If you’ve only got a week and want to holiday in a pristine environment, Tasmania could be the place for you.
We picked up a hire car in Hobart and began with three nights at the Mayfair on Cavell in West Hobart. It’s an old-style, inexpensive and pleasant motel with views out over the Derwent Estuary.
You will be drawn to the waterfront to walk among the yachts and trawlers, soaking up the maritime atmosphere on the awe-inspiring Derwent Estuary.
Take a look inside the Macq01 hotel, a tasteful timber construction right on the water. There’s a ground-floor restaurant and bar overlooking the harbour – from here, we watched stragglers from the Sydney-Hobart yacht race arrive.
A little further around Sullivan Bay is the Henry Jones Art Hotel, created in an old jam factory. Its Peacock and Jones restaurant shows off Hobart’s heritage, with sandstone walls, suspended sails and reclaimed timber beams.
There’s an easy day trip to the Museum of Old and New Art, which has put Hobart on the global tourist map. Get a boat from the floating Brooke Street pier and enjoy the 25-minute journey on the Derwent River.
Before leaving Hobart, drive 20 minutes to the magnificent Seven Mile Beach. Its pristine foreshore curves away before you through the forest and is great for a walk, a swim in the cold southern waters or relaxing on the white sands.
Into the wilderness
Head west up the Derwent Valley towards Lake Pedder, a giant hydro dam. Stop on the way for a spectacular 2½-hour circuit through ancient rain forest past the Lady Barron Falls at Mount Field National Park.
Then it’s off through the outpost of Maydena and on to the Lake Pedder Wilderness Lodge. It’s old hydro workers’ quarters with offerings ranging from modest motel-type accommodation to self-contained family-sized cabins. The views over the lake from the bar and restaurant are spectacular, especially at sundown.
The Wilderness Lodge, at Strathgordon, is 156 kilometres west of Hobart. It is a 2½-hour trip through the mountains (add another three hours to walk the Mount Field loop). Two nights there was comfortable and ample.
There are lots of walks into the so-called Southwest Wilderness, ranging from a leisurely few hours to 12-day epics for those so inclined and prepared. Get a a track map from the Mount Field information desk, as what’s provided at the lodge is rudimentary.
We dipped our toes into the vastness of the south-west by hiking for a few hours on the Port Davey Track. It takes you through moss-lined rainforest then out onto the high button grass plains, where you’ll feel small against craggy peaks and moody skies. Bring warm rainwear as the weather changes by the moment.
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Central Tassie treasures
Head north-east through Bothwell on the road leading between the Great Lake and Lake Arthur, and make a stop at historic Woolmers Estate, with its grand 1830s colonial architecture, near Longford.
Smell the perfumed roses in the sprawling garden, wander through antique-filled rooms and admire the enterprise of the Archer family, albeit facilitated by their convict workers.
Then head south to the National Trust-listed town of Evandale, where you step back to the mid-19th century in the district called Little England. All up, the travel time is about four hours on good roads.
From Evandale, we struck out for the pristine north-east, staying with a friend in a hamlet. But you could try a range of accommodation options in Derby, 120 kilometres from Evandale.
Two days in the region will give you time to explore. Stop off at the Pyengana cheese factory to try the local produce, then head to St Helens for a look-see. After that, spin along the easy dirt road to the attractive shack settlement of Ansons Bay, and complete the circuit back to Derby.
It’s a good day’s outing of about 180 kilometres, with a drive time of 3½ hours.
Next day, head back to Hobart, an easy 3½-hour trip of 290 kilometres. Stop off at the convict-era towns of Ross and Oatlands to take in the architecture and world-class pastries.