‘The Last Place on Earth’ sounds a little foreboding, but a trip to Tasmania is anything but. A good 250km south of Mainland Australia, this archipelago is roughly the same size as Sri Lanka but with a fraction of the population. Everyone’s desperate to see the sandy East Coast, yet, if you prefer the idea of stargazing to cityscapes, consider coming here instead. The world’s cleanest air is all the motivation you’ll need to explore the striking mountain ranges and national parks… its surprise status as one of Australia’s top foodie destinations certainly helps, too.
Author’s Note: Tasmania may look tiny next to Mainland Australia, but if you want to explore this island in full, you’re going to need to set aside at least two weeks. Our itinerary specifically focuses on Southern Tasmania (Hobart and Bruny Island), but check out our Facts Before You Go section for some quick recommendations outside of this area.
Day 1: Settle into Hobart & Explore Kunanyi (Mount Wellington)
If you’re expecting to find a city like Sydney or Brisbane here, then you’d be mistaken. For a state capital, Hobart feels more like a major town than a metropolis. There’s not a skyscraper in sight, and with a population close to 200,000, the result is a far more personable city break.
Tasmania today is unrecognisable compared to its notorious past as a penal colony, but you can investigate the island’s history further by visiting nearby convict sites. You’ll find after googling Hobart that the majority of its tourist attractions are on the unusual side, particularly the infamous Museum of Old and New Art (MOMA). To say that the artwork is thought-provoking and divisive would be an understatement — take caution if you’re squeamish.
Of course, not everything in Hobart is outlandish. The Saturday & Sunday markets is a highlight, but the city’s downtown area and waterfront is animated every day of the week. Although if it wasn’t for Hobart’s outside-the-box thinking, you wouldn’t have experiences like kayaking while eating fish and chips available for booking.
However you choose to spend your hours in Hobart, we recommend setting aside plenty of time today for Kunanyi (Mount Wellington). There’s over 70 hiking trails in Wellington Park alone, but if you have to narrow it down to one, the Organ Pipes Circuit is considered to be the best. This two and a half hour circuit is challenging enough to give you an adrenaline rush, but has paths which would be accessible to someone who is active but inexperienced at hiking.
One last thing. Even if you feel too tired to go hiking, consider booking onto a ‘Hop On Hop Off’ bus tour like this one. You’ll still be able to admire Mount Wellington’s scenery from the comfort of your chair, as well as enjoy a whole 30 minutes on the summit’s observation deck. There’s no feeling quite like standing on top of a mountain, no matter how you get there.
Day 2: Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary with a Stop-off in Richmond
Just 30 minutes away from Hobart is the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary: a rescue centre which specialises in up-close viewings of native animals, in addition to guided educational tours. It’s funded entirely by entry fees, and so your visit means that the sanctuary can continue its mission to protect and nurture endangered animals with the long-term prospect of releasing them back into the wild.
Tasmania itself has been a refuge for animals which actually went extinct on the mainland centuries ago: including the Tasmanian Devil. Contrary to the name, these cheeky creatures are not aggressive to humans and only attacked when provoked. The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary offers several different experiences where you might have the opportunity to spot one of these creatures. In addition to the Tasmanian Devils, you’ll find forester kangaroos, wombats and many more distinctly Australian creatures here.
Vegan travellers will be delighted to hear that the Bonorong Food Hut (for the humans) is 100% plant-based. Not only is the food affordable, but it receives overwhelmingly positive reviews on Happy Cow in response to the thoughtful and delectable menu.
Before heading back to Hobart, we recommend visiting the heritage town of Richmond. You’ll find appetising cafes, traditional pubs, and elegant vineyards here if you’re craving a grander lunch. Though none of these stand out quite as much as the Wicked Cheese Company, whose soft white cheese have won multiple awards.
Richmond isn’t overwhelmed with activity, but photogenic points like Richmond Bridge and a miniature recreation of Hobart as it existed in the 1820s are worth going out of your way for. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that Richmond Gaol once held the famous convict “Ikey Solomon”, who is rumoured to be the inspiration behind Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.
Day 3: Mount Field National Park
Tasmania has around 19 National Parks, but what makes Mount Field distinct is the diversity beyond belief. It’s the ‘park of all seasons’ for good reason as each corner offers something entirely new to the next. There’s temperate rainforests and cascading waterfalls, beaches and caverns, alpine mountains and even glaciers. Everything you’ve ever longed for while outdoors, Mount Field has.
It’s only natural then that you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking trails. First-time trekkers needn’t miss out as there are 60 short walks to choose from. Since you’ll be on your way to Bruny Island tomorrow, we recommend checking out the expansive jungles here instead of the beach — fabulous as it may be.
Day 4: Next Stop, Bruny Island
After grabbing your brekkie and caffeine fix at one of Hobart’s best brunch spots, get ready to say your goodbyes to the city. For the next two days, you’ll be exploring Bruny Island and taking in the extraordinary, all-natural scenery. The best part is that it’s only an hour away.
After reaching Kettering in a half hour drive, board the SeaLink ferry which will take you to Bruny Island in 20 minutes time. The ferry is a daily service and leaves every 20 minutes except for a lunch interval from 12:30pm to 1:20pm — so there’s no hurry to arrive here right away.
When visiting a hidden gem island, there’s a slight expectation that you’ll be compromising on food options. But the opposite is true here. If there’s one thing better than how Bruny Island looks, it’s how heavenly it tastes. From specialist chocolate and fudge, to artisanal cheese platters best served with a glass of chardonnay or apple cider, you won’t be forgetting the way this island’s specialties make you feel any time soon.
It doesn’t stop there. You can try a dozen mixed platter of oysters at Get Shucked: the world’s first oyster drive-through restaurant. Whether you’re ordering salmon or rock lobster, all of Bruny Island’s fishy dishes taste fresh from the sea.
This next recommendation isn’t ingestible, but if your accommodation is close to the beach, keep your eyes peeled for a blue glow. Noctiluca scintillans, also known as ‘sea sparkle’, is when bioluminescent organisms flash at night time on the sand. Spotting an entirely lit coast can be quite rare, but your best chance of seeing them is after a rainstorm. Take a look at the Instagram post below to see what we mean.
Day 5: Take Things Easy Before It’s Time to Go Home
How you choose to spend your last day in Tasmania is entirely up to you. Almost all of Bruny Island’s accommodation is centred around the outdoor environment — and so you may prefer to spend a few hours in close quarters, anyway.
If you have a few extra thousand to spare, you could hire a private island for the night. With a maximum occupancy of eight guests, you can enjoy the entirety of Satellite Island all to yourself, or with seven of your friends. Whether you’re swimming in the water, watching the sun rise and fall, or counting all of the constellations in the clear sky, an overnight stay here can feel both like a blast and a total reset.
Before it’s time to head back to Hobart, you have to reach the top of The Neck Game Reserve Lookout first. As Bruny Island is almost split into two, this viewing point is a special opportunity to view the landscapes back-to-back. And as the feature photograph in almost any article (including our own) about this underrated destination — your five days in Southern Tasmania is pretty much incomplete without taking one for your own Instagram feed.