“Travel Diaries: Play, Learn, Serve and Rest Well” is a series about the idea of traveling well in a society that minimizes adventure and exploration to mere Instagram likes.
When most people think of Australia, they envision white sandy beaches, deep aqua seas and beautiful coastlines for miles. While this majestic scenery is something the country definitely serves up, less known, however, is the rugged, forest-covered and naturally diverse island down in the southeast corner: Tasmania.
Boasting some of the best biodiversity in Australia (and the world), Tasmania is quickly putting itself on the map as the place to visit for panoramic hiking vistas and rural camping, as well as luxury wine, spa and boutique accommodation experiences.
Hitting the east coast of Australia is a must for anyone planning a big tour of the land “down under,” but consider popping Tasmania on your checklist too. Just a little more than an hour’s flight from Melbourne, and just under two hours flying from Sydney, Tasmania has plenty of playful offerings that make it worth the trip.
- No write-up of Tasmania is complete without mentioning MONA – the Museum of Old and New Art. Temporarily closed due to COVID-19, the museum is the brainchild of David Walsh, renowned Australian art collector, businessman and professional gambler. MONA has put itself on the international art map with its jaw-dropping and mostly-underground art installations and exhibitions. A true one-of-a-kind experience, the gallery is filled with immersive experiences, breathtaking views and an on-site winery. In June, the gallery offers its annual Dark Mofo festival, where it takes over most of the city of Hobart with international arts and performance events.
- At the heart of Hobart lies the mountain Kunyani (colonially called Mount Wellington). A shuttle bus service operates to take visitors up and down, but if you want a truly magical experience, consider setting aside half a day (or a full day) to hike one of the trails that leads you to the top. The views on the way will not disappoint.
- At the other end of the island in Launceston is the Cataract Gorge Reserve. Tucked away, this hidden gem is a unique natural formation with several hiking trails, viewing platforms, an outdoor public pool and the infamous chair lift that takes visitors across the gorge itself to take in all the views.
- Tasmania loves visitors, but the priority of the island is to protect its natural wilderness. Keep Tassie Wild is a fantastic not-for-profit that seeks to educate and help promote sustainable, ethical and nature-preserving travels across the island. They also sell gorgeous, locally-made products with 50 percent of profits going to local Tasmanian environmental organizations.
- Based in Hobart, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery was established in 1846 and is a treasure trove of information about Tasmanian wildlife, including the story of the now-extinct Tasmanian Tiger.
The National Trust exists to protect and present the hundreds of historic and heritage sites across Tasmania. As a visitor to these spaces, it’s important to support the volunteer-run organization. Membership is a great way to support and gain discounted (or free!) access to hundreds of heritage sites.
You can also simply make a one-off donation. Depending on the length of your stay, you might also be able to offer your time as a volunteer. Conservation work across the sites is an on-going job, and there’s always need for extra hands to help out.
One of the best things about Tasmania is that there is no shortage of one-of-a-kind boutique accommodation experiences to discover. Many heritage buildings have been revived and given the touch of luxury they deserve to offer visitors the opportunity to experience the wild island, right in the heart of it.
- Set in a lush, private reserve and surrounded by natural bush and ancient rainforest, are Huon Bush Eco Retreats. This restful retreat will get you back to nature with its tucked away cabins, private camping spots and luxury teepees with wood fires.
- Set on the edge of Great Oyster Bay, Thalia Haven is exactly what it says—a haven at the edge of the world. A stand-alone cottage set on 130 acres of private land, this divine, rejuvenated stone house offers panoramic views, an outdoor tub on the private terrace and the opportunity to rest in peaceful surroundings.
- Located in the heart of the island, Pumphouse Point consists of two converted industrial buildings in the middle of the lake itself. One is on the shore of Lake St. Clair and the other is set at the end of a pier. It prides itself on being a place to “side-step daily life” in order to connect with others, yourself and some of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll find on planet earth.
As an island, Tasmania prides itself on its local produce, community-focused culture and the opportunity to escape big-city life in order to reconnect with the most important thing on this planet of ours: pure, wild nature. It’s the perfect spot to play, learn, serve and rest well.