Weekend Getaways - Our top day trips in Tasmania
Image courtesy: Tourism Australia / Daniel Tran
While Tasmania has some really well-known cities and townships, the Apple Isle is filled with an array of stunning lesser known regions that make the little island an untouched gem - from the winding hill passes of the west coast to the coastal wine regions of the northeast and much more in between. Below we list our favourite there-in-a-day locations around Tasmania.
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Great Western Tiers
The Great Western Tiers are a collection of mountainous headlands centrally located toward the northern end of Tasmania, a little over an hour south of both Devonport and Launceston. The tiers span more than 100 kilometres and are home to hiking tracks, waterfalls, caves and more than 3000 lakes.
Listen to the birds chirping in the treetops and the gravel crunching under foot as you hike the plethora of walking tracks this expansive region has to offer. There are short walks that meander around lakes and through cool climate rainforests to enjoyable half day hikes that wander past waterfalls to scenic plateaus, as well as full day hikes that cross waterways and climb mountain tops to breathtaking views of the highlands.
For short walks no more than 2-hours long, checkout the Liffey Falls upper carpark track that is part of the park's World Heritage Area or enjoy the scenic Devil's Gullet Lookout Walk. The Pine Lake walk is a wheelchair friendly boardwalk leading to the small body of water that is lined in parts by the rare Pencil Pine tree that is usually more accessible deeper into the forest.
Some of the popular half day hikes include the Higgs Track that winds through rainforest and across creeks until you reach a quaint little hut overlooking Lady Lake. The Quamby Bluff hike is a steep climb over rock and through myrtle filled forest to the impressive 1250m summit. Enjoy sweeping views of the valleys and gorges as well as the grandeur of the neighbouring mountain tops.
For a fascinating full day hike trek to Meander Falls. Whet your appetite with some smaller waterfalls along the way until you can gaze upon the incredible cascade gushing 130 metres down the multi-tiered rock face. The hike is approximately 6-hours return and can be somewhat treacherous in icy conditions.
The walk along Little Fisher River to Rinadena Falls within the Walls of Jerusalem National Park is another spectacle that can't be missed for those looking to enjoy a long hike. This trek is not for the inexperienced as the track is overgrown in spots and lacks signage in certain areas so carrying navigational equipment is recommended. Rest assured, you will be rewarded for your troubles with a front row seat to the torrent of one of Tasmania's best kept secrets. Be sure to visit between July & November before the stream dries up.
Don't forget: Garmin eTrex 22x Handheld GPS
Mt William National Park
Nestled in the top right-hand corner of Tasmania is the beauty of Mount William National Park. Travel to this remote region and you'll find stretches of secluded beach, granite boulders adorning the shoreline, turquoise waters as far as the eye can see as well as an abundance of native animal and plant life.
Hike to the top of Mount William with relative ease as the summit is only a little over 200-metres high. The 3.6km circuit climbs steadily through the shrubbery and provides far-reaching views over Bass Strait and out to Flinders Island once you reach the precipice.
Enjoy some beachcombing as you wander along the pristine white sand and explore the marine wonders that wash ashore, marvel at the various birds flying above or resting on the lichen covered boulders nearby, and keep your eyes peeled for the wealth of animal life roving the lands including the native Forester Kangaroos, wombats, echidnas and of course Tasmanian devils.
The nearest town is quite a while away so be sure to pack plenty of drinks and snacks for the trip. Be very careful driving through the park as the local fauna, particularly the Forester Kangaroos will brazenly rest right on the side of the road.
Don't forget: Denali Pinnacle 30L Hike Pack
Toward the western coast of Tasmania, amongst the lofty sassafras and eucalypts of the neighbouring forests you will find the placid waters of Lake Mackintosh. About 5-kilometres north-east of Tullah, the shoreline surrounding the lake has some great picnic areas as well as ample camping spots for those who'd prefer to stay a little longer than a day.
However, Lake Mackintosh is really a destination for the avid fishos, particularly those that love to fish brown and rainbow trout. There are some nice casting spots from the shore but the best way to experience fishing Lake Mackintosh is to explore every cove and inlet via boat. There are numerous boat ramps around the lake so there's plenty of options to start your day from.
Be sure to get your inland angling license though otherwise you'll have to settle for skimming rocks from the waters edge.
Don't forget: Berkley Lure Trout Kit
Venture to the central highlands of the state and you will find the most frequented trout fishing waterway of Tasmania, Arthur's Lake. Unlike Lake Mackintosh who introduced rainbow trout some years ago you'll only find brown trout in these waters, and an abundance of them too.
Set rod bait fishing and fly fishing are very popular methods for those casting from the shoreline, particularly in the north-western region around Cowpaddock Bay. There are a few boat ramps around the lake if you're wanting to venture to some of the more advantageous fishing locations on the water. Remember, this is an inland fishery, so an angling permit is required.
Being that this stunning location is at altitude the weather conditions can change quite quickly and dramatically so be sure to pack plenty of thermal gear in case the weather does take a turn for the worse. There is a campground around Arthur's Lake, but it is closed during winter due to the icy conditions and possibility of snow.
Don't forget: Gillies Fly Set 9' 6WT Combo 9ft
Around 90-minutes north-east of Launceston, lining the bank of the Ringarooma River is the quiet little historic town of Derby. Once a mecca for tin miners in the late 1800's, the lush forests, gushing waterfalls, granite boulders and undulating terrain now present a mountain biking paradise as thousands of adrenaline seeking cyclists flock here every year.
The Blue Derby Mountain Bike Park is the jewel in the crown of this little township after being opened in 2015. The numerous MTB trails weave their way through forests and bushland for over 80-kilometres. The tracks range from easy to extremely difficult and vary in completion times from one minute to two hours.
While the park caters mainly to experienced riders, the 6-kilometre long "Little Chook" is an ideal introductory trail that meanders through the forest and along tiny waterways with only gradual ascents. The best part is that the last couple of kilometres is downhill and finishes right near the pub.
For the experienced riders, there are a multitude of technical tracks to undertake including short trails consisting of sharp berms, steep descents and tabletop jumps or there are long uphill trails that climb through the forest and lead to some fantastic vistas across the valleys.
Don't forget: Fluid Mountain Bike
Cataract Gorge & First Basin
On the outskirts of Launceston, you will find the beautiful Cataract Gorge and First Basin. The reserve sits on the banks of the South Esk River and is the home of native wildlife, busy walking tracks, stunning lookouts and expansive parklands just a stone's throw from the city centre.
On the southern side of First Basin are wide open spaces and a large playground for kids to expend their energy as well as a sizeable pool for everyone to enjoy on those warm summer days. The spacious lawns are ideal for setting up the picnic blanket and enjoying a day out with the family amongst the beautiful gardens.
Traverse the suspension bridge to the northern side of the gorge to see colourful peacocks roaming amongst the vibrant exotic plants of the reserve. If you'd prefer to have a bird's eye view of the park jump on the world's longest single span chairlift at over 450 metres long and take in the sights from above.
You can hike or bike your way along the regions walking or cycling tracks that amble along the waterfront, zigzag their way up rocky escarpments and lead to various lookouts and viewing platforms of the gorge.
Whether you travel to the gorge for a relaxing day in the sun or a more adventurous urban experience you're sure to have a day like no other.
Don't forget: Spinifex Picnic Blanket
Travel an hour east of Hobart to Pirates Bay for a stunning day by the water. The bay straddles Eaglehawk Neck on the way down the eastern peninsula and looks out to the Tasman Sea. The popular day trip destination consists of winding roads, coastal lookouts, natural siltstone structures and most importantly some of Tasmania's best fishing experiences.
Plunder the bay's waters and hook yourself a treasure trove of fish from the Pirates Bay jetty. There is an abundance of Australian salmon, flounder, flathead and mackerel on offer most of the time and if you stick around until nightfall, you'll have prime position for catching the ever-popular calamari squid.
For an unparalleled fishing experience explore the region by boat. Not only will heading further offshore provide a stunning view of the undulating coastal landscape but it will open up the possibilities to catching some more exciting species of fish including tuna, tiger flathead, barracouta, snapper and several other fish varietals. The peninsula also offers up some amazing game fishing opportunities for those wanting to try their hand at hooking some bluefin tuna, swordfish or marlin with a local charter fishing company.
Don't forget: Daiwa Emeraldas Nude Squid Jig
Hartz Mountains National Park
Around an hour and a half south-west of Hobart you will find the rolling hills of Hartz Mountain National Park. The park boasts some amazing hiking trails through plush greenery leading to the glorious sights of neighbouring mountain peaks, breathtaking bluffs, cascading waterfalls and panoramic views of the astonishing valleys and gorges in both north and south directions. Dress warm, the alpine mountains pack an icy punch toward the top and on those cold wintery days.
While the expansive lands of the national park are ideal for long hikes there are a number of shorter walks that also provide rewarding scenery. The flat, leisurely hike to the beautifully placid Lake Osborne will take around an hour and you'll be greeted by dramatic escarpments on the waters edge as well as misty mountain tops in the background. The Arve Falls Walk is another terrific short walk of only a kilometre leading to a perfectly placed viewing platform of the overflowing waterfalls.
The Hartz Peak trail is an epic 8-kilometre trek to the top of Hartz Mountain and will leave you in awe of the natural beauty the Tasmanian landscape has to offer. Shortly after you set off you can take a minor detour and have a rest at the edge of the glacial waters of Lake Esperance which is a must-see landmark. As you continue toward the 1,200 metres above sea-level summit enjoy magnificent views over the parklands and as far as the southern coast. On a clear day, you'll be able to see the crowning points of several nearby mountains which are sometimes hidden by the cloudy haze.
Be sure to purchase a valid parks pass before your travel as required to enter any of Tasmania's national parks.
Don't forget: Merrell Moab Mid Hikers
Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park is a stunning coastal oasis full of sweeping sandy beaches, turquoise waters, granite protrusions, mountainous forestry and an abundance of vibrant birdlife. The national park sits right on the eastern coast of the state around two-and-a-half hours south of Launceston and north of Hobart.
One of the most spectacular locations in the region is Wineglass Bay. You can hike to Wineglass Bay beach via a 6-kilometre there-and-back trip from the carpark. On the way, take a slight detour off the track and head to the Wineglass Bay lookout and take in the cluster of trees sprawling the surrounding mountains with the breathtaking bright blue waters of the bay in the background. There's a reason it's one of the most photographed landscapes in Tasmania.
For a more advanced and lengthier hike, take the Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach Circuit. The 12-kilometre trek continues on from Wineglass Bay beach and cuts through the national park until you reach the opposite coastline of Hazards Beach. Here you'll find a much quieter environment with the gorgeous pink-tinged granite mountain tops of The Hazards overlooking the beach and boats anchored in the bay.
If you're looking for fun on the water, kayak along the Freycinet Peninsula for a truly unforgettable experience. Mount Amos provides an amazing backdrop while you adore at the colourful marine life swimming below or the majestic sea eagles soaring above.
There are several BBQ and picnic spots throughout the national park and many of the hiking tracks are also shared paths if you'd prefer to explore the region by bike. For a spot of fishing, try catch some flathead, trevally or salmon from the jetty at Coles Bay, or simply stroll along the white sand of the many beaches.
Don't forget: Seak Swift Kayak