If you’ve ever ventured to Tasmania before, you would know that it is the perfect road trip destination.
Not only is Tasmania an incredibly scenic part of the world with a host of stunning natural attractions, but its compact size also allows travellers to explore it in its entirety in a relatively short time frame.
One thing I will advise on that matter, even though it is entirely possible to drive from the tip of Tasmania to the very bottom point in a single day, you’re going to want to set aside a week or so, at the very least, to enjoy everything this beautiful island state has to offer.
From pristine National Parks to well-preserved historical sites and, of course, the abundance of opportunities to try delectable local cuisine, there’s something for everyone.
Important Tasmanian Road Rules for Travellers
When road tripping anywhere in Australia, it’s always important to know the relevant road rules, especially if your road trip is taking you interstate.
The road rules in Tasmania, in general, don’t vary too much from those in other states and territories. Here are a few to be wary of though, that may differ depending on the rules in the state or territory you are used to driving in…
If you or another driver are learners or probationary drivers, you must not use a mobile phone, even hands-free, for any purpose while driving or stationary. Only when the car is fully parked are you able to do so.
For non-learners and non-probationary drivers, it is ok to use a mobile phone to make or receive a phone call, listen to music/audio or for navigation while driving, only if the phone is used in hands-free mode. Physically touching a phone while driving, in any instance is super illegal and highly unsafe.
If you plan on indulging in a few bevvies throughout any part of your trip (winery tours, tastings, stop ins at local pubs, etc.) you should be aware that both the driver and passengers are not allowed to open or consume alcohol while driving in Tassie.
Saving costs on accommodation while sleeping in your car is completely fine, but keep in mind that restrictions will generally apply to certain areas including beaches and reserves.
On a similar note, if you are to leave your vehicle unattended (ie. you are more than 3m away from the car), your windows must be all the way up, keys out of the ignition, parking brake on and doors locked.
You can make a u-turn at all intersections that don’t have a ‘no u-turn’ signed, but not at traffic lights, unless otherwise signed.
Last, but not least, when driving past an emergency vehicle that’s parked on or near the road or moving at less than 10km/h with sirens on or lights flashing, it’s important to remember to slow down to 40km/h.
I know, that was quite the info dump, but you can never be too careful when it comes to road rules when travelling outside of your usual area.
For more information on Tassie road rules, you can check out the Tasmanian Road Rules Handbook.
Now, let’s get into the good stuff…
Bass Hwy – Devonport to Launceston
We begin our Tasmania road trip in the third largest city of the Apple Isle, Devonport.
This will be super relevant for those who are planning on taking the Spirit of Tasmania ferry service from the mainland, across the Tasman Sea. Now, the ferry ride is going to take approximately 9-11 hours, so you’ll need to make a day of it. It’s worth it though, for the beautiful ocean views and the calming sea breeze.
Arriving in Devonport, you’ll be greeted with plenty of attractions including the Devonport Regional Gallery, nearby Cradle Mountain, fantastic beaches and walking and cycling tracks that intertwine with the city itself. It’s definitely worth taking at least half a day to check out this beautiful city and all it has to offer.
The hour-long drive from Devonport to Launceston should absolutely be broken up by a few pivotal stopover points along the way.
These include the magnificent House of Anvers Chocolate Factory located just outside of Devonport in La Trobe and then, almost at the halfway point of the trip, the Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm and Cheese Factory in stunning Elizabeth Town.
The Tamar Valley wine region is also a must-see along the way, with an array of wineries, scenic walks and historic settlements to uncover.
Once you’ve had your fill of chocolate, cheese and wine, it’s time to continue on to Launceston, Tasmania’s second largest city.
This timeless monument to Australia’s history is packed full of period architecture and verdant natural preserves and parks. Now, there are quite a few options when it comes to finding a place to stay (yes, you will want to stay here overnight), but my favourite stop over spot is the Quality Hotel Colonial Launceston which is an interesting heritage setting on the outskirts of the CBD. It provides modern facilities while still upholding the historical charm that Tassie does best.
For more on Launceston’s spectacular attractions, check out my must-do things in Launceston’ guide.
The East Coast – Tasman Hwy
When your Launceston stay has come to an end, it’s time to pack up the car or camper van and hit the road – the Tasman Highway, that is. This is your extended ticket from Launceston to Tassie’s capital city, Hobart.
There are many wonderful places to explore along the Tasman Highway and it is such a magnificently scenic route that there really is no better way to travel between Tasmania’s two largest cities.
It’s going to take you approximately 8 hours to make the trip along this coastal route, so it’s important to plan a stopover or two along the way to make sure you can fit in your travel time alongside exploration of the must-see places to stop between Launceston and Hobart.
Now, we’ve arrived at the main attraction, the capital city of Tasmania, the spectacular Hobart.
The historic charm of Australia’s southernmost city is palpable as you enter. Hobart is the home of many a heritage site and the sheer number of interesting and exciting places to visit and things to do will definitely require a few nights’ stay.
To name a few star attractions, you’ll find Mount Wellington, Cascade Brewery and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, but they are honestly just the tip of the iceberg.
The Inland Route – Midland Hwy
Now, if taking the long way around isn’t conducive to your schedule, there is a much quicker way to get from A to B when travelling between Launceston and Hobart; the Midland Highway (also known as the Heritage Highway for reasons that will be become obvious as you make your way through the Midlands). This is the inland route that takes between 2-3 hours, minus any stop-offs along the way.
On this route, you’ll find a number of spectacularly stunning scenic views, awesome attractions and exciting places to have some fun.
These include quite a few colonial landmarks, with some of Australia’s oldest able to be viewed at Oatlands and Ross.
There is a 7km walking trail that follows the old Tasmanian Line railway, if you’re up for an all-day adventure on foot. You’ll find many parks and playgrounds to visit in the towns along the way, if you’re travelling with little ones (or kids at heart).
The West Coast Route – Lyell Hwy/Zeehan Hwy (A10) & Bass Hwy
Finally, this brings us to our last feature of our Ultimate Tasmania Road Trip, the West Coast Route.
From the colourful hills that litter Queenstown from its long mining heritage to its vibrant arts scene and now environmentally conscious township, this Tasmania town is a must-see along the West Coast route.
You’ll find plenty of white-water rafting opportunities for thrill seekers on both the Franklin and King Rivers.
The port city of Burnie is another destination frequented by tourists for good reason. This beachside town is full of shops, galleries and other stalls that showcase the ingenuity and creativeness of locals and their wares. Australia’s largest boutique whisky distillery, The Hellyers Road Distillery is a Burnie treasure, much loved by visitors from all over the world.
No matter the amount of time you plan to spend in Tassie, there is always a road trip option suited to your individual needs. You’ll find an array of interesting historical sites, breathtaking scenic landscapes, delectable local cuisines and many fun and fabulous activities along the way.
I highly recommend spending at least a week (but really you will want to give yourself 2-3 weeks) traversing the Tasmanian countryside if you intend on taking a relaxing road trip holiday. It is honestly one of the most peaceful Australian travel destinations if you take your time and enjoy the journey.
If you’d like to get more information to help plan your trip to and around Australia… Check out the rest of my blog posts.