Many people come to Australia to lie on a beach and cook their pasty skin to a cinder. But let’s face it, the beach is rubbish. It’s where dirt meets water. If you want to get something different from your trip Down Under, head south. Tasmania is one beautiful little island.

History & Culture

The Apple Isle is a taste of ye olde England with a fascinating past. As well as being covered in very familiar architecture, it was the birthplace of 1930s Hollywood heart-throb Errol Flynn (played Robin Hood, swashbucklers, and was rumoured to have a massive schlong). Tasmania also has a rich Aboriginal history – before the settlers wiped them out – and you’ll find Devonport has a number of enigmatic reminders of the area’s original inhabitants. The island still retains a strong, independent culture compared to the mainland. And a “map of Tassie” has even become slang for a lady’s front bottom.


The world’s first Green Party was born in Tasmania, so it’s no surprise that the small state has a well-developed sense of what is important. Of course, this doesn’t stop the government continuing to chop down many of the ancient forests and logging is a touchy subject for many locals. But for now, the land is still dominated by a huge swathe of unbroken greenery. This is the Tasmanian World Heritage area, made up of four adjacent national parks: Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair, Walls of Jerusalem, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers and South-West. This vast wilderness is about as far away as you can get from human activity.

Visitors can also look forward to some of the cleanest air and water in the world. The Roaring Forties weather system passes over the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans before hitting the island, which means it’s almost as fresh as the natural streams in the national parks which you can slurp up without a second thought.


It may look nice now, but Tasmania was once considered a hellish environment, a place to house the worst of the worst criminals. The convicts who tried to escape from Sydney, or who re-offended, were sent here. They left behind some very interesting legends, museum pieces and architecture, and helped shape Tassie’s culture. A trip to Tassie is incomplete without taking a ghost tour in Port Arthur and getting in touch with some of the island’s more gruesome stories.

Bushrangers also played a big part in the island’s history, like Alexander Pearce, aka the Irish Cannibal, who escaped twice and survived by eating his fellow escapees one by one, and Martin Cash, who received a last-minute stay of execution and eventual pardon, and went on to become a model citizen, police constable and farmer before dying of old age.

Tigers and Devils

The state is well known for its wilder inhabitants. Tasmanian devils still populate the wilder areas of the island, but are currently in the grip of an unknown disease which is slowly but surely decimating their numbers. If we’re not careful, the devil will go the same way as the Tasmanian tiger. The enigmatic thylacine is the totem of Tasmania, revered by the people despite the fact that they hunted them to extinction decades ago. There are now constant reported sightings of tigers in the wild, none of which have been proven.

The Views

Make sure that digi camera is fully charged, because you’ll be snapping away like a demented paparazzi stalker. Lake St Clair is the deepest freshwater lake in Australia, and is extremely photogenic. Wineglass Bay, on the Freycinet Peninsula, is all soft white sand sloping into clear azure waters, fringed with emerald eucalpyt forest. The only man-made thing around for miles is the walking track.

And then there’s The Nut. Tassie’s answer to Uluru, except that it juts out into Bass Strait. This solid mass of basalt is a staggering 500ft high, and there’ a chairlift to the top if you’re too lazy to walk up to see the amazing views of the northern Tasmanian coastline. Head to the town of Stanley.

If you’re going bush, you’ll no doubt pay a visit to Cradle Mountain. Towering above tranquil Dove Lake in the midst of highland heath, you’ll be blown away by these awesome vistas.

If you don’t get out of Hobart, you should at least get to the top of Mount Wellington. This lofty peak towers over Hobart, and, best of all, you can go right to the top in a bus, which saves 20 billion calories spent battling with crampons, pack-mules and sherpas. Once at the summit, you can see the whole city and suburbs spread out beneath you. And don’t miss the Bicheno Blowhole, on the east coast. While you’re there you can also spot cute little penguins waddle by at dusk.

Get in my Belly!

Tasmanians are known for their love food and beer, and the abundance of high quality, all-natural ingredients means that the small island is recognised for producing some of the tastiest nosh you’ll find Down Under. Take a tour of the Cadbury’s Factory in Hobart for your chocolate fix. Big bags of freebies, factory seconds at knock down prices and not an oompah-loompah in sight.

Next stop would definitely be the Cascade Brewery. Built in 1834, this gorgeous sandstone brewery is Australia’s oldest and is still in operation today, churning out a range of top Tassie tipples. Their rivals, Boag’s, have a brewery and arguably better tour, in Launceston. While you’re on the island, it’s almost a legal requirement that you eat some cheese, some Tassie salmon and shellfish. The locals won’t like you otherwise. And then there’s the apples. With its English climate, Tasmania was once the world’s major apple producer. If you’re staying a while, you can get work in the orchards.

Call to Adventure

Yes, we know it can get pretty bloody cold in Tasmania, but that doesn’t give you an excuse for sitting around on your arse. C’mon, stop complaining. You could be out scuba diving, and discovering shipwrecks, sea dragons and seals, plus extensive sea cave systems, towering giant kelp forests, penguins, underwater gardens, dolphins.

The clear waters make Tassie’s temperate diving a brilliant alternative to the usual tourist-thick coral reef.

If you’d rather stay on top of the water, Tasmania has loads of brilliant sites for kayaking. You might be in the midst of the forest searching for platypus or just paddling through the traffic on Hobart’s harbour. There’s even surfing – Bruny Island and the East Coast are meant to be the best, drawing surf “dudes” from all over Tassie.

Of course, if you’re anything like TNT’s Deputy Editor, you’ll be eager to go on stupidly-long walks, climb some mountains and put yourself in the position of dying a foolish death. Tassie has some great walking tracks. If you’re a little more cautious there are tour companies who will expertly and safely guide you through the nooks and crannies.

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