Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic I was incredibly fortunate to be able to make a trip to Tassie happen for a few weeks over Christmas, along with my van, Brian. I’m under no illusions as to how special an opportunity this was, relative to those of you facing lockdowns and severe pandemic related restrictions in other parts of the world. This isn’t a beautifully curated article – it’s simply a list of where I adventured each day, to give you some ideas if you’re planning a similar trip to Tassie.
Driving the 1800kms down from Queensland and taking the overnight ferry from Melbourne, there was always a risk that I would get stuck somewhere if state borders shut down on me, and I did cut my trip a week short when borders started closing on New Year’s Eve, but all in all I had an incredible trip! I’ll most likely write a few separate articles on the different micro adventures I enjoyed by bike and on foot, but to kick off, here’s how my itinerary looked, in case you’re looking to explore in a similar way.
A few things to note: I 100% had no plan in advance and travelled in my fully decked out van, with my lightweight tent. My plans were so lacking that as I drove off the ferry in Devonport after the 12 hour sailing, I wasn’t even sure where I was heading. There is an exception to this however as a friend joined me for five days, and those days were planned out to maximise a short visit for her. This also meant that I travelled in a seemingly illogical back and forward way across the state – so, don’t necessarily follow the order of my trip; but it may give you an idea of how many mini adventures you can fit into a short time, provided you’re prepared to drive a fair amount. Likewise, if you want to know more about any of the areas, just give me a shout. Oh and also – I was rehabbing my broken ankle, so all adventures were with that limitation in mind!
Day One in Tassie – Narawntapu National Park
Arrived off the Spirit of Tasmania in the morning; had intended to drive to the east coast; found myself distracted by signs to a beach and the sight of hills and ended up in Narawntapu National Park. I had no idea how to pronounce or remember this until a chance dinner date in Hobart later in my trip where I was informed the way to remember this is by thinking “Nana want a poo” …. Whether you adopt that or not is entirely up to you.
Ran from the visitor centre up Archer’s Knob, and then back along a beautiful beach, which it transpires is one of Tassie’s 60 great short walks – and great it was!
Van camped in the National Park at Bakers Point – I think it cost about ten bucks and it was a bush camp right on the water. The perfect random start to a trip which would continue to go in a random and intuitive direction!
Day Two – Heading south
Drove east; random stop off at beautiful Nine Mile Beach with incredible views of Freycinet. Stopped at various beaches along the way and then found a great free campsite at Mayfield Conservation Area, right on the water. It was raining so I had a pretty chill van day while sorting out my kit for my next adventure – bikepacking on Maria Island. Sorting out bikepacking and camping gear within the confines of a small van was a new challenge for me!
Days Three to Five – Maria Island Bikepacking
Drove to the harbour at the small town of Triabunna to catch the ferry to Maria Island (pronounced MariYah). My one goal for this trip was to see wombats in the wild and the island did not disappoint. The wildlife there is an absolute stand out. Wombats were roaming everywhere, including around my tent – dream fulfilled!!
No cars are allowed on Maria Island other than a few Ranger vehicles so it’s the perfect place if you’re considering your first bikepacking adventure! Caught ferry to Maria Island. Rode to my campsite at Encampment Cove – not a person in sight! Heaps of rain was forecast so I headed straight to camp to get my tent set up while it was dry, then went for an adventure ride on the island. It felt freeeeezing compared to Queensland but was absolutely beautiful.
After an unexpected twelve hour silent retreat in my tiny tent overnight amidst bucketing rain, I packed up my tent in the morning and relocated to Darlington. In theory this is a paid campsite and I tried to find a ranger to sort that out, but no joy. Added in another bike explore which was super fun. Maria Island is spectacular. I had intended to hike south across the sandy isthmus but the weather was pretty dire and I just didn’t feel like a long hike day with no views or any summit climbs. Fun on the bike instead!
Packed up my tent and headed for the morning ferry. A very short ride from Darlington. This is where my trip gets a bit weird as I drove from here to Mole Creek and then Launceston airport to collect my visitor. Night in a cottage at Mole Creek – luxury after Maria rainy camping and a good opportunity to dry out my gear!
Day Six to Seven – Cradle Mountain NP
Drove from Mole Creek to Cradle Mountain. Discovered that the Cradle Mountain trail head is a little different to others and you have to get a bus in from the visitor centre or Ranger station. Hiked around Dove Lake. Then van camped at the Discovery Holiday Park. Accommodation options are pretty limited around here, but as caravan parks go, each site is set up surrounded by some element of bush and it’s in a great location for day hiking in the National Park.
Another spectacular Cradle Mountain day hike the following day and then since it felt so cold and Scottish, enjoyed a few mugs of mulled wine in Cradle Mountain Lodge (bliss!) before heading back to the campsite for a second night.
Day Eight – Launceston
Drive to Launceston via a “scenic” route. Splash out for a lovely lunch and matched wines at Josef Chromy vineyard. Walk around Launceston and Cataract Gorge, which is pretty impressive when you consider it’s in the middle of a “city”.
Wine tour – picked up from Launceston accommodation and taken to numerous vineyards around the region.
Day Ten – Launceston to Freycinet/Friendly Beaches
Launceston hangs before airport drop off and then drove to Freycinet area with the intention to hike the circuit the next day. Free camp in Brian at stunning Friendly Beaches – amazing free National Park campsite right on the beach. Didn’t even have to leave bed to watch the sun rise over the ocean. Bliss!
Days Eleven & Twelve – Freycinet NP Overnight Hike
Frecyinet hike from trailhead out to Cook’s Beach campsite. Camped overnight in the most spectacular beachfront spot and there wasn’t another soul around. It was just incredible.
After a really chilly night in the tent, I woke up and changed my plans. I didn’t feel like a long hike on my own on Christmas Day to complete the circuit, so I hiked back to the van via an inland route and Wineglass Bay. It was exactly as it was meant to be as I arrived at the beach to see dolphins flipping around in the bay on a picture perfect day.
Free camped in the van that night at River Rocks, near Coles Bay. Not as beautiful as my previous campsites, but, free.
Day Thirteen – Coles Bay to Port Arthur. Cape Huay Hike.
Left the Freycinet/Coles Bay Area to head south again. This time to the Port Arthur area. I hadn’t planned to do this (…theme of the trip) and had hoped to camp at the campsite by the track entrance to Cape Huay but being the post Christmas period, it was full. I hiked the absolutely incredible Cape Huay Track then stayed in accommodation near Taranna for the next couple of nights. Cape Huay is one of the most incredible short hikes I’ve ever done – so spectacular.
Day Fourteen – Cape Raul
Explored the Port Arthur area and hiked the Cape Raul track with a side trip to the Ships Stern Bluff track. So beautiful although Cape Huay was a tough one to beat! Enjoyed running a fair amount of today’s track.
Day Fifteen – Hobart
Hobart. Ended up unexpectedly staying with a friend here which was great. Rode cycle path into the city and had a mini explore on the bike before chilling with a glass of wine at the marina.
Day Sixteen – Mount Wellington
Second day in Hobart with Lucy. Hiked up the Mount Wellington track which was spectacular and so close to the city. Ended up on a yacht in the marina which had just won the Devonport to Hobart yacht race… as you do, thanks Lucy!
Day Seventeen – Heading West
Drove west back to Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, but this time to the Lake St Clair end of the Overland Track, which feels pretty remote, but has a lodge and visitor information centre for wine and hike info. Van camped on the lake there after a day hike, although I did consider free camping in my tent. The van won out though…
Day Eighteen – deeper west, then home!
Continued to drive west through the stunning Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park with little plan other than to reach Queenstown and decide what to do. I was mainly thinking of heading to the coast to Strahan for the night. However, being COVID times, I came back into phone signal and heard about border closures happening around the Victoria/NSW border and spontaneously decided to change my ferry booking to that night, in case I ended up getting stuck in Tassie. I drove north to Burnie and east along the coast back via Penguin to Devonport before the night sailing.
And then boosted home to Queensland….. What a trip! Tassie – so much more of your beauty to explore.
Any questions on any of the areas I visited? Don’t hesitate to get in touch. I posted a bunch of pictures on my instagram too @allthegearnaeidea
The way you explained your journey was pretty amazing!!💯