Technically the direct drive from Hobart to Launceston takes only two and a half hours. But for the romantics among us, that’s selling Tasmania very short. The Apple Isle – particularly its east coast – is a place where every bend in the road leads to a discovery, every detour a mini adventure.
You’ll discover dramatic beaches and bays, fabulous cellar doors and exceptional produce. And there’s some classy hotels and holiday homes in which you can lay your head along the way. We put together a bucket list for those looking to work their way from Hobart to Launceston in style.
Stay in some of Hobart’s best boutique accommodation
The Islington Hotel feels more like your rich pal’s expansive private home than a humble inn. Set in South Hobart a short drive from the CBD, this fabulous glass and sandstone edifice boasts sumptuous lodgings, a handsome garden and an extensive collection of artwork. Best of all, there are only 11 rooms in the place, meaning it always retains a retreat-like vibe. If you prefer being in the heart of the action, Moss Hotel’s Georgian sandstone frontage overlooking Salamanca Place belies the slick, ultramodern hotel inside, which is all rough-hewn timber and botanically inspired fittings and fabrics. It makes an idyllic bolthole from which to explore the city on foot.
Explore the East Coast Wine Trail
Heading north of town, set the GPS for Cranbrook. A two-hour trip promises a half day’s investigation of Tasmania’s East Coast Wine Trail among the vineyards. Here storied family-run wineries such as Craigie Knowe, Gala Estate and Spring Vale peddle varietals out of beautiful, unfussy and friendly cellar doors. Be sure to takeaway a case of Craigie Knowe riesling or award-winning Gala Estate syrah.
Eat fresh oysters at Freycinet Marine Farm
Just outside Coles Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula, Freycinet Marine Farm is a working oyster farm that also offers a dine-in option on their deck (or takeaway if you’d prefer). Their oysters are fattened in Great Oyster Bay and they also serve locally-caught salmon, crayfish and abalone. Farm tours and tastings are available with Oyster Bay Tours, and you can finish the day by heading down the highway to Thalia Haven, a stone-built coastal villa with a great view across Great Oyster Bay.
Explore Freycinet National Park
Any drive up the east coast of Tasmania needs to take in the spectacular beauty of Freycinet National Park. Wineglass Bay is the park’s Instagrammable star, its crystal-clear waters and wide, curving beach a bonafide Australian icon. But also make time for the more intimate and accessible Honeymoon Bay– set among a fringing eucalyptus forest, it boasts dramatic views of the Hazards mountains rising immediately above. You can spend an inordinate amount of time exploring here. But on your way north out of the park, do stop at Friendly Beaches – its endless stretches of sand a lure for swimmers, surfers and casual beachcombers alike.
Stay at Bay of Fires Bush Retreat
Another hour and a half on the stunning coast road will find you at larapuna/Bay of Fires. An unforgettable slice of Australian coastline, here is a place of white sandy beaches, dramatic rocky outcrops and rich Indigenous history. A great base from which to explore it is Bay of Fires Bush Retreat, which offers beautiful glamping accommodation by the southern edge of the bay. There are king rooms available, but for the full experience opt for a Luxury King Bell Tent – a cosy, beautifully decorated hideaway in which to retire after the day’s adventures.
Hit the mountain bike trails (and the sauna) in Derby
An hour west of Bay of Fires lies the old tin-mining town of Derby. Over the past six years it’s transformed into a mecca for mountain biking, with riders flocking from around the country to experience its exhilarating network of trails that crisscrosses the forested hills south of town. Hire a bike from Vertigo MTB and set off safe in the knowledge you can ease those aching muscles with a session at the sublime Floating Sauna Lake Derby, situated literally on Lake Derby. Book a shared sauna session for only $45 or the whole thing to yourself for $225. Do it right with a few plunges in the chill lake during the hour-long experience.
Eat, drink and stay at Stillwater
For two decades Stillwater has been a Launceston go-to for refined regional Tasmanian produce and wine served in a fabulous reconditioned 1830s flour mill overlooking the Tamar River. But since late 2019 guests have also been able to head upstairs after a meal to in-house hotel Stillwater Seven and one of seven beautifully appointed guest rooms. The luxurious digs have river views, huge old wooden beams and locally designed furnishings, and each comes with a bar-pantry stocked with regional produce. It’s less a stay and more an experience, and the perfect way to see out a romantic Tasmanian road trip.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tasmania - Come Down for Air.