There are major airports in Hobart and Launceston, as well as smaller operations at Burnie and Devonport. One-way flights to Hobart or Launceston start at around $100 from Melbourne and $150 from Sydney.
Airports & Airlines
Burnie Airport On the southern edge of Wynyard, 19km west of Burnie. Some Tasmanians call the airport ‘Burnie’, others call it ‘Wynyard’…maybe it should be ‘Burnie/Wynyard’.
Devonport Airport About 10km east of central Devonport.
Hobart Airport At Cambridge, 19km east of Hobart.
Launceston Airport About 15km south of Launceston, on the road to Evandale.
Airlines flying into Tasmania from mainland Australia include the following:
Jetstar Direct flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to Hobart and Launceston. Also flies Adelaide to Hobart.
Qantas Direct flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to Launceston, and from Sydney and Melbourne to Hobart. Also flies between Melbourne and Devonport.
Regional Express Flies from Melbourne to Burnie and King Island.
Tiger Air Flies from Melbourne and the Gold Coast to Hobart.
Virgin Australia Direct flights from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra to Hobart, and from Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney to Launceston.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
It is not possible to travel here by land (the land bridge that once linked Tasmania and Victoria disappeared under Bass Strait after the last ice age).
Two big, red Spirit of Tasmania ferries ply Bass Strait nightly in each direction between Melbourne and Devonport on Tasmania's north coast. The crossing takes around 10½ hours, departing both Melbourne and Devonport at 7.30pm and arriving at 6am. During peak periods – including Christmas, Easter, key holiday weekends and many Saturdays – the schedule is ramped up to two sailings per day, departing at 9am or 9.30am and 9pm or 9.30pm. Check the website for details.
Each ferry can accommodate 1400 passengers and around 500 vehicles and has restaurants, bars, two cinemas and games facilities. The whole experience is a bit of an adventure for Australians, who are used to flying or driving everywhere; kids especially get a kick out of it – daytime sailings even have children's entertainers on board.
The ships' public areas have been designed to cater for wheelchair access, as have a handful of cabins.
The Devonport terminal is on the Esplanade in East Devonport; the Melbourne terminal is at Station Pier in Port Melbourne.
Cabin & Seating Options
There's a range of seating and cabin options on 'the Spirit'. Recliner seats are the cheapest – a bit like airline seats (BYO earplugs and eye mask if you actually want to get some sleep). Cabins are available in twin or three- or four-berth configurations, with or without porthole windows. Or you can up the ante to a ‘deluxe’ cabin with a queen-size bed, a TV and two windows. All cabins have a private bathroom. Child, student and pensioner discounts apply to all accommodation, except for deluxe cabins. Prices do not include meals, which can be purchased on board from the restaurant or cafeteria.
Fares depend on whether you’re travelling in the peak period (mid-December to late January, and Easter), or in the off-peak period (all other times). For the peak season and during holiday weekends, booking ahead as early as possible is recommended.
One-way online prices (per adult) are as follows. Fares per person come down if there's more than one person per cabin. It's cheaper again if you're prepared to share a cabin with same-gender passengers who aren't travelling with you (mini dormitories!). Fares listed here are the less-flexible, nonrefundable ‘Spirit Fare’ prices (conditions are similar to discount airlines). Check online for specials.
Inside three- or four-berth cabin
Inside twin cabin
Daytime sailings (seats only)
Campervans up to 7m long
During the summer season, passengers from gargantuan international cruise ships regularly disembark onto the Hobart and Burnie waterfronts and wander around looking disoriented and splashing their cash. P&O Cruises is one of the main players. The TasPorts (www.tasports.com.au) website lists all the expected cruise-ship arrivals.
Just about the only way to see the remote Macquarie Island, proclaimed Tasmania’s second World Heritage area in 1997, is to take one of the sub-Antarctic-islands cruises scheduled by New Zealand–based Heritage Expeditions (www.heritage-expeditions.com).