Top Places to Go for an Outdoor Adventure in Tasmania

Whether you want to explore national parks or spot rare wildlife, Tasmania is the adventure capital of Australia.

Photo © Megan Jerrard

Adventure seekers need to look no further than Australia’s island state of Tasmania. More than a third of the state is protected pristine wilderness, which is home to many of Australia’s greatest treks

You realize you have landed somewhere special the moment you set foot on Tasmania. The island immediately takes your breath away but kindly returns it in the form of some of the freshest air you can breathe. It resembles the lushness of New Zealand more than the mostly arid Australian mainland. Your sense of adventure will draw you in numerous directions, but, thanks to the island’s manageable size and accessibility, you will have no trouble exploring it all.

National Parks and Wildlife

More than 40% of Tasmania is a national park, reserve, or conservation areas. At the heart of Tasmania’s conservation efforts is the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which covers nearly 20% of the island. Tasmania has 19 national parks, more than 400 conservation areas, and hundreds of nature reserves and historic sites.

While the Cradle Mt - Lake St Clair National Park receives the most attention, due to its modern facilities, popular Dove Lake Circuit Trail, and the world-famous Overland Track, it is the lesser-known parks and reserves which offer pure wilderness.

Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain. Photo credit: Megan Jerrard

Rocky Cape National Park is home to Aboriginal heritage sites, lighthouses, and shipwrecks, while Narawntapu National Park offers the chance to camp among many of the island’s iconic animals including Tasmanian devils, wombats, sea eagles, Forester kangaroos, and pademelons. A short hike around the park’s Springlawn Lagoon in the early morning or just before sunset will provide the best chance of seeing wildlife.

Your exploration can be as rugged or relaxed as you want. National parks such as Freycinet offer well-groomed, sign-posted trails that take you to beautiful sights including Wineglass Bay.  Southwest National Park is well off the beaten path and a visit requires careful planning. Much of Southwest National Park is unexplored and contains rare animals, such as the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot. Some areas of the park can be accessed by road but others, such as the South Coast Track, require a helicopter to enter, before you hike out.

Don’t discount the smaller reserves. The strange-looking platypus and the echidna can be viewed near towns along the rivers and places like the Tasmanian Arboretum.

Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

Tasmania’s capital Hobart will probably be the starting point for your Tasmanian adventures, and from here there is a lovely drive to the historic convict settlement turned open-air museum at Port Arthur. Walking though the remnants of the buildings, you can almost hear the cries and despair of the convicts that were imprisoned here with no hope of escape. The drive to Port Arthur also allows you to take in numerous natural attractions such as the Devil's Kitchen, the Tessellated Pavement, and Tasman Arch.

If arriving in Tasmania by way of its second-largest city, Launceston, you can create a road trip itinerary that takes in the many unique small towns along the northern coast. In addition to numerous beaches, waterfalls, and caves, you can hunt for hidden treasure tucked away in plentiful antique shops along the way. See the giant painted murals of Sheffield, the topiary of Railton or The Nut of Stanley, or if you've road-tripped from mainland Australia you'll need to take a journey across the treacherous Bass Strait via Devonport’s Spirit of Tasmania ferry. 

Tasmania may be wild and rugged, but its network of well-maintained roads offers some of Australia’s finest road trips. Nearly every corner of the island can be accessed within a half day’s drive, making it possible to take in several of its great drives.

Get lost in the prehistoric looking Tarkine Forest Reserve, home to Australia's largest temperate rainforest. The Tarkine Drive circuit cuts through Tasmania’s northwest, and is dotted with numerous hiking trails and camping areas along the coast and deeper into the rainforest.

Tarkine Forest Reserve. Photo credit: Megan Jerrard

If you’re after pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, the Great Eastern Drive will take you from the scenic Bay of Fires to Orford. Further south along the coast, two national parks break up the welcomed monotony of lovely serene beaches. Both Freycinet and Maria Island National Park offer incredible hiking opportunities and the chance to see wildlife.

Incredible Things to See

The only thing better than witnessing the roar of a waterfall is not having to share the experience with anyone else. Across Tasmania, countless waterfalls can be accessed on short hikes that bring you close enough to feel the cool mist uon your face. The rainy winter season brings many of the falls to life including the elegant Liffey Falls and the towering Montezuma Falls, Tasmania’s tallest. Seek out hidden gems like Lobster Falls or Redwater Creek Falls that rarely see visitors for weeks at a time.

Be sure to explore some of Australia’s longest and deepest cave systems. Mole Creek Caves in the state’s north are home to entrancing glow worms, stalactites, stalagmites, and shimmering crystals. If you are a bit claustrophobic, head south of Hobart to the spacious Hastings Caves where you will also find a welcoming thermal pool to relax your legs after climbing the cave’s many stairs.

Tasmania may offer more than enough to keep you entertained, but don’t miss visiting its offshore islands. Travel back in time with a visit to Maria Island which once hosted convict settlements but now provides a safe refuge for wildlife including introduced devils. Search for albino wallabies on Bruny Island, dine on fresh seafood on King Island, and escape modern life on Flinders Island.

Planning Your Adventure Around Tasmania

While the summer months provide the best weather, it also means visiting in the peak tourist season. Spring and fall may be your best bet to avoid heavy crowds and will allow you to truly appreciate the tranquil natural beauty the state has to offer. 

Many of Tasmania’s long multi-day hikes require a fair amount of prior planning. Advanced bookings and permits may be needed and there are restrictions to be aware of such as daily limits on the number of hikers allowed as well as areas that are off-limits to trekkers.

The weather in Tasmania can often change dramatically without much notice. It is wise to always pack extra gear including warm clothes in case it is required. You will also find that Tasmania will quite literally blow you away with strong gusty winds known as the Roaring Forties and keep in mind it frequently rains on the west coast.

Not all Tasmanian wildlife you will encounter will be cute and cuddly. All of the island’s snakes are venomous, and leeches, ticks, and mosquitoes can be plentiful at certain times of the year. Wearing heavy-duty gaiters, long pants, and long sleeves is highly recommended, and Tasmania’s cool climate means you will still be quite comfortable wearing extra gear.

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