Ah, Tasmania. You’re a mysterious little gem that puts many people off visiting, mainly because you’re cold and, well, a bit isolated. Your past hasn’t helped you either, being filled with such blood-soaked misery as cannibalism and genocide, and as you have a somewhat back-in-time feel, you’ve been criticised for not keeping up with the mainland. Consequently, you’ve been the but of jokes such as being packed full of inbreds.
But I’m here to tell you Tasmania, I love you. Your past, your imperfections and your violently beautiful scenery has only added to your mystique and allure.
So don’t listen to the naysayers (who’ve helped keep the place a bit of a secret). Here’s 20 things to do in Tasmania – or ‘Tassie’, as it’s colloquially known – one of my all-time favourite places in the world.
1. Try a scallop pie
Often baked in wood-fired ovens, the scallop pie is a cracking little dish containing Tasmanian scallops surrounded by curry sauce and crisp pastry. I’ve driven around the entire island sampling these and they taste wonderful.
2. Sample some whisky
Tasmania’s Sullivans Cove whisky was named the world’s best single malt whisky in 2014, while this year it was named the world’s top distiller.
3. Explore its history
Hobart is Australia’s second oldest city and much of the island served as a penal settlement for the world’s vilest criminals. Places like Port Arthur – the most complete convict ruins in Australia – and Sarah Island are intriguing places to explore.
4. BYO café lunch
Have you ever been to a café with a sign saying BYO lunch? Even though Tassie offers some of Australia’s best food, you can still take a homemade sandwich inside while you sip on a coffee.
5. Visit a ghost town
Tasmania contains numerous forgotten places that thrived for brief periods during mining booms. Today, these ghost towns (which I’ve visited here) have an eerie feel to them and are fascinating places to explore.
6. Explore the lakes & caves
Tasmania has Australia’s deepest freshwater lake, Lake St Clair, as well as its deepest caves in the Junee Florentine area.
7. Visit Wineglass Bay
This bowl-shaped bay, which was named after whalers tainted its shores with whale’s blood (a red wine look) during the 19th-century, is home to translucent water and ivory-coloured sand. The surrounding granite mountains (the Hazards) are also spectacular, and they get their unusual pink hue from orthoclase, a pink feldspar.
8. Take a drive
Tasmania offers some of the world’s prettiest drives. With routes like Anthony Road in the state’s north-west – which passes glacial lakes and rugged mountainous peaks – you’ll be stopping so often you’ll be lost for time.
9. Visit a lavender farm
Tasmania contains the largest lavender farm in the world and is the only producer of this aromatic herb in the southern hemisphere.
10. Visit a Tulip farm/festival
Tasmania has some of the world’s loveliest tulips, as Holland (allegedly the land of the tulips) imports all its tulip bulbs from Tasmania. Attend a festival or visit a farm to see them at their prettiest.
11. Sample the local delicacies
Due to its clean coastline and waterways, Tasmania has some of the world’s tastiest salmon. Other regional specialties are wild abalone (Tasmania is the world’s largest supplier), leatherwood honey, black truffles, saffron, wasabi, extra virgin olive oil and cheeses.
12. Bask in the mystery
Tasmania reputedly houses the oldest living thing in the world – a Huon pine tree estimated to be over 4,000 years old. Its location is kept secret, just know that you might be somewhere near(ish) it.
13. Breathe in the clean air
Tasmania is allegedly home to the world’s cleanest air. And it’s no wonder, with trees such as the biggest white gum (89 metres tall and 10 metres around) in the world.
14. Slurp on good beer in good pubs
Tasmania’s Cascade Brewery is Australia’s oldest, while the Bush Inn at New Norfolk is Australia’s oldest continually licensed public house.
15. Play world-class golf
Tasmania is home to a whopping 69 golf courses, more per capita than any other Australian state. Bridport, in the state’s north, is home to a world-famous golf course where players are flown in and out by helicopter.
16. See some penguins
Tasmania contains a healthy population of penguins along its shores, particularly at Bicheno, where you can view these little waddlers by tour at night.
17. Feel a little greener
The world’s first green party formed in Tasmania in 1972. Roughly 42 percent of Tasmania is listed as world-heritage area, forest reserves, marine or national parks.
18. Whale watching
One of the world’s best places to watch the annual whale migration is Bruny Island, a small island off the south-east of Tasmania. Here southern right whales, minkes and orcas cruise on by and even park for a bit.
19. Take a walk
With long and short walks through ancient rainforest, across mountains and pristine beaches, Tasmania has numerous opportunities for adventure lovers. Check out walks such as the Maria Island Walk and the iconic Overland Track
20. Attend the Cygnet Folk Festival
Arguably Tasmania’s coolest festival, the Cygnet Folk Festival is a unique village event involving three days of rollicking music, dancing, poetry, food and brew.
Have I left out any of the best things to do in Tasmania? Let me know in the comments!