I don’t normally post trip reports about my actual travel, because this is a blog dedicated to flights and hotels. However, my recent trip to Tasmania was absolutely amazing, and it’s a place most people don’t even have on their travel list.
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After flying Ottawa-Washington-Tokyo-Bangkok-Melbourne-Launceston, I was a little exhausted, regardless of flying mostly first class on ANA and Thai. I landed in Launceston, the second biggest city in Tasmania, in the evening. I was staying at the Balmoral on York hotel, located in the CBD and rated among the best in the city. Although it was clean and comfortable, the hotel was built from cinder blocks, and felt a little like a hostel in terms of design, and definitely a departure from what I’m used to for modern hotels.
I crashed that night the moment I got to the hotel. The next morning, due to jet lag, I woke up at 4AM, and took an early-morning walk through the city. It’s pleasant enough, but definitely lacks things to do. It feels like a small English town.
At 7AM, I was picked up for the first day of my three day tour, offered by Tours Tasmania. I was going to Cradle Mountain, one of Tasmania’s main tourist sites. Once there, I hiked Marion’s Peak and did the Dove Lake Circuit. Although the Dove Circuit is a very easy walk, Marion’s Peak is quite challenging. It takes about two hours, and for a good portion of the hike, there’s a near-vertical incline. You have to use chains to pull yourself up the cliff. I was exhausted when I got up, but the view is absolutely stunning. I would highly recommend doing both walks, which both offer different views. I saw wombats, cool bugs, and a wallaby. Further, the area is filled with distinct microclimates. You’ll be in a rain forest for 100 meters, and then in a desert-like climate for the next 100 meters. Very cool! My tour guide said that less than 1/10 people do both walks (I knew I was special, like mommy always said!).
On the second day, again at 7AM, I did Wine Glass bay, another major Tasmanian tourist site. I have to say, after Cradle Mountain, Wine Glass Bay felt ‘meh.’ Wine Glass Bay is a “perfect” looking bay. However, the view that we got was from a far, and it was substantially less impressive than Cradle Mountain. Apparently you can go to the bay on a different hike and swim, but I didn’t have the opportunity to do that. I would say to give it a go if you have the time in Tasmania, however, if you’re short on time, do Cradle Mountain instead.
Later that day, I went to a Tasmanian Devil sanctuary. Tasmanian Devils are only found in Tasmania, having been killed off from the mainland. Unfortunately for the Devil, an infectious tumor disease has dramatically reduced the wild population, and sanctuaries like this one play an important role in preserving the species.
That evening, I went to Hobart and stayed at the Fountainside Hotel, located just off the CBD. It was perfectly located, and I had a very pleasant stay.
Hobart is quite a bit nicer than Launceston. It’s Tasmania’s largest city, has a beautiful waterfront, and a historic downtown. Salamanca, the main drag of the city, has a great market, where you can spend two hours walking around and trying out different foods (I had a wallaby burrito. Yum!). Note that Hobart is obscenely expensive, costing much more than mainland Australia. I’d say a budget of $150 per person, per day, not including hotels is reasonable.
On the third day, at a more reasonable 7:30AM pick-up time, I did a tour of Port Arthur. Port Arthur is an old prison complex near Hobart, and is one of Tasmania’s most significant historical sites. It’s a huge complex that takes four hours to do properly, with beautiful buildings and a nice park to stroll through. An interesting point of modern history: in 1996, Port Arthur was the scene of one of the world’s deadliest shooting sprees, killing 35 people. A gunman entered the tourist site and started shooting tourists in one of the cafeterias, and then went on a rampage through the rest of the complex. A beautiful and serene memorial was built with the old walls of the cafeteria. The management doesn’t like to talk about the massacre, and only a plaque off to the side of Port Arthur details what happened. This event dramatically changed Australia’s gun control laws… unlike the US, Australia learns from their disasters.
Would I go again? Probably not. My time there, three full days in total, was more than enough. If I could drive, there’s a lot more wilderness to see, and I’d recommend at least a week. However, I really enjoyed my time in Tasmania, and it was the best part of my Australian visit. I highly recommend it. To get there, you should fly to a major Australian city, and then fly Tiger Air or Jet Star (both discount airlines) to Launceston or Hobart. You can also take a ferry from Melbourne to Devonport.