Friends don’t let friends miss a road trip in Tasmania.
With two of the island’s most spectacular landmarks – Cradle Mountain and Wineglass Bay – as bookends, a road trip across the state’s north and east coast is a natural choice, combining mountains and beaches, farm-gate produce and good food.
Grab the crew for good fun and good times.
Digging into the north-west
The best way to get to know Cradle Mountain – known by locals simply as “Cradle” - is on foot. Set out to hike a lap around Dove Lake, pooled at its base, and the mountain appears in myriad poses and angles - rising above the Dove Lake from gleaming white quartzite beaches, from atop massive boulders dumped by long-gone glaciers, or from beside the weathered old boat shed on the lake’s shores. The track also waltzes through the Ballroom, a gorgeous strip of rainforest smothered in moss.
Go from the heights to the depths with a cave tour – mild or wild – in Mole Creek Karst National Park, where there are 300 known caves.
A foraged lunch is the reward after a hunt with Doug the truffle dog at The Truffle Farm near Deloraine. And sidle up to creatures of a different kind – Tasmanian devils, wombats and other native wildlife – at nearby Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary.
Launceston was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2021 – one of only two such cities in Australia – so settle in and get a taste for Tasmania’s second city.
Savour the flavours of northern Tasmania’s freshest and best produce at Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market – “Harvest” to locals – held each Saturday morning in a city-centre car park.
At the city’s edge, the Tamar Valley Wine Trail connects more than 30 cellar doors through Tasmania’s oldest and largest wine region. Stop to chat and taste the region’s renowned pinot noir and sparkling wine. Appoint your designated driver and head to Pipers River for bubbles at the likes of Jansz Tasmania, Clover Hill Wines and Delamere Vineyard. Cross the river to find the rustic cellar door – and Nellie the winery dog – at Swinging Gate Vineyard, or settle in for tastings and river views at Stoney Rise Wine Company.
Back in the city, head to dinner at Stillwater, within an 1830s flour mill at the mouth of Cataract Gorge. One of Tasmania’s most lauded restaurants, it’s devoted to refined and relaxed regional dining.
Bikes and bays
Go with the flow at Derby, Australia’s top mountain-biking town. Take a shuttle to the top of Blue Tier, Atlas or the Bay of Fires trail and discover mountain-biking magic. And the day only gets better when you step from the bike into the Floating Sauna Lake Derby, Australia’s only floating wood-fired sauna. Heat up inside, and cool down with regular plunges in the chilly lake.
The remote and idyllic Pyengana Valley is home to the Pyengana Dairy Farm Gate Cafe, where cheese boards come with a view of the cows wandering in and out of the milking shed. Nearby is the well-named Pub in the Paddock (home to a beer-drinking pig…), which is one of Tasmania’s oldest pubs. The valley ends beneath St Columba Falls, where a short walk leads through rainforest to the base of one of the state’s highest waterfalls.
Beach bliss comes in spades at the Bay of Fires. The short road to The Gardens from Binalong Bay is stitched with tracks that lead to dazzling beaches framed in lichen-covered headlands and turquoise seas. Tucked behind them is the Bay of Fire Bush Retreat, with glamping bell tents dotted through the bush and a full kitchen stocked with pre-prepared meals from the retreat’s chef owner.
Along Bicheno’s beaches, surf rolls in by day and little penguins waddle in by night, but it might well be the seafood that’s the real star.
Head to the Lobster Shack Tasmania for fresh-caught lobster (known in Tasmania as crayfish) and other local seafood with a view over the Gulch and Governor Island Marine Reserve. Or pick up fish and chips at Tasmanian Coastal Seafoods and find a beach or rocks with an ocean outlook.
There are more seafood treats on Freycinet Peninsula, where a stop at the Freycinet Marine Farm delivers a feed of oysters and mussels harvested fresh from the farm. Those food metres shrink to nothing on a tour of the marine farm with Oyster Bay Tours, donning waders and shucking oysters straight from the racks.