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It's easy to think of Tasmania as 'small' – somewhere you could easily drive around in a day or two, with plenty of time for a few local whiskies afterwards.

And indeed, by Australian standards, Tasmania is small. You could fit three Tasmanias into Victoria, the next smallest state, and a mind-bending 36 Tasmanias into the endless expanses of Western Australia.

But the island state is bigger than Sri Lanka and almost as big as the Republic of Ireland. Roads here are skinny and wiggly, and even the main highways are (mostly) two-lane. Not to mention the photo-op scenery... Getting from A to B usually takes longer than you think.

That said, even on a tight schedule, this 1909km 'lap of the map' will serve up plenty of Tasmanian delights. Download the Discover Tasmania App – your personal island tour guide – and hit the road.

A group of three people stand in front of their silver sports utility vehicle and look out over a bay with a large, flat-topped peninsula in the background.
The Nut in Stanley
Jason Charles Hill

West by north west: Devonport to Strahan, 304km, 3½hr drive time

Roll off the Spirit of Tasmania ferry into Devonport and head west. The ‘big penguin’ in Penguin is cause for pause – as is the interesting art-deco architecture in Burnie.

Detour: Stanley, 157km return, 2hr drive time

Before you leave Burnie, continue west to the historic maritime village of Stanley. An ancient volcanic plateau called the Nut towers 143m over the town’s rooftops, announcing itself on the horizon like a miniature Uluru.

From Burnie, head south towards Cradle Mountain at the northern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park – an island essential. You’ve seen the photos: walk the Dove Lake circuit and see it for real.

Track south and pick up the cloud-swept Western Wilds drive journey: explore moody mining towns then hit the west coast at Strahan. From here, explore World Heritage wilderness along the glassy Gordon River.


A white vehicle travels along a winding road through ochre-coloured mountain ranges on an overcast day.
The ‘99 Bends’ driving into Queenstown
Jason Charles Hill

Highland fling: Strahan to Hobart, 348km, 5hr drive time

Inland from Strahan is atmospheric Queenstown, a former mining boomtown. The mines are closed these days, and mountain biking has become Queenstown’s latest passion.

Heading into the Central Highlands, peer into the glacial depths of Lake St Clair, then descend from the highland mists into the lush Derwent Valley. Don’t miss the Insta-worthy sandstone streetscapes of Hamilton, and the waterfalls, walks and alpine vibes at Mount Field National Park. Continue down the River Derwent, past hop fields and raspberry rows, into Hobart, an arts epicentre and food-and-drink destination par excellence.

Detour: Cockle Creek, 300km return, 4hr drive time

Truck south from Hobart along the Southern Edge drive journey, into the fertile Huon Valley (they don’t call Tasmania the ‘Apple Isle’ for nothing). Literally the end of the road, Cockle Creek is a beachy hamlet on the shores of Recherche Bay – as far south as you can travel in Australia by car.

Two people standing next to a convertible car at Spring Beach, Orford. You can see Maria Island in distance.
Gazing at Maria Island from Spring Beach, Orford
Lisa Kuilenburg

East coast cruiser: Hobart to St Helens, 309km, 4hr drive time

Time to hit the beach. Exiting Hobart, turn left at Sorell and launch into the Great Eastern Drive, with sandy holidays and fishing towns aplenty.

Pour yourself into the wineries north of Swansea, then visit Freycinet National Park, home of the much-photographed Wineglass Bay. Reward yourself with a walk and a sea-salty swim.

Fuel-up with a crayfish roll in Bicheno, then continue north to St Helens. Dunk yourself into the sea (again) at Binalong Bay, the southern marker of the larapuna / Bay of Fires area.

Detour: Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula, 132km return, 2hr drive time

Heading south from Sorell, cross slender Teralina / Eaglehawk Neck and explore Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula. The big-ticket destination here is Port Arthur Historic Site, one of Tasmania’s five UNESCO World Heritage-listed convict sites.

Two mountain bike riders ride their bikes along bitumen throuhg a  country town.
Riding through Derby
Stu Gibson

Foodie focus: St Helens to Devonport, 259km, 7hr drive time

Veer inland from St Helens and pick up the Northern Forage drive journey.

Wheel into Derby, a former tin-mining town turned mountain bike mecca. From here it’s a wiggly ride into Launceston, recently anointed a UNESCO City of Gastronomy – a hotbed of farm-gate producers, cellar doors, farmers’ markets, cafes and restaurants.

Further foodie delights await along the Tasting Trail, linking 40-plus food producers between Launceston and Devonport (and beyond).

Detour: Tamar Valley Wine Region, 100km return, 1hr drive time

Rolling north from Launceston, the kanamaluka / River Tamar valley sustains Tasmania’s biggest wine region. Plan on a long afternoon along the Tamar Valley Wine Trail, sipping cool-climate pinots and sparkling whites.

A long, red and white ferry with 3 stories, and white writing that reads Spirit of Tasmania along the side.
The Spirit of Tasmania
Tourism Tasmania and Don Stephens

Road trip retrospective

Back on the Spirit of Tasmania, watch Devonport’s lights fade and reminisce. Yep, Tasmania is bigger than you realised. And you didn’t even get to Tasmania’s interesting islands (Bruny, Maria, King, Flinders…), the takayna / Tarkine wilderness, nor the Heartlands drive journey through the midlands.

Better book yourself another lap of the map.

Driving around Tasmania FAQs

Can you drive to Tasmania?

Tasmania is an island. Around 11,000 years ago there was a land bridge connecting Tasmania with mainland Australia – but sea levels rose and that was the end of that story. Today you can drive to Tasmania by sea, onboard one of the two big red Spirit of Tasmania vehicle ferries. Sailings depart Geelong in Victoria, cross Bass Strait, then dock in Devonport on Tasmania’s north-west coast. It takes about 10hr. You can sail overnight and sleep in a cabin, or do a day trip and see the sea.

How long does it take to drive around Tasmania?

If you stuck to the main highways, made zero detours and didn’t stop to see anything, you could potentially drive a ‘lap of the map’ in Tasmania in three or four days. We don’t recommend this for safety reasons: driver fatigue, native wildlife on the roads at dawn and dusk, and reduced daylight hours for a good chunk of the year are real hazards. A two-week road trip will be much safer, far more interesting, and really get you into the Tasmanian groove. Slow down to island time and have a good look around.

How many km to drive around Tasmania?

This ‘lap of the map’ itinerary, not including the detours, is 1220km by car – which is about as tight as it gets if you’re attempting some kind of circuit. But of course, detours are an essential part of any good road trip around Tasmania! And there are plenty more here than just Stanley, Cockle Creek, Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula and the Tamar Valley... Read up on getting around, hit the road and see what sort of adventure comes your way.

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