Take a Mini Break in Tasmania
There's a lot more to Tasmania than meets the eye, and its off-the-beaten-track location makes for the perfect mini-break destination. You'll feel like you've been on an overseas holiday in your own country. Here's what to do while you're there.
Book in your holiday accommodation on the mainland and take a day trip out to the stunning Flinders Island. It's located off Tasmania's north-east coast, is the largest of the 52 islands in the Furneaux Group and boasts its very own Strzelecki National Park, highlighting just some of the region's astounding natural beauty.
Simplicity should be the central theme of your Flinders Island trip, as its untouched flora and fauna offer the perfect place to relax with a fishing rod, a dip in the glittering ocean or a stroll along the damp sand that stretches for miles along the island's beaches.
Animal lovers will be impressed by the abundance of native creatures on Flinders Island, including Potaroo, Bennetts and Pademelon wallabies, wombats, possums and echidnas.
If you're looking to take a souvenir back home, stop in at Unavale Vineyard. It produces boutique Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the entire process occurs locally on Flinders Island. You can visit the cellar door, walk through the vineyard and pick up a bottle or two of your favourite drop to take with you.
Launceston is Tasmania's second largest city and the gateway to the famous Tamar Valley, Tasmania's premier wine-growing region. Launceston is a vibrant hub for culinary delights in itself, however, as seen in its plentiful restaurants, bars and farmers markets.
Foodies should indulge at the popular Novaros Italian Restaurant. It offers a unique Edwardian home setting, with its dining room decorated with artwork by local artist Junko Go. Enjoy signature dishes such as carpaccio of beef with capers, baby beetroot, wild rocket, garlic buttered snails and sunflower seeds cooked by chef Nicholas Hooper. Also on the menu is the fungo crustini con erbe fresche, which is comprised of a Tasmanian mushroom selection with baby spinach, fresh herbs and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, all served up on crostini.
Sip on a range of Tasmanian wines including the 2008 Pipers Brook Sparkling Wine, the 03 Tamar Ridge Riesling and the covetable 04 Pipers Brook "Summit" Chardonnay, or stick to a range of non-alcoholic beverages.
While you're in Launceston you should also head to the famous Harvest Market. It's held at the Cimitiere Street car park every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., and features a range of fresh produce sold directly to consumers by producers.
Make sure you stop by the Tamar Valley Truffles stand. This is one of the country's leading producers of the Black Perigord Winter Truffle, a favourite amongst Australian chefs. Don't miss the chance to taste a Modo Mio Naked brownie, made up primarily of Tasmanian ingredients to help support the local environment and economy. These brownies have no artificial additives or preservatives, with reduced sugar and an incredible taste. Toss up between the salted caramel, mint and death by chocolate flavours, or treat yourself to all three.
No trip to Tasmania would be complete without a visit to its capital city of Hobart. It's located on the southern Derwent River and is a great base to explore all the island has to offer.
Your first stop should be Salamanca Place in Sullivans Cove, which is the bustling waterfront heart of the city. The historical hub dates back to the 1830s, and still has the cobblestones to prove it. Drop into the Salamanca Markets to pick up some local glassware, pottery or art, then head to the Salamanca Arts Centre for a collection of arts spaces and galleries that span seven heritage warehouses. If your timing is right, you can often catch local artists working in their studios, and every Friday night the centre's courtyard comes alive with gypsy, jazz and swing music for people to enjoy and dance to.
The wharves adjoining Salamanca Place are lined with piers, and are where British convicts once came onto Australian soil. These days, the piers have seafood restaurants, yachts and fishing boats, adding to the charming seaside feel of the centre.
Another must-see location is Port Arthur, an historic site that was once billed as an inescapable prison due to its separation from the mainland by shark-infested waters. These days the prison has been transformed into a fascinating World Heritage-listed site, where you can stroll landscaped Victorian gardens and imagine what life was like for the thousands of prisoners who passed through Port Arthur's doors.
Walk along the Convict Water Supply trail and explore mills, reservoirs, aqueducts and water wheels, before getting an up close and personal look at the library and dormitory rooms. You can even cruise to the Isle of the Dead, the final resting ground for everyone who died inside the prison.
Visit the famous Bay of Fires, which features awe-inspiring beaches and idyllic scenery, and explore some of the five national parks spread across this coastline. Freycinet National Park is particularly appealing, boasting pink granite mountains contrasting with pure, untouched white beaches.
For fresh seafood, head to the fishing ports of Bicheno and St Helens. Keen fishermen and women should pack their rods, as these areas are perfect for game fishing. Divers will enjoy the deep fissures, caves, sponges and world-famous kelp forests in the region.
Cyclists should pack their bikes for one of many scenic rides down the coast. Try the Swansea to Bicheno route, which takes you past vineyards and the Southern Hemisphere's largest walnut orchard. Make sure you factor in the viewing point on Cherry Tree Hill, which offers incredible views of the Freycinet Peninsula landscape.