Freycinet National ParkWith long white beaches away from the crowds and seas of intense aqua, Tasmania's east coast offers a completely different Australian beach experience. Tasmania’s mild climate and pristine secluded beaches means the coastline is perfect for walking, kayaking, diving, sea cruises and relaxing. At the end of each day you can relax at an award-winning eco-lodge or tranquil beach house and indulge in the freshest seafood.
Just before the small fishing town of Bicheno, is the Douglas-Apsley National Park, a landscape of rugged river gorges, waterfalls, and gently flowing rivers. Nearby, occupying a whole peninsula, is spectacular Freycinet National Park, with Coles Bay at its entrance overlooking crystal-clear Oyster Bay, an ideal place for diving, snorkeling, kayaking, boating and fishing. The park is dominated by the pink granite of the Hazards Mountains and best known for the perfect curve of Wineglass Bay.
Enjoy superb seafood of cray, scallops, oysters, salmon, and berries in Swansea, before the journey south and the first sight of Maria Island. The whole island is a national park, free of vehicles. It is a refuge for Forester kangaroos, wallabies and the round small pademelons. You can stay in the tiny settlement of Darlington, watch the Cape Barren Geese or any of the 130 resident bird species, and relax as you learn of the Aboriginal, convict and settler histories.
HobartAustralia’s most distinctive city, Tasmania’s capital combines heritage charm and cultural diversity in a setting of exceptional beauty. Within 90 minutes’ drive of Hobart are a range of attractions, from the pristine waters of Bruny Island to the fascinating history of Port Arthur. The area surrounding Hobart is rich with a variety of landscapes and experiences. To Hobart’s south east, past the Coal River Valley wineries, is the historic town of Richmond. Here, the jail serves as a prelude to the Port Arthur Historic Site on the Tasman Peninsula. Nearby Port Arthur you will find thrilling cliff walks and cruises that take you beside 984 feet sea cliffs and Tasman Island.
Once bustling with whalers and entrepreneurs, 19th-century sandstone warehouses now serve as dockside cafes, artist’s studios and restaurants, where you can enjoy excellent cuisine and fine wines. Discover Australia’s history in the nearby Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, enjoy classical and modern music in a variety of venues, or go to the theater, in this city of festivals.
South of Hobart, you can cruise off Bruny Island, beneath some of the world’s highest sea cliffs, or drive north to Oatlands, to explore Australia’s largest collection of sandstone buildings. Farther afield through New Norfolk is the pretty town of Hamilton, or for a taste of the high country, visit Bothwell at the southern edge of the Central Plateau.
LauncestonLaunceston has recreated itself and now has some of Australia’s top restaurants and stylish places to stay. Walk, relax, visit the peacocks, or dine in wild and beautiful Cataract Gorge in the center of town. The Tamar Valley has boutique cool climate wineries, and elegant vineyard restaurants where you can meet with the growers and the makers. Nearby historic towns such as Evandale and Longford preserve the architecture and community spirit of a 19th century village but are also very much of today.
Tasmania's “northern capital” of Launceston was established in 1806 by free settlers. It has fine Victorian buildings from the 1870s and 1880s and elegant contemporary architecture. The unique attraction of Cataract Gorge is a natural wonder only a 15-minute walk from the city center, and not far from the J Boag and Son brewery. Cool climate wines and fine dining are the essence of the new Launceston experience and the city is a perfect base from which to explore the surrounding region.
When you reach Strahan, on Macquarie Harbour, you can take an exhilarating cruise to the wide ancient Gordon River; travel by narrow gauge railway across the mountain range; fly in to land on the Gordon River to search out a thousand-year-old Huon pine; or just relax and indulge in great food and wine. You can explore the area by four-wheel-drive, jet boat, kayak or sail the rivers and waterways and walk the long expanse of Ocean Beach. You are on the edge; from here – more than 6,800 miles west – is South America.