This guide follows our self-drive road trip around Tasmania, with lots of insights thrown in.
Our road trip (excluding Hobart) was 4 days, but after our actual experience, I would recommend 8 days instead. You know what they say about hindsight and all. 😉
That’s not to say we didn’t thoroughly enjoy our road trip but with extra time, you can spend more time at one place without having to drive long distances EVERY DAY.
Hopefully, you will have enough time to take it easy and have the most relaxing yet stimulating journey of your lives!
Hobart – Triabunna
Drive time: 1 hour
Upon arrival at Hobart Airport, pick up your rental car and head on to Triabunna, a scenic port-side town.
Triabunna is also the gateway to Maria Island. A 30-minute ferry from Triabunna lands you at the pristine, untouched island where the enchanting Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs are.
Maria Island is also teeming with wildlife, so sightings of wombats, wallabies, pademelons and Tasmanian Devils are to be expected.
On the ferry ride over, you might very well see dolphins, seals and the occasional migrating whale!
There are no shops, no restaurants, no cars on the island, so this really is the place to go to if you wish to experience Tasmania at its purest.
Stay: Triabunna or check out accommodations at Orford, Triabunna’s neighbouring town.
Note: We drove straight to Swansea from Hobart Airport – 1 hour 35 minutes, so we didn’t stop at Triabunna or visit Maria Island, but if I had more time, I would definitely have planned an extra day to do this.Day 2:
Triabunna – Swansea
Drive time – 45 minutes
It’s a beautiful drive with views of Great Oyster Bay and Maria Island as you head towards Swansea, a charming beachside holiday town.
Stop along wineries that dot the Swansea area but call them if you want to ensure that they are open. We drove by a couple and they were closed, but we were not fussed as it’s a lovely countryside drive and the wineries were along the way to our hotel anyway.
Also, drop by Kate’s Berry farm for freshly made jams, scones and cream or if you’re feeling indulgent, some of the best ice cream around!
We were glad we made Swansea our base for the night as it really is a charming town with great options to stock up on groceries and wines for the rest of our trip!
Stay: Freycinet Waters
Dine: Bark Mill Tavern or Oyster Bay Seafood or for something a little fancier with great views – Saltshaker Restaurant.
Swansea – Freycinet National Park
Drive time – 30 minutes
When we asked the lovely proprietor if Wineglass Bay at Freycinet was worth visiting, she ho-hummed a bit. But I think that’s because she knew we had a LONG 3.5-hour drive over to Cradle Mountain on the same day, and she wanted us to have more of a breather.
Note: If I had known better, I would have preferred to stay one more night at Swansea, so that I could take a full-day trip to Freycinet and explore the area more comfortably. And probably make arrangements to visit the wineries around Swansea.
Then make the journey to Cradle Mountain on the next day.
Although we only had time to climb up (1-hour return) to see the gorgeous semi-circular bay, the visit to Wineglass Bay was worth it.
It is an uphill climb and for some reason, the most tiring one I had my entire time hiking in Tasmania. That could be because it was the first climb of the trip for me. Or maybe because the rest of the hikes alternated flat terrain with some climbs and lots of scenic stops. This is pretty much up, up, up the whole time!
Dine: Lunch – Devil’s Corner vineyard. Tip: We visited the much-touted Freycinet Marine Farm for oysters but I would recommend lunch at Devil’s Corner instead. You have a pretty vineyard vista to accompany your meal and with oysters, pizzas, ice cream, coffees and of course, the cellar door itself for some wine tasting, this is a much more pleasant experience.
Freycinet – Cradle Mountain via Sheffield.
Drive time: 3.5 hours total
Freycinet – Sheffield: 2.5 hours
Sheffield – Cradle Mountain: 1 hour
This is the longest overall drive time, but we didn’t feel too bad as we had a good pit stop at Sheffield – The Town of Murals.
(Perhaps we also didn’t feel the length of the drive because it was a very scenic drive through changing landscapes. Not to mention when we started driving uphill – no time to feel bored when you’re doing that!)
Sheffield is also the place to fuel up and stock up on breakfast items for the next day at Cradle Mountain and any snacks you might need.
Dine: Dinner at Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village – reservations necessary.
Leave your car at the Visitor Centre and take the free, looping shuttle to explore the many walks of Cradle Mountain – Tasmania’s most visited national park.
There are 20-minute walks that take you through temperate rainforests, a 2-hour Dove Lake circuit and of course, the famous Overland Track that takes you across to Lake St Clair in 6 days.
I’m guessing you’re thinking I didn’t do that trek! And you’re right.
Dine: Lunch at the Visitor Centre. A simple café serving hot food, we had the aussie classic – meat pies!
Again, on hindsight, I wish we had chosen to spend a couple of nights at Cradle Mountain so that I could further acquaint myself with the alpine landscape and walk amongst the endless moors filled with buttongrass.
I would have paid a visit to see the Tasmanian devils at Devils@Cradle too if I had stayed an extra night.
Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair
Drive time: 3 hours
This was the most convoluted part of our journey. Literally. The roads are winding pretty much all the way, but there are scenic lookout stops for you to take a break.
This is also where you will be glad you bought snacks for the ride!
Driving into Pumphouse Point’s private grounds, you immediately get the feeling you’re up for a luxurious time indeed.
And why not when the first thing they do at reception is pour you a glass of bubbly!
Choose to stay at the pricier Pumphouse rooms, about S$500/night (as opposed to the Shorehouse rooms) – it is worth it. For one night, to sleep ON the lake, to wake up to the blue skies reflected on the calm sheen of the lake, oh yes, it’s worth it!
Plus the rooms are gorgeously fitted out – I think I like the sexy black-tiled bathrooms with heated floors and Aesop products the most!
Stay: Pumphouse Point
Dine: Communal dinner at Pumphouse Point. Don’t be put off by the communal bit, it was really fun hearing other travellers’ stories too!
Also, breakfast is included, so eat up for your long journey back to Hobart the next day!
Lake St Clair – Hobart (detour to Mt Field)
Drive time: 3.5 hours total
Lake St Clair – Mt Field: 2 hours
Mt Field – Hobart: 1.5 hours
We did a couple of short walks around Lake St Clair in the hopes of spotting the elusive platypus at the aptly-named Platypus Bay but no luck. We enjoyed the Watersmeet walk where we drank straight from the river!
You can spend about 2 hours at Lake St Clair before heading towards Hobart.
Now, the absolute must-do detour is to Mt Field National Park. It is 2 hours from Lake St Clair but it is, by far, my favourite park. The prettiest waterfall in all of Tasmania, Russell Falls, is here. And the park is a lush verdant paradise, dotted with massive ferns and the tallest flowering tree in the world – eucalyptus regnans!
Final “I wish I had done so but i’m telling you so that you can” note: If we had more time, we would have loved to stopover at Tasmania’s 2nd largest city, Launceston for a couple of nights so that we could explore Cataract Gorge and the Tamar Valley wine region. We would have done this after leaving Freycinet, before heading towards Cradle Mountain.
Arrive just in time for dinner at Hobart. Do yourself a favour and reserve somewhere if you’re particular about having a good meal after all that hiking and driving!
My recommended restaurants in Hobart are part of my Hobart Highlights article, so check that out.
We went on to spend another 4 days in Hobart, taking day trips out to Bruny Island. I will be working on that article over the next few days, so please look out for my Bruny Island highlights.
Finally, have a peek at my How to Survive a Tasmanian Road Trip for a smooth sailing journey. 🙂
I hope you’ve found this itinerary useful and do share your thoughts and experiences on your own Tasmanian adventures below!