19 Feb 2020
Find world-class wilderness, culture and memories to last a lifetime on a Discovery Parks Tasmanian Road Trip
Road trips are as much about a moment in time as the places you visit and the people you travel with – and, like aromas, obscure places on the road-to-somewhere can evoke strong memories and feelings.
True, they often have their ups and downs; the fight over the navigation, over who is leaning too far over the middle line in the backseat, whose music gets played (just download Discovery Parks Spotify playlist that’ll solve this problem) and the uncoordinated toilet stops. But that’s the magic of it.The trip from Melbourne to Tasmania and around Discovery Parks on the Apple Isle with its pristine world heritage national parks, ancient Indigenous culture, rich wildlife, cutting edge art galleries, and artisan food and beverages, is a rite of passage for families, adventurous millennials, gen Zs and retirees.
It’s fabulous at any time of year – when the snow covers the mountain tops, when the blossoms and wildflowers light up the landscape and in the moderate summer when you can swim in the waterholes.
Spend a night or two at Discovery Parks – Melbourne, just 13kms from Melbourne CBD, in the spacious 2-or-3-bedroom townhouse with Queen bed, full kitchen, bathroom and balcony, or even in a comfortable standard cabin (for 2 to 6 people) or shady drive thru powered site. Swim in the resort-style pool and take public transport into Melbourne to see the latest exhibition at the Melbourne Art Gallery and Museum; or catch a musical or dine in one of the city’s famous cafe laneways.
Getting there is Half the Fun
Travelling to Devonport on the Spirit of Tasmania from Station Pier at Port Melbourne is a holiday experience in itself, whether you choose a day trip or to sail by starlight overnight. With movies, kids play areas, arcade games, and dining, you’ll wish the 10.5-hour trip were a bit longer. You can sleep in hotel-style cabins or in a recliner overlooking the ocean and awake to find yourself overlooking Devonport. The ferry caters for people with limited mobility and you can even take your car, caravan, motorhome and pet.
Discovery Parks – Devonport is just minutes from the ferry terminal, set right on the waterfront in Tassie’s bustling port city. It’s the perfect place to settle into your Tasmanian adventure with many attractions on your doorstep and you are spoilt for choice with beaches, from the popular Coles Beach to Hawley Beach with its red sand crabs and hooded plovers, and little beach villages such as Shearwater and Point Piper nearby.
To be honest, you might struggle to get the kids out of basecamp at Discovery Parks with jumping pillow and playground, and the beach a short stroll out the gate. But if you have got a taste of salt in your veins, take a trip into Bass Strait aboard the historic ketch, the Julie Burgess, and stop in at the Bass Strait Maritime Museum to learn about the island’s fishing history. While you are there, try your hand at navigating the Port Phillip Bay heads in a simulated experience on board the SS Woniora.Land lubbers might prefer the historic steam train for a 30-minute jaunt up the Melrose line, taking in views of the Don River and the region’s history in timber and limestone production. You’ve also got to see the 20th Century collections of Fine and Decorative Art, featuring Tasmanian artists, at the Devonport Regional Gallery and Indigenous Art at the Tiagarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Museum.
You won’t leave Devonport hungry – it’s not called a food bowl for nothing! Devonport produces fruit and veggies that make up 40 per cent of the island's annual crop. You can pick your own raspberries (Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm), strawberries (Turner Beach Berry Patch) and cherries (Cherry Shed) at farmgate purveyors, sample handmade delicacies or, there’s a Farmer’s Market every second and fourth Saturday. See Belgian-style chocolate being made or the chocolate museum, better still have it for a Belgian-inspired breakfast at the House of Anvers. You might also like to learn (and sample) some locally made cider at the Spreyton Cider Co or some amber ale at the Seven Sheds craft brewery. Come back to a comfy bed at Discovery Parks – Devonport.
Hadspen, Launceston and the Tamar Valley
Next stop should be Discovery Parks – Hadspen, just 15 minutes from Launceston, one of Australia’s oldest cities, oozing with grace and charm. Our Hadspen holiday park is the perfect stepping-stone to a range of local treasures, including nature, art, food, wine – that’s if you can tear the kids away from a collection of arcade games, pool table, table soccer and playground.The region is home to some of Australia’s best cool climate vineyards, orchards and providores along the Tamar River and you can spend a lazy day on a river cruise, sampling handmade cheeses, craft beer, cool climate wine and fresh seafood. It’s well worth the drive to Apsley Gorge in the Douglas-Apsley National Park to swim in the turquoise waterhole – just a 10-minute walk from the car park.
Launceston is a vibrant, culinary and cultural centre with some fascinating shops including fine artisan timber designs at Design Tasmania. The wisteria-covered Red Feather Inn is straight out of a French movie and renowned for its French-Australian cuisine that celebrates Tasmania’s seasonal produce – it’s well-worth finding too.
The kids will love the Cataract Gorge Scenic Chairlift over the South Esk River – the locals reckon it’s the longest single span in the world and it’s the ideal spot to take pictures of the spectacular scenery below. You can easily fill in several days exploring the parks, vineyards, galleries and river.
Move along the holiday road and on to Hobart, the increasingly popular celebrity playground, celebrated for its stunning harbour, rich history, pristine natural environment, world class produce and elegant cool climate wine, and contemporary art scene.There’s something for everyone to do in Hobart – from mountain bike and walking trails, wine and craft beer tasting to the famous Salamanca Markets, fruit picking, and up-close encounters with native wildlife. Mt Wellington, in the heart of Hobart, is one of the best places to see the Southern Lights - Aurora Australis - the spectacular light show that happens when electrically charged solar particles and atoms collide with gases, causing them to emit light. But take your camera because the lightshow reveals itself to the slow-shuttered camera, not the naked eye.
People come from everywhere to visit the playful and edgy Museum of New and Old Art (Mona) with its out-there exhibitions, including the Pharos light exhibition, billed as a refresher course in being a child and there’s Tim, the former tattoo parlour manager from Zurich whose tattooed back is a work of art. He’s sat for the museum for 3,500 hours since 2011 – odd but strangely compelling! You can wow the kids with a visit to the giant poo machine and the room filled with rainbows.
** MONA is closed indefinitely due to the current uncertainty regarding COVID-19. Please check the museum’s website for updates (posted 17 March 2020).
Stay at Discovery Parks – Hobart with its Deluxe and Superior cabins on the hill or bring your van to a grassy site and let the kids play on the jumping pillow, in the playground or in the games room. Or, just 10 minutes up the road, visit Discovery Parks – Mornington Hobart where couples can stay in a freshly refurbished Superior Spa Cottage Cabin and take a spa overlooking the fern garden. Families will find everything they need for a comfy stay in our Standard Cabins (sleeping from 2 to 6 people), complete with pine bunks the kids will love.
Discovery Parks - Cradle Mountain is the jewel in the crown of a nature-lover’s experience, on the edge of the majestic Tasmanian Wilderness World-Heritage Area, Lake St Clair National Park at Cradle Mountain.
Walking at a leisurely pace taking in the grandness of the wilderness is a great TAS experience and will definitely fill your camera roll with some of the most envious and surreal landscapes. Lake St Clair National Park at Cradle Mountain is a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area – which spans over 1 million hectares. It’s one of the world’s last remaining stretches of temperate rainforest and people come to marvel at the ancient treasures formed by glaciers and ice. There are short walks and epic hikes through tree-canopies, moss carpeted forests and waterfalls. These walking trails are well-served by shuttlebuses, boardwalks and lookouts.For the adrenaline junkie, from November to April, Canyon Tours unlock the mysteries of the ancient rock landscape in Lake St Clair National Park at Cradle Mountain. You can ride nature’s waterslides down waterfalls, abseil down cliffs with experienced guides – there’s no experience necessary, just an adventurous soul.
You don’t have to be quite so intrepid to experience the best of the Tasmanian Wilderness though. A 20-minute walk along the Pencil Pine Falls walk will give you a taste of the exotic and ancient landscape. With its moss-carpeted forest floor, soaring rainforest canopies, waterfalls and wombats, the Pencil Pine Falls and Knyvet Falls walk has the air of an enchanted forest. Don’t forget to stop in at Devils@Cradle Conservation Sanctuary to meet carnivorous native marsupials or take one of the Bicheno Fairy Penguin Night Tours to see penguins emerge from the ocean and head to their rookery after a hard night’s fishing.
Then it’s back to Discovery Parks – Devonport and some short excursions. Try the Platypus House in the Tamar Valley where you can see platypus and wombat active and busy in daylight hours. Take in the view over Bass Strait from the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse and, if you’re quiet, meet some native animals who frequent the area. Do a tasting at the Southern Wild gin distillery and call in for a tour of Home Hill where former Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons and wife Dame Enid lived.
The Journey’s Not Over Yet Though
Board the Spirit of Tasmania for another round of movies, dining and games and rest before heading for Discovery Parks – Melbourne to spread out and top up on shopping and shows. You’ll be home before anyone has thought to say: “ARE WE THERE YET?”.
Experience Tasmania with Discovery Parks for yourself.
Need some help to plan a Tasmanian road trip with a multi-park stay? Speak to our experts who will design your ideal holiday itinerary with a distinctly local touch. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online form with how you would like to discover the Apple Isle.