Discover Australia's natural treasure

Nicole Li
If you find yourself in Tasmania for a few days, here are the must-sees and must-dos to make the most of your time.
Nicole Li

When planning a trip Down Under, Tasmania is an underrated yet undoubtedly must-visit destination. An island state off Australian mainland’s southeast coast, Tasmania is famed for its unparalleled natural beauty, rugged wilderness and incredible biodiversity.

If you find yourself in Tasmania for a few days, here are the must-sees and must-dos to make the most of your time.

Day 1

8am: After landing in the charmingly small Launceston airport and renting a car, it’s time to grab a quick bite in the city center — something about the boiled eggs at Bryher’s makes it a fan-favorite.

9:30am: Take a 15-minute walk to the Cataract Gorge, a natural phenomenon 1.5 kilometers from the city center and a premier tourist attraction. Take the world’s longest single-span chairlift across the gorge and First Basin while snapping photos of the beautiful view below: Just don’t drop any phones!

Now you can spend a few hours lounging in the swimming pool, spotting peacocks, wallabies and exotic plants on one of many walking trails, or exploring Kings Suspension Bridge, all for free.

12pm: There are a multitude of lunch options: the Gorge restaurant for fine dining, the Basin Cafe for a quick bite, or a picnic in the wilderness if you’re feeling adventurous. Whatever you choose, the sights the Gorge is known for will surround you.

Discover Australia's natural treasure

The Cradle Mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1pm: Take a two-hour drive from Launceston to the World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain, in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Stop for a snack on the way at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe. Here, you can enjoy raspberry delights of all kind — from chocolate raspberries to raspberry ice-cream to raspberry vodka and coffee.

3pm: Check into Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, an escape that showcases the best of one of the most breathtaking regions on the planet. There’s a reason: It was featured on the 2014 Lonely Planet Extraordinary Places to Stay in the World list.

3:30pm: Choose from over 20 scenic walking tracks directly accessible from the lodge grounds and begin your adventure. The Enchanted Stroll takes you along the banks of the Pencil Pine River and through vegetation from button grass plains to tea tree thickets, eucalypt woodlands to mossy myrtle forests. You may even glimpse an elusive wombat if you’re lucky!

Perhaps you’d prefer the Crater Lake walk, which takes walkers to the Cradle Falls, through a magical forest with Pandini and Sassafras trees and by a hidden glacial lake surrounded by 200 meter cliffs. Other sights to explore include ancient rainforests, Dove Lake and canyons.

5:30pm: Join an after-dark feeding tour in a rare chance to see the Tasmanian devils, a nocturnal species exclusive to the area, up close. You’ll get to witness a group feeding session.

6:30pm: Enjoy the very best of Tasmanian cuisine at the Lodge’s Highland Restaurant; just remember to reserve your table in advance.

8pm: Your first option is to visit the Lodge’s Waldheim Alpine Spa. There’s nothing like a spa treatment in the midst of the Tasmanian wilderness.

Another option is to join an animal night spotting tour, where a guide will lead you into the national park after dark and point out various native species, from wombats to pademelons, wallabies to quolls. Then, you can settle into your cozy Lodge cabin for the night.

Discover Australia's natural treasure
Nicole Li / SHINE

A tour in the national park will reward you with cute animals like pademelons.

Day 2

8am: After a hearty breakfast at the Lodge restaurant, catch the free shuttle out to the National Park, located only a few minutes away. It’s time for a new day of adventuring.

9am: Take the Cradle Shuttle Service to Dove Lake, the crown jewel of the National Park. The lake, nestled in a ring of mountains, is as clear and smooth as a mirror, the perfect photo opportunity.

You can embark on the 6-kilometer Dove Lake Circuit around the perimeter of the lake for an up close and personal experience with one of the most majestic natural sights in the world. There are hidden beaches, an ancient Ballroom Forest and even elusive platypuses and echidnas — if you are lucky.

12pm: After lunch at the Cradle Mountain Cafe or a quick picnic at the Visitor Center Facilities, it’s time to check out and begin the trip back to Launceston.

1:30pm: Make a pit stop on the way at the Mole Creek Caves of Mayberry. These are underground natural wonders featuring loads of crystal formations and interesting creatures. Of the two caves, Marakoopa Cave and King Solomon’s Cave, there are three different tours available for your choosing.

You’ll run into the Tasmanian Cave Spider, underground rivers, sparkling stalactites and stalagmites, glowworms and more, depending on which tour you join.

3:30pm: Pay a visit to Grindelwald Swiss Village, about 15 minutes from central Launceston. This is a charming, Swiss-style town that features quaint houses with wide eaves, flower boxes, window shutters, and balconies with views of the Tamar Valley.

There are plenty of activities for visitors. You can rent a paddleboat or canoe and have a go on the lake, taste-test sweets in the chocolate café, or try your hand at the 18-hole mini-golf course. If you’re hungry, grab a snack at the local Alpenrose Bistro.

6pm: Don’t miss the thriving local culinary scene in Launceston. The No. 1 option on TripAdvisor, Navaro’s, is a good option if you’re interested in seafood or Italian cuisine.

You could also go for one of the dozens of cafes and coffee shops or the local cuisine at Larceny Restaurant.

7pm: To wind down your time in Tasmania, head over to the Launceston City Park and check out the antics of the Japanese Macaques, a monkey species gifted to Launceston by its sister city Ikeda in Japan.

You can also take a leisurely after-dinner stroll through the botanical garden to relax after two tiring days of hiking and walking, or check out the conservatory with its horticultural displays.

Discover Australia's natural treasure
Nicole Li / SHINE

If you go:

• Tasmania has extremely limited public transport. If you’re planning on visiting, a rental car (or your own car) is a must. Tour buses are an option, but definitely can’t compare to the flexibility of a personal vehicle. Remember to practice driving on the left side of the road if you can. Make sure your license is valid in Australia.

• Roads in Tasmania can be steep, winding, narrow and dangerous, especially on mountains or during bad weather. Always drive slowly and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

• Many B&B owners are wonderful cooks and will serve you fresh, local produce at the fraction of the price of a restaurant. When meals are included, take advantage of them.

• Pack for all kinds of weather due to the varying climate all year round. Remember to bring clothes for layering.

• Since you’ll be driving a lot, spending a few dollars to stock up on food at a supermarket for making meals on the road is a good idea. This is especially since there will often be long distances between towns and you don’t want to have to drive hungry.

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