The Tasmanian road trip we want to take right now

Posted by Lisa O'Brien on Tuesday, December 6, 2016

If there's a place that makes you want to jump in the car and hit the great open road more than any other, it’s Tasmania. While the cities have certainly come into their own over the past decade with food, wine and culture to rival any of Australia’s larger capitals, there’s so much to discover out of the major towns that a set of wheels is a must for any visit to the Apple Isle.

But unless you’re a local, chances are that the undiscovered gems of Tasmania are on one side of the Bass Strait... and your car is on the other. That’s where a hire car comes in. As well as giving you the freedom to explore at your own pace, it also means you don’t need to double back on yourself, because you can pick the car up at one airport and drop it off at another.

To give you some inspiration, we’ve put together a self-drive itinerary starting in Hobart and finishing in Launceston that takes in the best of Tassie’s north-east coast. We recommend doing it over six days but the stops aren't too far apart, so you can combine the shorter legs if you’re pressed for time. And because you’ll probably need somewhere to crash too, we’ve recommended some of our favourite Beautiful Accommodation properties at each stop. Happy travelling!

Day 1: Arrive Hobart

On arrival in the Tassie capital, pick up your car from the airport and make for Franklin Wharf in the city centre. Not only is it home to plenty of great cafes and restaurants, perfect for a post-flight refuel, but it’s also strolling distance to the famous Salamanca Market, held every Saturday from 8am-3pm on Salamanca Place. From Franklin Wharf, jump on a ferry to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. If you’re there in summer, the 2017 MOFO festival is on from January 18-22 featuring a program of music and art curated by Brian Ritchie from the Violent Femmes. Ready for dinner? Head to Templo on Patrick Street for communal dining in an intimate 20-seat eatery, or Franklin on Argyle Street for a locally sourced menu that changes daily.

OVERNIGHT: Amtolu, West Hobart

Day 2: Hobart to Swansea (1 hour 45 minutes)

After brekkie, make the 65-minute drive to the seaside village of Orford, known for its picturesque beaches and dive sites. If you're keen to stretch your legs, have a hit of golf at the Orford Golf Club, taste some local wines at Darlington Vineyard or take the two-kilometre cliff-top walk along the coast (we have it on pretty good authority that the views are amazing). From nearby Triabunna, you can catch a ferry across to Maria Island National Park, famous for its abundant wildlife. Once you’re back on the mainland, drive north towards the Freycinet Peninsula for even more spectacular coastal scenery. In Swansea, while away the afternoon with some cool-climate Tassie wines such as pinot noir, pinot gris, riesling, chardonnay and sparkling varieties. The cellar doors of Spring Vale, Freycinet Vineyard, Milton and Coombend Estate are all within a 20-minute drive of Swansea, your stop for the night.

OVERNIGHT: Dragonfly Lodge, Swansea

Day 3: Swansea to Bicheno (35 minutes)

From Swansea, head to the Freycinet National Park, home of the famous Wineglass Bay. One glance at the stunning views from Wineglass Bay lookout and you'll see why it's one of the world’s most photographed beaches. There are plenty of bushwalks throughout the national park, but if you're feeling less energetic you can take one of the driving routes or even a scenic flight. For a different perspective of the park altogether, join a cruise to see it from the clear waters of the bay. Once you’ve finished exploring, jump back in the car for the 30-minute drive to Bicheno. After dark, join a penguin tour that night to get up close and personal with up to 100 fairy penguins.

OVERNIGHT: Bicheno Hideaway, Bicheno

Day 4: Bicheno to Binalong Bay (1 hour 15 minutes)

Just out of Bicheno is the Douglas-Apsley National Park – take one of the various bushwalks through the park and, when you've worked up a sweat, cool off in the Apsley River Waterhole. The scenic coastal views continue to Chain of Lagoons and up to the beachside towns of Scamander and Beaumaris. Keep heading north to the pretty fishing village of St Helens, where keen fishermen can join game fishing charters or throw a line into the numerous estuaries, bays and rivers nearby. After a seafood lunch at Blue Shed in St Helens, it’s just another 12km to Binalong Bay and Humbug Point Reserve, a hub of breathtaking views, walks, beaches, swimming, fishing, diving and bird watching.

OVERNIGHT: Villa Vista, Binalong Bay

Day 5: Binalong Bay to Launceston (2 hours 35 minutes)

Binalong Bay is a perfect jumping-off point for the beautiful Bay of Fires, a 29-kilometre stretch of pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, wildflowers and imposing rock formations. It’s not hard to see why Lonely Planet voted this area one of its Top 10 regions in the world a few years back. Once you’ve explored this must-see part of the world, head inland to Launceston. Travel via the country town of Scottsdale for pretty farmland views and, if you're there in December or January, be sure to schedule a stop at Bridestowe Lavender Estate to check out the rolling hills of lavender fields.

OVERNIGHT: Hatherley Birrell Collection, Launceston

Day 6: Depart Launceston

If you’ve got time before your flight, head to Cataract Gorge, just 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre and Launceston’s premier natural attraction. Beer lovers might also be interested in a tour of the historic Boag’s Brewery, which dates back to the 1880s. Still got a few hours to kill? Indulge in the city’s impressive food and wine at places like Brisbane Street Bistro or Terrace Restaurant before heading back to the airport to return your hire car and wing your way home.

This post is brought to you by Budget Rent A Car.