Tasmania is a totally intriguing and enchanting place to visit for short stay. A longer stay though allows the traveller to sink softly into the land and culture and discover some of its less obvious charms.
Many appealing features of the island consist of what it lacks (if you find this idea quite puzzling, skip ahead to the last point in this article). While the scenic delights and wild beauty are well illustrated and documented in the many videos, brochures and promotions of the island, some lesser known features add yet more colours to the rainbow that is the apple isle.
Here be some of the friendliest people you’ll come across. In Tasmania people tend greet you and want to have a chat. You get a sense they are proud of their island and genuinely interested in whether you are having a great time on your visit to their backyard. Our experience is that they are keen to offer advice on where to find wildlife, little known attractions and places to eat/drink/get the car repaired. Whatever you might be looking for, they’ll know about it or know someone who does. You might even get invited to go fishing or be gifted with the bounty of someone’s backyard orchard or veggie patch.
Along with some totally charming place names (Promised Land, Snug, Nowhere Else, Paradise and many more) Tasmanians tend to personalise their towns and homes with topiary, murals, woodcarvings, quirky postboxes, scarecrows and whatever else springs to mind. This tendency decorates the landscape with unusual features that are sure to make you smile.
If you love wildlife then Tasmania really is heaven. There is an absolute abundance pretty much everwhere you go. You are very likely to have magical encounters with platypus, echidna, wallabies, black cockies, eagles and possibly even the odd Tassie Devil. Several areas boast wild penguins and seals. You need to drive carefully though as the wildlife mostly has zero road sense.
The Tasmanian Government provides a great guide to Aboriginal cultural heritage and there are multiple tours available to help visitors learn about Aboriginal history and culture.
Everywhere you go beautiful old buildings, bridges and other infrastructure bear witness to the convict and settler days. Maritime history is particularly well represented and you can find out just how far Bass and Flinders travelled and explored in their relatively short lives (Bass died at 32 and Flinders at 40).
Virtually the entire coast of Tasmania is littered with shipwrecks – over one thousand of them. Most are from the early days of discovery and settlement but some are more recent. It’s amazing to think of all those people who set out to cross thousands of kilometres of ocean with unreliable maps and without being able to swim (of course many of them didn’t get to vote on their travel plans).
For those who love tracing their ancestors there are multiple records and sites to explore.
Food & Wine
You really can’t say enough about Tasmania’s food and wine. From crisp apples dripping with juice to artisan cheeses, honey, berries, chocolates, smallgoods, spices, wines, gin, the list goes on. Depending on the time of year you can find a variety of roadside stalls offering the bounty of the season. Seafood is fresh and plentiful. Eating and drinking are serious pleasures in Tasmania and there are myriad cafes, restaurants, hotels, breweries, wineries and picnic spots to explore.
The flora and fauna have their own festival rhythms and you can follow them on Discover Tasmania’s Nature Events.
Otherwise there are multiple festivals and events throughout the year. Film, ferret racing, food, wine, medieval, penny farthings, seafood, yachting, SteamFest, Agfest, all kinds of music, chocolate, art, Dark Mofo. Discover Tasmania has a great list. Take your pick.
While not necessarily applicable to the larger centres due to their greater populations, Tasmania has a notable lack of:
- Noise. So much perfect silence, broken only by natural sounds (hello ever-present, excitable turbo chooks, the eerie cries of yellow-tailed black cockatoos and the thump of small wallabies hopping in the night).
- Crowds. Aside from the bigger cities and most popular tourist spots there’s plenty of quiet camping places, deserted beaches, mountains, bush tracks and waterfalls.
- Graffiti. Very little of this. Lots of murals though.
- Traffic Lights. Few of these outside the major centres. There are roundabouts and speed bumps however but I’m not sure you can avoid these anywhere with sealed roads in the known world.
- Road Rage. There might be some somewhere but I’ve found Tasmanian drivers on the whole to be pretty calm. There’s certainly less traffic and so less frustration. Definition of annoying traffic from one local was “three cars lined up at the (only) traffic light, time to find an alternate route”.
- Parking fees. Some apply in the bigger cities but in general you don’t have to pay to park at every local beach and attraction. It’s a win.
- Rules. There are less of them and less of those signposts with an overly-exhausting list of things you can’t do. It is often assumed that you will be a reasonable, courteous and tidy human being. While not everyone may live up to this expectation, it’s a lovely one nonetheless.
So there you are. Some pretty good reasons to visit Tasmania without even covering the hiking, boating, fishing, mountainbiking, diving, caving and four-wheel driving. It’s an overworked phrase but there is something for everyone. And those somethings are really quite special.