World-class beaches, yacht racing and acres of fragrant lavender fields are convincing reasons to believe that summer really is the best time to visit Tasmania. But a new era of seasonal events, including winter’s avante-garde Dark Mofo festival and spring’s Great Eastern Wine Week, are drawing visitors all year round.
Crystalline waters, white sandy beaches and the promise of balmy weather make the Tasmanian summer particularly appealing to visitors. But the best time of year to visit Tasmania really depends on the unique experience one hopes to encounter, whether it’s watching in awe as humpback whales breach off the Freycinet coast in autumn, or driving to Goat Bluff on a clear spring night in search of the Southern Lights.
There are four distinct seasons in Tasmania, with temperatures in winter capable of dropping to 4ºC, but it’s not uncommon to experience the full gamut of temperatures in a single day. So, no matter when you visit, always pack warm layers and a waterproof jacket just in case.
While there is plenty to see and do in the capital city of Hobart, including the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in summer, Dark Mofo festival in winter and Tasmanian Whisky Week in spring, venturing further afield will reward those who want to learn more about the state’s cool-climate wineries, boutique spirit distilleries and sublime natural beauty.
What’s on in spring
The Junction Arts Festival takes place in the charming city of Launceston. From 20 September, the city roars to life as artists, comedians and musical acts take to the stage (keep your eyes peeled for what promises to be a jam-packed 2023 lineup).
Witness the Table Cape Tulip Farm burst into glorious colour during the Wynyard Tulip Festival in the state’s North West. Part of the region’s month-long Spring Loaded Festival, the celebration on 14 October sees Gutteridge Gardens host live performances, market and food stalls and evening fireworks. As the warmer weather returns, seek out the refreshing flavours of cool-climate wines or the botanical notes of Tasmania’s thriving boutique gin industry. The Great Eastern Wine Week is a 10-day celebration of the finest winemakers along the state’s east coast, while the Tasmanian Gin and Spirits Fair is a single-day event held in October in Sassafras, a three-hour drive north-west of Hobart.
In November, set off for Circular Head in the state’s Far North West to breathe in the world’s cleanest air and sample some of Tasmania’s freshest fare at the Stanley & Tarkine Forage Festival. Savour top-class local produce – including oysters, crayfish, dairy and beef – check out the charming town of Stanley and rug up to explore the spectacular windswept coastline.
If you needed another reason to enjoy a glass (or two) of Tasmania’s superb sparkling wine, look no further than Effervescence Tasmania. Join The Grand Tasting on the lawn at Josef Chromy Wines, tour the Arras vineyards, learn from the best at a sparkling masterclass, enjoy an exclusive dinner at Timbre and much, much more. From 10 to 13 November, bookings are essential.
What’s on in summer
Walk five minutes from Hobart’s city centre to Constitution Dock on Boxing Day to join the excited crowds for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The city’s highly anticipated Taste of Summer festival kicks off the following day at Princes Wharf, where fresh local produce is served at stalls by local favourites including Sirocco South, Fried & Loaded and Kiltro Streetfood.
At this time of year, the photogenic fields of Bridestowe Lavender Estate are at their finest. Breathe in the calming aroma, or enjoy lavender-flavoured treats including ice-cream and scones at the on-site eatery, Woodcroft Cafe.
With temperatures hovering in the mid-20s, summer is the best time of year to take a dip in one of Australia’s best beaches, including Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula. For the ultimate holiday snapshot, however, take the leisurely three-and-a-half-hour drive from Hobart to Binalong Bay and climb atop the rust-coloured granite boulders that give the Bay of Fires its name.
What’s on in autumn
Take a road trip to experience the autumnal flavours of Trailgraze, a festival showcasing growers based along the Tasting Trail, which runs from Smithton to Hagley. The April event features an impressive line-up of chefs, including former Franklin chef Analiese Gregory and Palisa Anderson of Chat Thai.
At this time of year, temperatures peak at around 20ºC, so swap swimming trunks for cosy layers and venture out onto the shimmering seas with Wineglass Bay Cruises to scan the horizon for humpback whales. Enjoy an even closer vantage point by heading one and a half hours south-east of Hobart to Tasman National Park, where Southern Sea Ventures operates a four-day Tasman Peninsula Sea Kayak and Whale Watch Escape.
Cradle Mountain, in Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park, is beautiful to behold at any time of year, but late April to early May is especially spectacular, as native deciduous trees transform the landscape into a fiery shade of orange. To reach an ideal vantage point, follow the 20-minute hike along Weindorfers Forest Walk.
What’s on in winter
There are plenty of reasons to venture out on a cold winter’s night in Hobart, even if temperatures drop into the single digits. Ward off bad spirits and encourage a bumper crop with three days of feasts, fire and folk music at the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest, which descends upon Willie Smith’s Apple Shed in Grove, 30 kilometres south-west of Hobart, in mid-July. If a booming bonfire in the bush isn’t enough to warm your heart, a wee dram from any one of the state’s 80 whisky distilleries ought to do the trick. Journey back to Hobart for Tasmanian Whisky Week in early August to find a new favourite tipple, tour local distilleries and enjoy a multi-course dinner served with matching whiskies.