I recently spent a week on a Tasmania road trip. I was so excited to be back to this beautiful place of the world after my first visit on a backpacking trip in 2008.
My initial plan was to hike the Three Capes track, but because all accommodation was booked out I changed my plan and decided to go on a self drive trip of the East Coast Tasmania.
Travelling around Tasmania by car
With 11 road trips around Australia, of which 7 solo, I was keen to tick this road trip off my list.
While the population of Tasmania is only 500 thousands, driving around the island is a relaxed activity, nonetheless the island is big and with so much to see and do, you need at least 7-10 days to see it all.
From Hobart to the northern side of the east coast it takes a good 4 hour drive. With such a pristine environment Tasmania boasts 18 national parks, 2000km of walking tracks and 1.38 million hectares of wilderness world heritage area, so you can get an idea of how long it takes to drive around Tasmania.
Having travelled alone in Australia for +13 years, in the past 6 years I have been enjoying driving solo very much. There is nothing that beats the freedom of a road trip! And solo driving makes it more special.
How to get a good car rental deal for a Tasmania road trip
I started researching months ahead and was lucky to find a good deal from my trusted car rental comparison site. For 150 dollars I could book a good car for 5 days. I paid 10 dollars deposit for making the reservation online, however if you to want to cancel a booking, the deposit will be refunded.
7 days in Tasmania – What to do and see
My flight from Perth to Hobart was booked for one week in Tasmania. For the first 3 days I booked a hostel in Hobart and a day-trip to Bruny Island through TripAdvisor. It was a good idea to have a slow start before road tripping the east coast of Tasmania. Moreover this also helped me adjust to the weather conditions (rain+cold) and enjoy more of the Hobart surroundings.
Hobart and Mount Wellington
Hobart surrounding area is filled with great outdoor experiences. Just 20 minutes drive from Hobart you get to Fern Tree where you can go on walking trails up to the Springs and further up to the Mount Wellington Summit. I couldn’t walk to the summit on that day due to cloudy weather conditions, so I hiked up to the Springs through the Fern Glade Track and returned via the Silver Falls Track. A 2 hours return walk across beautiful fern trees and blue gums forests. You can use the public buses from Hobart to get there if you don't drive. On a clear day the hike to the Summit is absolutely a must. It's a 3 hour return walk from the Springs, but if you don't fancy the long hike, you can drive by car directly to the Mount Wellington Lookout.
Bruny Island on a day trip from Hobart
Bruny Island is the ideal day-trip from Hobart. It's a 45 minutes drive to get to Kettering and from there the ferry takes 15 min to cross over to Bruny Island.The island is a long stretch of 2 parts offering 10 beautiful walking trails, a few campsites and the Cape Bruny Lighthouse with a fabulous 360° view of the cape. Moreover if you love food the island is a paradise for local produce like cheese, honey, olives, shucked oysters.
On the tour we went on the Fluted Cape 2.5 km return walk from Grass Point. The walk takes you up to the summit of the Fluted Cape passing very high sea cliffs. Good spot for seeing whales and dolphins as well as taking photos of the ocean.
Tip: on the Island there are no shops, no restaurants, no petrol stations. So pack your food as the only food store at Adventure Bay has a limited offer that lets much to desire! Make sure you have a full tank before taking the ferry too.
Self Drive Tasmania – how to create your driving itinerary
The first stop of my Tasmania road trip started from Hobart to Bicheno, a lovely coastal village 34 km north-east of Coles Bay and the Frecynet National Park. My plan was to find accommodation in Coles Bay but it’s so darn hard to find a suitable place to stay in the area as most lodges and cabins are booked out a long time ahead. For camping lovers there are 4 campsites but again booking in advance is essential in this area!
For the solo traveller there isn’t much on offer. I chose a private stay through airbnb and was lucky to come across a wonderful place right on the Esplanade of Bicheno. If you haven’t used airbnb yet, you can book your stay through my link that gives you 35 AUD off your first booking.
This place wasn't cheap for a solo traveller but take a look at these photos which speak for themselves.The location and the house are amazing with a superb view. Little penguins come in to the driveway at night and are only a few steps around the house.
Frecynet national Park and the Wineglass Bay Walk
The Frecynet National Park and the Wineglass Bay are two of the top Tasmania attractions that must be on your list. Yes, this is my favourite part of Tasmania. A place I could go back over and over again without getting tired of it. The entire east coast is an amazing journey of its own, the landscape changes from shrubland to blue gums, to sweeping valleys dotted with vineyards and a wealth of wildlife. A true slice of paradise. 🙂
As the weather improved over the days, I was able to do more of the walks and next to the classic Wineglass Bay walk and Wineglass Bay Lookout walk, which is roughly 1 hour walk from the car park, I decided to do the long circuit walk that takes you from Wineglass bay to Hazards Beach and along the coastline back to the Frecynet Carpark.
Tip: Plan the Wineglass Lookout walk and the long Hazards Beach Track early in the morning because it's a long up-and-downhill walk that will tire you (about 5-6 hours). There are lots of places to stop for taking photos or relaxing but 90% of the track is open and exposed with no shelter from the sun.
The scenic drive from Bicheno to Launceston
My last stop of my 7 day Tasmania itinerary was Launceston. I hadn’t figured out how to get to Launceston from Bicheno. The faster way is to drive through Campbell Town, the route is fast with nothing really to see along the way. While talking to my airbnb Host, I got a tip on the scenic route that skirts the northern part of the east coast and go through the inland forests and mountains down to Launceston. It's a much longer road trip itinerary, about 245 km from Bicheno, but really worth it. I was so glad I picked this option cause I got to see the most beautiful part of North East Tasmania.
St. Helens on the East Coast Tasmania
From Bicheno to St. Helens it's an hour drive, through rugged coastline, hidden bays and beaches, a pristine landscape. St. Helens is a picturesque fishing port with an excellent visitor centre packed with iconic relics from fishing to the timber and mining region. From St. Helens you can take a detour to Bay of Fires to see the most photogenic beach of Tasmania. I didn't go to Bay of Fires, ha! I had seen it years ago so I preferred to continue my road trip through the hills to reach my next destination: Derby.
The surprise about the little village, Derby, is that it's a hotspot for mountain bikers in Tasmania. With several professional trails Derby attracts mountain bikers from all over Australia for a fabulous MTB experience. It's a tiny village with quirky fun places like this cafe.
This driving itinerary through the forest isn’t a difficult one but some stretches of the route have many twists and bends that go gently uphill, so you have to feel comfortable with this.
Scottsdale is the following stop, a township in the north-east region of Tasmania and the largest town between Launceston and the east coast Tasmania. I loved the Scottsdale Visitor Centre, located in a heritage building, with lovely decorations from the past. Grab all the free maps about the region here!
The Bridstowe Lavender Farm
I was not aware that the Bridstowe Lavender Farm was just a short detour from the highway, so it was good timing for me to get there just before for the last lavender farm tour started. There is a shop with heaps of fabulous lavender products and gifts, but the best part of the tour is walking through the lavender fields and taking photos. A truly sensory experience, really worth it that I can recommend.
Launceston – The Cataract Gorge Walk
Launceston is the second biggest town in Tasmania and a lovely village with heaps of cafes, parks, hills and a beautiful gorge that is the highlight for people visiting Launceston. The Cataract Gorge offers various trails with different level of difficulty. I walked up the Sentinel Trail and the Duck Reach ut to the second suspension bridge. This is the second part of the track and the most scenic one. A 1.5 hour walk return really worth it.
Solo Road Trip of the East Coast Tasmania – Verdict
This Tasmania Road Trip has been amazing, truly beyond my expectations and one of the most scenic drives I have had in Australia. It was filled with beautiful, varied landscapes and interesting surprises. An overall fantastic experience that I can recommend to anyone visiting Tasmania either solo or with a travel companion.
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