9 Tasmania holiday tips

Nikki ParkinsonTravel 59 Comments

Sponsored by Spirit of Tasmania

We were just about to switch the lights out on the first night in Tasmania when my young travel companion said to me, “Mum, Tasmania has all your favourite things: cheese, raspberries, chocolate, salmon and wine.”

Wise boy that Master SY. In one simple sentence, he succinctly summed up why it had taken less than 24 hours for me to fall HARD for Australia’s only island state – a state I’m ashamed to admit I’d never visited until last month.

It was was thanks to Sprit of Tasmania that we found ourselves on a sampler holiday with two nights on board the ship and two nights and three days on the island.

Hardly enough to do justice to this beautiful part of Australia but definitely a delicious taste of what Tasmania has to offer – and more than enough to know that I’d like to go back.

The Tasmania holiday tips I’m going to share with you below are prefaced by the fact that we only explored a very small part of Tasmania. Yes, we covered a lot of kilometres but there is still so much we didn’t see. It may be an island but it’s not a small island!

Let’s get stuck in, shall we?

9 Tasmania holiday tips | Spirit of Tasmania

1. Drive to Tasmania

Ok, so this may be a crazy notion if, like me, you live in Queensland and have only a week’s holiday but if you have an extended holiday, are driving around Australia or live in Victoria then you’d be mad not to take your own car to Tasmania via Spirit of Tasmania. No luggage limits!

I must admit when I was told that the crossing would be nine hours overnight, I did worry a little just how we’d go with that. I don’t get seasick but Master SY was pretty much untested in that department. The thought of me having to manage that potential outcome alone was a bit scary.

It turned out that that initial worry was all for nothing. Both the crossing over and the one coming back were smooth. Yes, I felt the rock of the ship once we left the calm of Port Phillip Bay and headed into Bass Strait but it was nothing that woke my son.

Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania

The trip on the ship puts you in the holiday mood from the moment you park your car on the lower deck and make your way up to your cabin. There are plenty of things to do on board – before you turn in for the night. We dined at the Leatherwood Restaurant; watched a new-release movie in the cinema; and lost all my coins in the games room (read more about the onboard facilities here).

It was the Leatherwood Restaurant that set the scene and whet our appetite for the foodie adventure that was to unfold. Quite frankly they had me at the salmon – Woodbridge port-infused oak cold smoked salmon with shaved radish and cucumber salad finished with lemon citronette to be exact.

Spirit of Tasmania - Leatherwood Restaurant

Spirit of Tasmania - Leatherwood Restaurant

Spirit of Tasmania - Leatherwood Restaurant

Meals are offered as a choice of two ($56 per person) or three ($64 per person) courses and featured dishes created around the gourmet fresh produce for which Tasmania is renown. Add in a glass or two of matching Tasmanian wines and I was a very happy sailor indeed. Kids can also dine here for $25 per person for two courses. And I was particularly generous with Master SY … sharing my map of Tasmania chocolate tasting plate featuring chocolates from House of Anvers (more on that later). Read more about the other on-board dining and bar options on board here.

Let’s talk about the accommodation. Options range from Deluxe Cabins featuring Queen-size beds, double portholes and TVs through to twin, three-berth and four-berth cabins. There are also options if you want to book a seat in the Ocean Recliner section of the ship or, in peak season, a Day Ticket, which would enable you to sit in any public areas of the ship.

We were lucky to be upgraded on the way over to Devonport to the Deluxe Cabin. It was roomy and something I’d book again – it’s only an option if travelling in pairs though. On the way back we had a twin Cabin – fine for our purposes but the ensuite was smaller and my companion did note the lack of TV. He’s clearly been too spoilt. (Read more about the accommodation options here.)

Spirit of Tasmania - deluxe cabin

Spirit of Tasmania - deluxe cabin

The only thing missing for me on the ship was wi-fi. I KNOW #firstworldproblem … I guess we’re just so used to the connectivity these days that I just assumed it would be there. However, the world didn’t fall apart because I couldn’t work and had to read a book instead!

The wake-up call is early. The smart passengers picked up a coffee on board before heading down to their cars. The upside of this – caffeine or no caffeine – is that the early arrival in Tasmania gives you a full day to explore. And that’s just what we did.

2. Have a plan

The lovely people at Spirit of Tasmania helped us with our plan for our short time in Tasmania. I knew I wanted to see Wineglass Bay, eat beautiful food and drink local wines, and check out the shopping options. All with a 9-year-old to keep entertained. Thankfully Master SY shares my love of food. The shopping not so much but we did a trade off there (see below).

Day one for us was the biggest for me in terms of driving. I was behind the wheel for about six hours all up. This was largely broken up into two parts – getting first to the east coast and Freycinet National Park and then on to Buckland for our first night. In hindsight it was a little too much driving for one person – it would be very do-able with two drivers. Staying around Bicheno or Coles Bay would be a good idea if going this way. It would also allow you to better explore this beautiful coastal area.

Day two was an easy one, driving-wise. It was only about an hour and 20 minutes to the MONA gallery outside Hobart and then on to Hobart itself.

Day three was about about three and a half hours’ drive all up from Hobart back to Devonport and we broke that up by stopping for lunch at a winery outside Launceston.

If you’re planning a driving holiday like this, be realistic as to how much driving you want to do each day. You want to see places but you want it to be relaxing, not exhausting. I’m always someone who votes for more stops – to see more and to be safe on the road.

3.  Mix up the accommodation

We stayed in two very different accommodation places on each of our nights and I couldn’t have been happier about that. Both properties were beautiful and luxurious but both held different appeal. It’s so fun to mix it up – especially in a place like Tasmania were you have an evolving blend of historic and modern.

Night one was at the heritage property Brockley Estate (near Orford). The afternoon we arrived it was cloudy, starting to rain and completely magical for this Queensland girl who would have happily lit the open fireplace in the room to complete the effect. The six rooms in this boutique hotel are each part of the main house. Ours opened out on to the corner of the verandah and I threw open those doors like I was in an historical period-piece movie. Except there was electricity, wi-fi, luxurious bedding and an ensuite with a huge claw-foot bath with my name on it. Our room and the shared spaces have been restored and decorated very much in keeping with the feel of the 1841 colonial homestead, with many of the pieces antiques and sourced in Tasmania.

Apart from its authentic good looks, what brings this property to life is its owners. Julian Roberts returned to Tasmania after 15 years of living and working in hospitality in London. He brought with him wife Chaxiraxi Afonso Higuera (Chaxi). Chaxi grew up on Spain’s Canary Islands, also worked in hospitality and studied hotel management, bringing to Tasmania an incredible Spanish flavour spin on the readily available fresh produce. And when I say incredible, I very much mean it. I’m still dreaming of those oysters picadillo (with chardonnay vinegar and fresh chives) from nearby fishing village of Triabunna and Chaxi’s paella was a huge hit – particularly for my rice-loving nine-year-old. The property is licensed and has a well-stocked underground cellar with some of Tasmania’s best wines. It would have been wrong not to try one …

Brockley Estate Tasmania

Brockley Estate Tasmania

Brockley Estate Tasmania

Brockley Estate Tasmania

Brockley Estate Tasmania

Night two was the Salamanca Wharf Hotel in Hobart – a boutique apartment hotel near the waterfront and backing on to historical Salamanca Place. The hotel itself is a new structure designed and built on a vacant parcel of land between two historic Georgian sandstone warehouses. Its design is sympathetic to its historical location but modern in its execution with a nod to Hobart being a jumping off point for boats heading to Antarctica.

Our one bedroom apartment was beautifully lit thanks to skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows. Polished timber floors and modern furnishings made it a sleek but comfortable place to stay. I love a bit of luxe like the next girl and I tell you having a free-standing bath in your bedroom is very ok. As was the supremely comfortable king-size bed. There is a cafe on-site for breakfast and lunch (which we can highly recommend) and dozens of dining options nearby (we dined at night Blue Eye restaurant about 200m down the Esplanade from the hotel and can also highly recommend) but apartments at Salamanca Wharf Hotel offer you the alternative to self-cater. Salamanca Fresh is not far away to pick up supplies for that. We weren’t there for a Saturday but this hotel is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the famous Salamanca Markets.

Salamanca Wharf Hotel | Hobart | Tasmania

Salamanca Wharf Hotel | Hobart | Tasmania

Salamanca Wharf Hotel | Hobart | Tasmania

Salamanca Wharf Hotel | Hobart | Tasmania

Salamanca Wharf Hotel | Hobart | Tasmania

4. Be at one with nature

Visiting Wineglass Bay has always been on my bucket list of travel destinations. I’m a sucker for white sand beaches and turquoise waters (hello Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays) so I didn’t want to be that person who went to Tasmania and pretty much skirted past the turn-off to the Freycinet National Park and said, “next time”.

I did a little research beforehand and found that we wouldn’t have time to walk down and back on to the beach – just time for the lookout walk. It’s about 1.5 hours return to the lookout and another 1.5 hours return to the beach. The walk to the lookout is steep but very well constructed – you don’t need special hiking boots – sneakers were fine. I kind of played down this bit beforehand for Master SY, who repaid me with more than a few whinges on the way up. We had to move quickly too … the weather was closing in. It made for an eerie but beautiful photo at the top and a cooling drizzle on the way down.

To park your car in the national park and do any of the walks, you’ll need to purchase a permit. You can do this online ahead of your trip; buy on board Spirit of Tasmania or at the information centre and store at the entrance to Freycinet National Park. A holiday day pass costs $24.

Wineglass Bay | Freycinet National Park | Tasmania

Wineglass Bay | Freycinet National Park | Tasmania

Wineglass Bay | Freycinet National Park | Tasmania

Wineglass Bay | Freycinet National Park | Tasmania

Wineglass Bay | Freycinet National Park | Tasmania

5. Find your inner cultural beast

Melbourne guests who we dined with at Brockley Estate told us that it’s not uncommon for Melbourne culture lovers to book a weekend in Hobart to coincide with any new exhibition at MONA – Museum of Old and New Art. Others told us that MONA had put Tasmania and Hobart on the map. Styling You Facebook followers either fell into the “you can’t miss it” or “it’s not my type of thing” camp.

MONA is unlike any other public gallery you’ve ever visited. It won’t be for everyone and is probably best appreciated without a nine-year-old in tow. However, both of us did enjoy quite a few of the installations and pieces on display. Master SY was far from bored and I was taken in by the juxtaposition of ancient Egyptian artefacts and the abstract. And no I did not appreciate the “art” that was the digestive tract. Let’s just say we walked in at the smelly end of feeding time!

It wasn’t the best day weather-wise when we were there but it’s such a beautiful location – plenty of dining options and a beautiful place to stay too.

MONA Gallery Hobart Tasmania

MONA Gallery Hobart Tasmania

MONA Gallery Hobart Tasmania

6. Eat all the things

We’ll let the photos tell a gastronomical story, shall we? We did not have one bad meal or morsel of food during our holiday. The morsels were so good and plentiful that I’m still dreaming of them. Especially those dark-chocolate-coated raspberries from Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm in Elizabeth Town. Mmmm … raspberries

Oysters - Brockley Estate Tasmania

Brockley Estate

Paella - Brockley Estate - Tasmania

Brockley Estate

Josef Chromy Winery and Restaurant

Josef Chromy Winery Restaurant

Salamanca Wharf Hotel cafe

Salamanca Wharf Hotel Cafe

Blue Eye Restaurant Hobart Tasmania

Blue Eye Restaurant

Blue Eye Restaurant Hobart Tasmania

Blue Eye Restaurant

Blue Eye Restaurant Hobart Tasmania

Blue Eye Restaurant

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe | Elizabeth Town | Tasmania

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe | Elizabeth Town | Tasmania

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm

7. Drink (in moderation) all the things

Since returning home, I’m spotting more and more Tasmania wines – at stores and restaurants – I can’t get enough. Well I can but you know what I mean. The whites and sparklings are supremely good. I’ve even learned to love Chardonnay again. And the Pinot Noir? Oh how I love your beautiful soft, fruit-driven flavours.

We only squeezed in one winery visit – Josef Chromy – but it was a very good one to squeeze in. Lunch was exquisite; the location perfect and I may or may not have made a little cellar-door souvenir purchase.

Josef Chromy Winery | Tasmania

Josef Chromy Winery | Tasmania

8. See how all the things are made

We breakfasted at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe, sampled cheese at Ashgrove Cheese and tasted chocolate at House of Anvers. All three delights are within driving distance of each other and about half an hour from Devonport. It doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to eating close to the source. Master SY tried to tell me that that made the chocolate more healthy. Nice try buddy.

House of Anvers Chocolate Factory

Ashgrove Cheese Factory Tasmania

Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm | Tasmania

9. Shop a little – or a lot

Ok, so no holiday or weekend away is immune from me sniffing out fun and interesting shops wherever I travel. And I can tell you Hobart has a lot to offer in that department. We started at the Hobart Bookshop in Salamanca Square as I was doing an Unlock Your Style signing there and got to meet some Tasmanian SY readers. I do love a good bookshop and Master SY was bribed with two new books so that I could then take a wander and see what Hobart offered in terms of independent clothing and lifestyle stores.

The manager of The Dispensary and Inside had left me a gift at the bookshop and that was enough to whet my appetite and hunt down those stores. I was not disappointed. She then sent me off with a map, showing others stores I should visit – most near each other in Murray, Liverpool and Macquarie Streets in the CBD. I ran out of time to go inside them all but window-shopped the rest so I could share the links here: luxe | All StyleOyster and Pearl | The Maker | Store & Co

Shopping in Hobart | Tasmania

The Maker | Shopping in Hobart

Inside | Shopping | Hobart

Special offer

Now, if you’ve got this far, congrats. This is one mighty big brain dump and photo download from our trip. Can you tell I loved it? I cannot wait to go back and take Mr SY with me. We’ve now both done separate work trips to Tasmania (he saw some beautiful places on the west coast on his trip) and I think it’s about time we shared it together – and saw more.

You might now be thinking it’s time for YOU to make a trip to Tassie? This special offer might appeal

Travel by Sea and KIDS GO FREE: Sail on Spirit of Tasmania and your kids can travel with you for free between 6 March 6 and September 13, 2015. Offer ends 28 February unless sold out prior. Visit spiritoftasmania.com.au to book.

*Offer available to new bookings only from 25/1/15. Limited availability on selected PM sailings. Up to 3 children per paying adult. Red Hot Deal fare conditions apply. Not applicable to school/group bookings. $5 fee per person each way applies to non-internet bookings. See website for full conditions and to book.

So, over to you, have you been to Tasmania? A regular? A local? Share in the comments below what we need to see and do on our next trip.

*We were guests of Sprit of Tasmania, Brockley Estate, Salamanca Wharf Hotel and Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe. All other activities, meals and permits we paid for ourselves.

* Coordinated by The Remarkables Group

… and even more tips from the Styling You Facebook community!

Comments 59

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post.. We have taken the ship to Tassie before and driven around – loved it so much we are going back for 3 weeks in May…will try some of your suggestions!!!

  2. Ohh! This post has me SO excited! My partner and I spur or the moment books 5 days in Tasmania when an airfare sale came up. We leave on my birthday June 7th, and I am SO excited about it! I’ve never been to Tassie, but my parents LOVE it, and it will be the first ‘holiday’ my partner and I have been on. Sadly, neither of us drive, but we have a full day bus tour planned.

  3. Thank you for your lovely review of our beautiful secret (Tasmania) so many places to explore that as a local even I don’
    t get to them regularly enough. Launceston is one of the prettiest (and oldest ) cities in Australia and the Tamar Valley with all its produce and beauty is a must for an escape.We are blessed to live here and in the north the weather is mild temperate and often has the kindest weather in the country as it is not prone to the extremes(but you probably need to live here to believe it).

  4. We were over in Tassie nearly 8 years ago. We’d just bought a house there over the internet with plans to move within the year. Then my Dad got sick and it all got put on hold and the house eventually sold.

    Since then, we’ve discussed moving over several times but nothing ever came of it.

    Until now.

    We’ve got a 18 to 24 month plan in place and then all going to plan, we will be resident Tasmanians! We’re also going over for a holiday our 15th Wedding anniversary later this year.

  5. We went to Tasmania for Easter 2014 – the first time for me. I just loved it and want to go back and spend more time exploring. There is so much to see and do and the food, oh the food! Thanks for sharing your tips and suggestions.

  6. Thanks so much Nikki for all this comprehensive info! You certainly did a lot in a short time and kudos to Master SY for being such a great travel companion. Must have been difficult having to sample all that food and chocolate!
    This is very good timing for me, as we head off to Hobart on a 10 day trip next week. I’ve certainly upped my list of noteworthy places to visit. We are flying – booked a cheap fare some time ago – but may well consider the ferry another time. Like you though, I can’t believe I haven’t visited before.

  7. Great read Nikki. Thanks for sharing your photos. Hubby and I spent our honeymoon there a few (?) years ago then returned with our three girls for a driving holiday more recently. Tassie is a food and nature paradise and one of our favourite destinations. I’m a bit cross you’ve let everyone in on the secret!

  8. I’m actually living in Tassie for the next 3 months or so (I was born here so have come back home). I’m really amazed at the changes since I was here about 3 years ago. The last time I visited Mum, you couldn’t get decent coffee in the town where she lives to save yourself. Now there are a few really great spots around town.

  9. Josef Chromy winery is my favourite in the whole of Tassie. We met so many people who had gone for a holiday and never returned to the mainland

  10. We’ve had 2 trips to Tassie in the last 5 years and have loved it both times. Fabulous food and wine everyday along with clean air and gorgeous scenery.
    Both times we stayed in an apartment in Hobart just behind where you were Nikki, so we were strolling distance to the Jackman and McRoss bakery for breakky. We also stayed at Saffire both times, and I would highly recommend this lovely hotel for a romantic stay.
    Our trip to MONA on the ferry was really special and we managed to snag a table on the deck of the cafe afterwards for wine and nibblies in the sun. Another enjoyable part of that trip was a visit to the sparkling wine producers just outside of Launceston. That’s great day trip and if you are there mid week you might be as lucky as we were to enjoy lunch in a sunny courtyard where we were all alone with the view of the Tamar Valley.
    If you have time to drive across to Strachan, the drive it self is lovely and the Gordon River cruise is amazing. We also had the best salmon and salad from the local fish and chip shop for under $10. Another great drive is going the long way between Launceston and Wineglass Bay via a fabulous cheese producer/cafe pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

  11. I’ve just come back from a month in Tassie (campervan travelling). Loved every minute of it – a truly stunning part of the world. We did Wineglass on the boat cruise – now that was one bumpy, but amazing ride! Great blog Nikki – I’m from WA, but Tas is one of my little happy places.

  12. Tasmania is beautiful! thanks nikki!
    I’ve been twice, once when I was 13 in a calisthenic interstate team!
    and my friend and I ate lobster thermidor like big people in big bibs!;0 loved it!
    the produce is amazingly fresh and unpolluted!
    their scallops are soo delicious!
    lucky master sy he had a great trip with his mum! … love m:)X

  13. Terrific and comprehensive account of your Tassie trip. Thanks for all the insider tips and recommendations. I have only had a couple of brief visits to Hobart and not explored the ‘apple isle’ much itself. Your post has inspired me to consider doing this, including a Spirit of Tasmania crossing. Cheers, Nikki

    1. Thanks Samantha, it ended up being a bit of an epic … so much to include and so difficult to edit down the photos. I figured that it’s now here as a good resource (with everyone else’s recommendations) for everyone!

  14. I have never been to Tasmania Nikki but it’s one place I do want to go,it looks stunning,so green and pretty and cool though I’d go in summer not winter as I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold!
    Those pictures are beautiful especially all the raspberry ones and you had me at chocolate covered raspberries 2 of my favourite things Xx

  15. We are having our wedding in Hobart this weekend! (We live in Melbourne). We love the Salamanca markets, MONA, Mount Wellington and Port Arthur ( a must see).

  16. Beautiful photo’s Nikki and some great tips! I’m really excited because hubby and I are going to Tasmania for a 13 day driving holiday in late April / early May (coz we’ve just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary). We’re not going on the Spirit of Tasmania though as we decided we wanted to use the full 13 days making our way around the island. Flights are booked. Various accommodations booked. Can.Not.Wait! 🙂

  17. We’ve only visited Tassie once, but fell in love and have vowed to return. We visited during the Taste Festival that coincides with the finish of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. It was absolutely thrilling to be there to cheer on the boats as they arrived (and the food was exquisite!)

  18. I’m in Tassie at the moment. Been here two and a half weeks with another 8 days to go. In Hobart at the moment awaiting the start of the Wooden Boat Festival on Friday. Doing it all on a budget as a full time student, but having a ball. Off to MONA tomorrow. Already planning our next trip here.

  19. With the weather in being being so hot and humid, I’ve been dreaming of crisp days and cold evenings that come complete with a crackling fire. Tassie might just fit the bill.

  20. I love Tassie and most recently visited on the Cup long weekend a couple of years ago for a girlfriend’s 40th. We loved walking around Battery Point, spent 6 hours at the Salamanca Market, took a Sunday drive out to Peppermint Bay out west of Hobart and shopped up a storm at the beautiful shops in Hobart (I loved The Maker too and I Wish I Had a Little Shop). I ended up going to MONA alone though as it wasn’t, as you say, everyone’s cup of tea. I loved it though, it was interesting and boundary pushing and I wish someone had come with me to talk about it and share a wine in the bistro on site afterwards!

    On another trip Mr SnS and I spent a good ten days exploring from Launie down to Hobart and up the east coast, the highlights of which were Port Arthur, St Helen’s, Launceston and the pretty town of Richmond. I’ll definitely be back too! x

  21. Thanks for sharing, sounds amazing. I would love to go to Tassie. Would be fun going over on the Ship too. I bet the countryside is just to die for. You must have been exausted after such a quick jam packed trip. Sounded great though.

  22. Beautiful place. We walked Cradle Mountain on our honeymoon, then went back and walked Maria Is for our 25th wedding anniversary. MONA is fabulous too. Just a beautiful place to visit……

  23. Huge post Nikki – great photos! I cannot wait to get to Tassie…we were planning to go there for our 10th wedding anni next month but now I’m all knocked up and I want to eat and drink ALL OF THE THINGS so we must wait…

  24. What a dream trip. Tassie is on our holiday wish list but it’s hard now to travel anything but peak season with our three in high school and expensive when you add flights to Melbourne for the five of us during school holidays.

    My 16 year old daughter is off to Greece with school later in the year. She has just finished paying the $4.5k out of her after school job earnings. I’m proud and nervous but I know she will be in safe hands and have a heap of fun.

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