Navigating the Tasmanian Wilderness by Motorhome
Tasmania is a beautiful and intimate part of Australia, and hiring a motorhome is the perfect way to explore this varied island. Trailfinders' Hugo embarks on an adventure with three of his colleagues in tow, to show you all Tasmania has to offer.
Day 1: Hobart and the drive to Strahan
We awoke on our first day in Tasmania to begin our journey across Van Diemen’s Land. This was Tasmania’s former name. Anthony Van Diemen was Guvnor General of the Dutch East Indies and the first to colonialize the island in 1642. Van Diemen’s Land was a fitting name; Tasmania was a key colony to send convicts to and was a cold and wild place, therefore referred to as Demon’s Land. In 1855 the citizens petitioned the island be renamed after the Dutch explorer who discovered it, Abel Tasman, and hence became Tasmania.
After an incredible breakfast spread at the beautifully located MACQ 1 Boutique Hotel we took a stroll around Salamanca Market, a big draw to Hobart that runs every Saturday and offers a massive range of local produce, along with artists and craftsman selling their wares. What a wonderful coincidence we were there to start of our trip, a perfect excursion for stocking fillers.
That afternoon we hailed a taxi back to the airport (20 minutes) to collect our motorhomes. The depot was easy to find and as we pulled in we got our first glimpse of our new homes; a maui Beach and maui Cascade, both looking brand new. We decided it only fitting to name them Marvin and Molly.
We were greeted immediately by friendly staff who had the paperwork all ready to sign. They then proceeded to give us an in depth tour of each vehicle, showing us all the nifty functions. We were all impressed by the in-built sat-nav that had easy access to digital FAQs about the entire vehicle and quick dial for maui representatives. Everything was filled up with clean interiors and ready to go.
The open road beckoned, and after a grocery shop for supplies, we were off on our way to Strahan (4 hours 30 minutes). En route we stopped at Lake St. Clair National Park. We seemed to have brought the weather with us, and as the scenery became more and more rural, the rain poured harder and harder! We were graced with 10 minutes rain-free to grab some photos on the shores off the beach before moving on. Another quick stop was at Nelson Falls, worth the 10 minute walk to see a dramatic waterfall in the depths of the lush forests. We eventually checked in to the Strahan Beach Tourist Park, just in time to get down to the only pub in town (Bushman’s) to watch the Rugby World Cup Final.
Day 2: Gordon River and the drive to Cradle Mountain
Strahan, it turns out, is a small town revolving around the Gordon River. Today we had the pleasure of taking a cruise in to Macquarie Harbour and up the river to see some ancient rainforest and learn about the lumber trade which brought settlers here for the treasured Huon Pine, an ancient tree prized for its use in ship building. The harbour is also home to Sarah Island, a brutal penal colony that was regarded as the worst place on the continent for a convict to end up. We were dropped off for an interesting guided tour and walk about the ruins. After our cruise we headed north to Cradle Mountain (2 hours) to check in to the Discovery Parks at Cradle.
Day 3: Cradle Mountain National Park
Everyone was buzzing to get out on the trail and enjoy the freshest air around. The park runs a shuttle service from the visitor centre at the entrance gate and runs along various stops in the park.
We got on all the way to the end to walk the Dove Lake loop (2 hours) that sits in the shadow of Cradle Mountain itself. For those feeling a little fitter, you can take one of the elevated loops such as Lake Rodway Track and up to Hanson’s peak (3 to 4 hours) for stunning views of the mountain and lake below. For the most adventurous you can do the summit hike (6 to 8 hours). The weather was grey but clear. Make sure to take lots of layers as the elevated altitude and mountainous conditions means the weather can change in an instance.
We retired to the Sanctuary Spa at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge for some relaxation in the hot tub looking out over the valley and stream below, accompanied by sauna and steam room. This can be hired out at very reasonable prices for an hour or two. This was followed by a delicious 3 course set menu at the main restaurant at Peppers which had a great choice of locally sourced seasonal produce.
This evening we dropped by the Tasmanian Devil Sanctuary (Devils at Cradle) where they gave an excellent presentation and feeding display of the fascinating creatures. You could also view the less famous marsupial, the Tasmanian Quoll. Being nocturnal, going in the evening is the best time to see them all at their most active.
Day 4: Launceston and the drive to Freycinet
The mountains diminished to hills and eventually open farmlands as we made our way to Launceston (2 hours), Tasmania’s second largest city (although a very small city and more of a large town). Here we stopped for lunch by the harbour at a quaint little restaurant called 'Mudbar' that offered delicious concoctions of Asian fusion cuisine. We continued on to Freycinet (2 hours) stopping off at Devils Corner Cellar Door Vineyard to use their epic viewpoint tower to get our first phenomenal views of mountains, lakes, the ocean and the Freycinet peninsular in the distance. We made it to the Big 4 Iluka campsite which was by far the best facility we had stayed at so far. Good positioning for views out over the bay from your spot. The evening came to an end with dinner at a restaurant right by the ocean, Edge of the Bay. Here we witnessed the sunset over a clear blue sky.
Day 5: Freycinet National Park
Eager to seize the day, we got up and in to the park early to do the short hike to the Wineglass Bay viewpoint (40 minutes return). The trail was quiet and for a time we had the viewpoint to ourselves with gorgeous weather giving us pristine vistas of the untouched and perfect curve of sand that lay in the bay below us. For lunch we headed to Richardson’s Bistro at the Freycinet Lodge, a beautiful lodge with individual bungalows right inside the park. With the sun shining down, we felt adventurous and took on the challenge of summiting Mt. Amos to get the best views in Tasmania of the whole of Freycinet from above. It was a challenging but fun hike, packed with some scrambling and pretty steep rock climbs. All worth it for the captivating views that we had at the top, all to ourselves.
Day 6: The drive back to Hobart
Just as we felt we were settling in to living in confined quarters and the nomadic regime of motorhome life, we were on our way back to drop off our trusty homes. A final drive along winding roads, little coves, forests and fields had us back in Hobart (2 hours 20 minutes) just in time before the maui motorhome depot closed. Make sure to get there before 15:30 for a smooth drop off.
The same staff were waiting for us and welcomed us back. After a quick check of the vehicles we filled in some reviews and we were off, bidding our vehicles goodbye. I would thoroughly recommend the Express Return Pack which took away any hassle of having to replace gas canister, fill up water and fuel (however you must empty the toilet). The vehicle needed filling up with fuel twice over the full course of the Tasmanian circuit costing approximately 120 AUD each time (a bargain compared to UK fuel).
Overall, a wonderful way to get around this beautiful island and see its contrasting natural landscapes.
For more inspiration, visit our Tasmania holidays pages.