How to winter

How to winter in Tasmania

The well-planned Off Season

Any time of the year is a fine time to visit Tasmania, but we think winter is extra special. Celebrate a proper winter with slow-cooked feasts, stellar wine and whisky, blazing fires and snow play. Dance around bonfires. Sing to apple trees. Strange, exhilarating or just a very different winter? You decide.

Here are some hot tips to plan the Off Season in Tasmania.

Best in winter

What’s so special about a Tassie winter? Heaps.

snow-frosted landscape

Snow-frosted landscapes

Follow the Enchanted Walk in a snowy forest at Cradle Mountain. Stroll through a snow-dusted pandani forest on the Pandani Grove walk in Mount Field National Park. It even snows in the rainforests in the island’s west. And chase waterfalls, flowing fast with snowmelt.

Three Capes Track

Winter swells

See the Southern Ocean rage along coastal walks such as the Three Capes Track and particularly at Shipstern Bluff, or Shippies, famed as one of the world’s wildest breaks. See foam mountains along Ocean Beach.

Plate of oysters

Oysters and scallops

Though oysters are plentiful and harvested year-round in Tasmania, they’re at their best during winter, thriving in cold clear waters. And it’s scallop season, too, from Easter until the end of July.

Hands holding truffles

Truffles

The highly prized fungi are harvested in winter, when frosts trigger the unique aroma. This is the season for hunting with truffle dogs.

Whisky being poured into a glass

Raise a glass

Two of Tasmania’s best-loved tipples - pinot noir and single malt whisky - taste better in winter. Well, we think so.

Starry sky over a shack

Look up

During the longer nights of winter, the absence of light pollution and the island’s southerly latitude create exceptionally beautiful displays of stars. And Tasmania is one of the few places in the world to witness the Aurora Australis, aka the Southern Lights, and its beguiling curtains of colour.

Snow-frosted landscape

Snow-frosted landscapes

Follow the Enchanted Walk in a snowy forest at Cradle Mountain. Stroll through a snow-dusted pandani forest on the Pandani Grove walk in Mount Field National Park. It even snows in the rainforests in the island’s west. And chase waterfalls, flowing fast with snowmelt.

Three Capes Track

Winter swells

See the Southern Ocean rage along coastal walks such as the Three Capes Track and particularly at Shipstern Bluff, or Shippies, famed as one of the world’s wildest breaks. See foam mountains along Ocean Beach.

Plate of oysters

Oysters and scallops

Though oysters are plentiful and harvested year-round in Tasmania, they’re at their best during winter, thriving in cold clear waters. And it’s scallop season, too, from Easter until the end of July.

Hands holding truffles

Truffles

The highly prized fungi are harvested in winter, when frosts trigger the unique aroma. This is the season for hunting with truffle dogs.

Whisky being poured into a glass

Raise a glass

Two of Tasmania’s best-loved tipples - pinot noir and single malt whisky - taste better in winter. Well, we think so.

Starry sky over shack

Look up

During the longer nights of winter, the absence of light pollution and the island’s southerly latitude create exceptionally beautiful displays of stars. And Tasmania is one of the few places in the world to witness the Aurora Australis, aka the Southern Lights, and its beguiling curtains of colour.

Winter like this

Insider tips on wintering well in Tasmania.

What will the weather be like?

There’s a seasonal sparkle to Tasmania in winter, whether it’s sunshine on fresh snow, or the remarkable clarity of the air.

In Hobart, mean maximum temperatures drop to about 13 degrees through the winter months, but blue-sky days are common – the average rainfall in Hobart in July is 42 millimetres, which is less than in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide in the same month.

Head to the mountains and things get frostier – around Cradle Mountain, the average daily winter temperature is about eight degrees. The coldest temperature on record in Tasmania was set in August 2020 at Liawenee in the Central Highlands: -14.2 degrees.

Rainy days are more likely in the lush west, where the town of Strahan averages about 180 millimetres of rain a month in winter. That drops to less than 50 millimetres a month on the east coast.

Where do I find snow?

There are unforgettable days when snow reaches and settles at sea level in Tasmania, but they’re rare. It’s the mountains that get snowy. A drive into Cradle Mountain will likely reveal Tasmania’s most recognisable mountain scene iced with snow, while short walks around Lake Dobson in Mount Field National Park can be a whole lot of snow fun. Snow days on kunanyi/Mount Wellington, rising immediately behind Hobart, become pilgrimage days for locals.

Tasmania has two ski fields: Ben Lomond in the north, and Mount Mawson in the south. Ben Lomond is the most popular and reliable, with snow-making machines and a mix of advanced (10 percent), intermediate (53 percent) and beginner (37 percent) runs. Low-key Mount Mawson, in Mount Field National Park, about 90 minutes’ drive from Hobart, has three rope tows, two of which cater for beginners through to advanced skiers.

Planning for winter

Like nature itself, things tend to slow across Tasmania through winter. Opening hours at some sites and venues may be altered or abbreviated. Book ahead at hotels and restaurants, and phone or email ahead to confirm that doors are open at shops, attractions, wineries and tour operators.

Dressing for winter

There’s an art to dressing for a Tasmanian winter. At least one layer has earned a local name – the ubiquitous black puffer jacket is known colloquially as the Tassie tuxedo.

The key to staying comfortable in a Tasmanian winter is layering – wearing multiple layers of clothing that can come on and off as temperatures dictate. Even in winter, the sun carries a surprising warmth here, but when the wind blows in from the south there’s an undeniable chill in the air. Prepare for all conditions with a range of layers, including gloves, a waterproof jacket and, of course, a beanie.

Driving in winter

Winter roads can be spectacular in Tasmania when snow blankets higher ground, though it creates conditions that require caution. Drive with headlights on to maximise your visibility to others, and leave at least a four-second gap between your vehicle and the one in front. Watch for ice on the road and drive accordingly. Factor in extra driving time – posted speed limits are designed for optimal conditions, so you should drive more slowly on wet or icy roads.

Snow and ice are more likely the higher you ascend on roads, so take advantage of shuttle buses at Cradle Mountain and on kunanyi/Mount Wellington to avoid the need to drive. If heading to the likes of Ben Lomond and Mount Field national parks, snow chains may be needed.

Prepare in advance by checking the weather forecast on the Bureau of Meteorology website, and perusing TasALERT for road closures and other warnings.

Walking in winter

Winter on a hiking trail is no time to discover that you’ve underpacked. Warm layers and waterproof outerwear are essential. Avoid wearing cotton – once it gets wet, it won’t dry in cold conditions. Keep rest stops short to avoid cooling down too much.

Boardwalks and rocks can get icy in winter, so watch your step, and consider using hiking poles for extra stability.

Check weather forecasts regularly, and be prepared for sudden and rapid changes in conditions – snow can sometimes fall minutes after sunshine. Web cams on Ben Lomond and Mount Mawson can also be good indicators of weather and snow conditions in the mountains. See the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service website for essential safe walking guidelines.

Be COVID safe

Be COVID safe

Tasmania remains one of the most beautiful and inviting destinations in Australia. It’s important to be aware of the measures in place that help us keep on top of COVID-19, and vigilance is essential, especially through winter when respiratory sicknesses tend to be at their peak.

Wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitiser when you’re out and about, maintain a 1.5-metre distance from others, and don’t head out sightseeing if you feel at all unwell. All travellers to Tasmania need to provide their contact and travel details before entering the state. The latest information is at www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au