Flying into Burnie places you on the edge of Tasmania’s raw, untouched wilderness, surrounded by fresh produce and fascinating people. For a small island, Tassie packs a powerful punch – boasting 2800 kilometres of walking tracks throughout pristine bush and what feels like more experiences each kilometre than anywhere else in the world. With a bounty of fresh produce, it’s no wonder its chefs, winemakers, brewers and distillers are winning international awards. And it’s easy to tie all this up on some amazing Tasmanian road trips.
On these two journeys, you’ll discover contrasting stories of ancient culture and tenacious pioneers, to wineries handed down over generations and seafood plucked fresh from the ocean.
DAY 1: BURNIE TO CORINNA
Burnie is a natural starting point for a journey into the Western Wilds. Once an industrial centre on Tasmania’s north-west coast, Burnie has emerged as a creative hub with quality produce, art deco architecture and coastal scenery. Get your bearings at the Makers Workshop, a contemporary art gallery, workshop and café where you can watch local artists at work.
Head toward Waratah, on the edge of the diverse takanya / Tarkine Forest Reserve to explore its mining past at the Waratah Courthouse Museum and view the town’s tumbling waterfall. It contributed to hydropower here more than 100 years ago and is a pretty spot to enjoy a picnic.
The takanya / Tarkine Forest Reserve is home to Australia’s largest temperate rainforest. On the drive to Corinna, stop at Philosophers Falls for a 45-minute walk along the historic mining water race. From origins as a thriving mining town, Corinna Wilderness Experience is now a wilderness retreat. The surrounding forest is full of walks and kayak trails, and you can cruise the Pieman River in a legendary Huon pine vessel and sleep in renovated mining huts.
DAY 2: CORINNA TO STRAHAN
After an invigorating morning walk in the forest, head towards Strahan via Zeehan. Zeehan was once Tasmania’s third largest city, built on the back of lucrative silver mining. Much of the opulent architecture has been restored, and you can learn about its history at the West Coast Heritage Centre. Once in Strahan, make your way to the waterfront and join World Heritage Cruises on the Gordon River. The Grining family have been running tours here for more than 100 years, with its fifth generation now taking guests into Franklin-Gordon Rivers National Park.
Retire tonight at nearby Lettes Bay, an historic village of Tassie ‘shacks’ or small cabins overlooking the water. Try Salt Box Hideaway, which has been restored with modern luxuries, including your own private deck and a firepit down at the water’s edge.
DAY 3: STRAHAN TO TARRALEAH
Today’s drive is a winding journey from the windswept coastline toward the agricultural heart of the west. First stop is Queenstown, another fine example of a town once reliant upon mining (the world’s richest, in fact) that has creatively reinvented itself. The landscape is dramatic and moon-like, and its streets are filled with historic buildings. The West Coast Wilderness Railway departs from here on a journey deep into the wild west coast, telling tales of deception and resilience along the way.
Wind along the banks of expansive Lake Burbury as you head towards Derwent Bridge, the gateway to the southern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Lake St Clair is Australia’s deepest lake, which you can explore on foot or by ferry.
End your day at Tarraleah Estate – once a town for the workers who developed Tasmania’s pioneering hydroelectric scheme. Its cottages, houses and lodge have been converted into accommodation.
DAY 4: TARRALEAH TO NEW NORFOLK
Heading back towards Hobart, the roadside scenery graduates from wilderness to agricultural land, passing through small historic towns like Ouse and Hamilton. Take the turn off to Mt Field National Park, Tasmania’s first national park. It’s an accessible 20-minute walk through towering swamp gums, ferns and cool temperate rainforest to Russell Falls, a magnificent cascading waterfall. In autumn you can witness the spectacular ‘Turning of the Fagus’, when the endemic fagus plant changes from green to shades of red and gold.
Charming roadside stalls abound here, so keep an eye out for cherries, honey and vegetables, and stop by Westerway Raspberry Farm. Try the local hop at Two Metre Tall Brewery. You can bring a picnic or barbecue and set yourself up on the grassy area near the Farm Bar overlooking rolling hills.
Stay the night at Stanton Farmhouse, a large Georgian house in Magra built by convicts in 1817.
DAY 5: NEW NORFOLK TO HOBART
New Norfolk is Tasmania’s third oldest city, established when early settlers were evacuated from Norfolk Island to Tasmania in the early 1800s. It’s now the heart of the Derwent Valley, surrounded by lush agricultural land. The hops from here supply most breweries in Australia. Explore its antique and bric-a-brac stores, and Tasmania’s oldest church, the Anglican Church of St Matthew.
Willow Court is Tasmania’s oldest mental asylum, now home to two-hatted restaurant The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery. On the journey back to Hobart, stop at Stefano Lubiana Wines. If you have room, lunch in the Osteria and taste the biodynamic cool climate wine.
North & Great Eastern Drive
DAY 1: BURNIE TO HADSPEN
After flying into Burnie, jump in the car and start your exploration of the delicious Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail, a highlight of the North & Great Eastern Drive, one of the best Tasmanian road trips. Agriculture is central to industry on the north-west coast, so you’ll see rolling hills striped with crops and roaming livestock. Stop at House of Anvers for handmade chocolate tasting and Ashgrove Cheese for cheese, cream and butter.
If you’re more interested in grapes, taste cool climate wines at Ghost Rock Wines with views over Bass Strait, or try a produce platter at Three Willows near DeLorean.
Dine tonight at the Red Feather Inn in Hadspen, which uses local ingredients, often grown or raised onsite, to prepare an ever-changing menu well-matched with its extensive wine list.
Alternatively, retire in one of the 10 beautifully restored luxurious guest rooms at Quamby Estate, a boutique country estate with a fascinating history dating back to the 1830s.
DAY 2: HADSPEN TO ST HELENS
The Tamar Valley produces some of Australia’s best cool climate wines, especially sparkling wine, second only to Champagne, France. Explore the Tamar Valley Wine Route to taste your way through several varietals across its 30 vineyards. Have lunch at one of the many cellar door restaurants such as Timbre Kitchen at Velo Wines or Clover Hill Wines.
Head to the coast in the afternoon. Pyengana Dairy have produced handcrafted cheese onsite for more than 130 years. Be sure to taste the award-winning cloth matured cheddar and enjoy a gourmet platter with matching Tasmanian wine or beer at Pyengana Farmgate Café.
At night explore the St Helens food scene. Choose from Nina Restaurant and Bar, which serves tapas and substantive plates, or Furneaux Restaurant and Comptoir, which draw upon French connections.
DAY 3: ST HELENS TO COLES BAY
Tasmania’s east coast is home to the Great Eastern Drive, which starts at the Bay of Fires, north of St Helens. The middle section of the drive is dotted with coastal towns and villages where locals have holidayed for generations. Just south of Scamander, Ironhouse Brewery, Winery & Distillery at White Sands Estate make four handcrafted brews using water sourced from their own spring, and wine produced from 60 hectares of vines.
Take a detour at Bicheno for fish and chips at The Gulch, overlooking the water. Then explore the bounty of the sea further at Freycinet Marine Farm near Coles Bay. Oysters and mussels are harvested daily, and they sell scallops, abalone, rock lobster and salmon sourced from local fishermen. Enjoy it fresh on the deck or take your haul with you. You can join an Oyster Bay Tour to harvest oysters and learn how to shuck before enjoying a selection with a glass of local wine.
Spend a luxurious night in one of the architectural award-winning Coastal Pavilions at Freycinet Lodge, set within the gorgeous Freycinet National Park.
DAY 4: COLES BAY TO TWAMLEY FARM (BUCKLAND)
Start your day with a walk to the lookout over Wineglass Bay, then hit the road to explore the wineries of the Great Eastern Drive. Devil’s Corner Vineyard are open for tastings daily and wood-fired pizzas. While there, take in views of the pink granite formations of the Hazards and Freycinet Peninsula. Then pop into Spring Vale cellar door, a small family vineyard producing award-winning drops.
Stop in at Triabunna to see the busy marina and enjoy fresh fish and chips at The Fish Van. It’s the launch pad to visit Maria Island, a natural wildlife sanctuary with the most intact example of a convict probation station in Australia.
Your bed tonight is at Twamley Farm, a 7000-acre working farm outside Buckland dating back to 1842. The Turvey family, who run the farm today, have been at Twamley since 1874. Stone farm outbuildings have been reimagined as boutique accommodation, plus there’s pods and bell tents.
DAY 5: TWAMLEY FARM TO HOBART
Prepare a sumptuous breakfast from the Twamley Farm provisions or order a Gourmet Picnic Hamper to take with you. Drive the longer route to Hobart and explore the historic town of Richmond, at the heart of the Coal River Valley wine region. The centrepiece of this Georgian-era town is Richmond Bridge – it’s Australia’s oldest, built by convicts in the 1820s.
Wind your way through Coal River Valley and stop at one of the many cellar doors. The region’s oldest vineyard is Domaine A, planted in 1973, now owned by Moorilla Estate and open Friday to Monday for tastings. Or pop into Puddleduck for their ‘reverse BYO’ – bring your own food to match your wine, or book a vineyard and winery tour.
Lead image: © Twamley Farm