The best time to visit Tasmania is during the summer months when the temperatures reach 20-24º celsius on the coast and the valleys west of Hobart are even warmer. The water glistens, the trees tower and Tasmanians are out and about showcasing the best that the Apple Isle has to offer, from the state’s selection of seafood to wines and world-class whiskies. Plus, there is all the nature and wilderness to explore as well as the art and performance as part of MONA FOMA.
Winter, however, enchants Tasmania. Snow falls on the mountain tops and powders the tops of the eucalypts while festivals celebrate apple cider, chocolate and the winter solstice. And, winter is the best time to witness the southern lights of the Aurora Australis and the Tasmanian night sky.
And yet, no matter what time of year you visit Tasmania, its many beautiful and stunning towns will be there to receive you.
1. The Wilderness – Australia’s Final Frontier
Almost 20% of Tasmania is a World Heritage Site. That’s 15,800 km²!
It’s a huge amount of wilderness to explore and there’s probably quite a fair bit that you won’t be able to reach as there are some areas more than 50kms from the nearest road. Six national parks, and a tonne of other areas, make up the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which also includes one of only three remaining temperate wilderness areas in the southern hemisphere and the best example of a temperate rainforest anywhere in Australia.
Sites to see in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area include Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair, the Franklin River, and the Walls of Jerusalem. Each of them is capable of leaving visitors speechless with their beauty. Tasmania is also home to the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest trees with the tallest, Centurion, reaching a height of 100.5m as well as the “world’s biggest blue gum”, which was found recently by giant-tree hunters in the Huon Valley.
2. Go for all the walks
One way to experience all the beauty and wilderness that Tasmania has to offer is to tackle the Overland Track—Australia’s premier alpine walk. You will probably need some bushwalking experience to take on the 65km (one way), six-day trek and you will need to book in advance. But it will be totally worth it once you set your eyes on the landscape of ”glacially carved valleys, ancient rainforests, fragrant eucalypt forests, golden buttongrass moorlands and beautiful alpine meadows.”
If such a challenge is still not on your radar, then Tasmania has plenty of more walks to offer. There are at least 60 great short walks around the state to tackle, from gentle wanders around waterholes and serpentine strolls along the coast or more physical challenges that take you up mountains to glorious lookouts where you’ll be taking out your camera to capture the beauty—one such place on everyone’s Tasmania bucket list is the above, the image of Wineglass Bay.
3. Visit MONA
MONA, Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art, is the largest privately funded museum in the Southern Hemisphere, exhibiting ancient, modern and contemporary art. It’s also one of the world’s most eccentric collections of art as well as one of the most controversial.
The building itself is hugely impressive as well, which is built largely underground and forces visitors to descend an almost everlasting staircase before they view the art. A visit to MONA is an experience. Bookings to visit MONA are a must, even for Tasmanians who get to go for free although a deposit is currently required.
MONA FOMA and DARK MOFO
MONA FOMA (sometimes shortened to MOFO) is Tasmania’s summer festival of art and performance while DARK MOFO is the winter version of the festival. Both feature local and international artists, installations, dance parties, free sessions and a whole host of other events that attract audiences from all around Australia and the world.
4. Tasmanian Towns
Hobart is the epitome of Tasmanian cool, home to natural beauty and some of the state’s best restaurants serving up the region’s phenomenal produce, while Launceston is pretty impressive in its own right, boasting of Cataract Gorge that’s just a stroll from the centre of town as well as Australia’s largest lavender farm Bridestowe Lavender Estate, which is open all year round but is in full bloom in December and January.
However, the smaller towns and regions peppered across Tasmania are well worth a visit, especially if you find yourself passing through on a round-the-state road trip. There’s the infamous Port Arthur that’s more than its history, the oft-forgotten Devonport, Cygnet blooms with almost as much art as it does apples, Queenstown and Strahan which are linked by the historic West Coast Wilderness Railway, fishing town Bicheno serves up the freshest catch, and Penguin has got a 10-foot tall penguin plus Tasmania’s largest undercover market.
And if mainland Tasmania isn’t remote enough for you, the island has 334 islands scattered around its fringe. From Bruny Island to Maria Island, Flinders to King, there’s plenty to explore.
5. Festivals That Are Not Part Of MONA
Tasmania has got a lot to celebrate when it comes to food and drink. One of the more popular festivals, though, has to be the Huon Valley’s Mid-Winter Festival that’s all about apples, apple cider and scaring away evil spirits from the orchard. The only time a country outside of Scotland and Japan has won the best single-malt whisky in the world was in 2014 and that was by Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask—a Tasmanian distillery. However, it’s not the only distiller in the state and Tasmanian Whisky Week is here to prove it.
If wine is more your type of tipple, then the Great Eastern Wine Week Festival 10 days and 220kms of boutique wineries. And, if you’re all about sparkling, then Effervescence Tasmania is the wine festival for you.
The Chocolate Winterfest in Latrobe is another popular celebration because, well, chocolate and typically includes tastings, dinner parties, high teas, chocolart, and immersive and interactive chocolatey experiences. On the other hand, the Stanley & Tarkine Forage Festival that debuted this year showcases the best produce straight from the producers, growers and makers.
Finally, Tasmania’s Taste of Summer over New Year’s blends music with some of Hobart’s best restaurants in the heart of the Salamanca district.
6. Aurora Australis
Whether you see the Aurora Australis or not has a lot to do with chance, but there’s no better place in Australia than Tasmania to catch the spectacular light show.
To find out more about them, and to help you catch the lights, check out the Aurora Australis Tasmania Facebook page—an Australian-based group that love the Aurora Australis and who help, encourage and celebrate the natural phenomenon.