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BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO VISIT TASMANIA
Part of the fun in planning a holiday in Tasmania, is the many and varied day trips you can choose out from Hobart and Launceston. With relatively short driving distances and stunning scenery, Tasmania is a popular touring holiday destination. If you enjoy bushwalking, many of the trails through the National Parks lead to spectacular, unspoiled areas such as Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsular and the beautiful Cradle Mountain. Tasmania is ideal for an RV, campervan or motorhome holiday.
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Hobart, Tasmania's capital, is a charming city without the hustle and bustle of the larger mainland cities. That's part of the appeal for residents and tourists alike. It's a place to escape to; not from, as the convicts once wanted to do from the penal colony. The 19th century waterfront warehouses, give Hobart a distinctive architectural character; contrasting beautifully against Mt Wellington and the Derwent River. The scene at the Salamanca Markets, held every Saturday, is vibrant and a 'beehive' of shopping activity, with locals stocking-up on fresh local produce and tourists buying beautifully, hand-crafted souvenirs. You shouldn't miss Market day, but if you do, Salamanca Place is Hobart’s cultural hub; home to galleries, theatres, cafes, craft shops and restaurants, housed in grand old Georgian warehouses. Strolling around this city is like stepping back in time to when whalers, sailors, soldiers and all sorts of characters frequented the dock area and its pubs. The buildings are beautifully preserved and provide a conducive, cosy atmosphere for a drink in front of an open fire before dinner. Another area where its colonial heritage has been preserved and buildings meticulously restored, is the inner city suburb of Battery Point. Just a short stroll from Salamanca, Battery Point has all the atmosphere of an old English fishing village, with a quaint ring of old cottages surrounding the old village green. There are tearooms, restaurants, fine antique shops, pubs and two excellent museums recounting life in the early colony.

Touring Trips out from Hobart.

Rich in convict history, the very popular day trip to Port Arthur goes through some beautiful countryside and along the spectacular, rugged coastline of the Tasman Peninsula. Approaching the coast, visitors get splendid views down over Pirate's Bay and Norfolk Bay, that are separated by a narrow stretch of land called Eaglehawk Neck. In the early days of the penal colony, ferocious dogs were chained across the narrowest part, to form a barrier, preventing convicts who had escaped from the Port Arthur penal settlement from getting past. In the area are a series of remarkable natural wonders: The Tessellated Pavement, Tasman's Arch and the Devil's Kitchen. Australia has many magnificent natural attractions; but when it comes to Historic Sites, few match Port Arthur in compelling history and preservation. The penal settlement was built using convict labour, and today, the impressive architecture, delightful gardens and chilling prison facilities survive for visitors to explore. There are many aspects to this place: some serene & beautiful, some fascinating, and some others quite haunting, with the knowledge that, of the 12,500 transported convicts that were imprisoned here, one in seven perished. The grounds are a delightful place to picnic, looking out over the beautiful bay.

Like Port Arthur, Richmond, on the outskirts of Hobart, is a major tourist attraction. Probably nowhere else in Australia has such a concentration of Heritage Listed buildings; arts, crafts and gift shops; boutiques, tearooms, cafes, restaurants, galleries, and museums; all within a leisurely stroll. The best of Tasmanian craftsmanship is on display, including furniture and ornaments hand-crafted from local exotic timbers. The convict built bridge and the goal are the oldest in Australia. In the late afternoon sun, looking along the Coal River with the sandstone bridge in the foreground and the spire of St Johns Church rising out of the deciduous trees that line the river; is picture-postcard-perfect.

A very pleasant day trip is to combine Mount Wellington with the Huon Valley, and coastal villages to the south of Hobart. On a clear day, the panoramic views from Mount Wellington, down over Hobart, the Derwent River, Bruny Island, South Arm and the Tasman Peninsula, are simply spectacular. At 1270 metres, it has been known to snow on Christmas day, so you will need to rug-up, just in case. Down off the mountain, you will warm up on your drive to Huonville, which is the commercial hub of the Huon Valley and a major apple growing region. From here there are a myriad of roads to take to explore the regions towns, rivers, peninsulas and inlets. The Tahune Forest Airwalke, 37 metres high up in the treetop canopy, is a great way to view the picturesque scenery of the Huon River and surrounding forests. The pretty town of Cygnet and the beautiful surrounding area is where many of Tasmania's finest artists, potters and wood turners choose to live and work. It's a pleasant place to stop for a Devonshire tea with fresh cream....Yummy! The drive back to Hobart via tiny coastal towns of on the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, is very picturesque. You can get a ferry across to Bruny Island from Kettering.

Mt Field National Park is an easy 90 minute drive west of Hobart and is one of the most popular protected areas in Tasmania. It is located near the southeastern boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area and is best known for the magnificent Russell Falls, near the entrance to the park, and forests of giant trees, some over 400 years old, 90 metres high and 20 metres around the base. The park is a natural sanctuary for some of Tasmania's unique and protected animals such as the Tasmanian Devil.

The west coast of Tasmania is isolated, wild and beautiful. Fortunately, for the persistent protests of environmental activists in the early 1980's and the intervention of the Federal Government to stop the State Government from damming the Gordon River, the south-west wilderness area is now protected by World Heritage listing. Tourists come from all over the world to experience the areas remarkable rivers, lakes, and forests containing trees some up to 1,000 years old. The gateway to this spectacular area is the picturesque town of Strahan on the shores of Macquarie Harbour. A popular and relaxed way to experience the area is a cruise exploring Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River. For a more exhilarating experience, there are jetboat rides, helicopter and scenic flights. For train enthusiasts, the West Coast Wilderness Railway, linking Strahan and Queenstown, is a journey back in time and a tribute to the men who toiled, in atrocious conditions, to forge the link to the mining town of Queenstown.

Ross, almost midway between Hobart and Launceston, has been described by tourists and travel writers as "The most beautiful historic town in Tasmania". A focal point of the town's beauty is the magnificent bridge, superbly crafted by convict stonemasons in 1836. This workmanship is emulated in many fine sandstone buildings in the town. With so many preserved buildings and tree lined streets, a stroll through Ross is reminiscent of old English country villages. Well off the main highway, it's a wonderful and relaxed place to picnic on the banks of the Macquarie River; or perhaps have a hearty 'ploughman's lunch' in one of the eateries in town. From Ross you can either head off up to Launceston or loop around past Lake Leake, to the coast. Swansea is a popular holiday destination on the shores of Great Oyster Bay, with beautiful views across the water to the rugged mountains of the Freycinet Peninsula. There are many contrasts in scenery, and townships and villages to explore on the drive down the coast and back into Hobart.

Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmanian and is located in the north of the State on the Tamar River, 199 km from Hobart. Tourism Tasmania eloquently describe it as: "Launceston and its river valley blend history, scenery, creativity, adventure, entertainment and the superb flavours of fine food and wine. Launceston is a city of elegant architecture and award-winning restaurants, while the lush Tamar Valley is Tasmania's premier wine-growing region." Although having all the amenities and services of a city, Launcestion has all the charm, friendliness and hospitality of a country town. It's a great place to use as a base to explore the Tamar Valley and beyond.
Touring Trips out from Launceston.

The trip from Launceston to the Freycinet Peninsula via the coast, is one of constantly changing scenery and a myriad of places to see and things to do. Just out of Launceston is the north-east part of the Tamar Valley Wine Route, with some of the oldest wineries in Tasmania specialising in the production of premium sparkling wines. Past the ever changing colours of the vineyards, to the vibrant colours of the Bridestowe Estate Lavender Farm and onto Scottsdale, where you can learn about Tasmania's forests and exotic timbers at the Forest EcoCentre. A short trip north to the coastal village of Bridport is well worth the deviation, especially in Summer, for great beaches swimming, fishing, seafood and holiday atmosphere. Back onto the Tasman Hwy and heading east, the old mining town of Derby is an interesting place to stop and visit the Tin Mine Centre, which is a recreated mining village. Make sure you stop for scones and tea in the 'Crib Shed' tearooms. Further through the Weldborough Pass, is the Blue Tier Nature Recreational Area. A one hour return walk, through magnificent ferns and forests of blackwood, sassafras and myrtle, leads to a giant tree with a massive girth of 19.4 metres. If you are feeling hungry after your walk, stop at the Pyengana Cheese Factory and try the much acclaimed and awarded cloth-wrapped vintage cheddar. The milkshakes at the Holy Cow Cafe are made from fresh milk and are yummy! Re-energised, visit the nearby, magnificent, 90 metre high St Columba Falls. Next is the short trip to the coast and the picturesque fishing port of St Helens, on the shores of Georges Bay. Due to the surrounding hills and warm ocean currents, St Helens is actually warmer in winter than Melbourne, making it a popular holiday destination. Take a short drive north to Binalong Bay and explore the stunning Bay of Fires with its magnificent white beaches and emerald coloured water. Heading down the coast from St Helens is one one of Australia's most beautiful coastal drives. Bicheno is one of the best known and most popular coastal towns in Tasmania. A mild climate, safe beaches, great fishing, excellent scuba diving, the Bird Life and Animal Park, a spectacular blowhole and great seafood, are some of the attractions for holiday makers. Your level of anticipation is raised as you drive down towards the world renowned Freycinet Peninsula. Coles Bay is a very popular place to use as a base from which to explore the Peninsula, and is a great visual introduction to the Freycinet National Park. The Fairfax 'WalkAbout' travel guide, eloquently describes Freycinet: "It is fair to say that it is one of the country's most spectacularly beautiful areas and when the weather is perfect it is hard to imagine a more peaceful and awe-inspiring piece of coastline." The 10,000 hectare park is abundant in wildlife and plants; some rare, some exquisitely beautiful. The jewel in the crown is the strikingly beautiful Wineglass Bay, voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. It is well worth the half day return walk to see this gem, or you can take a scenic flight over the Bay and surrounds.

The contrasts between the two World Heritage listed areas of the Freycinet Peninsula and Cradle Mountain are quite extreme; yet both share the "breathtaking scenery" praise. The mood of Cradle Mountain changes dramatically with a change in weather. One moment, in full sunshine, the lakes and surrounding mountains are an incredible range of vivid blues; and then clouds will roll in giving the whole scene a dramatic, foreboding look. In winter the mountains appear almost black with snow on the ground and in autumn, the surrounding hills come to life with a splendid display of yellows from the native deciduous beech trees. These dramatic changes are an inspiration for photographers. The best way to see and to experience Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is via one on the many walking tracks through the park. Some short and easy walks get the visitor to beautiful vantage points.

A tour through the Tamar Valley follows the majestic Tamar River as it meanders through picturesque, fertile countryside, past vineyards, orchards, lush pastures and forests, from Launceston to Bass Straight. The western side of the river has many attractions starting with the Launceston Lakes and Wildlife Park, where you can get a close-up view of a wide selection of native animals and birds, including the Tasmanian Devil. You could also try your skills at fly fishing and maybe catch a trout or two for dinner. And for an after dinner treat, stop at the Swiss style shopping square in the Chancellor Resort at Grindelwald, for some Swiss chocolates. What about a nice Pino Noir or Reisling to go with the trout? The Tamar Valley is Tasmania's oldest and largest wine growing region, renowned for its cool-climate wines. Have lunch at one of the winery's restaurants or at the Lynton Farm cafe. Beaconsfield became a household name in Australia when two miners were trapped in an underground Gold mine for 14 days before being rescued. The Grubb Shaft Gold and Heritage Museum gives the visitor an insight into the workings of the old mine and is a sobering reminder of the hazards faced by miners past and present. On the other side of the river is George Town, Australia's third oldest town, settled in 1804. A great time to visit George Town and absorb it's charm and historic character is in November when the George Town on Show Festival is held over four weeks. Food, wine, local hospitality and a cruise on the historic tall ship Windward Bound will be a highlight of your tour through Tasmania.
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