Discover Tasmania: The forgotten part of Australia

February 13, 2013
guest blogger

Tucked away at the bottom of the Southern Hemisphere, Tasmania is every bit the magical island paradise the brochures would have you believe. There is rainforest to be explored, amazing food to be devoured and spectacular scenery to be seen and talked about when you get home.

Of all the gorgeous islands in the world, Tasmania is one of the most neglected.

Visitors to Australia explore Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef without knowing what lies across Bass Strait. Tasmania is even often mistakenly thought to be a separate country, and perhaps it should be. It’s nothing like the “mainland”.

Stanley, North-WestPhoto by Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador

Home to some of the county’s earliest settlements, Tasmania hides many little historical towns. But only one sits at the foot of a huge mound of volcanic rock rising from the sea. Passing ships were drawn to Stanley by the sight of the Nut, the area’s distinctive landmark, which is visible from the highway about an hour before visitors reach the turn-off for the town. A chairlift carries thousands of people up The Nut every year, but there is also a walking track. The view at the top reveals stretches of ocean and coastline, rolling green paddocks and the small township below. Stanley and the Circular Head area is renowned for its local produce, including seafood, beef and vegetables, which is reflected in the quality of food available in the town’s restaurants and cafes.

MONA, Hobart

Photo by Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador

It’s the most fascinating museum you’ve never heard of. The Museum of New and Old Art is the masterpiece of master gambler David Walsh. He sunk his fortune into it along with his art collection, which ranges from the strange to the bizarre and somewhat disturbing. MONA is nicknamed “the museum of sex and death”, which is a pretty accurate description. But then there’s the massive truck stuck between two walls and the room of 30 TV screens showing Madonna fans singing along to her greatest hits. There’s a reason MONA is the talk of the international art community.  Visitors can travel to the museum, built into the earth on the banks of Hobart’s Derwent River, by ferry. Once inside they are handed an Ipod, which acts as a guide throughout the museum, displaying information about the exhibits.

Ocean Beach, West Coast

Photo by Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador

As an island, Tasmania has no shortage of beaches. Nearly all of them are stunning and impossibly empty. The travel guides will send you to the East Coast, to places such as Wineglass Bay and the Bay of Fires, but the West Coast has a rugged and remote quality that makes you feel you’re at the bottom of the world – which you nearly are. Ocean Beach is a short drive from Strahan, another quaint fishing town. It’s best visited at dusk, standing on a seemingly endless stretch of sand watching the sun sink. The equally endless stretch of water before you doesn’t hit land until Argentina.

Cradle Mountain National Park , North-West

Photo by Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador

Cradle Mountain is Tasmania’s postcard. The unusual shaped peak and the glassy pool of Dove Lake sitting before it is as picturesque as bush scenery gets. Experienced walkers can tackle the Overland Track, a five-day hike through the surrounding national park from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair, and there are many shorter and accessible walks from the park’s visitor centre including nature and interpretation trails along a boardwalk. In the summer, the car parks are full, but despite all the tourists it can be so quiet among the trees. In the winter, it’s a popular spot for locals to enjoy a snowy landscape.

Salamanca Market, HobartPhoto by Tourism Tasmania & Scott Sporleder, Matador

The weekly Salamanca Market is one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions, but on any given Saturday there’s just as many locals pushing through the stalls and vying for a seat at a cafe for brunch. The market has fruit and vegetables, flowers, handmade clothes, woodwork, art and photography. It’s a good place to pick up a local, but probably overpriced, souvenir. There are also great food stalls and vans, although nothing beats relaxing at one of the cafes that line Hobart’s most beautiful street.

 

Written by Megan Hogarth

pegsontheline.com

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