Tasmania was once named Van Diemen’s land. It is Australia’s only island state and it could be argued that it’s the most isolated. It’s separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait and has a population of just over 540,000.
Despite its small size, Tasmania is often seen as an uninteresting place and is often forgotten by Australia’s mainland but don’t be fooled, there is a lot to do in the state.
The Port Arthur Historic Site is 100 kilometres away from Hobart and was once Australia’s most famous penal settlement. It was settled in 1830.
Convicts who first arrived, built ships so that they would have skills when they left the penal colony.
Today, there are many landmarks, holding a number of stories. The most notable is the Penitentiary, which was originally a flour mill and granary in 1843 before coming home to hundreds of convicts.
People were scared of the Separate Prison because prisoners were often subjected to psychological torture. There was also a place of worship for convicts.
Today however it’s just a place you can visit as part of a tour. When you visit the Port Arthur Historic Site you’ll gain entry to the gallery which features interactive exhibits and displays that tell the story of the Port Arthur Historic Site and its people.
When you visit you can visit the 30 buildings, heritage gardens, walking trails or take a 25 minute harbour cruise.
Interestingly, Port Arthur was home to a mass shooting on the 28-29th of April 1996, where 35 people were shot. The shooting led to gun law reforms in Australia. You can visit the Memorial Garden and pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Port Arthur massacre.
After you’ve visited Port Arthur, head back to the capital, Hobart, and continue learning about the state’s rich history with a tour to MONA (Museum of New and Old Art). MONA is Tasmania’s leading museum of art, with seasonal galleries so you can always discover something new each time you return for a visit.
The museum also contains a library with over 30,000 books to choose from. The books you can choose from cover a range of topics including architecture, science, literature, maths, religion, socialism, and philosophy just to name a few. You’ll leave MONA feeling incredibly cultured and educated.
Speaking of culture, beer has a big culture in Australia, and there are many different types of beers and processes to how it is made. Hobart is home to the Cascades Brewery which is Australia’s oldest operating brewery and Cascade Pale Ale is the country’s longest continuously brewed beer.
The tour runs on weekdays and you’ll discover everything there is to know about creating one of Australia’s oldest beer recipes. You can finish the 75-minute tour with a refreshing taste of four Cascade beers or ciders. Be sure to book fast because spots sell out quickly.
If you prefer to take in the sights of Tasmania from a comfortable position, the Wineglass Bay Cruises are well worth considering. The four-and-a-half-hour cruise will take you around Freycinet National Park from Coles Bay through to Wineglass Bay on the island’s east coast.
You’ll discover the beautiful granite coastline and the dramatic pink peaks of the Hazards mountain range. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to gaze at the coastline, which is filled with white sand beaches, including Cooks and Bryans beaches which are only accessible by water, or if you feel like it, a full day of bushwalking.
There’s plenty of opportunities to explore the remote Schouten Island, which is home to little penguins and short-tailed shearwaters before you head out to the Tasman Sea towards Wineglass Bay.
Keep an eye out for the mysterious caves, blowholes, and waterfalls, and admire the beauty of Wineglass Bay from the perspective of the water. There is also a chance to discover the rich Aboriginal heritage and uncover the stories of early explorers and entrepreneurs.
Another cruise option is Tasman Island Cruises, which are a memorable three-hour opportunity to discover the incredible coastline between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck in southern Tasmania.
The cruise will take you between the high cliffs around Cape Pillar and you’ll see amazing waterfalls, rock formations, deep-sea caves, and archways.
The coastline belongs within the Tasman National Park and is home to a myriad of wildlife such as seals, whales, and sea birds. You’ll also see albatross, gannets, and sea eagles, or if you’re especially lucky then some playful dolphins.
Many Tasmanian flight companies run daily flights around Tasmania’s Southwest National Park. Some of them will take you through the South Coast track to Cockle Creek or Port Davey to Scotts Peak. It’s the perfect way to see the top of the peak.
The flights depart from Cambridge Airport in Hobart. Another alternative is a helicopter tour of Tasmania. You’ll feel like a celebrity as you’ll be flown to private locations just for you. The best part of the helicopter trips is you can choose an itinerary and experience that suits you.
The tourism operators will share their knowledge of the Tasmanian paradise with you on your tour and you’ll even be able to stop at places like Frogmore Creek Winery, which is an award-winning winery, just 15 minutes from Hobart’s CBD.
…including Ghost Rock winery, situated on Tasmania’s Cradle Coast. It’s just ten minutes from where the Spirit of Tasmania docks and only an hour from Launceston or Cradle Mountain; or five minutes from Devonport Airport. It’s a must-see destination when you’re on the north coast of Tasmania.
The Cellar Door and Eatery offer wine tastings and a contemporary Tasmanian lunch menu that features local produce. Take in the glorious views while you admire the delightful views of the vineyards, the rolling hills, and the Bass Strait.
If you’re visiting Tasmania in October be sure to check out Table Cape Tulip Farm, which is on an extinct volcanic vent close to the small town of Wynyard. The cliffs are 180 metres high with the Table Cape Tulip Farm perched on the top.
The tulip farm is run by the Roberts-Thomson family who has owned the land since 1910. The farm has been passed down through the generations with the first tulips being grown from imported bulbs in 1984. Now they sell tulip bulbs, Dutch iris, and liliums.
In late September, through to the middle of October, the farm is vibrant with colour. People come from all over the globe to view the spectacle and walk amongst the tulips, which are the largest tulip fields in the Southern Hemisphere that people can walk in. Make sure you take your camera so you can take plenty of pictures to remember the fields by.
Another hidden gem in Tasmania is the painted cliffs, which are on Maria Island, a small mountainous island located off the coast of Tasmania. The picturesque painted cliffs are a favourite amongst photographers and nature lovers.