Tasmania is a state composed of a number of small islands and one large island located about 150 miles off the southern coast of Australia. The state’s capital and largest city is Hobart, and this is probably where you will land if you’re flying in. There are regular flights from Sydney and Melbourne, and less-frequent flights from other destinations in the country. There are also ferries from Melbourne that arrive in Devonport. During the off season, the ferry travels throughout the night. In the peak of summer (the Northern Hemisphere winter), there are also ferries taking the full day. You can bring your car rentals onboard the ferries, but check in advance, as there are some restrictions.
The large island of Tasmania is 226 miles long by 190 miles wide, and boasts numerous natural attractions. While it was probably once connected to the Australian mainland, it has been an island for millennia. The large mainland island continent of Australia is isolated from any other landmass, as are the islands of New Zealand to the east. Both of these island countries have consequently developed unique wildlife found nowhere else in the world. Tasmania’s additional isolation means it, too, has unique wildlife found nowhere else—even on the neighboring Australian mainland. Chief among these is the Tasmanian Devil, the fierce, dog-size carnivorous marsupial made famous in American cartoons. You can also see wombats and wallabies, echidnas and eagles, penguins and fur seals, and the platypus, one of the world’s few egg-laying mammals.
The wild places of Tasmania are also great destinations. In keeping with the independent adventurous spirit of the Australian people, these places offer an array of outdoor activity. Head to the Bay of Fires on the northeastern coast for long pristine stretches of white sand beaches with great surfing and swimming. One of Australia’s most famous treks, The Overland Track, is to be found in Tasmania. It runs for close to 50 miles on the northern coast of the island and offers wonderful mountain vistas with lakes and sparkling waterfall. On odd numbered years, the Great Tasmanian Bike Ride occurs in February, and for the rest of the year there is excellent mountain biking available in many areas. You can enjoy hang gliding and rainforest canopy zip lines, superb trout fishing, sea kayaking and scuba diving.
For Tasmania history, you can visit Port Arthur, the best-preserved convict site in Australia. From 1833 to 1853, it was the place where the most hardened criminals from the UK were sent to live out their sentences, and it became the largest penal colony in the country. It was abandoned as a prison in 1877, and today is a popular destination, with guided and self-guided tours available. Penal institutions provided many of the first settlers of this wild and rugged country, including both prisoners and their custodians. Close to 100,000 convicts were transported to the island by 1853. They developed the country’s agriculture, infrastructure, and other industries.
Whatever aspect of the island you wish to explore, you will find a wide variety of Tasmania hotels, bed and breakfasts, rustic lodges, vacation rentals, and camping sites.