Tasmania’s east coast is celebrated by those in search of the perfect road trip. But fewer travellers head west, towards beautiful fishing villages such as Stanley and Strahan, the rare cool-temperate rainforests of takayna/Tarkine, or the spectacular peaks of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Out this way, Tasmania can feel like an undiscovered country, with every turn in the road revealing a tiny hamlet, mighty forest or craggy stretch of coastline. Here’s how to spend a few romantic days in Tasmania’s west – where to stay, and what to see, do and eat.
Stay and eat in Launceston
Start your adventure in beautiful Launceston, the state’s second biggest city. Drop your bags at Hotel Verge, a new boutique hotel right in the guts of town. Echoing the precinct’s early industrial heritage, the hotel features industrial-luxe fittings in timber, steel and glass, Tasmanian-built king beds, handsome tiled bathrooms, and a fabulous on-site restaurant, Diverge, which showcases modern, local cuisine in a beautiful timber-lined setting.
Peppers Silo stands alone on the other side of the Tamar River. Here, four 1960s-built grain silos have been converted into an eye-catching nine-storey hotel with views. There’s a couple of excellent cafes and restaurants nearby – including Boathouse Coffee and Rupert & Hound – but the hotel’s own classy eatery, Grain of the Silos, sources produce from across the island for an approachable pan-European menu worth staying put for.
Explore and stay in Stanley, the quintessential romantic fishing village
Geographically defined by the Nut, an immense volcanic plug that rises 143 metres straight out of the sea, Stanley is a fishing village that feels almost stuck in time. Spend a couple of days here, exploring its cafes, restaurants and galleries, the atmospheric colonial-era Highfield Historic Site, or just gawking at the quaint stone cottages, and you’ll soon forget about the outside world. Grab some fish and chips from Hursey Seafoods and walk it off with a climb up the Nut for spectacular 360-degree coastal views. At the end of the day, have a pub meal with the locals at the Stanley Hotel Bistro and retire to Ship Inn Stanley, a beautiful old hotel that dates back to 1849. It’s the kind of place where you’ll want to linger, with the rooms decked out in stylish darkened tones, rich timber accents and luxurious linens – in other words, don’t be afraid to book an extra night.
Explore the Edge of the World
Wander down to the rocks at the tip of Gardiner Point to a spot dubbed the Edge of the World, and you’ll be staring at an ocean that stretches uninterrupted all the way to Argentina, 15,000 kilometres away. It’s an eerie spot, particularly when you take in the natural drama of the surrounding coastline. Grab a shot for Instagram and explore the rest of the area, which includes the small township of Arthur River and its eponymous waterway.
Discover takayna/Tarkine, Australia’s largest tract of cool-temperate rainforest
The north-west corner of Tasmania is home to takayna (or the Tarkine), an enormous tract of rare cool-temperate Gondwanan rainforest. One of the best ways to explore it is to head two hours south of Gardiner Point to Corinna, a former mining town that sits on the banks of the Pieman River. From here you can set off on wilderness walks and cruises – but perhaps the most romantic way to experience the rainforest is in a kayak, gently paddling your way to Lovers Falls. Five kilometres downstream from Corinna, this gorgeous waterfall drops about 40 metres through thick, vividly coloured bush. It’s magical stuff, but the journey there on the hushed river, passing by banks of myrtles, sassafras and giant tree ferns, is half the wonder. Hire kayaks from Corinna Wilderness Experience, and stay in its new wilderness cottages or in the old pub.
Day walk at Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Lake St Clair and Cradle Mountain are up there with Wineglass Bay, in Tasmania’s east, as the state’s most iconic natural attractions. Try to make some time for a day walk in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. There’s a clutch of trails at Lake St Clair, at the southern end of the park, while in the north you can get a taste of climbing to the summit of Cradle Mountain over the course of a day, or opt for the relatively easygoing Dove Lake Circuit, a three-hour walk that offers terrific views and access to some beautiful tracts of rainforest.
Stay in the shadow of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
There’s some brilliant accommodation near Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Eagles Nest Retreat boasts three separate “nests” scattered over a 20-hectare property, with clear views of Mount Roland and the surrounding rural landscape. Opt for the smaller Eagles Nest I: it features a farmer’s bath, a log fire and – wait for it – a revolving sofa on a 360-degree turntable for taking in the surrounding vistas. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge is located on the edge of the national park and is an incredible wilderness experience – and if you’re feeling indulgent, you could book some treatments at the Waldheim Alpine Spa. There’s a range of accommodation available, but the King Billy Suites are the ultimate romantic indulgence – each features separate sleeping and living areas, a double-sided wood fire, king size bed, and an oversized bathroom with freestanding bath. Outside, there’s a large deck where you can look out over the surrounding wilderness from a private hot tub.
Cruise the Gordon River
The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area runs up the centre of the state and covers a whopping 15,800 square kilometres, making it one of the largest conservation areas in Australia. A great way to get a taste of it is on the water with Gordon River Cruises, operating out of Strahan on the west coast. A six-hour journey up the Gordon River on the state-of-the-art Spirit of the Wild departs early to experience the waterway’s famous rainforest reflections. It also includes two walking tours, at Heritage Landing and Sarah Island, and a chef-prepared lunch.
Stay in Wheelhouse Apartments in Strahan
End your Tasmanian adventure with a stay in Strahan, on the edge of the enormous Macquarie Harbour. Wheelhouse Apartments are perched on the cliffs overlooking the harbour and feature spas, private decks and fully equipped kitchens. What you’re really here for, though, are the lounge rooms with huge floor-to-ceiling windows with uninterrupted views of water below. From this luxe base, explore the old port town, with its shops selling artisan wares and eateries serving up local produce, and its ready access to nearby ocean beaches and forests.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tasmania – Come Down for Air. Find out more here.