Rafting the River Derwent is a great intro to Tassie. Water, helmet, rapids: King River Rafting has everything at the ready for fun on the water.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Ettie’s, housed in one of Hobart’s oldest buildings. Settle in for a new-world white and peruse a menu that champions Tassie’s local produce. Afterwards, slip into Institut Polaire by the waterfront for a night cap. It’s only a short stroll along to MACq01 Hotel, where untold stories are shared. Go the suite with a stone bath in Australia’s first storytelling hotel.
Rise early and head up to Maria Island. This is adventure paradise – the island is flanked by pristine beaches, there are mist-covered peaks and tales of Tassie’s convict past to unravel. Take the ferry from Triabunna with your own bike or hire one there. While you’re waiting, skip over the Overtime Vineyard 15 minutes up the road.
Hire a bike once on the island and keep an eye out for Tasmanian devils – there’s a healthy population on the island. Riding is a great way to explore, especially as there are no cars to contend with, just the odd Cape Barren goose or wombat. Spend the night at the Old Penitentiary. Drift off to sleep where convicts once curled up in cells. It’s rustic bunkhouse-style accommodation.
Head up to Coles Bay and get a paddle in your hand for a morning kayak. Freycinet Adventures provide spray jackets, attractive kayak skirt and safety gear. They’ll launch you straight off the beach into the beauty that is Freycinet National Park.
Across three hours (10am departure), glide beneath the pink granite Hazards mountain range and hear little-known tales of French explorers. Watch for playful seals, often hanging out around Honeymoon Bay rocks before ‘parking’ your kayak in a cove for morning tea.
Follow the paddle with a Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach loop circuit. It’s a 4-5 hour, 11 km walk. If you’re worn out from your paddle, ask the kayak guides about their Aqua Taxi offering. Take a ride to Hazards Beach by boat and the walk will be easy as pie.
Derby for three nights
It’s time to leave the coast and head north to Derby. Got your bike? If not, they’ll swiftly arrange one for you in the township. Next, choose your trail adventure. Axehead perhaps? 23 Stitches? Return to Sender? Big Chook? The names of the tracks at Derby are as curious as the thrilling bends. Plus, there are 20 kilometres of new green trails (easiest grade) through the rainforest to explore.
Unlike its name, Axehead is one of the tamer options. Tall tree ferns and dense forest are a feature. It’s mainly uphill but passes Tasty Trout Falls (great to stop and catch your breath over a picnic) and views out across the Cascade River. Keep an eye out for stone walls built back in the day by tin miners.
Join fellow riders tonight for a meal in the dimly-lit Weldborough Pub. In here the conversation is abuzz with tall riding tales and the steaks come large.
Next day, visit the Derby Schoolhouse Museum. This quaint little museum even comes complete with tiny desks. Then it’s off to the Little Rivers Brewing Company for a beer tasting. Of course, you must try the Dam Busters Ale. It packs a punch, like the Derby trail it’s named after. Finish the day with a wander to Ralphs Falls. It’s one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
Derby to Lilydale
Your third day in the region involves a trip to Bridport for a Tassie bush adventure with Kookaburra Ridge Quad Bike Tours. They go out whether it’s hailing or raining sideways so winter is no worries. No experience is needed and after a quick safety induction it’s ‘start your engines’. Tonight, sink into the outdoor tub back at The Trig accommodation, Mount Arthur.
Launceston for two nights
Eat in the outdoors today. Lilydale Larder has your al fresco lunch supplies sorted. Adventure buffs will love Hollybank Treetops Adventure – it’s not just about sitting on a picnic blanket with crusty bread, Tassie smoked salmon and local fare. You’ll also fly through the trees (squealing allowed), between one solid trunk to the next at heights up to 30 metres. They’re known as cloud stations. These perches let you regain your breath and get ready for the next zip line, some more than 400 metres long.
If you’re not into soaring through the wilderness like a forty spotted pardalote, take a Segway option on the forest floor. This allows forest exploring without having to take a step.
Next day, roll into Launceston to explore Cataract Gorge. This urban playground is home to the world’s longest single-span chairlift. Back in 1972 when the first feet dangled high over the gorge, this 457 meter ride was a hit. Today, it quaintly remains so. Do the Jewel of Launceston walking tour. It’s a one-hour wander by Walk Cataract Gorge. This way you don’t have to find the best bits yourself.
If you’re up for a particularly eerie evening, join the Launceston City Ghost Tour and head down alleyways most haven’t ventured. The city is Australia’s second oldest and has some tales to tell.
Launceston to Stanley
Get some Bass Strait air in your lungs this morning with a brisk walk along West Beach in Burnie. This beach, only a block from the city, has a long and proud Surf Life Saving Club story. Grab a takeaway coffee and wander the boardwalk to the Makers’ Workshop. As the name describes, it’s full of makers and is an opportunity to see them working at their craft.
Next, drop into Hellyers Road Distillery for a tour of the working floor. Pour and wax-seal your own bottle of whisky and tuck it under your wing. From whisky to walking, drive to Rocky Cape National Park for a seaside ramble to North Cave and see Rocky Cape Lighthouse.
Wake up in the seaside township feeling relaxed. Collect hamper supplies from Providore 24 – noting you won’t be the first to pick up handcrafted jewellery with your crusty breadsticks. Or a sneaky bottle of Tassie pinot. Take your goodies and hike up The Nut for a top-shelf picnic before riding down via chairlift.
Looking to venture further afield? The Tarkine is just nearby and Edge of the World tour company is worth keeping in mind. Their West Coast Explorer is a four-day adventure where they “access the inaccessible” and delve deep into the wilds. The company also offers tailored, shorter options.
If you like your dinner with low food miles, head for Stanley Hotel Bistro The seafood comes straight from Stanley fishermen and the beef graze on nearby salty paddocks of Cape Grim. Before dinner, head to The Angels Share in Church Street for a Cradle Mountain whisky. They close at 7pm so get in early.
Stanley to Cradle Mountain
Take your time on the twists and bends that leave to Cradle Mountain. Once there, layer up for a walk from Dove Lake. There’s a glacial lake circuit hugging the water’s edge, with Cradle Mountain ever-present. A world of moss awaits in the Ballroom Forest. If you’re feeling more energetic, take a steeper climb up to Marion’s Lookout. Other shorter walks include the Enchanted Nature walk, and Pencil Pine – Knyvet Falls walk, a brisk 20 minute return.
Does the summit of Cradle Mountain call? This is a quest for experienced walkers. When you reach the peak you’ll understand why Gustav Weindorfer, a botanist and the pioneer of Cradle Mountain National Park, proclaimed “this must be a national park for the people for all time”. He’s the reason you can wander here. That’s pretty special.
Alternately, visit Waldheim Chalet where there’s stacks of history within the walls of a chalet built around 1912 through to the 1920s. It tells the story of Gustav and there’s shorter walks nearby.
Tonight, the promise of cheese and wine tasting comes at 4pm. Head to Cradle Mountain Hotel for a journey through six handcrafted wines, paired with three local cheeses. The night is young and there’s devils that need feeding. Join Devils@Cradle for an after dark feeding tour at 5.30pm. These little carnivores put on quite the show when it’s time for group feasting.
Back at the lodge, scan a menu rich in north west produce. There’ll be no feeding frenzy over your slow-cooked lamb shoulder – it’s all yours. Pair it with a cool climate selection from the earlier tasting before retreating to your highland cabin.
Heading south from Cradle
Your next stop is deep underground where the temp remains 9 degrees Celsius year round. At Mole Creek or Marakoopa Caves, glow worms light up deep caverns and your sound track is the trickle of underground streams. Choose from three tours, each around 45 minutes.
After caving, drop into Trowunna Wildlife Park. This privately owned park has the world’s largest heritage population of Tasmanian devils. It teems with other native birds, marsupials and reptiles. Take a tour or wander the park at your leisure. From here, continue back to old Hobart Town via the Heritage Highway.
If time permits, take a tiny side trip to Shene Estate at Pontville for a whisky or gin.
Still up for a thrill?
It’s your last day of adventure. Get on the bike and power down kunanyi / Mount Wellington on a tour that hits the breaks at Cascade Brewery – you’ve earned that beer. Alternately, weave your way along one of the many mountain tracks. Sphinx Rock is a great little meander from The Springs with sprawling views over the city and River Derwent. It goes well with a coffee from Lost Freight, a shipping container come café that might share a tip or two about hidden huts across the mountain.