Featured image: Tourism Tasmania & Masaaki Aihara Words: Tanya Joslin
Ready for your next Australian driving holiday? Tasmania has you covered with plenty of itinerary options to showcase the island’s pristine scenery and historic townships for a short break or romantic getaway. We’re zooming in on the popular journey from Tassie’s capital of Hobart to the glorious wilds of Cradle Mountain. And although the trip can be covered in four hours, there are a few highlights you don’t want to miss along the way.
We’ve mapped out the perfect driving guide from Hobart to Cradle Mountain. Take it slow so you can discover the step-back-in-time townships and beautiful landscapes that give this region its unique personality.
Considering a honeymoon in Tasmania? We have a wild & wonderful itinerary right here
Part of the Coal River Valley wine region, Richmond is a charming township filled with protected historical landmarks, making it a great place to explore. Just half an hour east of Hobart, it’s also a top spot to fossick for unique souvenirs (the woodcraft here is gorgeous!).
Photo-ops Stop for a drop at one of Richmond’s many wineries. We like the superb cellar door at Pooley Wines and the gorgeous setting at Frogmore Creek Cellar Door & Restaurant. Or take a stroll across the town’s heritage-listed Richmond Bridge — built by convict labour in the 1820s, it’s Australia’s oldest stone arch bridge.
Local landmark Dip into the dark side at the historic Richmond Gaol, a well-preserved and highly atmospheric colonial jail that offers a real feel for what life was like for convicts. Hint: it was no holiday.
An hour north of Hobart, you’ll find another must-see on the road to Cradle Mountain. Oatlands is known for the Georgian-era, sandstone buildings — many built in the early 1800s. A step back in time, you can visit the Callington Mill, an operational windmill built almost 200 years ago! This is a great place to go antiquing or to pick up handmade arts and crafts from local vendors.
Stop for a snack If you’re like us, then you love bakery goods! Drop by The Pancake & Crepe Shop for a delicious selection of pastries and tarts, as well as both sweet and savoury crepes. Try the Local Tassie Scallop Curry crepe for a real taste sensation.
Another picture-perfect moment awaits in Campbell Town (around halfway between Hobart and Launceston) where the gorgeous Red Bridge crosses the Elizabeth River. The water is lined on both sides by sweeping greenery — it truly looks like a painting come to life! You’ll also notch up another historic landmark as this is Australia’s oldest surviving brick span bridge (circa 1838).
Hidden attraction If you need a cosy reprieve from the great outdoors, lose yourselves in The Book Cellar. This treasure trove of a bookstore is nestled in the stone cellars of what was once a coaching inn called Foxhunters Return, built by convict labour in the 1830s.
Tasmania’s second-largest city (and one of Australia’s oldest) is certainly worth a stop — if only to check out the beautifully preserved streetscapes. You’re also about halfway to Cradle Mountain now so consider an overnighter in this vibrant northern hub.
One of our favorite things about Launceston? It’s a great place to experience life from the sky! The Cataract Gorge boasts the world’s longest single-span chairlift, letting you soar above the gorge and its nature trails and pretty picnic spots. All just a 15-minute walk from the CBD.
Culture fix Heights not your style? Drop by the country’s largest regional gallery, the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, which is housed over two sites. The Museum at Inveresk is currently showcasing the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild of Tasmania among its fascinating collection while The Queen Victoria Gallery at Royal Park will host the epic travelling exhibition, Archie 100: a century of the Archibald Prize. For a romantic celestial experience, head to the Launceston Planetarium which is also part of the QVMAG.
Wine & dine Foodies will love Launceston, with the city’s ever-evolving culinary scene garnering kudos from across the country. From stand-out bakeries (see Bread + Butter) and a fabulous farmers’ market to top-notch restaurants including Geronimo Apertivo Bar & Restaurant and Black Cow Bistro. Special occasion? Experience the seasonal stylings of local legend Stillwater (housed in an old flour mill) and stay overnight at neighbouring Stillwater Seven.
Have you tried Tasmania’s floating sauna yet? It’s just north of Launceston.
Time to stretch your legs! The riverside township of Deloraine is just over half an hour from Launceston, and perfect for history buffs and art-lovers alike. Stroll past the beautiful Georgian and Victorian-era buildings or check out the many galleries where you can invest in regional art across a range of mediums (including gorgeous yarn and silk pieces).
Go chasing waterfalls If you have time, follow the sculpture trail along Deloraine’s aptly named Meander River or discover the region’s many waterfalls. But if you’re on a tight schedule, take an easy walk through the eucalypts to the main attraction: Victoria Falls (aka Liffey Falls). This magical spot is by far the fan-favourite thanks to the cascading structure of the falls — like something out of a fairytale.
Get your camera ready! Sheffield is literally covered in larger-than-life murals (check out the latest additions at Mural Park, where Sheffield holds its annual International Mural Fest).
Time for a treasure hunt? Even if you’ve already picked up a few treasures along the way, trust me when I say that you want to stop at The Emporium. This second-hand store is famous for its collection of, well, everything. You can never be sure of what you’ll take home, but you can be certain you’ll find the store owner’s hilarious reviews attached to almost every item. His book reviews alone are worth the stop!
Take a deep breath of alpine air because you’ve made it to Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, home to the fabled Cradle Mountain. This is the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and a soul-stirring place to experience with the one you love.
Walk this way While the Cradle Mountain region is famous for its 65-kilometre Overland Track (set aside 5-6 days for this one!), the area also offers excellent shorter adventures. The six-kilometre Dove Lake trail is a scenic, well-loved route that is not too strenuous while the more challenging Marions Lookout track will reward you with breathtaking views of the surrounding lakes and landscape. Experienced hikers can follow the 13-kilometre Cradle Mountain Summit to the mist-shrouded peak of this 1,545-metre beauty. Whatever path you choose, make the Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre your first port of call. Pick up your National Parks passes here and get briefed on the conditions before lacing up your hiking boots and heading out into the wilderness.
Go a little wild! If you want to get up close and personal with the local wildlife, take a trip to the Devils @ Cradle conservation sanctuary. As well as coming face to face with a Tassie devil, you can learn more about the challenges currently faced by these intriguing native creatures. And our top tip for wildlife-lovers? Keep your phone handy because you’ll have a good chance of spotting a wombat in the wild around Cradle Mountain. A rare treat.
Cradled in the wilderness Looking for Cradle Mountain accommodation? Read about our recent Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge experience here
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