1. kunanyi/Mount Wellington
kunanyi/Mount Wellington towers 1,200 metres above Hobart, and a trip up to the summit is high on the list of must-dos for many visitors for the absolutely incredible views on offer. Reaching the summit is one of those jaw dropping moments in life. On a good day, you’ll be able to see the entire city, the River Derwent, the surrounding countryside, and even as far afield as Bruny Island. Be prepared for every weather eventuality as conditions on the mountain can change rapidly.
A visit to the historic town of Richmond in the Coal River region, just 30-minutes’ drive north of Hobart, is an easy and relaxed day trip option. There’s plenty to see and do in what is one of the oldest European settlements in the country. Stroll across Richmond Bridge — the oldest convict-built road bridge in Australia, see the country’s oldest operating Catholic church, and pay a visit to Richmond Gaol, which dates back to 1826. Richmond is also home to an eclectic selection of galleries and boutiques, and plenty of cafes and eateries. It’s an altogether delightful spot to spend a day.
3. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Consider combining your visit to Richmond with a stop at the fabulous Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary — home to a menagerie of native Aussie critters, including several feisty Tasmanian devils. Devil Facial Tumour Disease has decimated Tassie’s devil population, and while researchers continue to search for a cure, healthy groups like this one are vital to the long term survival of the species. The sanctuary operates a 24/7 wildlife rescue service across the island and much of that work is funded by entry proceeds. There are various guided tours throughout the day, which are included in the cost of your ticket. If you specifically want to learn more about the plight of the devils, get to the sanctuary early. There’s a daily devils presentation at 10am.
4. Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur
With one fifth of living Australians descended from convicts transported from Britain in the 18th century, our convict heritage remains an integral part of the Australian story. Tasmania’s World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site brings that story to life in an engrossing and emotive way. Port Arthur is located on the Tasman Peninsula, approximately 1.5 hours’ drive from Hobart. You reach the picturesque peninsula by crossing an isthmus — once guarded by ferocious dogs to deter convict escapees. More than 12,000 convicts were incarcerated at Port Arthur over the course of 50 years and today there are around 30 surviving buildings to explore. Your ticket includes a 40-minute guided walking tour, and a 25-minute harbour cruise. Give yourself as much time as you can here. There’s a lot to see.
5. Bruny Island
Stunning Bruny Island south of Hobart offers nature and gourmet food lovers the very best of both worlds. Visitors can immerse themselves in the island’s unspoiled natural environment, and access some of Tasmania’s finest gourmet fare at the same time. The island produces oysters, cider, chocolate, honey, artisanal cheese, and much more. Bruny is effectively two islands, joined by a sandy isthmus. If you want to focus more on the setting and less on maps (keeping in mind that mobile phone coverage on the island is often patchy), an organised tour is a good way to go. Climb to The Neck lookout for stunning 360-degree-views of the isthmus and surrounding coastline, and tour the iconic Cape Bruny Lighthouse at the southern tip of South Bruny.
6. Russell Falls
Mother nature’s best is on display all over Tasmania, but perhaps nowhere more so than in Mount Field National Park — home to the exquisite Russell Falls. Surrounded by verdant rainforest, the tiered falls occupy an almost prehistoric world of filtered light, soaring tree ferns, mossy logs covered in colourful fungi, and babbling streams. The one-hour drive west from Hobart will see you pass through quaint towns and rolling green hills. The pastoral landscape gradually morphs into the dense temperate rainforest of the national park. Birdsong and the rich scent of eucalyptus fill the air as you stroll beneath the ancient forest canopy to the falls and back.
7. Huon Valley
The Huon Valley begins just 30 minutes’ drive south of Hobart. The region suffered a very tough time in 2019 as bushfires wreaked havoc, and the popular Tahune Forest Airwalk — an elevated walkway 30 metres above the forest floor — remains closed. It will reopen in early 2020. Rolling green fields, lush rainforest, crystal clear rivers and small fishing villages set by picturesque inlets are the hallmarks of a visit to the valley. Highlights include Willie Smith’s Apple Shed and Museum at Grove, the chance to go jet boating on the Huon River with Huon Jet, a visit to the fascinating Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin, and a wander through the town of Geeveston — the gateway to the remote reaches of the Picton and Huon rivers and Hartz Mountains National Park. Along the way, you’ll pass numerous roadside stalls selling fresh produce of every description.
8. Cradle Mountain
At four hours’ drive each way, a day trip from Hobart to majestic Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is a big expedition, but for some time-poor tourists it’s regarded as an absolute necessity. Dove Lake at the northern end of the world-famous park is a focal point for most day visitors, and on a good day the view of Cradle Mountain rising behind the tranquil waters of the lake is spellbinding. There’s a six-kilometre walk around the lake and you’re quite likely to encounter contented wombats grazing on the windswept open grassland. Also keep your eyes peeled for devils, spotted quolls, echidnas and wallabies.
If you have the time, pay a visit to the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery. It houses a fabulous collection of paintings, photographic works, ceramic pieces and sculptures that take inspiration from the surrounding region.
The activities and attractions mentioned in this story are provided as a guide only and may not be included in the Hobart day trips and tours offered by The Big Bus. Please check the itinerary notes for your choice of tour for a list of the included sights and stops.
Additional images: Bigstock
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