Five-day culture buff road trip

An easy drive from north to south takes you to Mona, the destination gallery that put Hobart on the international art map, but there are many other cultural pleasures to be enjoyed along the way. From antiques and colonial-era buildings to outdoor sculpture and handcrafted treasures to take home, five days is barely enough to sample Tasmania’s heritage and creativity.

Be a spirited traveller and follow this 5-day itinerary that’ll have you immerse yourself in Tassie's rich history and culture.

Day 1: Devonport to Launceston

From Devonport it’s just a 30-minute drive south to Sheffield, which is famous for its murals. The first was commissioned in 1986, but there are now dozens of these colourful, large-scale paintings, most created during the annual week-long Mural Fest. After stretching your legs among the alfresco art, continue to Deloraine, 30 minutes south-east via Railton Road.

This regional centre for art and craft hosts the Tasmanian Craft Fair each spring, and is also part of the Great Western Tiers sculpture trail. Fun little metal sculptures in the heart of Deloraine give way to large, often daring public artworks set against the dramatic mountain bluffs known as the Great Western Tiers. Follow the trail as far afield as Liffey Falls and the Mole Creek Caves before heading east to Launceston, about 40 minutes from Deloraine on Highway 1.

Day 2: Launceston

Start your day at the historic Inveresk cultural precinct, where a railway workshop has been converted into the home of Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery’s science and history collections, as well as a planetarium. Discover prehistoric rocks and dinosaurs, artefacts from the first merchant vessel wrecked in Australian waters, then get hands-on at the Phenomena Factory children’s science centre. Rail buffs will want to visit the Launceston Tramway Museum next door. See an old tram in the process of being lovingly restored, and take a ride on another looking as good as new.

Nearby at QVMAG’s Royal Park building, explore decorative arts including elegant colonial-era furniture, and artworks old and new, local and international. Among the collection’s highlights are some of the earliest paintings of Tasmania, by John Glover.

Steps away on the edge of pretty City Park, Design Tasmania showcases the state’s design through exhibitions, workshops and, of course, a gorgeous gift shop. Examples from the continuously expanding Design Tasmania Wood Collection are always on display, plus there are temporary exhibitions exploring everything from metalwork to weaving. Allow time to browse the shop, where you can buy local designers’ unique creations such as homewares and jewellery. Souvenirs like these will be admired for years to come.

Day 3: Launceston to Hobart

Head south about 30 minutes on Highway 1 and step back in time at the Brickendon and Woolmers estates. Adjoining farms established by the Archer brothers in the early 19th century, they are now among the places that make up the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage collective listing recognised by UNESCO. Woolmers’ main house is filled with art, furniture and homewares original to the home. Brickendon is still a working farm operated by a sixth generation of Archers, so you can discover heritage machinery and buildings among chickens, sheep and horses.

Hobart is about 2.5 hours south along Highway 1, but if you want to take some history home, take a break just north of the capital in New Norfolk, Tasmania’s antiques epicentre. As for accommodation in Hobart, Hunter Street has some top options for cultured travellers: MACq 01, whose 114 rooms each tell the story of a fascinating Tasmanian; and the Henry Jones Art Hotel, which unites contemporary art and colonial architecture under one Georgian-style roof.

Day 4: Hobart

Prepare to have your mind altered today, in the art playground that is Mona. You can drive or cycle there, or take the fancy-pants ferry for the ultimate approach to this building designed by Nonda Katsalidis. Wander among the contemporary art, historic artefacts and striking architecture, pause at Mona’s artful dining venues and bars, and don’t forget the outdoor sculptures and installations, like recent addition the House of Mirrors.

The hours will fly by at this extraordinary gallery, but try to set aside some time to taste Hobart’s other cultural pleasures. If it’s Saturday, Salamanca Market is the place to be as crafty locals share their wares, including jewellery, clothes and accessories, vintage collectables, and ceramic and wooden homewares. Any day of the week there’s also the Salamanca Arts Centre, which has a diverse exhibition and performance calendar.

The nearby Maritime Museum reveals Tasmania’s rich seafaring history, from convict ships and whaling to Antarctic voyages and yachting culture. Across the street is Mawson's Huts Replica Museum, where you can step into the daily lives of the early 20th century Antarctic explorers who spent two years living and working in the windiest place on Earth. Want to explore Hobart’s historic heart? Do it in style with a Heritage Horse Drawn Carriages tour.

Day 5: Hobart to Devonport

Spend your final morning in Hobart at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Australia’s second-oldest museum has been collecting and preserving the state’s natural and cultural heritage since before it opened in 1848. Permanent exhibitions include ningina tunapri, which explores Tasmanian Aboriginal cultures, the Islands to Ice Antarctic showcase, and the Thylacine gallery, which reveals the Tasmanian Tiger’s tragic demise.

Break up the 3.5 hours’ drive north to Devonport along Highway 1 in some tiny towns steeped in colonial history. At Ross, discover heritage sites such as the 1836 stone bridge embellished with handsome carvings, and visit Ross Village Bakery, whose original wood-fired oven produces outstanding pies, pasties and sweet treats.

Oatlands’ many historic buildings include the Callington Mill, a restored windmill built in 1837, while Richmond boasts Australia’s oldest bridge, whose foundation stone was laid in 1823. Other reasons to pause in this charming village include Richmond Gaol, whose construction began in 1825, as well as shops offering antiques and handcrafted items that make unique souvenirs of your Tasmanian cultural journey.

Head back to Devonport, where you’ll board Spirit of Tasmania for your journey home.