Drive your dollar further with this great Tasmania road trip
From cultural pleasures to natural wonders, plus bargain bites along the way, we’ve done the hard work planning your cheap and cheerful Tasmanian holiday. All you need to do is load your car with camping gear (there’s no luggage limit on Spirit of Tasmania!), or book budget motels and hostels.
Day 1: Launch into Launceston
Have breakfast and coffee on Spirit of Tasmania and hit the ground running: it’s only an hour’s drive from Devonport to Launceston, where you’ll soon be getting acquainted with its heritage architecture on a free self-guided walk. Buy provisions – if its Saturday morning the Harvest Farmers’ Market’s a must – and head to Cataract Gorge. Picnic among the peacocks, then explore this spectacular city-fringe wilderness and splash in the free pool. For dinner, tuck into the Tassie Tempter at Burger Got Soul, or celebrate the start of your great escape in earnest with the good old Royal Oak Hotel’s pub grub, local drinks and bands.
Day 2: Freycinet National Park via historic Evandale
Start the day with the best deal in Launceston: entry to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery’s two historic buildings full of wonders is free. From colonial art to Indigenous culture, a permanent Tasmanian Tiger exhibition to the blacksmith’s workshop, there’s something for everyone. Only 20 minutes away is the pretty National Trust-listed village of Evandale. If it’s Sunday, scope out Evandale Market’s food trucks for lunch, otherwise don’t miss Ingleside Bakery Cafe. Whether inside the 1867 former council chambers or out in the courtyard, it’s the perfect place to get a taste for Tasmania’s delicious baked goods.
Another two hours will see you in the jewel of the east coast’s crown, Freycinet National Park. Buy a Parks Pass at the Visitor Centre (the $60 pass covers everyone in your vehicle for every Tasmanian national park for eight weeks). The tough walk up to Wineglass Bay Lookout (1½ hour return) is worth it for the iconic vista. Cook up a feast at your beachside camp, or enjoy Tombolo’s gourmet pizza.
Day 3: Freycinet frolics
Whether you need breakfast, coffee or a sandwich for the hike ahead, you’re sorted at Freycinet Cafe and Bakery. The national park’s walking trails include Promise Bay’s secluded coves and the pristine sands of Hazards Beach (four hours return), or climb Mount Amos (three hours return), whose summit has the ultimate Wineglass Bay views. Paddle in your seakayak (rentals also available), or just kick back with Freycinet Marine Farm’s fresh, affordable seafood, including oysters and abalone. Get some to go for sensational self-catering, or chow down at Iluka Tavern.
Day 4: Head to Hobart via heritage bridges
From Freycinet it’s 90 minutes to the tiny town of Ross. Explore its historic sites such as the 1836 bridge covered in beautiful carvings, from Celtic designs to notable faces … including convict Jorgen Jorgenson, who claimed to be the King of Iceland! Lunch at the century-old Ross Village Bakery, whose wood-fired oven produces outstanding pies, pasties and sweet treats. Continue south for an hour to Richmond, another heritage town with a picturesque bridge: completed in 1825, it’s Australia’s oldest.
From here, Hobart is less than 30 minutes away. Get the best view of Tasmania’s capital from atop Mount Wellington: drive to the summit, or hike or bike up if you’re feeling energetic. Or break out the seakayak again for a unique perspective of Hobart’s historic waterfront (guided kayak tours are also available). If it’s Friday, put on your dancing shoes and get down to Rektango. From African beats to Latin jazz, this live-music session in Salamanca Arts Centre’s courtyard is fabulous and free. Dinner could be as simple as fish ’n’ chips from the floating Hobart institution that is Flippers, or have a slap-up meal at historic Battery Point’s Hope and Anchor. Built in 1807, it’s probably Australia’s oldest pub.
Day 5: Things to do in Hobart
Get a crash course on the city with the Hobart Free Walking Tour. That’s right, this two-hour guided walk is free (though tips are welcome!). There are also free tours of the 1840 Tasmanian Parliament building. If it’s Saturday, consider lunch at Salamanca Market, or take some gourmet goodies to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, a gorgeous haven for more than 6000 plant species that’s perfect for picnics. While away the afternoon at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, where fascination begins at the entrance of the former Commissariat Store building, dating back to 1808. From contemporary art to the permanent Antarctic exhibition, it’s all free. For dinner, cheap eats include The Burger Haus and Sawak Cafe’s Malaysian street food.
Day 6: Cradle Mountain via some fishy business
Make an early start for the three-hour drive north to the 41º South salmon farm, near Deloraine (take the A5 rather than the slightly quicker Highway 1 for different scenery from day four). Set in natural wetlands, this eco-friendly facility has a cafe serving salmon at budget-friendly prices, and a shop self-caterers will love. From here it’s 90 minutes to the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre. You’ve already got a parks pass, but best check conditions before taking a short walk, such as Crater Lake (two hours return). Cradle Mountain Lodge’s Tavern Bar and Bistro is good for burgers, beer and a welcoming fire in this often chilly part of the world. Also consider self-catering for this leg of the journey, because there are few dining options in the area.
Day 7: Cradle Mountain adventures
Spend the day in this stunning natural environment, where you’re almost certain to encounter wildlife such as wombats and wallabies. Top walks include the Dove Lake circuit (2-3 hour loop), which has constant views of Cradle Mountain, and the hike to the summit of what’s probably Australia’s most photographed mountain (6-8 hours return).
Day 8: Devonport departure via Sheffield’s murals
Head north, perhaps after one last short walk (the Enchanted Nature Walk is only 25 minutes return). Less than an hour away is Sheffield, where dozens of murals have been painted on walls around town over the past 30 years (especially during the annual Mural Fest). After admiring this outdoor art gallery and grabbing a pie at Bossimi’s Bakery, drive 30 minutes to Devonport. Stroll along the Mersey River to the 1889 Mersey Bluff Lighthouse for grand views of the Bass Strait coast, then duck into the Formby Hotel’s Central Bar for farewell drinks with views of Spirit of Tasmania before boarding.