Below is a list of the major sights we patronized on our trip, listed in the order we saw them. A brief description is provided for each place along with a rating of how we liked the place and how we'd recommend it to others.
Description: Cataract Gorge is basically a river inlet into the hills of Launceston where walking paths have been carved into the rock cliffs on either side. The trail on the north is a nice level stroll while the path to the south of the river is a bit more steep and turbulent. These paths are each about a 30 minute walk which lead to a wildlife reserve on the river where you can picnic in the grass with the roaming peacocks, have a meal at the restaurant on the north shore, or lounge in the large public pool (free admission) and surrounding lawns on the south shore. There are two walking paths that cross the river in this area (one is a swing bridge), or you can take the relatively cheap chair lift across the river for some nice views. The gorge is also lit up at night and is said to be very pretty, though we didn't manage to make it back after sunset.
We stayed a total of about 2 hours to walk down the gorge and photograph the peacocks, but you could easily make a half day out of it if you were to take a dip in the pool or have lunch at the restaurant. There is also a car park near the restaurant/pool area if you don't want to do the walk along the gorge from town.
Wineglass Bay & Freycinet National Park
Location: Freycinet National Park, East Coast Tas.
Description: Freycinet National Park is a very expansive, nice park with some very famous beaches and vistas. To attend this park, and any national park in Tassie, you must purchase a National Parks Pass. A pass is good at any of the parks around Tasmania and can be bought for 24 hours, 48 hours, 2 months 1 or 2 years and for an individual or per car, whichever is cheaper. The passes are typically for sale at the visitors centers at each of the national parks, but can also be bought at some other shops and locations.
The day we went to this national park the weather was overcast and not particularly nice. We did the hike to the Wineglass Bay Lookout and were disappointed to see the vista looking nothing like the spectacular pictures we had seen pasted all through guidebooks and brochures. With that, we turned and headed out for the night, not having the energy for one of the many long hikes on offer in the area.
If you like long hikes and/or it's a nice day and you like the beach, I would imagine Freycinet would be for you. There is also a supposed abundance of wildlife throughout the park (we did manage to see two wallaby mommies with babies in-pouch just in the parking lot) and it would probably be a good place to see the bird and animal life close up, if you're lucky.
Description: The Salamanca Market is a weekly occurrence in downtown Hobart, by the harbor. An entire street is filled with booths selling arts, crafts, foods, wines, clothes, and a diverse assortment of other items, many of them one-of-a-kind and/or hand crafted (see pics below). It's very popular and was completely packed with people on the day we went. I would highly recommend it as a unique Hobart activity, even if you don't want to buy anything. The custom made items can be particularly interesting and people watching is always entertaining.
Location: Eaglehawk Neck, Tasman Peninsula
Description: This is an odd rock formation just off the road on the north coast of the Tasman Peninsula. It's worth a walk around, since it's on the way to Port Arthur anyway. The nearby sites Blowhole and Tasman's Arch are not nearly as exciting and could easily be skipped altogether.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Location: Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsula (East of Hobart)
Description: Port Arthur was one of the larger secondary prisons built in Tasmania in the 1800's to house repeat offenders mainly coming from England and Ireland, but also from within Australia. This peninsula is naturally isolated, only connected to the main part of the island by a 100m (300') strip of land called Eaglehawk Neck, making for a perfect prison location. The prison was in operation from 1830 until 1877 and was a sprawling compound of structures at its peak. Just after its closure, the government demolished some of the buildings and sold others which greatly diminished the expanse of the original facilities. A series of fires has destroyed still more of the original buildings since the 1880s. For over a hundred years, however, this site has been a tourist attraction which has now blossomed into one of Tasmania's most famous.
This site is very well managed; an informative walking tour and boat cruise are included in your ticket price and the remaining structures and gardens are very well-tended and visitor friendly. I would recommend this as a destination for any Tassie visitors as the history is interesting and the grounds are very beautiful.
Port Arthur Historic Site: Ghost Tour
Location: Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsula (East of Hobart)
Description: After sunset, PAHS offers a 90 minute "ghost tour" around the grounds of the site. It's a walking tour with a guide who narrates, in a somewhat theatrical manner, the many ghost legends that surround this decrepit site. We found it to be fun, but not a must-see for the trip.
Tasmanian Devil Park
Location: Taranna, Tasman Peninsula
Description: The Tasmanian Devil Park in Taranna is an excellent place to see some devils, roos, and many birds. They are a wildlife sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates wildlife and also helps to maintain a healthy population of devils (wild devils are being wiped our by a blight of facial tumors). The programs they have throughout the day are great and highly recommended (feeding the roos, birds in flight, devil feeding, etc). Note that this place is under construction as they are in the middle of expanding significantly; the place will probably be even more excellent when it's all finished in maybe 2011-ish (just my guess). Also, this is a very neat site if you want to learn more about the devil crisis and donate to help.
Location: 10km Inland of Hastings, South East Coast
Description: Hastings is an impossibly small town (one of many on the island) at the southern tip of Tassie. I believe it's the last stop on the paved road down the coast; any further and you will be on a dirt road and really in the wilderness. The caves themselves are a 10km drive west of the coast on an unsealed road. The overpriced tour includes a 45 min guided walk through the impressively large cave and technically also includes admission to the thermal springs pool near the visitor center. It was a cold rainy day when we were there, plus the pool was teeming with screaming children so we steered clear.
This attraction is neat but may not be worth the drive down this otherwise uneventful coast of the island.
Tahune Air Walk
Location: 30km NW of Geeveston
Description: The Tahune Air Walk is an odd attraction as it's simply a very large man-made steel walkway suspended approximately 20m (60ft) above the forest floor. It offers great views of the forest and river below, but I found it to be more of an odd and overpriced tourist trap than anything else. There are some nice walks in the surrounding Tahune Forest Reserve, but it was another cold, rainy day when we were there and we didn't want to face the weather.
Location: Hobart Waterfront
Dates: 28 Dec - 4 Jan
Description: The Taste Festival occurs yearly and we just happened to catch it this year. It is an amassing of different types of food and drinks in a festival atmosphere whereby you can buy many different things for, essentially, an entire meal's worth (or more) of tasty delights. Fun and very popular, would definitely recommend stopping by if you happen to be here in this span of time.
Location: Richmond, 30km from Hobart
Description: Richmond is a small town where the only claim to fame is the abundance of in-tact 19th century buildings scattered around the few kilometers that make up the town's main drag. I found the town to be quite boring and would have never gone except that we had nothing to do on New Year's Eve day. In my opinion, everything you could ever want to know about these old buildings you could find on the website and unless you're really into historical buildings (that are relatively unimpressive in and of themselves) with plaques to describe them, I would probably skip this attraction.
Zoo Doo Wildlife Park
Location: Outside Richmond
Description: This wildlife park advertises its attractions like any other on the island (and there are plenty), but after paying our admission and taking a walk around, we had the distinct feeling that this particular park was a bit of a bogan (hillbilly) park. The quality just wasn't apparent like the other parks we visited.
In addition to the standard fare of devils (they only had a few), roos, wallabies, koalas, birds, etc, they also had two tigers, two lions, and some little Brazilian monkey-type animals. I didn't feel that these non-native animals were really contributing to the park and, in fact, detracted from it since they were so out of place. I mean, do these animals fare well in the colder weather of Tasmania? Who knows, but it just didn't seem right. Additionally, the park was not as clean and well-kept as others we visited and there was an area near the entrance for farm animals, which I found odd and not terribly impressive. Plus, they do tiny horse races for the kids with their miniature ponies, which I really didn't feel fit into the category of "conservation". Overall, I would definitely pass on this place, there are plenty more wildlife parks to see on the island that are far more impressive.
Description: We didn't actually get to take the tour around Australia's oldest brewery because we arrived too late (at 3pm!), but from what I hear, it's pretty neat. Especially if you're a beer lover (but even if you're not, they brew a variety of sodas), this tour is famous for being interesting and the building itself is a historical marker built in 1832. Though I don't have first hand experience to recommend this, if I were to visit Tassie again, I'd be sure to hit this up. Advance bookings for the tours are recommended and remember that they close early!
Location: approx. 40km West of New Norfolk, sort of right in the middle of the island
Description: Aside from the waterfalls, which are very beautiful, we found this park in general to have a nice visitor center, high quality and well-marked trails, and excellent forest scenery. Even though it was raining at the end our our hike, we still had fun - always a good test. Great place to stop on your way from Hobart across the island to Strahan.
Something Wild Animal Park
Location: 5km from Russell Falls (above)
Description: Something Wild, though it has a bit of an odd logo, is a nice park to visit. It was relatively small compared to some of the other parks in Tassie, but it has nice enclosures, seemingly happy residents, and participates in the devil conservation and wildlife rehabilitation/re-release efforts. Clean, respectable facility; recommended if you're in the area.
Location: Cradle Mountain, Central Tasmania (approached from the North)
Description: We originally had planned to partake in the half day hike around Dove Lake and possibly up to Marion's Lookout at the Cradle Mountain National Park, but upon arrival at the CM visitor's center, the weather was frigid and windy with steady rain. (As you can see, we hit snow on our way up to the mountain, but at least there was time to make this snow man).
Sadly, we decided to skip this point on our itinerary and head straight to our accommodation in nearby Sheffield. The Cradle Mountain area is very beautiful and has a plethora of walks and hikes of all different difficulties and lengths for anyone to enjoy. Definitely a recommended stop; hopefully the weather will be behaving better next time.
Trowunna Wildlife Park
Location: Mole Creek, approx. 60km West of Launceston
Description: Trowunna is the park to see if you can only choose one animal park on your trip. They are primarily a devil conservation center trying to maintain a large healthy population of devils in case the plague of facial tumors wipes out the wild population on the island, which it is projected to do within the next 10-15 years. When we visited, they had 47 devils living there, all in large enclosures with between one and four devils in each enclosure. There is an excellent 75 minute tour included in your admission which is the best part of this park. The rangers are informed and knowledgeable and tell you all about the individual guests who call Trowunna home, how and why they're there, and what is being done to help the native wildlife. On our tour we were able to pet the koalas, hold a wombat, and pet a devil while the tour guide held him. It was so excellent to be able to do this knowing it is in a safe, educational environment. If you'll excuse my generic phrasing, this is a must see in Tasmania.