Huon Valley Mid Winter Festival, Huon Valley, Tasmania © Mia Glastonbury
Best things to do in winter in Tasmania
Tasmania is stunning at any time of the year, but winter brings a magic all of its own.
By Kris Madden
Tasmania's rugged beauty takes on an enchanted quality in winter. The air is crisp, and falling snow dusts the mountains and eucalyptus trees. Festivals celebrate apple cider, chocolate, singing and the winter solstice. Clear nights are ideal for stargazing and seeing the southern lights of the Aurora Australis. It's also the perfect season for a sip of Tasmanian whisky by a cosy open fire.
Experience midwinter festivals
Mona (the Museum of Old and New Art) hosts the midwinter festival Dark Mofo every year in June. Highlights include the Winter Feast, which attracts thousands of food lovers, and the Winter Solstice Nude Swim, in which people of all ages brave the chilly temperatures to swim naked in the Derwent River. Head to the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival in July to celebrate the region's apple growing history and join in the age-old tradition of wassailing. It's a ceremony in which revellers sing and bang drums and pots to scare away evil spirits, wake up the cider apple trees and ensure a good harvest.
Spot wildlife wandering in the snow
Tasmania is a fantastic place to spot wildlife in their native habitat. From ambling wombats to adorable pademelons, quolls and elusive Tassie devils, it's home to a number of endemic species that only live on the island. You can spot them easily any time of year, but seeing a furry friend covered in snow wandering along a hiking trail is something really special. If you're keen to guarantee a sighting, head to Devils@Cradle in Cradle Mountain to meet the resident Tasmanian devils.
Follow the Enchanted Walk
Visit Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and follow the Enchanted Walk through rainforest bejewelled with frost. Or wander around shimmering Dove Lake beneath the black spires of Cradle Mountain. On the southern side of the park, walk the 18-kilometre (11-mile) circuit around Lake St Clair, Tasmania's deepest natural freshwater lake.
Snowshoe the Overland Track
The Overland Track is hugely popular for hiking during summer, and a number of local companies, including Tasmanian Expeditions, offer snowshoeing trips along the track during winter. It provides a different perspective on Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park as you explore highland landscapes, deep forests and snowy peaks. Not only will you enjoy the breathtaking nature, but also the quiet tranquility of the Tasmanian winter.
Chase the Southern Lights
While this spectacular light show is visible year-round, winter is one of the best times to spot the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights. Tasmania's island's and national parks offer a great chance at seeing the phenomenon thanks to their low light pollution. If you're in Hobart, head to kunanyi/Mount Wellington or nearby Mount Nelson, on a clear night with no moon for a chance at witnessing the sky flicker with shades of green, blue, purple and red.
Sip a nip of Tasmanian whisky
Tasmanian whisky has taken the world by storm, with many locally-produced blends winning top awards overseas. Follow the Tasmanian Whisky Trail, visiting distilleries such as Lark and Sullivans Cove in Hobart, or the Launceston Distillery and Hellyers Road Distillery in the north of the island. Complete your education in Tassie whisky by attending Tasmanian Whisky Week (usually held in August). The week-long festival features exciting events hosted by Tasmanian distilleries, bars, restaurants and hotels. You'll be able to go behind the scenes, meet the distillers in person, have access to unreleased whiskies, and dine on delicious produce matched to the spirits on offer.
Hunker down in a hot tub
One of the best ways to enjoy the gently falling snow without feeling the cold is from a steamy hot tub on the deck of your accommodation. Soak in a Huon pine tub at Rocky Hills Retreat or an Instagram-perfect outdoor bath on the deck at Thalia Haven. In the King Billy Suite in Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, you're likely to be sharing the view with neighbouring wallabies and pademelons.
Take a ghost tour of Port Arthur
The convict ruins of Port Arthur can be a spooky place at any time of year, but on a cold winter's day you'll really get a sense of how desolate and frightening it must have been for the poor souls transported here from the other side of the world against their will. Take a lantern-lit ghost tour to discover the site's haunted side and hear stories of unexplained events and paranormal activity.
Sing along at the Festival of Voices
The Festival of Voices is Australia's premier celebration of the voice, attracting thousands of Australian and international singers, choristers and music lovers who gather each June and July to hear and perform beautiful harmonies in concert halls, theatres and public spaces across the state.
Indulge in Chocolate Winterfest
The indulgent Chocolate Winterfest gives chocolate lovers a great reason to visit Tasmania in August. The festival takes place in Latrobe in northern Tasmania and offers plenty of chocolate to taste as well as workshops in which you can learn how to make your own chocolate delights.
Cosy up by the fire in a luxury lodge
Winter in Freycinet National Park is another well-kept secret. Stay at Saffire, a luxury lodge overlooking the Hazards mountain range, Freycinet Peninsula and the pristine Great Oyster Bay. By day, you can marvel at the sweeping mountain views or walk the vivid blue curves of Wineglass Bay. At night, huddle next to a roaring fire or watch the sky ablaze with stars.