One of Australia’s great driving destinations, Tasmania has well-maintained highways with surprisingly little traffic, not to mention the picturesque scenery and many charming small towns and villages to explore.
Via a network of highways, it’s easy to loop around the island making discoveries as you go and taking time to stop off and explore on foot. Be sure to fill up your fuel tank if you are travelling off the main routes, especially if you are driving after 6pm. In the north-west of the State, no fuel is available on the Western Explorer from Marrawah to Zeehan.
Tasmanian weather can be extraordinarily unpredictable so be wary of sudden rain squalls, fog, sleet and ice, and keep a sharp eye out for native animals, especially in the early morning and at dusk.
Start your journey with a trip on the Spirit of Tasmania cruise ship from Melbourne. Taking your car on the ship will set you back $89 each way. Alternatively, you could hire a car on arrival in Devonport and set out on a relaxing driving holiday around this fascinating and scenically spectacular Apple Isle.
From Devonport head east to Launceston, and explore the city centre with its imposing heritage buildings and many pretty small parks, then on to the wineries of the beautiful Tamar Valley.
From there, join up with the A3, or Tasman Highway, and drive with care through some sharp bends and tight hairpins towards the quaint little town of Scottsdale, home to the Forest EcoCentre, where you can learn about the State’s logging industry. Nearby Northeast Park is a popular spot offering seven days’ free camping.
Heading further down the coast, stop over in Derby, a historic tin-mining town, then continue through majestic forests to St Helens, hub of the Tasmanian fishing industry and gateway to the Bay of Fires – a spectacular stretch of coastline strewn with boulders covered in fiery orange lichen. Continue on through seaside Scamander to the penguin-spotting town of Bicheno.
From Bicheno, take a side turn off the highway to the Freycinet Peninsula and the perfect curve of famous Wineglass Bay. Back on the Tasman Highway, take a left to Swansea where there are a host of B&Bs and eateries.
Explore the delightful city of Hobart at your leisure then head back to Launceston and Devonport via the Midland Highway, passing idyllic historic towns and Georgian farmhouses set in rolling green fields along the way.
If you have plenty of time, a good side trip is from Devonport to Strahan, a picturesque fishing town on Tasmania’s wild west coast and the setting out point for famous Gordon River cruises through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.