Tasmania – or Tassie if you’re a local – is one of the most stunning destinations on the planet, no matter the season. Yet, winter in Tasmania is often overlooked by travellers because of the cold – but read on and you’ll find it’s a special time filled with festivals and the opportunity to take part in long-standing traditions.
While you may decide to visit Tasmania for our amazing golf courses, or internationally acclaimed wine, there is much more to explore. Get more out of your trip to the Apple Isle with this list of seven things to do in Tasmania in winter.
1. Hike Your Way Around Cradle Mountain
Located in the central highlands of Tasmania, Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park is a must-see destination. Cradle Mountain stands 1545 metres above sea level and offers numerous vantage points with panoramic views of the breath taking surrounding landscape.
Luckily, you don’t actually have to climb Cradle Mountain to enjoy the national park. The park is home to an endless maze of walking and hiking trails that take you around Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair, and other outdoor attractions.
Don’t let the chilly temperatures of the winter keep you from exploring the beautiful scenery of Tasmania in closer detail. Going for a hike around Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park in the winter is invigorating. You may even spot wildlife through the falling snow.
From Tasmanian Devils to wombats and pademelons, Tasmania is home to a variety of species that you won’t see elsewhere.
Winter is also the perfect time for the Enchanted Walk. The Enchanted Walk takes you across wooden paths cutting through the region’s rainforests.
Keep in mind that exploring Tasmania’s rugged beauty takes time. You should plan a full day of hiking or walking if you want to see as much of the park as possible.
You may even want to visit a few other outdoor destinations, such as the Freycinet National Park. Freycinet National Park is about 125 kilometres east of Hobart, on the east coast of the island.
You can start from the town of Coles Bay, which is a charming town with access to old mine shafts and other remnants from early European settlements.
If you want to stay closer to Hobart, hike over to the Wellington Park reserve and climb Mount Wellington. Falling snow dusts the slopes but the path is still easy to trek thanks to well-planned walking tracks.
No matter which hiking trail you choose, check the weather forecast before heading out. Dress for chilly temperatures and consider packing a few snacks.
2. Feast on Apples at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival
Several winter festivals celebrate apple cider and other apple products, as Tasmania is well-known for its apple industry. One of the most popular apple celebrations is the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival.
For 2022, the festival is held on July 15th and 16th. The two-day festival honours the history of the region’s apple growing history and includes a variety of events for locals and guests.
The Wassail is the highlight of the festival. It is part of an old tradition used to protect the cider apple trees from evil spirits and increase the chances of a plentiful crop.
Apple wassailing originated in England and was carried over by early English settlers. Participants would sing songs, feed slices of toast to the birds, and shoot rifles to scare off the demons.
Apple wassailing in Huon Valley still includes songs but also includes various fun activities. Enjoy music from folk-funk bands and entertaining outdoor displays.
The festival is held at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. The large rustic barn is surrounded by pastures and old farm buildings.
You can tour the facilities, learn more about how apple cider and apple brandy are produced, and pick up some souvenirs at the gift shop.
The Apple Shed also has a restaurant (and yes, it has more than just apple-based dishes!). You can fill up on delicious baked goods, jams, preserves, and cheeses made by local artisans.
3. Tour the Wineries of Tasmania
Along with apples, Tasmania is recognised for its vast selection of wineries. The island is home to over 200 wineries and more than 110 vineyards.
Tasmania is further south than the rest of the country’s wine regions, which allows local wineries to benefit from the cooler climate. Whether you are traveling along the coast or closer to the centre of the island, you are never far from a winery.
The variety of Tasmanian wineries can also be overwhelming. If you want to save time and energy, try a wine tour.
You can choose from a variety of tours covering different regions of the island, from Northern Tasmania to the south coast. Whether you want to spend one day, two days, or an entire week touring Tasmania’s wine country, you can find a package to suit your needs.
The tours include stays in comfortable accommodations with full meals, wine tastings, and sightseeing opportunities. You can travel as a group or venture off on your own to see some of the sights.
If you prefer whisky over wine, travel the Tasmanian Whisky Trail. According to Tourism Australia, the trail connects over 20 distilleries around the island.
If you visit toward the middle of August, you can also enjoy the Tasmanian Whisky Week.
The Tasmanian Whisky Week is a week-long celebration of locally produced blends winning numerous awards. Tasmanian whisky is unique due to the pureness of the mountain spring waters and the quality of the locally grown barley and produce.
4. Dark Mofo Winter Festival
The Dark Mofo Winter Festival is an annual event that started in 2013. It is held each year in the weeks leading up to the winter solstice.
The winter solstice arrives on June 20th or June 21st each year and marks the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the winter season. The Dark Mofo festival is held in Hobart, which is the capital of Tasmania.
As you are likely to spend time in Hobart during your trip, you may as well check out the festivities. The Dark Mofo festival includes musical acts, massive light installations, and a large winter feast.
The event is hosted by MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), which also hosts the MONA FOMA festival in January.
The Dark Mofo events tend to have a dark, gothic theme that runs throughout the installations and musical acts. However, visitors of all ages should enjoy the food and sights on display.
Yet, one of the most unique aspects of the week-long festival is the winter solstice nude swim. Each year, over a thousand individuals of all ages brave the cold waters of the River Derwent without any clothing.
Participants must be at least 18 years of age but there is no age cap… One of the oldest participants was 91 years old!
The Derwent river rises at Lake St. Clair and flows over 200 kilometres. It even passes through Hobart before emptying into the Tasman Sea at Storm Bay.
If you prefer to stay clothed, you can also check out some of the exciting events held during the Dark Mofo Festival. The festivities attract a variety of performers and vendors, making it the hottest spot on the island for several days.
5. Shuck Oysters at the Pristine Great Oyster Bay
The clear waters of Great Oyster Bay attract visitors from all over. However, the oysters themselves are also a great reason to visit the bay.
The Tasmanian winter is also a wonderful time to visit, as the Pacific oysters are at their peak. You can try the sweet, creamy oysters served fresh from the farm.
Several locations offer oyster tours. You can sign up for a tour and receive a guided trip through the oyster farm.
The tours often include shucking lessons, so you can let experts teach you how to properly shuck oysters.
Along with shucking and eating oysters, you can check out the activities in the area. The bay offers access to sea kayaking and other outdoor activities.
You can also explore a long list of historic sites, national parks, and museums in and around the bay.
If you want to spend more time outdoors, visit Spiky Bridge.
The Spiky Bridge is an interesting attraction built by convicts in 1843. It features a series of large fieldstones lined up vertically.
The stone spikes were originally used to reinforce a bridge, which gives the bridge its distinct, spiky appearance. It is also almost directly across from Spiky Beach and a short trip from the centre of Swansea.
The East Coast Heritage Museum is also nearby. The museum houses over 3000 books, photographs, objects, and documents related to the history of the region. Many of the items help tell the story of the earliest European settlers in the area.
6. Look to the Skies to Spot the Southern Lights
Due to its location in the southern part of the southern hemisphere, Tasmania is a great spot for viewing the southern lights, also known as the Aurora Australis.
For those of you from the northern hemisphere, you may be familiar with the northern lights or the Auroras Borealis. The southern lights are another example of an aurora.
An aurora is a natural light display that sends the night sky ablaze with an array of colours. The southern lights are best viewed on clear nights from areas with less light pollution, which means away from heavily populated areas.
South Arm Peninsula is one of the best places to see the southern lights. The U-shaped peninsula is about a 40-minute drive from Hobart and allows you to get away from the city lights.
You can also choose from a wide range of nearby lodges and luxury accommodations within walking distance of the South Arm Peninsula.
Finding a relaxing lodge away from the city is a top recommendation for increasing your chances of seeing the southern lights. You can end a cold winter’s day with a warm drink by a cosy open fire while looking to the skies for the vivid blue curves of the Aurora Australis.
The spring equinox, which occurs around September 22nd, is often the prime time for catching the lights, but you can also see them throughout June, July, and August. The nights are longer during the winter, which gives you more of a chance to see the lights.
7. Unwind with a Few Rounds of Golf
Golfing is another way to enjoy the fresh Tasmanian air during the winter – and of course, being a golf tour company we just had to add this into the list! Tasmania has over 65 golf courses spread across the state, so as with wineries, you are never far from the next course!
The pure air and the strong winds from the rugged coastline create a unique golfing experience that cannot be missed. Some of the courses offer breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery.
For example, the course at the Tasman Golf Club near Port Arthur includes a narrow green next to cliffs that plummet down to the ocean below. You could also visit Ratho Farm, which is the oldest golf course in Australia and just an hour’s drive north of Hobart.
Another popular course is found at Cape Wickham on King Island. Each hole gives you a panoramic view of the coastline.