Hobart may be a tourist hotspot in Tasmania, but there is so much more to explore beyond the city limits.
One of the great things about Tasmania is that you can practically drive anywhere in a day. Hobart is on the southeast side of the tiny Australian state, and has all the luxuries you’d expect from a capital city, making it a great place to base yourself while seeing the best of Tassie.
Whether you want some cultural history, beautiful beaches, lush valleys, rocky mountain adventures or food and wine experiences, popular daytrips from Hobart have it all. So we’ve rounded up 10 of the best to get you into the car and around some amazing places just outside of Hobart.
About an hour’s drive north of Hobart along Heritage Highway sits this lovely little town that really makes the most of the fresh Tassie air. Bothwell was settled by Scottish farmers in the 1820s and has over 50 stone cottages that give it an old time feel.
Call ahead and book in a game of golf at the oldest golf course in the Southern Hemisphere (Ratho Farm – and watch out for sheep on the course!), check out the Australasian Golf Museum, or get some fishing gear out and try your luck catching trout. If that’s not your cup of tea, take a stroll around the town and check out the historic buildings and watch the world go by at one of the many stylish cafes. For those who like a harder drop, there’s also the popular Nant whisky distillery, which offers guided tours and tastings.
Coal Mines Historic Site
The Coal Mines Historic Site in Port Arthur gives you a glimpse of what life was life around the time of European settlement in Australia. This is the site of Tasmania’s first operational mine (1833-1848) and was home to around 600 convicts, jailers and families during its busiest time.
As well as remains of the coal mines themselves, you can see some of the cultural sites of the traditional owners of the land, the Pydairrerme people. The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority says middens and “other cultural sites from many thousands of years of occupation still remain in the area and we ask that visitors assist us in caring for them by not walking on them or picking up any associated material.”
For anyone interested in all of Australia’s long and varied history, this site is a must. But even if you’re not, the mix of stunning natural beauty and remnants of the past make for a powerful atmosphere and experience.
Driving to the Coal Mines Historic Site from Hobart takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes via the A9, giving you plenty of time to explore there and along the way.
This popular farm is a great place for the whole family, offering tours and demonstrations that give you a real feel for life on a working sheep farm. Learn about landcare and farming techniques, watch sheep shearing, check out farm dogs rounding up the flock and learn more about sustainable farming practises.
Farm owners Tim and Jane Parsons also put on a great afternoon tea (included in tours of four people) or BBQ lunch (for tours of six or more), and there’s even the opportunity to buy produce right there.
Curringa Farm has consistently won tourism awards for the past 20 years, including the 2014 Tasmanian Tourism Awards (Hosted Accommodation Section) and the 2007 Tasmanian Landcare Primary Producer Award.
It’s just over an hour’s drive north of Hobart, and even has its own on-site accommodation options if you decide you want to stay.
About an hour’s drive north of Hobart is the Derwent Valley, an area of pristine natural beauty. Even the drive itself is an experience, as you catch glimpses of charming small towns, rolling hills, farmland and rainforest areas all winding around the river.
Stop off at New Norfolk, about a 30 minute drive from Hobart, for some local history, then continue north to reach Mt Field National Park, where you can walk through the lush rainforest and see waterfalls tumbling down the rocks. Or, if you’re feeling more spontaneous, just continue driving around and stop at one of the many little towns in the region – you never know what delights you could find along the way.
Freycinet National Park
With a driving time of around 2.5 hours, Freycinet National Park is one of the longest day trip destinations to get to on this list. But it is definitely worth it.
This national park sits on the Freycinet Peninsula, which juts out from the mainland of Tasmania and wraps around the popular Wineglass Bay. The Freycinet National Park is one of the oldest parks in the state, and showcases the environmental diversity of Tasmania. Here there are stunning white, sandy beaches, rugged and imposing granite peaks, low-lying greenery and a huge array of birds.
Keep an eye out for the majestic and powerful white-bellied sea-eagle, watch Australasian gannet diving for fish, or visit the nearby wetlands at the Moulting Lagoon Game Reserve just outside the park’s perimeter for a different perspective on Australian flora and fauna.
Hastings Cave State Reserve
Across the Huon Valley and river to the southwest of Hobart is a complex world of caves and hot springs in the Hastings Caves State Reserve.
Explore Newdegate Gate and its amazing dolomite structures (the largest in Australia), check out the fossils and gems and nearby Lune River, take a walk through the rich forests of the reserve or relax in the warm waters of the thermal hot springs.
With the cave structure more than 40 million years old, and the amazing thermal springs maintaining a temperature of 28 degrees celcius throughout the year, this is a place that combines adventure and relaxation in the most natural way.
Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder
Head northwest from Hobart about 150km and you’ll find the town of Strathgordon, sitting between Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder. Both lakes boast some of the best trout fishing in Tasmania, with Tourism Tasmania calling them a “mecca for fisherman”.
“Lake Pedder and its companion Lake Gordon, together comprise the largest inland freshwater storage in Australia, covering more than 500 square kilometres and holding more than 37 times the volume of water than Sydney Harbour,” it adds.
The area’s ringed with rugged mountains and some interesting local history (Lake Gordon was once the site of a controversial hydroelectric scheme), with Strathgordon and the surrounding Southwest National Park also offering some great scenery and 4WD tours.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Nearby the Coal Mines Historic Site, this popular tourist spot is Australia’s most intact convict site. With over 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes set in 40 hectares of landscaped grounds, the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site creates a sense of what it would have been like as a convict in Australia.
Tickets are $35 for adults, $16 for children and $27 for concession, and are valid for two days. They also include a visitor guide and map, a 40 minute guided walking tour, a 30 minute harbour cruise and access to the historic buildings, ruins and gardens throughout the site. It’s worth noting prices will go up from 1st October 2015, so be sure to check the website for updated costs after this date.
The drive from Hobart to Port Arthur Historic Site takes about 1.5 hours, and many people recommend staying overnight to see and experience as much as possible.
Just a 30 minute drive from Hobart, Richmond is a tiny town (pop. 880) with a lot of history. Often referred to as “Tasmania’s most important historic town”, Richmond was established in 1824 and is home to a number of the oldest buildings and structures in Australia.
Take a drive across the Richmond Bridge (built in 1823-25), walk through the Richmond Gaol, visit the oldest Catholic Church in Australia, St John’s, or simply walk through the town to admire it’s well maintained Georgian architecture.
Many of Richmond’s stone buildings now house galleries, teashops, craft boutiques and museums, so there is plenty to see and do here throughout the day – and the short drive back to Hobart makes it easy to fit as much (or as little) as you want into your visit.
This heritage site near the town of Plenty is a dream for fish lovers and history buffs alike. Built in 1862, the Salmon Ponds were developed to hatch and raise salmon shipped all the way from England. While the original salmon swam away, a small batch of trout eggs flourished and turned this place into a much loved recreational fishery, where you can still catch trout (and some salmon) today.
The grounds of the Salmon Ponds are just as fascinating, complete with a 19th century English Garden, and are a rare example of public open spaces from that time. Activities include feeding the trout and salmon, tours through the historic hatchery, insights into the life cycle of trout, and challenges overcome in transporting salmon and trout from England to Australia in the mid 1800’s.
There’s also fine food and refreshments at the waterside restaurant, Pancakes by the Pond, including traditional European style crepes, tea, coffee and a fully licensed bar.
The Salmon Ponds is open 9am to 5pm daily and is about a 40 minute drive north of Hobart on the National Highway 1.
These 10 popular daytrips outside of Hobart give you an idea of the many things there are to see and do in the area, so they’re a great place to start if you want to plan a few excursions while keeping your base in Hobart.
Whether you do one or all of these daytrips, they can help you find even more great things to explore in Tasmania, so you can follow your passions in your car.