Devonport & The Northwest
Swept clean by the Roaring Forties winds and washed annually by more than two metres of rain, the magnificent Northwest boasts coastal heaths, wetlands and dense rainforests from Gondwana times. Communities here are either rurally off-the-map or touristy to-the-hilt – there’s not much in between. The further west you get, the less trammelled the landscape becomes.
Launceston (‘Lonnie’ to locals) squats in a basin where the North and South Esk rivers meet to form the Tamar River. It’s Tasmania’s second-largest city, but maintains an unconcerned, big-country-town pace. Hobart is far more cosmopolitan, but Launceston’s remarkable stock of Victorian, Federation, Edwardian and Art Deco houses is the rival of any Australian city.
The Southeast of Tasmania
The quiet harbours and valleys of the southeast have much to offer, particularly if you enjoy driving through serene, green countryside and snacking from roadside produce stores. Once the apple-shaped heart of the Apple Isle, the area has diversified into cherries, apricots, Atlantic salmon and wines, catering to burgeoning tourist traffic.
Cradle Country & The West
Mortifying mountains, dashing tannin-stained rivers, impenetrable rainforest, desolate coast and rain, rain, rain… Welcome to the wild west, much of which is now part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area. Aside from tourist-centric Strahan, towns here are rough and ready, beaten down by the weather and hardened by the wilderness – don’t expect many cosmopolitan trimmings.
Devonport is Tasmania's third-largest city, but it is much less interesting than Hobart and Launceston. The Spirit of Tasmania Bass Strait ferry arrives from Melbourne every morning (and evening in summer) sounding its huge air-horn thrice as it advances toward its Mersey River dock, whereupon it pirouettes 180 degrees before sailing off again.
Tasman Peninsula & Port Arthur
The Arthur Hwy runs 100km from Hobart through Sorell to the Port Arthur Historic Site, the biggest of Tassie’s big-ticket tourist lures. But the convict ruins are only part of the Tasman Peninsula story – also here are astonishing 300m-high sea cliffs, empty surf beaches, sandy bays and stunning bushwalks through thickly wooded forests and isolated coastlines.
Coles Bay & Freycinet National Park
The small township of Coles Bay is dominated by The Hazards, spectacular 485m-high pink granite outcrops. Geared towards tourism in an almost predatory way, the town is the gateway to white-sand beaches, secluded coves, rocky cliffs and top-notch bushwalks in Freycinet National Park (pronounced Fray-sin-ay).
Sliding slowly north past orchards, forests, pastures and vineyards, the Tamar River links Launceston with Bass Strait. This district, along with the nearby Pipers River Region are two of Tasmania’s leading wine-producing areas, heartily embracing the notion of eat, drink and be merry. Batman Bridge, the Tamar’s only bridge, spans the river near Deviot.