 300 stalls to choose from, the hours will go by in a flash, but you’ll enjoy yourself the entire time.
Learn about how Tasmania served as a base for Australia’s 20th-century Antarctic expeditions by dropping by Mawson’s Hut Replica Museum. Situated on Hobart’s waterfront near Constitution Dock, this relatively new attraction recreates the huts that Sir Douglas Mawson and his crew stayed in during their Antarctic expedition, which ran from 1911 to 1914.
The model is faithful to the original, with the bunks, the stove, and even a doll given to Mawson by Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova all being present. With volunteer guides available to answer any questions you might have, this attraction is definitely worth the price of admission.
Australia, in general, was used primarily as a penal colony during its early days, but Tasmania was home to more than its share of jails. The Cascades Female Factory was one of the more notorious facilities, as it made use of convict labour to do sewing and mending for the colonial settlements located nearby.
As a living history site, you’ll see actresses playing roles from the time this place was used to exploit free labour. To get the full experience, hire a guide, as they will be able to fill the knowledge gaps between what you see and what they know.
Port Arthur Historic Site is another convict site you’ll want to visit, as it has been home to notorious events in both the colonial and modern era. In the case of the latter, visitors (families included) were visiting this site one day in 1996 when the worst tragedy in the history of Tasmania and Australia struck.
Suddenly, an assailant produced a semi-automatic rifle and opened fire on the crowd, killing 35 and wounding 25 before being apprehended by police. This led to a nationwide restriction on semi-automatic weapons, greatly curtailing gun violence in Australia from that day forward. There is a memorial garden honouring the victims, so be sure to pay your respects there before moving on to your next destination in Tasmania.
As for its colonial history, Port Arthur was once the most brutal prison in Australia. Feared for the cruel and barbaric punishments meted out here, it was home to the most violent convicts arrested in Britain. Whether you choose the standard day tour or the ghost tour offered in the evening hours, you’ll be shaken up when you learn about how life once was at Port Arthur.
Looking to get a spot of exercise in during your travels in Tasmania? Challenge Mount Wellington during your time in Hobart. Standing 1,270 metres (4,169 feet) above the city, climbing this towering peak will get the blood flowing through your body, and you be privy to some of the most stunning views of Hobart and surrounding area.
If you aren’t the active type, you’ll be happy to know that it is possible to take a road to the top. No matter how you get up there, bundle up – it gets chilly here even in summer, and snow is common well into the spring.
Australia has many stunning beaches, but Tasmania represents itself well with Wineglass Bay. A crescent bay rimmed with brilliant white sand, it wouldn’t be as peaceful as it is if you didn’t need to work so hard to get there. Located within Freycinet National Park, accessing this beauty requires a hike of 60-90 minutes each way, so bring plenty of water.
Think that Tasmanian Devils were only the creation of a cartoonist? Think again – not only do they exist, but you’ll have an opportunity to see them up close at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Located a half hour north of Hobart in the country town of Brighton, this park will not only give you a chance to see the animal for which Tasmania is best known, but kangaroos, wombats, and koalas as well.
Finally, nature lovers shouldn’t leave Tasmania without checking out the Cataract Gorge Reserve. Situated in Launceston in the heart of this island state, this river can be anything from placid to frothing depending on the time of year. Drop by during summer, though, and you’ll find a park in which locals like to kick back and relax. With plenty of outdoor BBQ’s, a swimming pool, trails, and more, we think you’ll agree.