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Tasmania

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Tasmania [1] is Australia's smallest and only island state with a population of roughly 500,000 people. It enjoys a unique lifestyle and beautiful landscapes. It is separated by a body of water called the Bass Strait that has isolated it from the rest of Australia for thousands of years.


Regions

Southern Tasmania

Contains the state capital Hobart, the Huon and Derwent valleys, spectacular Tasman National Park, historic Port Arthur convict site, the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and the large Southwest National Park.

  • Hobart - the state capital
  • Port Arthur - Where you can find ruins of the historic convict site dating back more than 200 years
  • Richmond - Another of Tasmania's historic towns, home to the oldest bridge in Australia as well as many other old buildings from the 19th century.
  • Southeast Tasmania
  • Huon Valley & D'Entrecasteaux Channel
  • Derwent Valley and Central Highlands

Launceston, Tamar Valley and the North

Home to the second largest city in the state, the Tamar Valley, Northeast Tasmania and the midlands.

North West Coast

Where many people who go on the Spirit of Tasmania come first with the city of Devonport, the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park, coastal towns such as Ulverstone, Penguin and Port Sorell and the city of Burnie

The West Coast And Wilderness

Home to the coastal town of Strahan, historic mining towns of Queenstown, Rosebery and Zeehan, the Pieman river and many wilderness experiences.

East Coast Tasmania

Known for beach towns such as Swansea, Bicheno, St Helens and Scamander, national parks such as Freycinet and Maria Island and secluded beaches such as Bay Of Fires.

Bass Strait Islands

The Bass Strait has many islands for you to visit, with the big ones being King Island and Flinders Island

Cities, Towns and Villages

  • Bicheno - beach town on Tasmania's east coast
  • Burnie - the fourth largest city
  • Devonport - home to the Spirit of Tasmania ferry
  • Hobart - the state capital
  • Launceston - the state's second largest city
  • Queenstown - historic mining town in the west coast
  • Richmond - home to many old buildings dating back to the 19th century as well as the oldest bridge in Australia
  • Ross - another of Tasmania's historic towns with many of the oldest buildings in Tasmania as well as one of the oldest bridges.
  • Scottsdale
  • Strahan
  • St Helens
  • Swansea
  • Wynyard

Other destinations

Ruins of a convict prison at Port Arthur

Itineraries

Understand

Tasmania was settled by the British as a penal colony and convicts were first transported to what was then called Van Diemen's Land, in 1804. Penal settlements were established at Sullivans Cove (Hobart), Maria Island, Sarah Island, and Port Arthur. The ruins of the convict jails can still be seen in these places, particularly at Port Arthur, which has been carefully preserved and has many convict related activities for tourists. For its size, Tasmania has plenty attractions and you could spend a month there and still not see everything.

Tasmania promotes itself internationally as Australia's Natural State and within Australia as the Island of Inspiration. About 40% of the island is protected as national parks, World Heritage Areas, and forest and marine reserves. It is also a state dominated by logging, with vast tracts of old growth forest being destroyed. The catch cry is "see Tasmania before it is gone".

Tasmania is famous for its merino wool which is used by Japanese companies to manufacture high quality men's suits. It is also known world-wide for the Tasmanian tiger, a now extinct striped marsupial dog-like animal, and the nocturnal Tasmanian devil, a small black and white marsupial whose sharp teeth and frightening screams belie the fact that it is shy of humans. Tasmanian devils [2] are currently under threat of extinction due to a widespread facial tumour. The state government is endeavouring to detect the cause of the tumours and preserve disease-free colonies.

On the whole, expect a good mix of nice natural scenery, fresh food and wines, and heritage.


Time Zone

Tasmania is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 18 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Daylight Saving is observed from the first Sunday of October to the first Sunday of April the following year.

AEST - Australian Eastern Standard Time UTC+10

AEDT - Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time UTC+11

Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, a World Heritage site

Get in

By plane

Tasmania is served by several national and regional airlines, primarily flying into Hobart and Launceston. Some flights are also available to Burnie, Devonport, King Island and Flinders Island from Melbourne.


By ferry

Tasmania is served by two Spirit of Tasmania Ferries [3] from mainland Australia. They depart daily from Station Pier in Port Melbourne (a bayside suburb of Melbourne) and arrive at Devonport taking the full night (or the full day during peak summer periods) for the crossing.

The crossing can be a little rocky at times, but provides beautiful views. You have the option of booking one of a range of a cabins or a reclining chair for the journey. The large ferries take vehicles, bikes, foot passengers and pets.

See the Devonport article for the details of the ferry.

Rental car companies usually have restrictions on taking vehicles into or out of Tasmania on the ferry. If you have hired a car on the mainland and need a car to hire in Tasmania, it's best to drop the car off in Melbourne CBD (there is no hire car dropoff at Station Pier), then take the 109 tram out to Station Pier (the terminus is across the road from the ferry terminal); car hire is available at the Devonport terminal.

Get around

By car

Getting around Tasmania by car is by far the most convenient way to see what the state has to offer. Cars can be brought into Tasmania from the mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry (see above), or hired upon arrival.

With the exception of Highway 1 between Devonport, Launceston and Hobart, travel times by car will be much longer than you think. The state limit is 110 km/h, though achieving that speed on some of the coastal or inland highways is not often possible, and the speed limit of some of those roads may only be up to 90 km/h anyway. Many major roads wind their way through mountain passes and along coastlines, with few overtaking lanes, and some major sections of more remote road may be in need of minor repair. Seek local advice if timing is critical, or just allow more time. What appears the most direct road can add hours to your journey time. Again, seek local advice on the quickest route if timing is critical. Also be aware that on some of the winding roads, or on B roads, some locals (who are used to driving those roads) may try to overtake on inappropriate stretches of road or start to tailgate you if you aren't travelling at the speed limit. If you are concerned or feel uncomfortable, it is usually best to pull over where safe and allow them to pass.

Tasmania uses an alphanumeric system for road references, and all roads are generally well marked with references and destinations. Attractions are generally well signposted from the nearest main road. As a result, it is quite possible to navigate most of Tasmania using only a rudimentary map. Exploring the forests can often lead to a maze of forest roads. A GPS can come in handy for finding your way out, but beware GPS maps are not always up to date and following them blindly can add unnecessary time to travel.

By bus

If you have plenty of time in Tasmania, buses can be an option, but you would be advised to study timetable carefully and to do an extra bit of planning, as services can be infrequent.

Two major companies which service most of Tasmania:

  • Tassielink [4]
  • Redline Tasmania [5]

Metro Tasmania [6] provides intra-city bus services for Burnie, Hobart and Launceston.

Merseylink [7] provides services to Devonport and Latrobe

By train

Tasmania has no passenger trains, the last having ended in 1975. There is, however, a passenger tourist train operated as the West Coast Wilderness Railway running between Strahan and Queenstown on the west coast of Tasmania. The trip takes about 3 hours with lunch included.

By plane

Bookings can be made on their website.

Airlines of Tasmania [8] offers flights from Launceston to Cape Barren Island and general charter services, as well as tourist flights to South West Tasmania through its subsidary Par Avion [9].

Sharp Airlines [10] offers flights from Launceston to Flinders Island

By bicycle

Bicycle touring is a popular way to see Tasmania.

See

  • Bay of Fires. One of Tasmania's most popular tourist destinations, located between Eddystone Point and Binalong Bay. Bay of Fires has beautiful blue water, red rocks, and sandy white beaches. The entrance is through the Binalong Bay, which is only 10 minutes from St Helens. This area offers a wide range of activities including camping, boating, bird watching, fishing, swimming, surfing, and walking along the coastline.
  • Port Arthur, [11]. Port Arthur Historic Site is the best preserved convict site in Australia. Many years ago, this site was a key role in the colonial system of convict discipline. During your experience, you will have the chance to take guided tours of the Commandant's House, Parsonage, Trentham Cottage, Junior Medical Officer's quarters, historic buildings and ruins of the Penitentiary, Barracks, Guard Tower and military precinct, Hospital, Paupers' Depot and Asylum. Port Arthur is surrounded by beautiful bushland and trails available to explore the land around you.
  • Cataract Gorge Reserve, [12]. A unique, natural formation within a two minute drive from central Launceston known to locals as The Gorge. After walking 15 minutes from central Launceston along Tamar River into Gorge, you then follow the pathway along the cliff face looking down onto South Esk River. On the southern side, called the First Basin, there is a cafe, swimming pool, and Launceston's beach. The northern side, known as the Cliff Grounds, there is a kiosk, restaurants, swimming pool, and a chairlift across the river. The Cataract Gorge Reserve is one of Australia's most fascinating urban parks.

Do

  • Trout Fishing. Trout Guides and Lodges Tasmania Incorporated (TGALT) is the industry body, that was voluntarily formed in 1981, initially called the, Tasmanian Professional Trout Fishing Guides Association. Its primary purpose was to provide anglers with a source of guides that they could be assured, would provide a safe, appropriate and professional service. During 1995 the Association was expanded to specifically include trout fishing lodges as full members.
  • The Overland Track, [13]. The iconic bushwalk from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair - bookings essential during the main walking season (November to April).
  • The South Coast Track. [14]. The bushwalk along the south coast of Tasmania, from Melaleuca, to Cockle Creet - fly in by aircraft and take a 6 day walk back home
  • The Great Tasmanian Bike Ride, [15] - held in early February.
  • Bicycle Touring and Mountain Biking, There are some Great places to ride your bicycle in Tasmania. Australia By Bike [16] offer fully supported tours of Tasmania include all accommodation and meals throughout the year.
  • Scuba Diving Tasmania is home to some of the best temperate diving in the world. Along with its giant kelp forests and numerous shipwrecks, the waters reefs also offer an array of unique marine plants and animals. There are many dive sites situated along the coast, the most popular sites are at Bicheno, Bay of Fires, Flinders Island, Fortescue Bay, Tasman Peninsula and Maria Island.
  • Off Road Touring. Because Tasmania is a very rugged and heavily forested region, tourists happen to miss out on some incredible places if they do not have a vehicle with four-wheel-drive. Visitors can explore these trails with an experienced operator or either form or tag along with a group. Before exploring, make sure you have a current map of the area. In 2003, Tasmania changed the co-ordinate system used for all maps from AGD 66 to GDA 94. Also, ask local land manager for the latest information on the condition of the area you plan to use and permits.
  • Wild Life Watching. Because of it's separation from mainland Australia, Tasmania is the home to many of the animals or plants that are rare or even extinct in other areas around the world. If visitors are watchful, they are very likely to witness these species on trails or near streams. Tourists can also be accompanied by a tour guide to point out these animals so you won't miss them! Some of these rare mammals include the Tasmanian Devil, Platypus, Echidna, Sugar Glider, Eastern Quoll, and Forester Kangaroo.
  • Hang Gliding and the Flying Fox, [17]. Hollybank Treetops Adventure takes visitors across treetops and gives them the experience of seeing Tasmania's forests in a whole new way - bird's-eye view! These canopy tours last for 3 hours and are led by highly-trained professionals. Not only do guests take part in this unique adventure by soaring across about a kilometer of cable but they also learn about the forests below them.
  • Kayaking. After landing in Hobart's Airport, you are a mere 20 minute drive away from beginning your kayaking experience. Visitors can explore Tasmania's beautiful coastlines and search out secret coves by kayaking. There are professional kayak guides based in Hobart, Kettering, Port Arthur, Coles Bay, Lanceston, and Strahan. Kayak travel through Tasmania's beautiful landscape offers relaxation and exhilaration that tourists will not want to miss out on.

Eat

There are a wide variety of culinary offerings in Tasmania, from the best chips and gravy at the local milk bar, to world renowned chefs in amazing upper class restaurants.

For a list of vegetarian and vegetarian friendly eateries in Tasmania, go to this link:

http://www.happycow.net/australia/tasmania/

Drink

Tasmania has superb wine regions including along the Tamar River and Down in the Huon Valley.

In addition, Tasmania has the Cascade and Boags breweries in Hobart and Launceston respectively, which offer tours. A number of boutique beer makers and distillers also exist.

There is also a large spring water industry in Tasmania, which means that some bars and restaurants do not to offer free tap water (they are not legally obliged to do so).

Sleep

There is a variety of accommodation available across the state, from camping through to 5-star luxury. Individual cities and regions pages have more information. Tasmania is particularly renowned for its hosted bed and breakfast accommodation, where you can experience a different way of life in a whole range of different properties, including heritage listed and more modern properties in stunning locations.

Stay safe

When driving observe the speed limits. The rules are simple. 50km/h on all Tasmanian streets, and 100km/h on highways and freeways unless otherwise signposted.

Be aware that there are many wild animals in Tasmania, and be prepared to see a lot of roadkill. Be especially careful at dusk and dawn. Although wallabies and wombats are not large, they can make a mess of your vehicle and drivers swerving to avoid them have caused many accidents.

When driving on highways and freeways, do be careful of large trucks. Speeding large trucks are common and dangerous. If one is heading your way slow down and move towards the side of the road, letting it pass.

Always slow down at school zones and crossings when in operation or you may be surprised by a waiting police car and receive a fine.

Bushwalking can be a truly breathtaking experience in Tasmania, but be sure to obtain the right gear and local advice and maps. Always sign the book at the beginning and end of each walk. Be aware that mobile coverage is very limited (although reception can often be had on Mt Ossa, Tasmania's highest mountain). The main dangers are getting lost and/or suffering hypothermia. Tasmania's weather is notoriously fickle, but if you include thermals, a good raincoat, a good sleeping bag and a map and compass in your shopping list, these scenarios are unlikely.

Get out

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