Tasmania's epic wilderness awaits, and you can find it all just hours from Hobart.
By Leah Dobihal
Tasmania is Australia's wild island state. Here you'll find grazing wildlife, windswept cliffs and the chance to settle into some of the world's most beautiful nature. The best part? It's all within hours of the capital hub of Hobart.
Here's where to spend a few days exploring.
Holiday destinations north of Hobart
Freycinet National Park
Roughly 2.5 hours from Hobart lies the wild beauty of Freycinet National Park. A destination brimming with everything from freshly shucked oysters to unforgettable views, Freycinet boasts more than a few experiences you won't want to miss. Take in the peaceful nature as you walk the white sand of Wineglass Bay, or see it from the sky on a scenic flight. Spot seals, whales and even penguins on a cruise or kayak tour. After a hefty dose of adventure, treat yourself to some of Tasmania's best seafood at the Freycinet Marine Farm, or taste the cool-climate wine within a one-hour drive. As the sun drops from the sky, soak in your outdoor tub at Freycinet Lodge or gaze out over the Hazard Mountains from a suite at the luxury Saffire Freycinet. Continue on your road trip up the coast to Binalong Bay, home to the picturesque orange rocks of the Bay of Fires.
Tasmania's second biggest city, Launceston, is a charming combination of quaint old towns, culinary creativity and nearby nature. One of the city's biggest attractions lies just a short stroll from the city centre. Cataract Gorge is a stunning river gorge lined by rock cliffs and dense woodland. Take the scenic chairlift to see the sights from above, or turn up the adventure with an abseil tour down the steep ledges. Head back into town to unwind at Stillwater restaurant and spend the night in a historic homestead. Next, explore surrounding attractions, including the perfectly purple lavender at Bridestowe, the delicate wines of the Tamar Valley and the heart-pumping zipline tours on offer at Hollybank Wilderness Adventure.
Starry Skies, mountainous landscapes and utter seclusion all await at Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park. about 2.5 hours from Hobart. Breathe the fresh mountain air on the Overland Track, a famous six-day trek that takes in rustic highlands, tumbling waterfalls and bountiful wildlife. Reconnect by the fireplace at Pumphouse Point, a cosy retreat sitting atop the calm waters of Lake St Clair. Cradle Mountain offers ultimate relaxation, but that doesn't mean you can't find some incredible adventure. Abseil down vertical cliffs, marvel at the wilderness from a scenic flight or explore the area on horseback.
Holiday destinations south of Hobart
It's possible to explore Bruny Island on a day trip, but spend a night or two to soak up the island's premium food and wine, long, sandy beaches and incredible marine life. Navigate the island on one of many hiking trails, and don't miss the opportunity to snap a photo of The Neck, a narrow strip of sand that connects the north and south. The Bruny Island Long Weekend guided walk combines the best of Bruny's nature, wildlife and local delicacies. A wilderness cruise from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys will venture close to the coastline, where colonies of fur seals rest on the rocks. End your adventure at Hundred Acre Hideaway, a solar-powered stay secluded within rainforest and meadows.
Holiday destinations west of Hobart
Once known as an 'inescapable prison' located 1.5 hours from Hobart, Port Arthur is now a beautifully rugged destination with ample history to discover. A guided introductory tour is included with your entrance ticket, which gives a taste of the island's different heritage sites. Delve even deeper into Port Arthur's fascinating - and sometimes spooky - history with an after-dark tour. A range of tours take you inside the infamous prison and relay the unexplained events that have been recorded over time. The view from above is another must-do. Take a scenic flight with Osborne Helitours to marvel at the sea cliffs and historic site from the sky. If you visit during summer, don't miss the blooming purple Port Arthur lavender fields. You can stay nearby at Stewarts Bay Lodge.
The fishing village of Strahan may not be Tasmania's most well-known getaway, but it's certainly worth a few days of exploration. Just under four hours from Hobart, Strahan is the gateway to wild riviers, dense forest and long ocean beaches. Float down the tree-lined Gordon River on a cruise that quietly navigates the mirror-like waters. Next, meander through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park on foot. Take the easy boardwalk of the Nelson Falls Nature Trail to reach a 30-metre (98-foot) waterfall. Or get the adrenaline pumping on an ATV adventure. Don't forget to check out Strahan Village, which offers boutique accommodation and fresh seafood restaurants.
Holiday destinations east of Hobart
Maria Island, located off the east coast of Tasmania, is known for being a natural wildlife sanctuary. Cyclists can explore the national park by bike, following the designated circuits. Alternatively, wander the peaceful beaches and shoreline by foot. Arguably the best way to experience the lesser-known destinations is on the Maria Island Walk, a gentle, four-day adventure that combines rare Tasmanian wildlife, including wombats, Tasmanian devils and pademelons (a small, stocky marsupial), spectacular scenery and fascinating history. You'll stay in exclusive wilderness camps and enjoy dinner by candlelight.