Tasmania Self-Drive: Winter Itinerary

When to visit Tasmania?

by Rose Foster

A quick search of the best time to visit Tasmania argues that it is from December to February. That is a very small window of opportunity, not to mention the peak prices and busy crowds!

As well as saving some money on flights, campervan rental and accommodation or site fees, the off season in Tasmania can be an incredible travel experience.

This self-drive itinerary is just over 1000km in total and includes lots of winter friendly sights and attractions. You can do this trip in as little as 7 days, or take your time and spend a week or two!

Flying in and out of Hobart is recommended, as this has the most options for motorhome rental and therefore the best deals. However, for those flying into Launceston or traveling across on the Spirit of Tasmania, only a slight tweak to the itinerary is required.

Hobart to-do in Winter

The best time for stargazing in Tasmania is smack-bang in the off-peak travel season! Between May and September the Southern Lights are most visible, with the darkest and longest nights between June and August creating optimal viewing opportunities.

Some of Hobart’s best places to bring a blanket and look up are Mount Wellington, Mount Nelson and a little further out of the city, South Arm Peninsula.

If you plan your visit just right, you might wake up in Hobart on a Saturday morning… if so, you’re in luck! The Salamanca Markets operate year-round, every Saturday, from 8.30am to 3pm. Here you can find local art, hand-made products, gifts for those who weren’t lucky enough to come with you on your trip, and plenty of choices for breakfast or lunch.

You can’t come to Tasmania and not see a real-life Tasmanian Devil, and for this, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary meets the memo. This sanctuary is not only a wonderful tourist attraction, but also a wildlife rescue service that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; funded solely by the entry fee. You won’t only meet a Tassie Devil, but a whole variety of endemic animals, including wombats, quolls, and sugar gliders.

Port Arthur Historic Site

Regardless of the season, no trip to Tasmania is complete without a visit to the most well-preserved historic convict site in Australia. This World Heritage Site is renowned for its penal colony remnants, which include gaol buildings, solitary confinement cells, an island cemetery and much more. Port Arthur Historic Site is a large and mostly outdoor area, so bring some comfy walking shoes and a warm jacket and immerse yourself in Australian history.

For the more adventurous traveller, you can continue the exploration of this bygone penitentiary after-hours, by joining in a lantern-lit Ghost Tour. Your guide will share stories of many departed souls who once resided here, and who some believe never left. These tours do not operate every evening, so check ahead to avoid missing out.

East Coast of Tasmania

Tasmania’s East Coast is generally kinder in the winter season than other parts of the island, although swimming may still not be on the agenda. Bicheno is a perfect base to explore the spectacular sights of the region. It is a short distance to Freycinet National Park, renowned for the magnificent view over Wineglass Bay and the Bicheno Blowhole, which is most exciting for spectators when the sea is rough.

Winter is the migration period for Humpback and Southern Right Whales, so why not stop at Whalers Lookout why you are in town? A short walk to the two lookouts will give you an amazing vantage point where you might be lucky enough to spot a whale or two in the distance.

Bicheno is also home to a local penguin colony, and tours run every evening. From April to August, these adorable creatures spend most of their nights maintaining their nests and burrows, in preparation for the breeding season.

Bay of Fires

On the way out of Bicheno, it is worth driving north to the extraordinary Bay of Fires, famous for distinctive granite boulders and striking white beaches. A picture-perfect stop where you can capture some life-long memories and photographs.

Whilst in the area, be sure to explore the nearby town of St Helens, where you will be sure to find something delicious to eat in one of their numerous restaurants and eateries.

Cradle Mountain

It is not a coincidence that this is the lucky last stop before heading back to Hobart. Cradle Mountain is always breathtakingly beautiful, but in winter, it is magical! In fact, one of the top things to do here in winter is the “Enchanted Walk” through a native rainforest. In winter, this easy circular walking track is complete with waterfalls, colourful fungi, and, if you’re lucky, a sprinkling of snow.

On your way back to Hobart, don’t miss a stop at Mole Creek to visit an awe-inspiring underground world. Inside the Marapooka and King Solomons Caves, it is the same climate year-round, making it a perfect addition to your winter road trip. Experience the beauty of sparkling crystals and marvel at the stalagmite and stalactite formations. Tour the “Great Cathedral” of Marakoopa and see the glowworms light up, like stars in the night sky. Tours are scheduled, so booking ahead is your best bet to get the time you prefer.

With a mixture of natural wonders, historical attractions, abundant wildlife, and delectable cuisine, Tasmania has something for everyone… in every season!

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