Where to Visit: Tasmania

If you think Tasmania sounds too close to home, think again


Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake. Picture / Tourism Tasmania, Geoff Murray.

Locals call it doing the doughnut — the tourist drive around Tasmania — and the food analogy is apt, but best not skip the middle bit for a true sampling of what Australia’s island state offers.

Mountain scenery, native wildlife, luxury lodges, regional food and wine — sound like anywhere else you know? But don’t dismiss Tasmania as too like country New Zealand to bother with. The landscape is dramatically different, the critters peculiar and the place has its own unique flavour.

Hobart, with its history and impressive art museum, captivates visitors, but an alternative entry point is the second city of Launceston. This places you in the warmer north, adjoining the premium wine-growing area, the Tamar Valley.

Launceston has a thriving growers’ market, smart eateries and the stunning Cataract Gorge Reserve. From the compact city it is a short drive to lunch at leading vineyard Josef Chromy, then to Hadspen and the Red Feather Inn, a luxury retreat of sandstone buildings, constructed by convicts as a coaching stop, circa 1842.

Devonport, where the ferry for the strong of stomach docks from Melbourne, is an hour away, but just nod to the sea before looping inland. Your destination is Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair, a World Heritage Wilderness Area, where at least an overnight stay is warranted. An easy afternoon stroll around the lake is the ideal holiday workout, leaving time for a massage at Waldheim Spa before dinner at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge.

On the road back to “Lornie”, call in at Wilderness Gallery, specialising in environmental photography, and the Tasmanian Devil Recovery Centre to learn more about this odd threatened species.

The drive, first on a winding road framed in bush, then opening up over rolling hills, is a pleasure. Yes, it’s a little reminiscent of home — with more eucalypts — but there’s something reassuring about an easily reached destination, especially when the familiar is mixed with surprises — such as wombats on your mountain walkway.

• Find out more at discovertasmania.com.au. Janetta Mackay was a guest of Tourism Australia and Tourism Tasmania and flew with Air New Zealand to Melbourne, connecting to Launceston with code-share partner Virgin.

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