A Tasmania road trip offers a taste of the treasures of the Apple Isle. Roads sweep through diverse landscapes of dramatic coastlines, tranquil bushland and lush pastures. From vineyards and farms to picturesque historical towns, Tasmania is delightful. Self drive Tasmania along the long route from Hobart to Launceston for an driving trip you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
One fifth of the island is World Heritage wilderness and the World Heritage convict sites are some of Australia’s best.
It’s easy to combine a self-drive Tasmania road trip with an active holiday in Tasmania as there are plenty of nature-based activities almost everywhere you go.
For more ideas check out 45 things to do in Tasmania.
There’s a range of accommodation, from cute cottages to luxury resorts. As Tasmania has stunning landscapes and wherever you go there’s a pretty good chance of snagging a room with a view. Being a small island, it’s not difficult to find a room with a view of the water either.
Tasmania road trip
Day 1 – Hobart to Launceston the long way
A visually lovely city with oodles of historic charm, the capital of Tasmania is truly a delight to explore.
The city’s alluring waterfront is a treasure-trove of old-world buildings. And the shops at Salamanca Place are fun to explore.
Hobart’s historic charm never fails to captivate. A great way to discover Hobart’s history is on a walking tour.
It’s easy to be charmed by the history of Battery Point and the cobblestone streets of Salamanca Place.
Factories, warehouses and mansions are now hotels, hip boutiques, bars, cafes and craft shops.
One example is The Lenna, which was once the grand mansion of a wealthy shipbuilder. Another is Henry Jones Art Hotel, once the IXL jam factory.
Plan to spend at least a week exploring Hobart as there’s plenty to do in Hobart alone.
Tip: Everyone raves about MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which is located within Moorilla Winery. Treat yourself to a stay at the MONA Pavilions.
Read this post for more Hobart accommodation options.
Day 2 – Tasmania Road Trip: Hobart to Tasman Peninsula
The coastal scenery of the Tasman Peninsula is simply breathtaking. The most popular place for photographers to capture a stunning sun set is the Tassellated Pavement.
This is an inter-tidal rock platform created by unusual geological circumstances, a rare landform where flat-lying siltstone was cracked by stresses in the Earth’s crust 160 million years ago and 60 million years ago creating an illusion of tiles.
Pennicott Wilderness Journey’s eco-cruise between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck is a memorable way to see a wealth of marine wildlife.
Seals and sea lions lounge on rocky outcrops and seabirds soar past the towering sea cliffs of Tasman Island and Cape Pillar. If you prefer to hike, stay a few more days to tackle the Three Capes Track.
When the sun shines, the scenery looks like it’s a backdrop to Lord of the Rings. But the star of the show are the dolphins and whales that often turn up and swim alongside the boats.
When it comes to history, Hobart is the entrée while the Tasman Peninsula delivers the main course.
The Port Arthur Historic Sites, which was granted World Heritage status as part of a group of ten other Australian convict sites, is a jewel in Tasmania’s historic crown.
It seems almost incongruous a brutal penal settlement with a violent past is located in such breathtakingly lovely scenery.
Few prisoners managed to escape, however, in 1842, convict bushranger Martin Cash and two friends escaped from Port Arthur by swimming across the shark-infested waters.
Cash told his tale in a best-selling 1870 autobiography The Adventures of Martin Cash.
The atmosphere is best at night when guides tell spooky stories on the ghost tour and evoke chilling images of Port Arthur’s eerie past.
Tip: Stay at Stewart’s Bay Lodge which is connected to Port Arthur by a waterfront walking track.
Day 3 – Self drive Tasmania: Port Arthur to East Coast Tasmania
The picturesque coastline around Swansea is the place to enjoy a seafood platter and to explore beaches and bays.
A stop at Kates Berry Farm, 3km south of Swansea, dishes up mouth-watering homemade ice creams, waffles and chocolates, all made with real fruit from the farm.
A little further on from Swansea, Freycinet National Park offers a menu of nature and adventure activities including whale spotting, kayaking and four-wheel motorbike tours.
Kayaking around the Freycinet Peninsula is an iconic experience.
Tip: Humpback and southern right whales are sighted regularly; orca sightings (January to March).
Day 4 – East coast to Launceston
Tasmania’s east coast is a stunning coastline that will amaze you.
On the way to Launceston, a detour to East Coast Natureworld in Bicheno offers the opportunity to get a close look at the endangered Tasmanian devils that are under threat of extinction from Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).
There’s ample time to explore Cataract Gorge, Launceston’s star attraction.
The gorge is a unique slice of wilderness that’s only a 15-minute walk along the banks of the Tamar River from the city.
The best way to experience the gorge’s spectacular scenery is on the 457m chairlift ride across the gorge. For adventurous types, rock climbing and abseiling are fun activities.
Tip: Book a table at Stillwater, a fine-dining restaurant in historic Ritchie’s Mill at the mouth of Cataract Gorge.
Day 5 – Things to do in Launceston
There are lots of interesting things to do in Launceston.
Tasmania’s second largest city is packed with art galleries and museums. The surrounding regions are rich in food and wine.
Tip: Visit Josef Chromy for fine wine, views and a fascinating tale about how Josef escaped from war-torn Europe.
Day 6- Tasmania road trip: Launceston to Mole Creek
About an hour’s drive west of Launceston, Mole Creek is a country town renowned for its caves.
Mole Creek has a couple of show caves with permanent lighting and paths but a guided adventure exploring Mole Creek’s wild caves is an experience to remember.
Tip: The Mole Creek Pub’s ‘Tiger Bar’ has photos, models and trinkets relating to the presumably-extinct Tasmanian tiger.
Day 7 – Tasmania road trip: Mole Creek to Burnie
The road to Burnie offers an excellent opportunity to discover gourmet delights in Tasmania’s North West along the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail.
Learn how Australian olive oil is produced at Cradle Coast Olives and visit the cellar door of Spreyton Cider, which has been a family business since 1908.
Pop into Hellyer’s Road Distillery for a dram. The distillery is Australia’s largest boutique distillery of whisky.
A 90-minute drive from Burnie, on the northwest tip of the island, is a thrilling forest adventure.
Dismal Swamp is a natural Blackwood forest sinkhole that was formed over thousands of years ago by dissolving dolomite.
Between Dismal Swamp and Burnie, Stanley is a picturesque seaside town and a launching point for wildlife tours to Bull Rock to see Australian fur seals in their natural environment.
Tip: Visit 41 Degrees South Salmon and Ginseng Farm to find out about a rare root more precious than gold.
Day 8 – Self drive Tasmania from Burnie to Corinna
Tasmania’s Tarkine is an unspoilt World Heritage-listed wilderness that is home to Australia’s largest temperate rainforest.
A good introduction to the Tarkine is to stay at Corinna Tasmania, a former gold-mining town that has been transformed into an isolated wilderness getaway.
From Corinna, on the Pieman River, there are several walks including the White River path, which winds towards Whyte River disappearing into a tangle of trees, ferns and bushes.
The Whyte River flows into the Pieman River, a fertile ground for huon pine, which is a highly sought-after long-lasting timber.
A romantic way of experiencing the wilderness is on the Pieman River on board Arcadia II. The historic boat was built in 1939 from huon pine.
Tip: Make sure to fill up your tank before getting to Corinna as there’s no petrol available in this forest outpost.
Day 9 – Corinna to Strahan
The Western Wilderness calls.
On the drive to Strahan it’s worthwhile stopping at Rosebery to stretch the legs at Montezuma Falls, the highest and most photographed waterfall in Tasmania.
It’s an easy 4km walk through the rainforest.
30kms away, a stroll through the historic mining town of Zeehan is a blast from the past.
Day 10 – Things to do in Strahan
Strahan’s waterfront village has a Disney-like appeal.
Waterfront cottages echo the history of the miners, pine workers and fisherman of the past.
Tours of the Western Wilderness include a cruise on the Gordon River and a ride on the West Coast Wilderness Railway, where the rack and pinion railway steams through dense rainforests and gorges, around tight curves and across spectacular bridge crossings.
The steam railway runs on a 19th-century rack and pinion system through dense rainforests, gorges, with tight curves and spectacular bridge crossings between the mining town of Queenstown and the port at Strahan
You can fly above the wilderness in a seaplane over rivers and forests, and land on the Gordon River.
For those who love wildlife, the Bonnet Island penguin experience should be at the top of the list.
A boat ride from Strahan to the mouth of Macquarie Harbour brings us to the island just before dusk.
The narrow, 120-metre entrance to the enormous Macquarie Harbour, which is about six times the size of Sydney Harbour, was discovered in 1815.
Timber cutters moved in and in 1822, a signal station was erected near Cape Sorell. It was manned by convicts from the nearby Sarah Island penal settlement.
In other places, little penguins like to come ashore in the safety of large numbers. But on Bonnet Island, they sneak home under the cover of night, rocks and dense low-lying shrubs.
Little penguins are also known as fairy penguins or blue penguins and are the world’s smallest penguin species. They grow up to 40 cm tall and weigh around 1 kg.
Tip: Wildlife lovers should try the Bonnet Island Penguin Experience, which offers a close-up look at little penguins emerging out of the water at night.
Day 11 – Strahan to Lake St Clair
One of Australia’s most famous walking trails, the Overland Track ends in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
But even if you’re not keen on hiking, the park is worth visiting for its scenery and there are plenty of easier walking trails.
The best place to stay is at Pumphouse Point, which is a beautifully converted historic pump house that is now a boutique hotel.
Tip: Make sure to pack warm clothes for hiking. With an average daily temperature in of around 12°C, there’s plenty of opportunity to snuggle up by the fire.
Day 12 – Lake St Clair to Hobart
On the way back to Hobart, it’s worth visiting Mount Field National Park.
From tall swamp gum forests and massive tree ferns to rainforest along the Lake Dobson Road and alpine vegetation, there’s a range of vegetation in Mount Field National Park.
The walk through magnificent fern forests past tall trees takes you to picturesque Russell Falls.
For longer walks, head to Lake Dobson, where there are all-day walking tracks, skiing areas and dramatic mountain scenery.
The park is a lush magical forest with enchanting views and there’s always the chance you might spot a platypus