Located to the south of the Australian mainland sits an isolated archipelago about 98 times larger than Singapore.
Comprising 334 islands, it may be hard to believe that Tasmania is Australia’s smallest state. You might also be surprised to learn that the beautiful region was originally set up as a penal colony, housing thousands of British convicts in the 1800s. Punishment, reform and escape attempts were rife in the convict settlement.
Today, Tasmania is a world of difference compared to how it was about two hundred years ago. Replete with wineries, cheese makers, lavender blooms, parcels of nature and wildlife, it is now a tourist magnet.
Sign up for Dynasty Travel’s 8D6N Tasmania, Nature & Wildlife tour package to indulge in a mesmerising mix of history, spectacular landscapes, and the freshest food and wine imaginable, from now till December.
A trip to this island state will challenge what you think you know of Australia.
Myth: Australia is all about amazing beaches and almost nothing else.
Reality: Forget the beaches for once. Tasmania has a diverse choice of stunning landscapes that you can open your heart to.
Drop by the Port Arthur Historic Site at southeast Tasmania to learn what punishment and reform were like for some of Britain’s hardest criminals sent to Tasmania in the 1800s.
A 90 minutes’ drive from the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, the heritage site has more than 30 historic buildings, ruins, restored houses and heritage gardens.
Port Arthur was selected to house prisoners due to its proximity to deep, stormy seas that made a safe escape difficult.
Contrasting with this grim piece of history is the breathtaking sight of soothing lavender blooms at Bridestowe Lavender Estate, which is also the largest lavender farm in the southern hemisphere. Stand out from the crowd of social media feeds by sharing an eye-catching Instagram post of purple flowers that stretch back as far as the eye can see.
Or take a relaxing ride on the Gorge Scenic Chairlift at the Cataract Gorge Reserve in Launceston, northern Tasmania. Glide through the air with your legs dangling above ancient rock formations and a huge natural basin filled with the surging waters of the South Esk River.
To immerse in Tasmania’s stunning wilderness, stroll along a 6km track at Dove Lake to appreciate views of Cradle Mountain. About a two-hour drive from Launceston, the picturesque area also offers views of beaches on the side of the lake, the ancient Ballroom Forest and the occasional platypus.
Myth: Australia isn’t a foodie destination.
Reality: From abalone and oysters to cheese and wine, there is plenty of produce in Tasmania for food lovers to drool over.
Sample fresh, plump oysters harvested from the south-east coast of Tasmania at Barilla Bay Oyster Farm. Learn about oyster farming, processing and packaging before the juicy molluscs reach your dining table.
At Tas Live Abalone factory, just a 10-minute drive from Hobart airport, you can slurp freshly cooked abalone and purchase the black-lip and green-lip varieties.
There’s even more to pamper your taste buds with, as a trip to Tasmania is incomplete without wine and cheese.
At the Ashgrove Cheese farm, 45 minutes west of Launceston, look out for cheese infused with wasabi cultivated in northern Tasmania, and cheese pressed with Tasmanian Native Pepper harvested from Tasmania’s native forests.
Oenophiles will also look forward to the Jansz Wine Room and Interpretive Centre within the Tamar Valley, where you can sip Tasmanian sparkling wines from the famous Jansz Tasmania brand.
Myth: There’s not much wildlife to see in Australia apart from koalas and kangaroos.
Reality: Wait till you meet the emus and platypuses here.
About a half-hour drive from Hobart, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Brighton runs Tasmania’s largest wildlife rescue service, housing wombats, devils, quolls, native birds, lizards, snakes and emus. Listen to these rescued animals’ stories and struggles, and marvel at their unwavering survival instincts.
At Platypus House, observe Tasmanian platypuses, which are peculiar, egg-laying mammals with body parts that resemble ducks’ bills and webbed feet, beavers’ tails and otters’ bodies. See how platypuses swim and feed underwater or move about on land at the centre.
Myth: Australia is a daytime destination with little for travellers to do at night.
Reality: If you know where to look, some areas in Tasmania offer a treasure trove of night-time activities.
After the sun sets, join a guided wildlife walk to Cradle Mountain where you may see nocturnal animals such as brushtail possums, wallabies and wombats hunting, feeding or going about their nightly routines. Although this activity is not part of Dynasty Travel’s itinerary, travellers may arrange for this optional activity on their own initiative.
If you are lucky, you may catch rare glimpses of the green and pink lights of the Aurora Australis (also known as the Southern Lights) on a non-rainy night. This moment may well be the highlight of your trip and earn you some bragging rights.
Visit www.dynastytravel.com.sg/tour/details/australia/ATASS to discover the best of Tasmania.