Tasmania is one of the world’s last accessible wilderness frontiers and that alone is a reason worth visiting this Australian island. The empty roads and changing landscapes with every curve on your way, make Tasmania a perfect destination for a self-drive road trip.
Nanet and I spent more than a month in Tasmania and traveled around in our cozy Camper Van. This made it possible to explore every part. With all we’ve seen and done, we created this Tasmania trip planner for you.
Since we got to spend more time on this beautiful island than most people have the time to spend there, it didn’t make sense to create an X-day Tasmania road trip itinerary. I can’t choose exactly what to see and do. So instead, I made a trip planner for Tasmania. This way you can make your own Tasmania travel plan!
How to get to Tasmania
As Tasmania is an island, which is not connected to the mainland by any tunnels or bridges, the only way to get there is by boat or by plane. If you want to bring your own car, you can take the ferry, the Spirit of Tasmania. They provide a regular daily service between Melbourne and Devonport.
If you prefer to fly, you can take a flight from Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston, or Hobart. Launceston is a city in the North of Tasmania. Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania, situated in the South.
Don’t miss: Our Complete Tasmania Travel Guide
Best time to visit Tasmania
Tasmania can best be visited between December and February. The temperatures are best during this time of the year. Nature is stunning and there are plenty of activities that can be done. But always be prepared for a cool day and cold nights.
Car rental Tasmania
If you choose to fly to Tasmania, you can rent a car at both the airports in Hobart and Launceston. This is the easiest way to go, as there is barely any public transport in Tasmania, not even an option to bring you into town from the airport.
As the roads are pretty solid in Tasmania, you should be very fine with renting a 2WD car. This can either be a small car, a station wagon, a Camper Van or an RV.
Camping is very common in Tasmania and you will find a lot of free camps and campsites all around. But if camping is not your thing, don’t be afraid, as there are also many opportunities when it comes to B&B’s, hotels, and hostels!
In Tasmania, you drive on the left side of the road, just like in the rest of Australia. This also means that you have to stay on the left unless you are passing.
Always be aware of wildlife. They can cross the road literally any moment of the day. We had to stop a couple of times to let some wildlife cross the road, like an echidna, several wallabies, a goanna, and even a Tasmanian Devil!
If you didn’t see them in time and you hit an animal, always make sure to stop. See if the animal can be rescued or if it had any babies with it that need to be taken care of. Call the Wildlife Rescue at 1300 094 737 to report an animal that needs help.
Always wear your seatbelt and use hands-free devices. Stick to the speed limits, which is 50 km/h in urban areas, 100 km/h in rural areas, and 110 km/h on the highway. Please be aware that gas stations might be further away from each other than you expect, so don’t forget to fuel up on time!
If you don’t like to travel around Tasmania by yourself, check out this amazing 6 day tour.
Know before you go
There are a couple of things you need to know before you start your road trip around Tasmania.
Tasmania National Park Pass
A National Park Pass is a pass that gives you permission to enter a national park in Tasmania. You can either purchase a single-entry ticket, that gives you access for 24 hours, or you can purchase a holiday pass, that is valid for all the national parks in Tasmania for 8 weeks.
It might save you a lot of money on your Tasmanian road trip to purchase the holiday pass, even when you don’t spend the full 8 weeks in Tasmania. Below are the costs for the different national park passes:
- Single entry (24 hours): AU$22, which is valid for 1 vehicle and up to 8 persons
- Holiday pass (8 weeks): AU$56, which is valid for 1 vehicle and up to 8 persons
If you are planning on going to more than 2 national parks, it is more affordable to purchase the holiday pass.
Tip: You can purchase your national park pass at the entrance of any national park, any visitor center or at the Spirit of Tasmania I & II if you arrive by ferry.
You might not expect it, but in Tasmania, it is possible to see the Southern Lights! This is also called the Aurora Australis. It is the same natural phenomenon as the Northern Lights, but then in the Southern Hemisphere.
Actually, Tasmania is one of the best places in the world to see these incredible light shows. So, if you travel around, don’t forget to check the aurora forecast and set an alarm clock if the chances are high!
You can see the Southern Lights pretty much everywhere in Tasmania. Just make sure your view to the South isn’t blocked by large mountains or trees. It also helps a lot when you are away from the city so that you don’t have light pollution.
Tip: Join the Facebook group Aurora Australis Tasmania to get to know if and where there is a chance to capture the Southern Lights.
Another phenomenon to be seen in Tasmania is the bioluminescence, also called sea sparkle. When it gets dark the water lightens up in a bright blue color. The glow is caused by specific algae or plant plankton, flashing when they are disturbed by waves or currents.
This sea sparkle is especially known to be seen around Hobart. So, if you are around, check out if there is a chance to see it!
TIP: Become a member of the Facebook group bioluminescence Tasmania to get to know if and where there is a chance to see this blue fluorescence.
Self-Drive Tasmania Road Trip Planner
That was some basic information about Tasmania. You know where to rent a car and what you always have to look out for. So, now it’s time to finally dive into the beautiful sights, amazing things to do, and incredible National Parks to explore in Tasmania!
I start this road trip around Tasmania in Hobart, but you can literally start anywhere. If you fly to Launceston, scroll down to that point and start planning your Tasmania itinerary from there. Same story if you arrive by ferry in Devonport!
Interactive map of Tasmania
Below you’ll find an interactive map of Tasmania, where you can see all the stops, places of interest, things to do and places to sleep which I discuss in this post. Simply click on the map to integrate it into your Google Maps and navigate to the next stop on your route!
Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania, but when you have been to Melbourne or Sydney, you will be amazed by the small size. It really is a cute and compact town where you are able to find anything you need. You can see it all in a day, but you can easily spend here 3 days as well.
Driving isn’t the most comfortable in the city center, as there are a lot of really small and narrow roads. Do you have a Camper Van? Don’t even bother trying to park in the city! Park just outside the center and walk in 10-15 minutes into town.
Tours we recommend:
Mount Wellington is one of the iconic sights in Hobart. You can drive all the way to the top of the mountain via a winding steep road. It is worth all your time and effort, as the views on a clear day are incredible! Especially during sunrise or sunset.
Once at the top, you can walk onto a viewing platform to have a view over the city and the ocean. There is also an inside viewing platform if you feel cold. Don’t forget, you can climb up a mountain and the temperature can easily be a couple of degrees colder than in the city! When we visited Mount Welling the temperature change was 12 degrees!
Also, don’t forget about the wind. Without any shelter, you will be fully exposed to it. Bring a windproof jacket, gloves, and a hat if you want to prepare yourself!
The Salamanca Market is a street market, held every Saturday from 8.30 am until 3.00 pm at Salamanca place. This is in the middle of the city center of Hobart. It is a very vibrant market with lots of handicrafts, arts, jewelry, organic produce, and delicious local foods and breweries.
With over 300 stands, you can easily spend there the whole morning. Wander around, take in the relaxed vibes and search for a beautiful souvenir.
MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art
This Museum of Old and New Art is a must-visit when in Hobart. You can get here by car or by ferry. It is a very interactive art museum, where old and modern art is combined.
So, what can you expect to see here? Although it is a very modern and interactive museum, there is also art hanging on the walls. But instead of figuring out what it is all about, you get a device where you can listen to the founder of the museum and sometimes the artist himself. They explain the story behind the art, which makes it way easier to understand.
There is also a lot of interactive art, where you can actually participate in to let it work. For example the pulse bulb, that shows your pulse when you hold on to a metal bar. And there is also a device that lets the wind do the work. Yes, you do understand it right, the wind makes the art here!
You can easily spend half a day at MONA. And if the weather is good you can enjoy lunch or a drink in the garden of the restaurant and watch the boats come by over the river.
Tours we recommend:
Rektango Live Music
Every Friday night from 6.00 pm to 7.30 pm there is a free live music event at Salamanca place. Right behind the Peacock theater people gather to enjoy the music with some drinks.
So, if you are around on a Friday night, definitely go here to get a real local Tasmanian experience!
Places to stay in Hobart
There are several backpacker hostels situated in the middle of the city center. A private room in a hostel is available from US$45 to US$50 a night.
If you want a bit more luxury the Tasmania Inn offers great value for their price. You can book a room from US$65 a night. It is still very close to the city center and they have a restaurant where you can enjoy a dinner buffet for US$21 per person.
The Lea Bush Camp is a very good campsite which is only a 15-minute drive out of Hobart. They only charge AU$10 per person for an unpowered site and AU$12.50 for a powered site. The amenities are spotless and the camp kitchen is a big plus. Outside the bush fire season, you are also allowed to make a campfire at one of the designated spots.
The Tasman Peninsula & Port Arthur
Its time to actually start your self-drive Tasmania road trip! And it starts with a 70-minute drive from Hobart to the rugged Tasman Peninsula. Access to this Peninsula is via the ‘Eaglehawk Neck’, which is an isthmus of only 30 meters wide. Back in the old days, this place was guarded by dogs to prevent the convicts from escaping.
Most of the peninsula is a national park and it offers spectacular coastlines, blowholes, caves and two world heritage listed convict sites. There are also lots of walking tracks!
Depending on how much time you have I would suggest taking at least 1 day to explore the highlights of this part of Tasmania. If you do have an extra day, put on your hiking boots and take one of the incredible hikes!
Tour recommendation for Tasman Peninsula:
Enjoy a day in a sea kayak surrounded with a wide variety of wildlife. Tasman Peninsula Full-Day Sea Kayak Excursion
Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur historic site is a world heritage listed site and is the best-preserved convict settlement in Australia. Explore the old buildings and take in the history that still feels alive when you wander around.
One of the best things to do here is taking the ghost tour! Hear spooky stories and enjoy the atmospheric grounds and buildings while you learn something about history!
Coal mines historic site
Another world heritage listed site is the coal mines. A place where convicts were doing forced labor. Old buildings are still standing and you can have a look around and take pictures during a guided tour while you learn all about this place. You can also walk the Convicts Coal Mine Circuit which leads you around the place in two hours.
Tasmanian Devil UNZOO
In contrary to a regular zoo, the animals are free in their habitat and the visitors can watch them from certain ‘cages’ in this habitat. This creates spectacular up-close sights and a lot more interaction with the animals.
If you go to the Tasmanian Devil UNZOO, make sure to see the Tasmanian Devil feeding and the bird show! Both real impressive! For tickets check out their website, or click on the day tour below to combine Port Arthur with the UNZOO.
Tours we recommend:
There are a lot of walking tracks available on the Tasman Peninsula. One of the most famous hikes is the Tasman Coastal Hike which takes 3-5 days to complete. Luckily you can also do parts of this trail in half a day or a full day. Click here for more information.
Places to stay Port Arthur
There are a couple of places to stay in the area of Port Arthur, as well as hotels as campsites, but they are all pretty pricey. If you just drive off the peninsula, passed the Eaglehawk Neck, there is the Lufra Hotel and apartments. Situated at the beachfront they are offering fully self-contained rooms for only US$80 a night.
Great Eastern Drive
The Great Eastern Drive is a 176 km long road between Orford and St. Helens on Tasmania’s East Coast. The road leads you right through the East Coast wine region. There are lots of beaches to explore, hikes to do, and wines to taste!
Maria Island is a natural wildlife sanctuary with historic ruins, beautiful bays, and incredible cliffs. It is a no-car island where you can only get to from the passenger ferry from Triabunna. It takes about 30 minutes with the ferry. You can find the ferry times here on the timetable.
There are several hikes to do on the island that will let you explore several highlights, like the painted cliffs, which are limestone rock formations, and the convict sites at Darlington.
During your visit, you will probably spot a lot of wildlife, like echidnas and wallabies. With a bit of luck, you might also spot a Tasmanian Devil!
Hiking and biking are the main activities to do on this beautiful island. Bikes are for rent from Darlington. Renting a bike will allow you to see quite a lot of the island in just one day! If you like to explore it on foot or want to spend the night there for a higher chance to see the wildlife, you can stay here an extra day.
Accommodation on Maria Island is very basic. It is either a room with 6 to 14 bunk beds or a campsite. There is also no possibility of purchasing any food or drinks, so you need to bring everything yourself! If you aren’t a big fan of this basic accommodation, but still like to see Maria Island, you can go there and back to the mainland within a day.
See below the tours we really like on Maria Island:
Back on the mainland, you’ll drive 50km from Triabunna to Swansea. On your way, you’ll pass some small towns like Little Swanport and Rocky Hills.
From Swansea, it takes you another 50km to reach Bicheno. On this route, you’ll find some of the best vineyards of the East Coast of Tasmania. For example, check out Milton Vineyard, Gala Estate, Spring Vale Wines, Devil’s Corner, or Freycinet Vineyard to taste some of Tasmania’s best wines!
Coles Bay & Freycinet National Park
Freycinet National Park is one of the most famous national parks in Tasmania. It is beautiful and there are plenty of options when it comes to activities.
From the road junction before Bicheno, it is about 30 km one way to reach the car park of Freycinet National park. From here you can start pretty much all the hikes and explore the Freycinet Park.
Before you arrive at Coles Bay you’ll find Friendly Beaches. A lot of people skip them and drive straight into the national park, but I think they are worth a stop to stroll around.
There are tons of viewpoints to see this beautiful part of the coastline, it almost blinds your eyes! There are also many beach access points to get onto the beach and walk around or lay down on the soft white sand.
Coles Bay is a small town and the main entry point to the Freycinet National Park. You can get accommodation here if you like to spend a couple of days in the park, which I would definitely recommend. If you are camping you can book ahead for a campsite in the park itself, which is pretty affordable for an accommodation!
Don’t forget to return to Coles Bay after an intense day with lots of walking to get a super delicious ice cream from the Ice Creamery. Just because you really deserved it!
Our favourite tour:
This tour really impressed us Freycinet National Park: Guided Walking Tour
This is probably the spot every traveler wants to see when they go to Freycinet National Park and for a good reason! The view on Wineglass bay is absolutely stunning with the clear blue waters divided by a small strip of white sand and high mountains with green trees. The contrast just really crushes it here!
You’ll get the best view on Wineglass Bay from the top of Mount Amos. This is a fairly difficult hike where you need to climb over the rocks to get there. Really…climbing with both hands and feet is necessary to get there.
I understand that is not a suitable hike for everyone. Luckily there is also the Wineglass Bay Lookout Trail, which is a 1.5 km one-way moderate trail. From the Wineglass Bay Lookout, you can get to the beach in another 1.5 km. This trail is quite steep with a series of stairs. But it is worth all the effort because the beach is absolutely stunning!
The Honeymoon bay is actually part of the Oyster bay and is a picturesque stop. The white-sanded beach with the yellow boulders and the green trees make the view almost unbelievable. Definitely worth a stop for a picture or even a swim if the weather allows it!
Continue the Great Eastern Drive
Fulfilled after soaking up some beautiful views, doing some awesome hikes, and lovely swims, you can continue your Tasmania road trip going North on the Great Eastern Drive.
Bicheno is one of the bigger cities along the East Coast and is famous for all the wildlife that can be seen here. It is near the East Coast Natureworld, which is a Wildlife Sanctuary. At night you can take a penguin tour in Bicheno to see little penguins, which are the smallest penguins in the world. SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down to Burnie for an even better penguin viewing opportunity!
A famous sight in Bicheno is the blowhole. Watch the waves crashing on the cliffs and spray up high in the air!
The 50 kilometers between Bicheno and Scamander is called the Surf Coast. The white-sand beaches, the crystal clear blue waters and the reliable swells make it the place to be for surfers! But even if you don’t surf, you will enjoy the beauty of these beaches.
The last 20 kilometers of the Great Eastern Drive takes you to St. Helens. This is the hub for fishing boats and a good location to try fishing yourself during a fishing trip. Don’t forget to taste the fish & chips. It doesn’t get fresher than that!
Bay of Fires
The next stop on your self-drive Tasmania trip is the Bay of Fires. This is a conservation reserve famous for its crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, and granite boulders covered with orange mosses.
Unlike the name suggests, it isn’t just one bay where you can see these spectacular views. It is actually a 40 km long coastal strip between Binalong Bay and Eddystone Point.
When the sun sets it becomes even more magical. The orange sky colors the same as the orange mosses on the boulders and together with the white sand and the blue ocean it is perfect photo for a postcard!
There are lots of free camps along the coast, which make it very easy to access the beach during sunset or sunrise. If you prefer to stay at a hostel or hotel, St. Helens is your best chance to get accommodation for a reasonable price.
If you don’t have that much time but you really want a nice impression of the Island, check out the tour below:
North East Tasmania
After the Bay of Fires, you’ll start to drive to the West. The North-Eastern part you cross isn’t much to explore, yet there are quite a few stops worth it between Eddystone Point and Launceston!
Little Blue Lake
From Eddystone Point it is only a 40 km road trip to Little Blue Lake. Like the name suggests, it is a small lake with incredibly blue water. When I saw it, for a moment I thought I was in Canada.
The blue lake, deep down at the foot of the mountains, surrounded by incredible green trees, is absolutely stunning to see. Take some time to wander around and take some pictures before you continue your way. It is not very well known among tourists, so you might have the place to yourself!
Another 30 kilometers takes you to Derby, a small town famous for it’s Blue Derby mountain bike trails. So, if you have a day left and feel like getting out of the car and be active, this is your chance!
You can rent a mountain bike in the park and cycle uphill before you cross downhill on the 125 km available tracks.
Bridestowe Lavender Estate
Next stop on your self-drive Tasmania road trip: The Bridestowe Lavender Estate. This Lavender Farm, where they grow French Lavender, is open year-round. It is believed that it is the largest commercial plantation of Lavandula Angustifolia in the world!
The lavender flowers are during the high season. Normally the flowering season runs from somewhere in December until the end of January. This is also the only time a year that you have to pay an entrance fee of AU$10 per person
Tip: Before you pay your entrance fee, check out the status of the flowers on their website. It would be a shame to pay and not see what you expected.
From the Lavender farm, you drive 50 kilometers South West to reach Launceston. A pretty vibrant city with lots of shopping and dining possibilities.
If you fly in on Launceston airport, this is where your self-drive Tasmania road trip starts.
The Cataract Gorge is Launceston’s own wilderness which you can reach in a 15-minute walk from the city center. It is crazy how close this is! The zig-zag trail takes you from the car park, over the Kings bridge towards the First Basin. Here, you’ll find a small cafe and a beautiful swimming pool. No wonder the locals call this Launceston’s beach!
If you have a couple of days extra to spend around Tasmania and have the budget, you can take a flight from Launceston to King Island or Flinders Island. Both these islands are only accessible by plane.
More North you’ll find the Cliff grounds, which is a garden with exotic plants and trees. At the Cataract Gorge, you also find a footbridge and even a chairlift to cross the river! The entrance fee to the park is absolutely free, but for the chairlift, they charge you a couple of dollars.
Explore the Gorge during this boat trip: Launceston: 2.5-Hour Morning or Afternoon Discovery Cruise
Fly to King Island or Flinders Island
Only a 25 km drive from Launceston you’ll find the Tasmanians Tamar Valley. This area is known as an excellent wine region. With over 30 vineyards this is the place to be when it comes to wine tasting and culinary foods.
Places to stay
In Launceston, you can book a backpacker accommodation for US$45 a night and a hotel room from US$60 a night.
A nice campsite just off the road towards Devonport is Quamby Corner. They offer unpowered sites for AU$10 per person per night and AU$14 for a powered site. The amenities are very clean and you can use the laundry machine free of charge!
Launceston – Devonport is a 100 km drive. Devonport is the main city where the ferry arrives. So, if you want to bring your own car, this is where your self-drive road trip around Tasmania will start.
It is a pretty big city for Tasmania and you can find a lot of shops, cafes, restaurants, and pubs to enjoy dinner or a drink.
Places to stay
In Devonport, there are several accommodations available between US$70 and US$100 per room per night. Most of them offer a private bathroom and some include breakfast.
Spot the wildlife of Tasmania during this 2 hour night walking tour. Check this tour, Cradle Mountain Wildlife Spotting after Dark.
Your Tasmania road trip continues with a drive of almost 90 km which will get you from Devonport to Cradle Mountain National Park. This is the most famous National Park in Tasmania with the iconic Cradle Mountain.
There is a huge car park at the entrance where you can take a free shuttle bus to get deeper into the park. The shuttle service stops at several points in the park, so you can choose a spot to get off. This probably depends on your plan for the day and what you want to explore in the Cradle Mountain National Park.
Tours you have to check:
Dove lake is a lake at the foot of Cradle Mountain. You can follow the pretty easy trail that takes you all the way around the lake in 2 to 3 hours. The total length of the trail is 6 km and takes you along the iconic boatshed, which is really picturesque with sunset.
Cradle Mountain Summit
The trail to the summit of Cradle Mountain is a 12.8 km round trip with a climb of 600m. The trail leads you first to Marion’s Lookout, which gives you a breathtaking view over Dove Lake on the one side and on the other side, the Crater Lake.
Then the trail will take you to the Kitchen Hut, which is nothing more than a shelter hut for emergencies. You can drop your bag here before you start the last climb to the peak. But don’t forget to bring some water and drinks with you because this is the hardest part of the trail and you are going to need it!
The last part to the top is really rough and it takes both hands and feet to get there. It is no longer a trail, but a climb on the rocks. Therefore it is forbidden to go to the summit with rainy or snowy circumstances. The rocks get really slippery and it simply is too dangerous.
When you reached the top you take the same route back to the Kitchen hut and continue your way to Dove Lake to walk along the lake back to the bus station to take the shuttle from there to the main car park.
Another hiking track, that starts in Cradle Mountain National Park is the overland track. This is a hike of 65 kilometers which takes about 5 to 6 days to complete. It is Australia’s premier alpine walk and an adventure is guaranteed!
This hiking trail, that is loved by hikers from all over the world, starts at the iconic Cradle Mountain and leads you all the way through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area towards Lake st. Clair. This is Australia’s deepest lake and the views from up the mountain are more than stunning.
Without any facilities on the way, you have to carry everything. Which means a place to sleep, food, and water. There are some opportunities to fill up water on the way, but always check where from the information center before you start.
And there are so many more things to do in Cradle Mountain National Park.
Places to stay
Cradle Mountain National Park can be explored in 1 or 2 days. The Cradle Mountain Highlanders is a good place to stay for a pretty reasonable price, taking the location into consideration. You will find it costs US$140 per night for a fully equipped cabin.
Another stunning accommodation at the edge of Cradle Mountains national park is the Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. They offer a luxury spa, wooden cabins with views and a breakfast buffet is also included. You can book a chalet from US$280 a night.
There are also a lot of free camps in the area!
Mole Creek Caves
If you like to explore caves, you should definitely visit the Mole Creek Caves. There are multiple tours a day that lead you around the underground lakes in the Marakoopa Cave. In this cave, you also have the possibility to see glow worms! The King Solomons Cave is characterized by the lavish colors and formations.
The caves have the same climate all year round. It is around 9 degrees, so be prepared and get dressed well before you enter!
Walls of Jerusalem
Walls of Jerusalem is another national park, which is less visited because it is not accessible by car. This alpine wonderland is only to be explored by the true adventurers among us. You need to be able to handle a multiple-day hike, to get up to the walls and take in the beautiful views from there.
There are no facilities, so you have to bring your own camping gear and food for the time you stay. Luckily there is a possibility to fuel up on drinking water! Come prepared, as the weather is very unpredictable!
Burnie is a small town on the North shore of Tasmania. It has a few accommodations, a small shopping center, and some convenient stores. In my opinion, this place should really be a stop on your Tasmanian road trip if you want to see the little penguins.
Watching Little Penguins
The main reason we went to Burnie was to see the Little Penguins. In Burnie, they have an observation center and in the evenings they provide guided tours that are 100% free of charge.
The guides are very knowledgable and answer all the questions you have. They also tell you more about the cycle penguins go through each year, from nesting to pairing to breeding and to letting go of their young.
The most amazing thing about viewing penguins here is that you can get so close without disturbing them. There is a fence built along the beach to keep the penguins safe in their environment and not roam everywhere in town.
There are some nests right next to the fence and you can easily photograph the babies without having a crazy expensive zoom lens on your camera! Make sure to not use your flash! Once it gets dark, the penguins return from the sea to feed their babies, which is a spectacle to watch.
Places to stay
When it comes to accommodation in Burnie, my best recommendation is: Burnie Ocean View Motel and Caravan Park. They offer fully self-contained studios with a sea view. You don’t even need to get out and you can participate in a tour to view the penguins coming from the sea. You can literally see it from your balcony!
Besides the incredible beach view, they have a heated indoor swimming pool, barbeque facilities, and free Wifi. All that for only US$100 per night.
Stanley & the Nut
From Burnie, it is around 75 km to get to Stanley. A small town at the foot of The Nut. This is an extinct volcano, which you can access by foot. A short, but steep climb will get you to the top (you can also take the chairlift for a fee). Walk the short circuit on the top and enjoy the many beautiful views over Stanley. You will see the ocean and over to the other far corners of Tasmania.
Tarkine National Park
After a 50 km drive from Stanley, you’ll arrive in the Tarkine National Park which is in the North West of Tasmania. The Tarkine Forest Reserve is an area where you can find rainforest, sand dunes, and coastal heathlands.
Just driving through the park gives you beautiful views. Don’t forget to stop at ‘the edge of the world’. If you cross the ocean to the West from here, you won’t see any landmass until you reach Argentina. It is the longest uninterrupted distance in any ocean on Earth!
Besides driving through the park, which is already incredible, there are a lot of activities to do. Especially water activities like kayaking or a riverboat cruise. From here you can explore the waterways which are surrounded by blackwood forests.
Places to stay
Tarkine National Park offers lots of camping opportunities. There are also lots of free camps along the coast and campsites with some more facilities in the heart of the park.
If you prefer a hotel there’s only one possibility, which is the Tarkinegrove. It is very close to Roger River in the heart of the Tarkine National Park. Rooms can be booked from US$150 a night and offer a fully self-contained cabin with patio.
Leaving the Tarkine National Park you’ll head towards Strahan. This will probably be your longest drive as it takes 230 kilometers of windy mountain roads to get there. Don’t underestimate this distance, as it can easily take up to 3.5 to 4 hours to drive!
Strahan is iconic for the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Join the train ride and step back in history to the 1950’s. It is an unforgettable railway journey along 35km of wild rainforest tracks between Queenstown and Strahan.
Places to stay
From Strahan, it is only a short drive to Queenstown, situated in a valley on the western slopes of Mount Owen on the West Coast Range. It is a cute little town that makes you feel like being back in the time of the cowboys!
There are a couple of pubs where you can dine a pub meal and it is also a good place to stay overnight. For only US$56 a night you can sleep in the Empire Hotel, which includes breakfast.
Tour recommendation Strahan:
Ready for a nice morning cruise? Check out this tour: Strahan: World Heritage Cruise on Gordon River with Lunch.
Driving out of Queenstown will lead you along the Horsetail falls. This is a seasonal waterfall that can best be seen after some rainfall. A parking spot next to the highway gives you the opportunity to get out of the car and walk on the boardwalk for a closer view.
After 55 km from Queenstown, you’ll reach the parking area at the Lyell Highway inside the Wild Rivers National Park. You can’t miss it, as many signs will inform you where to park. This is where the trail to Frenchman’s Cap starts.
This is another place that can only be explored on foot. A tremendous 4-day hike takes you afoot to one of the most scenic mountain peaks of Tasmania, the Frenchman’s Cap.
Also with this hike, you have to carry everything yourself. You won’t find any facilities or shops along the route, so be prepared and take enough food, water, and a tent. Don’t forget to bring proper clothes as the weather can change rapidly.
If you are not sure what to bring, check out our blog post about the 11 essentials you need to bring on every overnight backpacking trip. Bring these and you know for sure you will be well prepared!
Mount Field National Park
Another 170 km further you arrive in Mount Field National Park. This park was the first National Park of Tasmania and is well catered for tourists. A visitor center, souvenir shop, and a cafe provide you everything you need.
The Russel falls is the most popular attraction of this park and with a good reason. The beautiful waterfall thunders down over several plateaus and is surrounded by true green exotic trees and plants.
The Russel falls is actually the first of many waterfalls you come across when you walk the waterfall circuit. A 4.5 km hike leads you along the Horseshoe falls, the tall trees area and the Lady Baron Falls.
The trail contains a lot of steps and goes through the middle of the rainforest, where you can see some amazing plants and trees. Also, keep your eyes open to spot wildlife!
Enjoy a day trip full of wildlife and stunning nature, check out this tour: Mt Wellington, Mt Field, Bonorong & Richmond Day Trip.
Gordon Dam – Tasmania Wilderness Reserve
Drive another 100 km further into the Tasmania Wilderness Reserve and you get to the Gordon Dam. This dam, also called the Gordon River Dam, is 198m long and 140m high.
At full capacity, the dam holds back so much water that Lake Gordon becomes the largest lake in Australia! It is also one of the world’s highest commercial abseils, so if you are in for an adventure, you can get it here!
Drive 100 km back towards the junction with the highway and from there it is another 100 km to the ferry terminal for Bruny Island. This will be the last stop on your self-drive Tasmania road trip! Last, but not least I can say!
Tour recommendations for Bruny Island:
Bruny Island has so much to offer, we made a list of our favourite tours to make your trip the best.
Ferry to Bruny Island
It takes about 20 minutes to cross over to Bruny Island. The ferry departs regularly 1 or 2 times an hour, depending on the season. It is smart to bring your car along, as the island is quite big, and exploring on foot will take you a lot more time.
The ferry fee is AU$38 for a return ticket, which you mainly pay for the car, since pedestrians and any other passengers are free of charge.
Once on Bruny Island, the first highlight you will pass is the Neck. This is a small isthmus connecting the Northern part and the Southern part of Bruny Island. Walk up the stairs to the viewing platform to get a 360 degrees view!
At the beach of the Neck, there is also a Little Penguin viewing platform. Get there just before the sun sets and wait for the penguins to arrive at the beach. You can see the Little Penguins from September till January.
November and December are the best times of the year, as it is the breeding season. This time of the year you can watch the penguins feed their young!
White Bennet’s Wallabies
The South Bruny National Park is the only place in the world where you can see the White Bennet’s Wallabies. A genetically modified Bennet’s Wallaby that is missing the pigment color to their fur. Some are albino’s which results in a white wallaby with red eyes and a cute bright pink nose.
Your biggest chance to see these animals is at the Southside of Adventure Bay, which is their main habitat. People have often spotted them at the campgrounds. But another good place to look for them is at the start of the Fluted Cape Walk. Which is a nice hike to do anyway!
From June till October, you can also watch whales from Adventure Bay! This is the main season that the whales are migrating between Antarctica and the more Northern tropical waters.
Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Drive to the Southernmost point of Bruny Island and you find the Cape Bruny Lighthouse. The drive takes about 45 minutes from the Neck and takes you on some windy and very scenic roads.
The walk from the car park to the Lighthouse is easy and short. Take some time to walk around and to take in all the stunning views. Also, keep your eyes open for Echidnas, as they love to wander around on this place!
Places to stay
Although Bruny island can be explored within a day, you might want to spend the night here. Especially if you’d like to view the Little Penguins at the Neck.
Camping is easy on Bruny Island, with lots of free camps and paid camping spots. If you like to stay in a hotel, you can book a stay from US$100 a night.
Back to Hobart
To make your self-drive Tasmania road trip complete, you take the ferry back to the mainland and drive in 35 minutes into Hobart city Centre. Here you can stay another night or two before flying back to the mainland of Australia.
If you started your Tasmania road trip in Launceston or Devonport, your next stop will be the Tasman Peninsula & Port Arthur.
Pin for Later
We love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for reading this self-drive trip planner for a stunning Tasmania road trip. I hope it helps you with planning a trip to Tasmania and on deciding what you want to see and do!
Don’t forget to check out our Tasmania Travel Guide which gives you some basic, but very handy information before you travel to Tasmania. Exploring more of Australia? Check out our Australia page to find out what to see and do in the rest of this amazing country. Also, download the Australia preparation guide below to make it super easy to plan your trip around Australia and Tasmania!
Are you ready to discover more about Australia? Check out our Australia page to read all our Australia articles.