The joy of an island is that driving a full lap is feasible and, in Tasmania, always fantastic.
Day 1: Launceston and surrounds
Touch down on the island in Launceston, Tasmania’s second city. It’s at the edge of the state’s largest wine region: the celebrated Tamar Valley.
A short drive from the city centre, take a tour of Josef Chromy Wines and have lunch among the vines, then head north along the banks of kanamaluka / River Tamar to find a host of quality (and at times quirky) cellar doors.
Stroll Launceston’s streets to view the city’s intact heritage streetscapes, making your way from the city centre to dramatic Cataract Gorge, bridged by the world’s longest single-span chairlift.
Stay overnight at Launceston.
Day 2: Launceston to Boat Harbour Beach
Make breakfast a small one, because today you’ll follow your nose along the Tasting Trail Cradle to Coast, a collection of about 40 gourmet stops across the north west.
Take a break in the arts hub of Deloraine, with its sculpture trail along the banks of the Meander River.
Car buffs will want to stop at Wonders of Wynyard, with a collection of classic vehicles that includes the equal oldest Ford in the world – a 1903 Model A.
If spring has sprung, make for the multi-coloured fields of Table Cape Tulip Farm, laid out beneath the Table Cape Lighthouse.
Wander the beautiful white sands of Boat Harbour Beach before settling in at the small town for the night.
Day 3: Boat Harbour Beach to Stanley
On the drive west, detour out to Rocky Cape National Park, one of Tasmania’s least-known national parks, with a wild and rugged coastline harbouring beaches and caves.
Pack a hamper and head out on the Tarkine Drive to Marrawah and the Edge of the World, aka Gardiner Point.
Visit Highfield Historic Site, a stately 1830s home set on a bluff above Stanley that was built as part of a royal charter.
Stay overnight at Stanley.
Day 4: Stanley to Cradle Mountain
Return along the coast before detouring south to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, picking another Tasting Trail stop for lunch.
Cradle Mountain is the scene of some of the state’s best day walks. Take in the ever-changing views around the Dove Lake circuit, or head for the heights with a climb to a lofty view at Marions Lookout.
Mingle with the Tasmanian devils on an after-dark feeding tour at Devils @ Cradle.
Stay overnight at Cradle Mountain.
Day 5: Cradle Mountain to Strahan
Take another walk in the national park, then set out for the west coast.
At the storied west-coast mining town of Zeehan, explore the four historical buildings comprising the West Coast Heritage Centre. The restored Gaiety Theatre was one of Australia’s finest theatres in its heyday.
Make a roadside stop at the Henty Dunes, rising up to 30m in height behind Ocean Beach – Tasmania’s longest beach. Sandboards can be hired in Strahan.
Stay overnight at Strahan.
Day 6: Strahan
Sail across Macquarie Harbour, a body of water six times larger than Sydney Harbour, stopping at the isolated convict station of Sarah Island and gliding across the mirror-like reflections of the Gordon River.
Explore Strahan. Milling demonstrations take place at Morrison’s Huon Pine Sawmill on the afternoon return of the Gordon River boats.
Stroll into the rainforest on the short and easy Hogarth Falls walk, one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks, keeping an eye out for platypus.
Stay overnight at Strahan.
Day 7: Strahan to Lake St Clair
Drive from the deep forest to the lunar-like landscape surrounding Queenstown.
Ride the rails of history with a journey on the West Coast Wilderness Railway, passing above a deep gorge and ascending the steepest gradients of any railway in the southern hemisphere.
Peer into the depths of an old open-cut mine at Iron Blow Lookout as you drive out of Queenstown, and plan a short walk at Nelson Falls. At Derwent Bridge, near Lake St Clair, visit the ambitious art project the Wall in the Wilderness.
Day 8: Lake St Clair to Hobart
Hop aboard the little Ida Clair, a scenic cruiser come ferry service around Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake.
Keep an eye out for the woolly Highland cattle around remote Tarraleah, a town built to house workers on one of Australia's first hydroelectric schemes.
Fossick for antiques and homewares in Tasmania’s third-oldest town, New Norfolk, in the Derwent Valley.
Drive on and stay the night in Hobart.
Day 9: Hobart
Take the short drive (or the dedicated ferry) to Mona for an underground art fix, lunch and wine tasting.
Dine in one of Hobart’s world-class restaurants – typically specialising in local produce – and stay the night in the city.
Day 10: Hobart and surrounds
On a slow trip south into the fertile Huon Valley, head underground at Hastings Caves, rise above the forest floor on the Tahune Airwalk, and watch old-fashioned boatbuilding at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin. And be sure to stop in at a cidery to see what Tasmania squeezes from its apples these days.
Stay overnight at Hobart.
Day 11: Hobart and surrounds
Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula beckons – expect convict ruins, 300m-high sea cliffs and dramatic coastline. That’s just for starters.
The drive crosses Teralina / Eaglehawk Neck, an isthmus about 100m wide and once guarded by dogs to prevent convicts escaping. At The Neck’s northern end is the Tessellated Pavement, a geological wonder of fractured rocks that resembles a huge mosaic, while the southern end reveals more geological curiosities at Tasmans Arch and Devils Kitchen.
Return to Hobart for the night.
Day 12: Hobart to Coles Bay
Head to the east coast, stopping for tastings at some of the half-dozen boutique wineries sprinkled around tiny Cranbrook, and perhaps lunch at a seafood shack, oyster caravan or berry farm along the way.
Take a walk to arguably Tasmania’s most famous view at Wineglass Bay Lookout. Feeling more energetic? Continue down the slopes onto the dazzling white sands of the bay itself.
Stay overnight in Coles Bay.
Day 13: Coles Bay to St Helens
Plunge into Freycinet National Park by foot, kayak, quad-bike or take a boat cruise.
Plan a seafood lunch on the deck at Freycinet Marine Farm and stay for a tour of the oyster farm.
Call in at Bicheno to see if the blowhole is doing its thing, and take in the lofty scene from Whalers Lookout.
Day 14: St Helens to Launceston
Catch the early sun on the Bay of Fires, when the spectacular scene of white sand, blue sea and orange lichen blazes in colour.
If you’re a mountain biker, you might well have just found your spiritual home. Spin the wheels at the St Helens Mountain Bike Trails, or cross the Bier Tier to the mountain-bike crazy town of Derby, where you can ride or simply relax in the Floating Sauna Lake Derby. Or better yet, both.
Prefer to shred lunch than a trail? Call in for farmhouse cheese at the Pyengana Dairy Farm Gate Cafe, and continue down the valley to find the short walk through rainforest to St Columba Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Tasmania.
On your way to closing the loop back in Launceston, drop by the highly fragrant Bridestowe Lavender Estate, the world’s largest private lavender farm.
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