A home on wheels is the way to go to explore Australia’s island state.
It’s 5.30am, a time when most sensible people are still in bed with their dreams. As the inky night sky lightened, I peered through the panoramic rear window of our hired home on wheels, wishing the mist outside to rise and reveal the majestic dolomite peaks of Cradle Mountain reflected in the still waters of Dove Lake.
“No chance this morning,” said my partner handing me a steaming cup of coffee. With bacon and eggs sizzling in the frying pan as compensation, my disappointment soon vanished. That’s just one of the conveniences of travelling Tasmania in a motorhome.
More and more travellers are discovering the joys and convenience of motorhome holidays, and no Australian state offers a more relaxed motorhoming holiday experience than Tasmania. With its compact nature, wealth of intact historical sites and pristine wilderness regions of magnificent natural beauty, the only challenge we had was to forget our mainland long-haul driving mentality and instead learn to count travel in bursts of an hour or two at most, while enjoying all the comforts of our home-away-from-home.
We had stepped off the Spirit of Tasmania at Devonport and straight into the luxury of our motorhome. The rental company’s representative put us through our paces, pointing out how everything worked. With pressure hot tap water, microwave oven, two-way fridge, shower and toilet and TV to operate – there was a bit to learn. And then we were off, let loose in the abundant beauty of Tasmania.
The benefits of the motorhome were soon obvious on the drive up to Cradle Mountain National Park. At small roadside scenic lookouts where other touring cars would pull up for a quick look and a photo stop, we could toast the scenery with a hot cup of tea or a chilled juice from the fridge feeling wickedly smug.
On our second day, we went a little overboard on the magnificent short walks on offer around Cradle Mountain. Striding out we circumnavigated the sublimely beautiful Dove Lake, hiked up to Marion’s Lookout and scrambled over rocks and boulders all the way to the summit of Cradle Mountain, finishing with Hanson’s Peak on the way back.
By the end of the day we could barely walk, so it was the ultimate luxury to have a hot shower and a big comfy settee to collapse into, all waiting for us in the motorhome back in the car park.
From Cradle Mountain, we headed off to Tasmania’s least visited national park. When we’d read this description of north-east Tasmania’s Mt William National Park, our curiosity had been roused. Could a Tasmanian national park be anything less than spectacular?
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The fact that Mt William is two hours from Launceston, when an hour in any direction could get a Launceston local to numerous ‘breathtaking’ alternatives, means you will most likely have this jewel of park pretty much to yourself. Once there, we discovered wild and lonely beaches where the only other footprints were those of Tasmanian devils and wallabies, and idyllic campsites sheltered in paperbark glades alongside the shore.
Much of Tasmania’s east coast was just as lovely. Coastal towns such as St Helens and Bicheno offered great seafood, a chance to stock up the larder, and the opportunity to play a round or two on the numerous golf courses. Then there was the exquisite beauty of Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park to experience and savour.
In Hobart, we based ourselves at the 7 Mile Beach Cabin and Caravan Park and headed into the city to explore the streets of old Hobart Town and Battery Point and catch the colourful Saturday morning Salamanca Market on Hobart’s waterfront (open every Saturday approx. 830am to 3pm)
Taking the ferry to Bruny Island just south of Hobart across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania became the ‘mainland’. Bruny is a great little island (50 km long) and offers plentiful history and wildlife, and some isolated but extremely beautiful campgrounds in the South Bruny National Park.
From Bruny, we idled along the Midland Highway, otherwise known as the Heritage Highway, on the homeward run. Towns such as Oatland, Ross, Campbell Town and Longford are so steeped in rich colonial history, with so many of their original buildings intact, that you end up feeling you’ve been time travelling, but that’s pretty much Tasmania all over.
How long needed to motorhome Tasmania?
We had explored the west coast of Tasmania on a previous trip so had allowed ourselves two weeks this time for the east coast and Midland Highway. People who like to keep on the go each day may find this enough time to drive around the entire island.
If you prefer to see less and do more in terms of outdoor recreation, then two weeks is perfect for the ‘north, east and midlands’ or the ‘east and west coast and north’.
Three weeks would give you ample time to leisurely see most of the general attractions and still have three or four days to spare.
We quickly moved into the more leisurely mode of motorhome travel. If we weren’t sure of which road to take…pull over, consult the map and put the kettle on; passed by a picnic spot too lovely to miss…turn round and put the kettle on.
There’s no doubt in our mind why so many people take to motorhoming long term; you get to enjoy the great outdoors without compromising on any of the creature comforts.