I have meant to do this since returning home, and unfortunately that silly thing called work just keeps getting in the way. But like many others, I thought I would share what we were able to accomplish during our 11 night trip to Tasmania, much of which was decided upon based on excellent reviews and comments on this branch. If it gives anyone any suggestions or guidance, it will be worth it.
I should state that the main reason of our trip was to try to see some of the wildlife, and experience the west coast wilderness. I had previously spent 3 days in Tasmania 2 years earlier, and had spent that time doing the Port Arthur area, and up to Bicheno before returning to Hobart, but this was my wife's first trip to Tasmania.
We flew into Hobart late Sunday, after flying from overseas, and just stayed at the Best Western Balmoral Inn on the Sunday night, after going down to have fish n chips at Flippers on the dock. For leaving town early the next morning heading northwest, the Best Western was fine and we had no complaints.
Monday we headed up to Strahan, with the main detour being a couple hours at Lake St Clair for a short walk. We did not stop at the Wall in the Wilderness but contemplated it, and everyone we spoke to after the fact told us we had missed a gem. We arrived in Strahan in time to see the play "The Ship that Never Was" and this was a hilight of the trip. We would highly recommend this activity, and for a two person play (with Kyai and Emily - sorry if I have the spelling wrong) it was a hoot with plenty of audience participation (including myself). Not knowing what to expect beforehand, this was just great fun. We stayed at Strahan Bungalows, again, which we would highly recommend.
On Tuesday we did the West Coast Wilderness Railway - while it was okay, and we would probably do it again, it did not have the wow factor I thought it would, but I would recommend it.
On Wednesday we did the World Heritage Cruise, which we thought was better than the Railway. The highlight was the stop on Sarah Island, and we were surprised to see that Kyai and Emily were part of the guides there, and after seeing them in the play, it made it that much more interesting. After the cruise we drove to Corinna for one overnight in this area.
We did one 2 hourish walk that night, and it was getting dark when we returned. Allow yourself plenty of time at the end of the day! At our cabin there, we had upwards of a dozen pademelons hopping around right on our front lawn. We loved it.
On Thursday, we did the Pieman River Boat Cruise - this was probably the worst weather day of the trip, with fairly consistent rain which put a bit of a damper on the excursion. While we loved the cabin experience, we did feel the cruise in Strahan was better than the cruise in Corinna. After the cruise we drove north to Arthur River.
After much debate, we did decide (after reading on this forum it would be ok) to travel the Western Explorer highway. It was a bit of an adventure, but we made in our regular 2 wd vehicle. There was a tree trunk across the road at one point, of which if we had a much bigger vehicle, it may have been tricky to drive around. I did consider most of the road to be more gravel than the white sand I was expecting, but when we made it to the other end, it really felt good and we were glad we did it. In the roughly 2.75 hours we took, I believe we saw only 2 other cars.
Thursday night we stayed in Arthur River, and took Geoff Kings , Kings Run Devil Tour. This undoubtedly was the highight of the trip, wildlife wise. To see the devils in their natural habitat, and healthy was spectacular. Highly recommended.
On Friday morning, we drove to Stanley and went up the Nut. Again, highly recommend a visit to Stanley and the Nut. The views are great, and it was just a neat little town.
We drove east and ended up in Port Sorell. Goal here was to visit Narawntapu park . This did not disappoint, and if you want to see the Wombats, this is the place! Plenty of wallabies and kangaroos as well. For one night we stayed at Shearwater Cottages and enjoyed it, but we could only stay for one night as they were booked after that.
We lucked into Rooster's Rest for the next two nights in Port Sorell, in a self contained cottage. Simply outstanding! the host, Janice (again, terrible with names, I hope I have that right!!) was most gracious and while there, were glad to have the company of her three dogs - Harvey, Rosie and Polly, and the two cats Joey and Jackie.
Over the next couple days , using Port Sorell as the base, we were able to get out to Chudleigh to the Honey farm, through Sheffield for the murals (cool town), and unfortunately the name escapes me at the moment, but the town with the topiary figurines.One evening we drove out to Lillico Beach for penguin viewing, and unfortunately only saw 2 come in from the water but would not trade the experience to see the penguins. Very interesting. We also drove up to Devil's Gullet, and again were the only ones in the area - felt like there was noone else around. We also found time to visit Anvers Chocolate factory and drove to Penguin for the market on the weekend, but to be honest was a little disappointed with it and the town. We did not stay long, I guess we expected a little bit more.
Undoubtedly tho, the highlight of the area was Latrobe, where we booked a guide to try to find the Platypus, and were fortunate enough to see one up close crossing a small earth bridge separating a pond from the river. Numerous sightings made this a highlight of the area as well. We also made a morning visit to Narawntapu to go along with our evening visit, and again, found this to just be a beautiful place.
On Monday we headed up to Low Head because we wanted another chance to see the penguins. We took the Low Head Penguin tours and Shirley was a most hospitable host. We had a chance to talk with her a bit and her love for the area was evident. We stayed at the Low Head Tourist Park and decided to stay a second night. Shirley had heard from the park owner that we were staying a second night, and invited us back to see the penguins in a little different environment led by her husband John. I just cannot say enough good things about Shirley and John - they love the area and their penguins - highly recommend this tour, we saw many of the little birds come ashore. We found time to do a day drive in the area, driving along the coast and down to Lilydale, and thouroughly enjoyed driving the countryside.
Alas , the trip was quickly coming to an end, and on the Wednesday we had to head back to Hobart for the Thursday flight back to Sydney. On the way south. we stopped in Campbell Town and Ross, and when got closer to Hobart decided to visit Bonorong Wildlife Centre. We prefer to see wildlife in its natural habitat but had read and heard many good things about this park. I am not saying there was anything wrong with it, but after seeing so much wildlife in its natural state, even with understanding the need for such establishments, Bonorong just did not excite us much.
People may be wondering about limited time in Hobart and Launceston, and the exclusion of Cradle Mountain. Well, I only have one thing to say to that.......You need more time!!! Cradle Mountain was excluded with a heavy heart, as something else would have had to give, and with all the research on Cradle Mtn, it was as if you saw the pictures, you saw the Mountain. We would have loved to have had the chance, but something had to give. We did stop at Cataract Gorge in Launceston on the way to Low Head, but to us, one city is the same as the next. We would just prefer to travel the road and see the sights. We felt our first night and last night wandering around the dock area in Hobart was just fine.
To anyone considering a trip to Tasmania, GO! It is an incredible place and whatever time you have, is not enough. There is/was numerous other stops along the way but to mention them all would make this post even longer!