Tasmania may seem small on a map, especially next to the mainland Australia. But once you start checking distances you realise it’s actually not that small at all. The land size area can be compared to Sri Lanka (see the pic below via thetruesize.com).
My birthday was a perfect excuse to finally visit Tasmania. From Melbourne, it’s just a short 40 minutes flight to Launceston and with good flight promos, the flight can be cheaper than the bus to the airport (like it was in our case).
The route for our 4 nights/5 days visit was relatively ambitious. It meant we wouldn’t spend much time in each place but allowed us to get a taste of what’s on offer in each region.
Launceston – Cradle Mountain – Hobart – Freycinet National Park – Launceston
The weather for our flight to Tassie was far from perfect. Once we commenced the descent we were in a thick grey cloud for good 20 minutes and only saw the ground when we were almost touching down.
At the airport: The Europcar’s car rental desk turned out to be conveniently located right next to the luggage carousel. While Hubby was taking care of the formalities I waited for our bags. Both didn’t take long and we were able to hit the road in our cute red Mitsi.
In Launceston: There were a couple of stops planned in Launceston before we headed to Cradle Mountain. First, we grabbed lunch at Burger Got Soul – good, home-style burgers made using Tasmanian produce. Then we stocked up on supplies – sparkling wine, drinks, road trip snacks and some food for dinner and breakfast. This was a very good idea, as it turned out later. There wasn’t much to choose from in the mountains and the weather was miserable until late at night so we wouldn’t go out to eat anyway.
The drive: Rain was pouring down most of the time and blue skies were nowhere to be seen. I didn’t enjoy this part of the trip, mostly due to my motion sickness.
Check in: Our pick for the night was a cottage at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village. Small, self-contained cottage in the forest.
Tip: If you’re using Google Maps preload the map to your hotel beforehand. There’s no reception in the Cradle Mountain area unless you’re with Telstra. Wi-Fi is available at the Information Center.
Happy birthday to me! I created many scenarios about this day in my head but none of them was even close to how this day actually started. It was SNOWING. While snow on my birthday was nothing special when I lived in Poland where December is in fact in winter. It was at least surprising being in Australia.
Walk: We had the Dove Lake Circuit planned for our morning walk. After arriving at the Visitor Center in the morning we readjusted our plans to the weather. We were prepared for cold weather but not for snow and wind. Also, we both had a cold just a week before, so we didn’t want to risk it.
Visit animals: Instead of the walk we went to Trowunna Wildlife Park. We spent good two hours there looking at (and petting) wombats, admiring cute baby Tassie devils and learning about the native Tasmanian animals. There are daily interactive tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm and the admission is $22.
Lunch: We stopped in Evandale for lunch and selected Ingleside Bakery Cafe simply by the great look of its rose garden. Sitting in such a beautiful setting, eating soft and sweet scones and enjoying the sunshine (yes, 150km from the snowy Cradle Mountain it was actually warm and sunny) I felt like a birthday girl.
Check in: We had a great room for the night at RACV/RACT Hobart. Top floor, huge terrace with city views and a hot tub. Great spot for my birthday photoshoot with balloons.
Pre-dinner drinks: We went to Lark Distillery with a couple of friends. I highly recommend the negroni.
Dinner: I booked our group (yay for friends coming from interstate to celebrate with me!) for dinner at Franklin. It was recommended by many people and I read some good reviews online. It was good but not great. From 10 dishes we had in our set menu their chicken liver parfait and whey-based, not sweet dessert were my favourite.
Busy day ahead – we still had to see Hobart before we drove off North-East to Swansea.
Breakfast: RACV does pretty good breakfast. You need to pay extra for a flat white though.
Around Hobart: We left our hotel for a stroll around Hobart early in the morning. Waterfront, Salamanca Market (which is held every Saturday from 8am) and Battery Point. The city gave us a mix of Wellington and Oslo vibes which we both liked. It is very photogenic too.
Good coffee: Machine Laundry Cafe seemed to be a popular one for breakfast. Our takeaway coffee was strong and pretty decent.
For the views: Rosny Hill Lookout provides a great panoramic view of Hobart with Mt. Wellington in the background.
Lunch: We got hAngry during the drive and coincidentally it was in Triabunna where according to my notes I prepared before the trip, was the best fish & chips in Tasmania. The Fish Van serves their meals in brown paper cones and is located next to a quiet marina. It would be a great experience if the seagulls weren’t surrounding us and plotting how to steal our food.
Check in: Wagner’s Cottages is a place Hubby chose for our last 2 nights. Wow. Our studio cottage exceeded my expectations. It was adorable. We couldn’t stop complimenting the place. There was a perfect little garden full of roses, fresh warm bread (and scones the next day) waiting for us and the ideal weather added even more to this idyllic place.
Coastal walk: Bicheno Foreshore Footway is a beautiful place for an afternoon walk. Stereotypical Tassie coastal views, orange-tinted rocks, a blowhole and many photo ops.
Ice creams: The Pondering Frog is a must visit if you’re in the area. It’s a tea room, restaurant, ice creamery and info centre in one. The chatty owner is one of the nicest people we met. We stopped only for ice cream but left with a map in hand, marked with all the places we had to see the next day and advice to get insect repellent because “mozzies are as big as elephants in the Freycinet”.
The great day ended with us barbequing steaks and drinking wine in the rose garden. Pretty good if you ask me.
Coffee in Swansea: If you can’t start your morning without a flat white head to ArtiFakt Gallery & Cafe. Beans roasted in Tassie, friendly service and a decent cup of coffee.
Freycinet Park: Highlight of the trip for me. After paying $24 for 24h pass (per vehicle, up to 8 people) we went straight to the Wineglass Bay car park, which at 10am was already quite full. Our walk, which was supposed to be just to the Wineglass Bay Lookout and back, turned into 11km Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Circuit stroll. Wineglass Bay, with its crystal clear water, looked spectacular and inviting. But when we made our way down to the beach and had a small picnic on the rocks, it turned out to be very windy and cold. Hazards Beach on the other hand, was a total surprise for me. It’s not as famous as Wineglass Bay, which meant there were no people. And because it doesn’t face open waters it was also much warmer. 4 hours well spent.
Brewery for lunch: After the highlight of the trip, came the biggest fail. We planned to go to Iron House Brewery for our late lunch. It’s about 1-hour drive from Freycinet. Hungry, we finally arrived, only to learn that kitchen closes at 3pm and all that’s available in the food department are cupcakes. We searched the area for something else but turns out sometimes it’s really hard to find food in Tasmania. I was glad we had that emergency box of Shapes in the glovebox.
We managed to buy dinner ingredients before local supermarket closed and we ended up cooking once again. Also, as predicted by The Pondering Frog owner, we were back for more ice cream.
2 days in Swansea and we were already feeling like locals, having a chat with the barista about our day.
Morning tea in Ross: The quaint town of Ross became suddenly popular after one of the bakeries in a famous anime was inspired by Ross Bakery. We stopped there for a stroll around town and a morning tea. Vanilla slice, which they claim is the best in the world, was quite good indeed but it was the oven-baked sourdough roll that got me.
Launceston Cataract Gorge: Hiking trail in the city? Yes, please! We went for a stroll along Cataract walk and then back to the car park via Zig Zag track and suspension bridge. Oh, how I wish I had a place like this close to our house. Much more interesting than a walk around Albert Park Lake in Melbourne.
Waterfront lunch: We had a lovely lunch at Mudbar. My sticky duck tacos were great. Although, I expected to find lower prices in Launceston. Lunch for 2 with one glass of cider came to $80.
In the afternoon we waved goodbye to Tasmania. The weather for our flight was perfect and it definitely redeemed itself for the awful one we had arriving in Tassie. It looked more like a scenic flight to me 😍
— a matter of taste (@mattertaste) December 12, 2016