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 picture
Masterpieces from around the world, floating picnics on Lake Burley Griffin, museums showcasing Australian stories, mountain biking trails weaving between suburbs, and kangaroos that graze on the grass outside the Australian War Memorial.
Perfectly positioned between Melbourne and Sydney and easily accessible to the Snowy Mountains and South Coast of NSW, Canberra is a great destination for a weekend away.
Surrounded by New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is its own territory, containing the Australian capital city, Canberra. The name Canberra was derived from a local Aboriginal word for “meeting place” so given it’s home to Australia’s Federal parliament, it was an approach choice when the city was being named. Politicos will rejoice because you can visit Australia’s parliament on a guided tour.
You can either go with their school or take the Yeribee tour, which offers an Indigenous experience of Parliament House. You’ll hear the stories about Indigenous parliamentarians, explore the site and gain an insight into how Aboriginals have participated in Australia’s democratic process.
On display are many art works from celebrated Indigenous artists. The tour will also delve into the Great Hall Tapestry, The Great Hall Embroidery, The Barunga Statement, The Apology to Australia’s Indigenous People as well as the Yirrkala Bark Petitions and many other items of interest. The tour is free however it’s recommended that you book in advance to ensure you don’t miss out.
After you’ve stopped by parliament, you can keep learning about Canberra’s diverse art, culture and history by visiting the city’s many museums, galleries and theatres.
Opened to the public in 1982, the National Gallery is Australia’s premium national visual arts institution, in Parkes. The gallery has influenced visual arts culture in Australia.
The collection features a massive 160,000 pieces of art and boasts the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, plus a collection of modern international art, European and American art; and Pacific art.
The gallery features classic masterpieces from the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Botticelli. Entry to the gallery is completely free.
If you’re not finished and want to see more pieces of art, but want to mix it up, take a trip to the National Portrait Gallery, which is also in Parkes. The National Portrait Gallery is fairly young, only opening in 19999 after being conceived in 1988 and modelled on the National Portrait Gallery Washington.
National Portrait Gallery Washing Director, Alan Fern, had a vision for an Australian equivalent so that people could admire beautiful portraits.
The gallery features 116 portraits representing different topics such as politics, the arts, science, business, sport and exploration.
History lovers should take the time to go to the Australian War Memorial Museum. It’s one of Australia’s top tourist attractions and pays respect to the Australian men and women who sacrificed their life to serve the nation.
You’ll feel peaceful when you visit the Pool of Reflection, the Eternal Flame and you’ll be dazzled at the 26 sandstone sculptures that represent Australia’s people and animals. Inside the courtyard you’ll see a Roll of Honour that’s been inscribed with over 102,000 names of those who have lost their lives serving the country.
There is plenty of street art in Canberra that is worth taking the time to see. Tocumwal Lane in the CBD was brightened up by street artists in 2015.
On display you’ll see amazing use of colour and super-hero style imagery, plus people in battle. Petrie Plaza and Braddon are other notable places, with their painted beaches, murals and walls.
If you’ve got a love for moving arts, you’ll want to check out Canberra Theatre Centre, which is located in Civic Square and has been the ultimate performing arts destination for Canberrans since it first opened its doors in 1965. You’ll be able to pick from a raft of diverse shows, suitable for all ages and tastes.
Whilst dinosaurs no longer roam the earth and haven’t done so for millions of years, you can step back in time when you’re at the National Dinosaur Museum.
It has the largest collection of pre-historic life in the country and offers an exciting day out for the whole family. The National Dinosaur Museum is an outdoor museum giving you the chance to enjoy the weather at the same time.
The Australian Capital Territory’s attractions aren’t limited to the indoors or Canberra City. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is 40 minutes south-west of Canberra and is a sanctuary of five ponds and weirs with an abundant amount of wildlife.
You’ll most likely see emus, kangaroos, koalas and many bird and reptile species. Tidbinbilla runs a breeding program with a focus on the Corroboree frog, Southern Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby and the Eastern Bettong. The rich landscape dates back over 25,000 years and is the traditional country of the Ngunnawal People. You can also learn all about the European history of the area when you visit.
If you’re interested in wildlife, or birds in particular, visit the Canberra Walk in Aviary, where you’ll see Rainbow Lorikeets, which is a small brightly coloured Australian parrot.
Pierces Creek Forest, which is managed by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service was established in 1928 and is an ideal destination for anyone who loves hiking, exploring and getting back to nature.
Black Mountain Nature Park is another place that is popular with hikers. It is 812 metres above sea level and located in northern Canberra so you’ll have magnificent views from the peak.
It’s also home to over 100 bird species, 500 plant species and 5,000 insect species. The most popular trail is 2km return so it shouldn’t take you too long, depending on how long you stop to take photos and admire the natural beauty.
Square Rock Trail has an excellent lookout where you will be able to view the horizon and just take in the sounds of nature. It may take you three hours to finish the trail, but when you do you’ll feel so relaxed and at one with nature.
Near Port Macquarie, Lake Innes Nature Reserve is a great place for anyone who loves cycling, fishing, swimming or kayaking. You can also simply watch the birds or walk along the Googik Heritage walking track, which at 2 kilometres