Like any really great holiday, a honeymoon calls for the good things in life: delicious food and wine, incredible natural beauty, a taste of adventure, and outstanding accommodation. Tasmania has it all on tap. As Australia’s southernmost state (and biggest island) Tassie is full of surprises and ready made for romance and indulgence. In fact, it’s pretty wild.
Related article: Ruggedly romantic Tasmanian destinations
Cruise beyond the capital
Although it’s tempting to base all your adventures in and around the vibrant hub of Hobart (hello festivals, food and Mt Wellington), there is seriously so much more to explore. Thanks to its compact size, Tasmania is terrific for a driving holiday, with many major attractions within a couple of hours of one another.
After setting the scene with an overnight journey aboard The Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne (deluxe cabins are perfect for couples) pick up a hire car in Devonport and hit the open road. Rather jet in? There are also regular connections from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to Hobart, Launceston and Devonport.
Dedicated foodies could spend their whole holiday eating and drinking their way around the island, thanks to an abundance of superb produce (ever heard of King Island Dairy?) and stellar restaurants helmed by shooting-star chefs. For a creative menu which champions local ingredients, book a table at The Agrarian Kitchen (above) in New Norfolk or Hobart’s Franklin (which nabbed the Gourmet Traveller 2019 Wine List of the Year) and try Ettie’s Bar & Bottleshop for a European-inspired bistro meal. If you’re cheering on the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race in late December, align your dates with the Taste of Tasmania festival for an alfresco feast on the Hobart wharves.
Beyond the capital’s compact yet robust restaurant scene, many of the regional wineries also run a noteworthy sideline in fine dining. Look for Josef Chromy, Palate at Saffire Freycinet (their oysters are superb), Osteria at Stefano Lubiana, and The French Bistro at Riversdale Estate. Also ideal for a romantic meal: Launceston’s 1830s flour mill-turned restaurant, Stillwater (who have just added an atmospheric accommodation option) and Mrs Jones in Devonport near the ferry — request a table on the deck for best effect.
With around 40 percent of Tasmania protected in national parks, reserves and World Heritage sites, off-the-grid is where it’s at. Nature lovers will find themselves smitten at every turn in a landscape defined by expansive tracts of ancient cool temperate rainforests, pristine coastal bays, and abundant wildlife.
Hike, sail, bushwalk, kayak, swim or cycle your way around, from the untouched wilderness of Franklin-Gordon Wild River National Park on the west coast to beautiful Binalong Bay, Bay of Fires and the glorious coastline of Freycinet National Park in the east. Experiencing the alpine allure of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (above) is a must while the four-day Three Capes Track — a 48-kilometre round trip from Port Arthur Historic Site — will usher you through some of the island’s most breathtaking swathes of scenery. Look out for the locals in your travels. A jamboree of native Australian animals calls Tasmania home, including wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, echidnas and, of course, that fascinating yet ostensibly antisocial Tassie devil.
Buy a beanie
It’s the icing on the cake for many couples arriving from northern Australia or Asia: the chance for a ‘proper’ winter. Blazing open fires, magical foggy mornings, even snow! So romantic.
A climate more akin to New Zealand or parts of the UK (Hobart’s midwinter daytime temps barely hit double figures) is rolled into Tasmania’s undeniable charm. When you’re not cosied up in front of the fire with a glass of local pinot, layer up and check out the island’s coolest festivals, including the deep solstice overtones of Dark Mofo in June (their Nude Solstice Swim makes for a legendary couple’s adventure!), the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest in July and Tasmanian Whisky Week in August. And the happy flipside is, summers are very mild in comparison to Tassie’s northern neighbours. Win, win!
Drink to that
If you’re planning a celebratory “cheers!” or two, this is your island. Because if anything can rival Tasmania’s passion for food, it’s a healthy obsession with growing, pressing, brewing, distilling and bottling. Tassie’s cooler climate means wine varieties are quite different to the mainland with a focus on pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc and sparkling styles.
Taste your way around the boutique cellar door circuit — there are separate tourism trails for wine, cider, beer and whisky! For a sparkle to match your engagement bling, head to the island’s north to visit Clover Hill (dedicated solely to creating fabulous fizz), gourmet haven Josef Chromy Wines and Jansz (whose history includes a partnership with esteemed Champagne house Louis Roederer). If a cleansing ale is more your style, try James Boag’s in Launceston and Australia’s oldest brewery, Cascade (est. 1824) at the base of Mount Wellington or work your way through the ever-growing list of craft breweries.
Follow your heart to Freycinet
The Freycinet Peninsula is the shimmering jewel of the east coast, home to an expansive national park, salt-white beaches and the pink-granite peaks of the Hazards ranges. It’s also where you’ll find Insta-darling Wineglass Bay (above), whose lookout is accessible via a short, steep and totally-worth-it climb (or treat yourselves to a scenic flight over the top).
Traverse the trails around the peninsula or charter your own private catamaran tour with Wineglass Bay Cruises, watching out for migrating whales, dolphins, fur seals, and albatross along the way. Sweethearts should pack a picnic and seek out the azure waters and amber pebbles of Honeymoon Bay: surrounded by eucalypts, it’s so serene and even suitable for snorkelling! The national park is accessible only from the north (except by boat) and most accommodation is centred around Coles Bay, including the outstanding Sapphire Freycinet.
Cycle down Mt Wellington
Dominating the skyline around Hobart with its sheer scale and soaring dolerite ‘Organ Pipe’ rock formations, Mt Wellington (dually known as kunanyi from Tasmania’s indigenous language) is one of the island’s premier attractions. The view from the top, 1272 metres above sea level, takes in Hobart, Bruny Island, the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and the wild south-west.
Casual cycling enthusiasts (who aren’t so keen on the uphill legs) should check out the Mount Wellington Descent from Under Down Under Tours. You start with a very scenic driving transfer from Hobart to the top. Then, you actually get on your bike and cruise down the mountain. What a rush! That’s our kind of cycling trek.
Stay and play
Love a boutique getaway? You’re spoiled for choice in the state’s capital, including the waterfront precint’s MACq01, steeped in history yet totally contemporary; the IXL jam factory-turned glorious art hotel, Henry Jones Art Hotel; and elegant urban lodge, the Islington Hotel which enjoys spectacular Mount Wellington views.
Further afield, the ultra-luxurious Sapphire Freycinet on the picturesque east coast never fails to impress while Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge is hidden in the World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and features a decadent day spa. Want to really dodge the crowds? Look for Pumphouse Point’s made-for-two Retreat, which offers a secluded all-inclusive wilderness experience (think stone bathtub under the stars) or charming rural hideaway Shanley’s Huon Valley, south of Hobart.
And yes, you must see MONA
The agent provocateur of the Australian art scene has proved a major drawcard, with its daring, mischievous, unpredictable style tempting thousands of first-time visitors to the Apple Isle.
The privately funded Museum of Old and New Art is the second-most visited tourism attraction in Tasmania, edged out of the top spot in 2017/18 by the capital’s beloved Salamanca Markets. Housed within a boutique winery estate and accessible by direct ferry from Hobart (or road), there are restaurants and bars onsite as well as a characteristically compelling hotel in the works. Despite its subversive reputation, Mona taps into something totally Tasmanian: a rebellious spirit. And that’s why we love it.
Dreaming of getting away to Tasmania? Find plenty of romantic accommodation here…
Image credits: Tourism Tasmania, Jason Charles Hill, Sean Scott, Adam Gibson, Emilie-Ristevski, Jarrad Seng, Andrew Wilson, Mark Chew, Matt Donovan, Flow Mountain Bike, Paul Fleming, Liz Knox