A local’s guide to Tassie’s best kept secrets

Veer off the well-trodden track and check out our local’s guide to 16 of Tassie’s best-kept secrets

We’ve all heard of Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur, and Freycinet’s Wineglass Bay.

But what about Tassie’s seldom-explored destinations? Those hidden, off-the-beaten-track delights the locals would rather keep to themselves?

While small in stature, the Apple Isle is jam-packed with exciting places to explore, many of which the average tourist overlooks. From farm-to-table producers to boutique museums and world-class vineyards, there’s so much more to Tassie than MONA.

1. South Bruny

South Bruny Island - One of Tassie's Best Kept Secrets

While Bruny Island receives its fair share of visitors, many don’t make it further south than Adventure Bay. Push on past the bitumen down South Bruny’s dusty unsealed roads, and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular scenery and lip-smacking farm-fresh cuisine.

Jetty Beach offers beautiful oceanfront camping and serves as the gateway to the scenic Labillardiere Peninsula walk. If you’d rather sleep in a proper bed, you’ll find an array of chic boutiques and quirky B&Bs dotted around Cloudy Bay. Don’t miss the windswept Cape Bruny Lighthouse, a historic 1836 spire with a balcony boasting breathtaking sea cliff views.

Be sure to swing by Bruny’s fabulous artisanal producers on the way back to the ferry. Munch on molluscs at the cheekily named Get Shucked Oyster Farm (they’re the best in the state) and stock up on creamy brie at the Bruny Island Cheese Company. Wine lovers can sample the local drop at Bruny Island Premium Wines. And everyone will appreciate the fluffy sourdough loaves at the Bruny Baker, a lovely roadside honesty box-style stall.

2. King Island

Cape Wickham Links Golf Course - experience a Luxury Tasmanian Golf Tour with us

Smack bang in the middle of the Bass Strait, King Island evades the hordes of caravan-towing mainlanders arriving on the Spirit in Devonport. Only a trickle of intrepid travellers flies in from Melbourne (or various Tasmanian cities) each week, giving you a closer connection to the island’s tight-knit community (pop 1,500 or so).

The primary industry on this verdant, fertile island is dairy farming, and you can savour the fruits of their labour first-hand. King Island Dairy is the best spot to nibble on locally produced cheese. Ask about the in-house tasting to sample a smorgasbord of flavours. Fresh seafood adorns almost all restaurant menus, and you can sip a ravishing Ruby Vodka at King Island Distillery.

KI’s other claim to fame (and our personal favourite)  is its world-class golf scene. A handful of picturesque courses lie scattered across the isle, the best of which is the oceanfront Cape Wickham Golf Links. Gob-smacking views, immaculately manicured fairways, a luxe on-site hotel, and impeccable service make it a must for any golfer in Tasmania.

3. Bush Glamping

Bay of Fires Bush Retreat - Glamping in Tasmania
Image courtesy of Bay of Fires Bush Retreat

You don’t need a $200,000 motorhome to sleep in the great outdoors in style. A slew of ritzy bush glamping digs has sprouted up around the state in recent years, offering luxurious comfort in stunning far-flung locales.

The best of the bunch is Bay of Fires Bush Retreat, a chic bell tent-style resort a stone’s throw from Binalong Bay. Whitewashed minimalist décor, a tranquil natural setting, and a crackling evening fire guarantee absolute relaxation.

Wine lovers might spring for Sidmouth Domescapes in the Vines. Tucked away in the heart of the Tamar Valley, these ultra-luxe dome-style tents boast an en-suite bathroom housing a full-sized tub with a view—it’s an idyllic spot to quaff Tamar pinot noir.

4. Huon Valley

Willie Smiths Apple Shed in Huon Valley

As the fruit-producing heart of the Apple Isle, this gorgeous rolling green region is chock full of roadside stalls and sprawling farmlands.

Once you’re done gorging yourself on juicy local produce, it’s time to sip some alcoholic apple-based goodies. Willie Smith’s Apple Shed serves award-winning cider out of a charming refurbished barn—it’s become a Huon institution. Alternatively, the world-renowned Pagan Cider uses other fruits like cherries, pears, and berries in its small-batch seasonal brews.

Bric-a-brac and hip cafes lie peppered throughout Huon’s quaint little towns. Don’t miss mellow hippy Cygnet, the cute riverfront village of Franklin, quaint Geeveston, or the sleepy regional capital of Huonville.

5. Boat Harbour Beach

Boat Harbour Beach in Tasmania
Image Courtesy of Pete Harmsen

What would you rate as Tasmania’s best beach: Wineglass Bay or Binalong Bay? While both spots are breathtaking, they’re overrun with sun-seekers and Instagram influences every time the sun decides to shine.

But what if we told you there was an equally beautiful beach that attracts a fraction of the fanfare?

Known as Boat Harbour, the gorgeous little strip boasts the same gin-clear waves and sugary white sand. Best of all, this quaint seaside village has escaped the trappings of mass tourism. Low-key B&Bs and family-run fish ‘n’ chip shops create a welcoming, community-orientated vibe.

Rock up outside of the summer school holidays, and you might even score the whole beach to yourself.

6. Coal Mines Historic Site

Coal Mines Historic Site Tasmania
Image Courtesy Tourism Tasmania & Kathryn Leahy

While Port Arthur is Australia’s best-preserved convict site, some folks find the experience a tad “touristy”. A steady stream of visitors, ram-packed boat cruises, and costumed stage performances may detract from the macabre history of the place.

Port Arthur is still worth your time. But if you’d like to explore our gruesome convict history away from the thick tourist throngs, it’s worth popping into the Coal Mines as well.

Located on the remote western edge of the rugged Tasman Peninsula, few travellers bother making the trip. For those that due, the sombre old site houses crumbling ruins, well-preserved prison cells, and pitch-black mine shafts. Insightful signs and interpretive walks give visitors a real feel for the hardship these wretched convicts endured two centuries ago.

7. The Gordon Dam

The Gordon Dam in Tasmania

Situated some two-and-a-half hours from Hobart, getting to the Gordon Dam is a bit of a mission. But for thrill-seekers and engineering buffs, this enormous concrete construction is well worth the drive.

Stretching 140 metres high, Tasmania’s tallest dam was an impressive feat of engineering when completed in 1974. And truth be told, the massive double curvature concrete arch dam is still pretty darn amazing to gawk at today.

Visitors can walk across its 198-metre wall or gaze down from an elevated platform for a near birds-eye view. The stark concrete fortress is taller than Sydney Harbour Bridge and holds back more water than the harbour. This astonishing scale allows it to crank out 432 megawatts of power, about 13% of the state’s energy needs.

If admiring the modern marvel from afar isn’t thrilling enough, jump on a white-knuckle abseiling tour with Aardvark Adventures. The scariest part? You’ll need to climb all the way back up again.

8. Pub in the Paddock

Pub in The Paddock - Tasmania
Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne

Pub in the Paddock delivers precisely what it promises. Set in the middle of a verdant cow-rearing pasture, this historic old drinking hole is chock full of charm. It’s an atmospheric place to imbibe, featuring cosy wood panel walls and more oddball ornaments than you could flick a bottle cap at. Friendly bar staff and a jovial mix of travelling and local characters add to the good-time vibe.

If you’re feeling peckish, tuck into their enormous chicken parmigiana—save room for the homemade plum pudding if you can. Most ingredients come straight from local Pyengana farmers to ensure everything is fresh.

Had a few too many to drive? This rustic old charmer offers cosy upstairs rooms. And don’t forget to visit the pub’s beloved mascot, Priscilla the pig.

9. The Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis
Image courtesy of Aurora Australis Facebook group

Why spend a bazillion dollars flying to Lapland when you can admire the Southern Lights in Tassie for free?

Due to its favourable sky-gazing conditions and extreme southerly location, Tasmania is one of the world’s best places to see the Aurora Australis. Much like its famous Aurora Borealis brother, the Southern Lights illuminate the sky in a brilliant technicolour display.

May to August is the most likely time to spy this natural marvel, although it can occur all year round. Join the Aurora Australis Tasmania Facebook group to gauge whether they’ll be any action during your stay. The 100,000-member group also trades pro tips on the best places to view the show and how to set your camera to snap the perfect pic.

10. Walls of Jerusalem

Image courtesy of O&M St John Photography

While the Overland Track is Tasmania’s top alpine wilderness walk, a network of other breathtaking trails winds through similar harsh, high-altitude terrain. One such adventure playground is the Walls of Jerusalem, a rough and rugged national park affording biblical views. Only the hardiest (and most well-prepared) hikers trudge through this remote region, making it a great pick for nature lovers seeking to escape the crowds.

As part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the scenery here is just as splendid as the Overland Track—think sweeping button grass plains, cragged escarpments, and pristine alpine lakes. And with place names like Solomon’s Throne, the Pool of Bethesda, and Damascus Gate to explore, you’ll feel like you’re embarking on an apostolic epic.

11. The Tarkine

Image courtesy of Discover The Tarkine

Australia’s largest cool temperate rainforest receives only a trickle of travellers, making it the perfect place for nature lovers to escape the rat race. Known as the Tarkine, this vast north-western expanse is home to pristine natural pools, thickly forested walks, and gushing tree-fringed rivers. The highlight is Trowutta Arch, a stark natural stone curvature framing a green algae-filled pool.

Just outside the Tarkine on the banks of the mighty Pieman River, you’ll find the tiny old mining town of Corinna. These days, the remote settlement serves as a blissed-out eco-tourism retreat for solitude-seeking wanderers. Wildlife-spotting river cruises, rustic rainforest B&Bs, and chic safari-style glamping camps make it a brilliant place to linger.

12. Railtrack Riders

Railtrack Riders in Maydena
Image courtesy of Railtrack Riders website

Tasmania is home to an impressive network of fascinating train journeys, including the ever-so-popular West Coast Wilderness Railway. But railway buffs seeking something unique might want to investigate Railtrack Riders instead.

This historic 1067mm gauge railway runs for 16km between the tiny town of Maydena and Mount Field National Park. Rather than let a steam engine provide the horsepower, travellers must glide along the decommissioned track under their own steam—AKA pedal power. Expect spectacular rainforest scenery, fresh eucalyptus fragrances, and a solid calf workout on the one-and-a-half-hour trip.

It’s the only pedal-powered train trip in Australia and makes for an engaging travel tale to tell your mates.

13. Old Hobart Town

Old Hobart Town

Nope, we’re not talking about the capital’s historic heart (but you should go there, too). Old Hobart Town is an endearing model village that painstakingly recreates downtown Hobart as it were in the 1820s.

Children, model enthusiasts and the young at heart will adore exploring these teeny weeny streets, which come complete with 60 life-like buildings and 500 figurines. Artificial ponds portray the capital’s ship-strewn harbour, and there’s no shortage of leafy little bonsai trees.

The lovely exhibit resides in Richmond, a charming old English-style town about a half-hour drive from the capital. Seeing as you’re there, take in some real historic sites at the Richmond Bridge and Richmond Gaol. The kids will love the hedge labyrinth Amaze and the cheeky Pooseum.

14. Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden

Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden
Image courtesy of Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden website

Flower fans will adore this little-known sanctuary some 8km south of Burnie. Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden is set on a sprawling 11-hectare expanse and boasts a bewildering collection of rhododendrons, which bloom into their pastel-coloured best from September to November. But it’s still worth a visit throughout the year as the broad range of floral species peaks at different seasons. Tranquil ponds, oriental footbridges, and serene gazebos complete the scene.

It’s not uncommon to see cute native marsupials scurrying about the lawns—a constant source of entertainment for the kids. If you’re feeling peckish, pop into the tearoom for a cuppa with a fluffy cream-smothered scone.

15. The Margate Train

The Margate Train, Southern Tasmania

Hop aboard the Margate Train on an exhilarating one-way ticket to…nowhere. While most Tasmanian locomotives whisk passengers off to scenic, far-flung locales, the Margate Train is quite happy staying still.

This historic decommissioned train has been lovingly renovated to convert its antique carriages into commercial shopfronts. You’ll find everything from jewellery to vintage fashion and lollies to antique goodies at this stationery train-cum-marketplace. Novelty aside, friendly sales staff and reasonable prices make it an attractive place to shop. In fact, it’s a popular pitstop for road-tripping Hobartians exploring the south.

Hungry “passengers” should make a beeline for the Pancake Train Restaurant, a legendary griddlecake maker doing the best batter bread delicacies in town. Strike up a convo with the uber-friendly owner for a taste of warm Tasmanian hospitality.

16. Piper’s River

Image Courtesy of Andrew Wilson

Eager oenophiles tend to straddle the Tamar River on their wine-swilling escapades. But venture further east into the hilly Pipers River region, and you’ll stumble upon some of the best terroir in the state.

Located 40 minutes north of Launceston, this fertile cool-climate zone offers the ideal conditions to grow sublime sparkling whites. If you’re not enamoured with the bubbly stuff, you’ll find other varieties like pinot noir and chardonnay.

Several top-notch vineyards offer rewarding cellar door experiences, and there’s a smattering of cosy B&B’s to rest your wine-weary head. If time is of the essence, make Bay of Fires Winery or Clove Hill Wines your first port of call. Both these internationally renowned vineyards do a superb version of Piper’s signature drop, the sparkling white.

Explore Tassie With Luxury Tours Tasmania

Whether you’re looking to visit the big bucket list destinations or venture far off the well-trodden track, Luxury Tours Tasmania has got your back. We offer a broad range of luxe travel experiences focusing on the good things in life—think gourmet gastronomy, fine local wine, and relaxing golf getaways.

Get in touch with the team today to experience this spectacular state in luxurious style.

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