If you can tear yourself away from Hobart (nipaluna), there are plenty of ways to spend a great day beyond the city limits. Catch a ferry to Maria Island to meet the photo-ready resident wombats or to Bruny Island to make the acquaintance of cheesemakers and oyster farmers. Head north and find yourself in the impossibly beautiful Freycinet National Park or south to reach the bucolic Huon Valley. However long you’re in town, set aside time to take one of these daytrips out of Hobart.
If you don’t have time for the full 48-kilometre Three Capes Lodge Walk, don’t fret: you can tackle the spectacular Cape Hauy leg and be back in Hobart for dinner. It’s about a two-hour drive to Fortescue Bay, where the 10-kilometre return route begins and ends, so head off early. Park at the Fortescue Bay camping ground, make sure your day pack is topped up with water and snacks and expect to be walking for about four hours on the moderate track (note: there are steep stairs in sections).
You’ll traipse through the heath and woodlands of the Tasman National Park, eagles soaring overhead, before reaching the cliffs and catching sight of Cape Hauy’s dolerite columns jutting out into the sea. Catch your breath, take a mental picture of distant Cape Raoul for your next hike then enjoy the return journey to Fortescue Bay.
SEE ALSO: 11 Perfect Weekend Getaways in Tasmania
Chef Matthew Evans probably wouldn’t claim the credit but his move to the Huon Valley (and the TV series, Gourmet Farmer, that he made about it) put this gorgeous patch, the traditional land of the Nuenonne people, on the map for many Australians. These days, it’s an essential gourmet getaway from Hobart.
Make the 30-minute drive for Evans’ famous farm-to-table lunch at Fat Pig Farm restaurant (book ahead!). Stop in at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed for a cider and locally sourced charcuterie or Tassie cheese board. Visit the cellar doors on the Southern Wine Trail, including Home Hill Winery and Kate Hill Winery. And if you’re around on the weekend, check if it’s market day in the charming towns of Franklin, Cygnet or Dover.
When you’ve had your fill of food, soak in the thermal springs at Hastings Caves State Reserve or tackle a bushwalk in the Hartz Mountains or Southwest national parks.
Natural beauty meets colonial history on this enchanting isle (wukaluwikiwayna), where the remains of a convict settlement sit in stark contrast to white-sand coves, turquoise seas and watercolour-hued rock formations. It’s now a national park, which means the whole island is protected and you’ll need a permit to visit.
Set your alarm to factor in a stop for supplies (there is no food or drink available on the island) and the 90-minute drive to Triabunna, where the ferry departs – timetables change depending on the season so check before you go. Back on land after a 30-minute trip, your daytrip begins.
Walks crisscross the isle and are suitable for different ages and abilities so duck into the visitors’ centre for advice. A moderate 4.5-kilometre return walk, the Painted Cliffs track hugs the coast before revealing your reward: the artful wave-like sandstone formations in swirling patterns of orange, red and rust.
Spot wildlife, including wombats, kangaroos, pademelons, wallabies and a colony of Tasmanian devils. Look more closely to see most of the state’s endemic bird species, plus Pacific gulls and, if you’re lucky, the endangered swift parrot. However you spend your time on Maria Island, just tread lightly and make it back for the last ferry to the mainland (usually around 4pm).
Not just Australia’s best-preserved convict settlement, Port Arthur Historic Site must surely be the prettiest. A 90-minute drive from Hobart, it’s the size of a small village across more than 40 hectares, with sandstone structures, colonial buildings and manicured gardens on the banks of glittering Carnarvon Bay.
Head straight for the Visitor Centre to collect a map and, if you’ve got little ones in tow, a free copy of the Hidden Stories activity book – it’s filled with puzzles and questions to keep them engaged.
Check out the eerie penitentiary, which housed hundreds of convicts in the mid-1800s, see the Convict Church, now without a roof or floor but with its castle-like façade intact, and wander the Government Gardens, a recreation of those first established in 1846.
For lunch, there’s a cafe in the Visitor Centre with a la carte or grab-and-go options, and there are takeaway bites – pies, sandwiches, cakes – available at the Museum Coffee Shop in the Town Hall building. The site closes at 5pm so you can enjoy the last light on the scenic drive back to Hobart along the Arthur Highway.
The Derwent Valley, traditional land of the Leenowwenne people of the Big River Nation, typifies Tasmania’s natural beauty: Mount Field National Park with its waterfalls and walking trails, glassy Lake Meadowbank, verdant pastureland and the tree-fringed River Derwent snaking through the undulating landscape.
The region is also home to distilleries, fruit farms, cooking schools and destination eateries – and is a gem for food-lovers that won’t remain hidden for long. The drive from Hobart takes only about 40 minutes but slow down to enjoy the glorious scenery. Make stops in townships such as New Norfolk and Plenty, to rummage in antique and jumble stores and admire the Georgian and Victorian architecture.
There’s excellent trout fishing in Lake Meadowbank. Sit down for a lovely high tea at the circa-1829 Glen Derwent Heritage Retreat. And head to Pulpit Rock Lookout to see the river, New Norfolk and distant mountains laid out before you.