Tasmania has always been high on my bucket list, so when I finally made it down for a two week trip at Christmas, I decided to visit the state through a variety of different small road trips combined with city visits. We flew in and out of Launceston and this is where we started our Tasmanian adventure. We did this entire trip in one day (with the exception of the gorge, which we did on a different day), although if you wanted to take your time you could probably combine with an overnight stay.
Stop 1 : Launceston
Launceston is a small, laid back city with one main tourist draw card – Cataract Gorge. Just 15 minutes walk (or a very short drive) from the city center of Launceston is the natural playground of Cataract Gorge. The gorge parkland is home to a swimming pool, scenic chair lift, hiking and walking trails, gardens and cafes. It’s the perfect escape from the town. Visiting the parklands is free, the only thing with an associated cost is a ride on the chairlift. We did a one way journey on the chairlift and then walked across the bridge on the way back to the car, which gave us a good little introduction to the park. You could easily spend half a day here, especially if you want to take advantage of the swimming. If you plan to take your time, you may want to visit on a different day than the rest of the road trip itinerary, or alternatively, do the road trip over multiple days instead of one.
Stop 2 : Hillwood Berry Farm
The Hillwood berry farm is a commercial operation which opens up part of its operations for the public to come and “pick your own.” There is also a great little cafe where you can sample products made from the local produce. The main berries available are strawberries, but you can also pick raspberries, loganberries and red currents. Stop in at the cafe, buy an empty punnet and go out and start picking. The price is by punnet and varies by berries.
This was such a great activity to do with kids. Not only did Jacob have tons of fun searching for and picking berries, but we all got to enjoy the delicious fresh berries as we continued on with our road trip. I would recommend making this your first stop of your journey, so that you have plenty of yummy snacks on hand.
Stop 3 : Pipers Brook Vineyard
The main reason to head to the Tamar valley is to explore the vineyards. If you are not a wine lover, then this road trip might not be really for you. There are dozens of great vineyards to explore, and although we did stop at quite a few, we certainly did not get the chance to research them all. So for that reason, I’m not going to make specific vineyard recommendations. In fact, the only reason why I mention Pipers Brook is that it is at the top of the valley, and by visiting this one and then moving on to Platypus House, you will end up on a driving route which will take you past many of the other well established vineyards – thus giving you amble opportunity to stop wherever you fancy along the way.
For the serious wino, check out the Tamar Valley Wine Route web page, which will help you plot your ideal wine tour.
Stop 5 : Platypus House and Seahorse World
There are more that just Platypuses at the Platypus house. Here you can check out the elusive platypus, and it’s monotreme cousin the Echidna. Both of these shy little animals can be very difficult to spot in the wild (that being said, we saw multiple echidnas when touring Tasmania over two weeks, whereas we only saw 1 in a three month long road trip of mainland Australia. However, I have never seen a platypus in the wild (despite lots of trying). If you want to learn more about these truly unique creatures, then a stop at Platypus house is a much.
Next door to the Platypus House is Seahorse World. Seahorse world is an active seahorse farm which was originally set up to supply the Chinese medicine market, but which now supplies aquariums with live seahorses instead. It was created to respond to the demand for live seahorses without impacting on the wild populations. The center runs guided tours, and even has a kid specific discovery tour just for the little ones.
Stop 6 : Return to Launceston
This marks the end of the road trip. Find a park, pull over, and enjoy all the yummy treats you have gathered on your Tamar Valley road trip.