An island state off Australia’s south coast, Tasmania is home to more than 330 smaller islands and islets.
Here are our picks of the ones to visit.[related_articles]40983,50375[/related_articles]
When you arrive, you’ll have the whole place to yourself – the island’s lodge is able to accommodate 10 people in rustic rooms, and must be rented on a sole occupancy basis. There’s also a communal villa known as “The Birdhouse”, where you can prepare meals (BYO food and wine) to enjoy in leather sofas by the fire.
Given its setting between Bruny Island and mainland Tasmania, Picnic Island is a haven for marine life, and daily activities reflect this: forage for mussels, oysters and sea urchins off the rocks, or dive for abalone and crayfish. Look out for the soon-to-open alfresco sculpture park, commissioned by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini.
There’s a three-night minimum stay at a flat rate of $4,425. But if there are 10 people, that’s just $147.50 per person, per night. If you’re visiting outside of holiday times, one- and two-night stays may also be possible.
Another island that you’ll have entirely to yourself – well, except for the resident population of sweet-faced deer – Satellite Island is like Tasmania on a plate. The scenery is wild, rugged and truly invigorating, regardless of when you visit, but there are plenty of home comforts to retreat to when the weather gets wild.[related_articles]57226,56442[/related_articles]
The single beach house is rather schmick, with a well-equipped kitchen, equally well-stocked pantry, and an island manager to help out with whatever you need during your stay. There’s also a boathouse on the small pier, which can accommodate guests or be transformed into a lounge for sunset wine time – while you’re by the water, pluck oysters and sea urchins from the rocks that surround to accompany your beers and bubbles.
It’s an easy boat ride here from Bruny Island (which is an easy boat ride from Hobart), with other watery diversions ranging from kayaking and fishing to snorkelling – for the very thick-skinned.
The island can accommodate up to eight people, with rates from $1,800 for two nights (the minimum stay).
If you feel like you’re on the edge of the world when you reach Bruny Island, there’s a good reason for that – due south, it’s only 3,000 kilometres to Antarctica. Some days, the southern continent will feel closer – the inclement climes on the island are part of its appeal.
A short boat trip from Hobart, Bruny is visited by most people on wilderness cruises that take you around the island’s dramatic coastline, past sea lion colonies and alongside some of the highest sea cliffs in the world. But there are plenty of reasons to linger overnight – or even longer.
A growing food and wine scene sees locals gaining a reputation for everything from stellar cheeses (be sure to visit Bruny Island Cheese & Beer Co.) to farmed oysters (try Get Shucked), wines (Bruny Island Premium Wines) and even whiskey (Bruny Island House of Whisky).
Test your mettle on the multi-day Bruny Island Long Weekend, which combines all of the above with days of trekking and accommodation in upscale tents on a private farm.
There are 52 islands in the Furneaux Group, dotted across Bass Strait to the northeast of Tasmania. And Flinders Island is undoubtedly the crown jewel. Getting here is part of the fun, with a short yet scenic flight from Melbourne (one hour) or Launceston (35 minutes) taking you over ribbons of waves and beaches with the spectacular views of Mt Strzelecki below, before landing amid bucolic countryside that is wild and raw in equal measure.
The island’s 7,414-hectare National Park has only two trails – one going to the top of the highest peak and one along the rocky headlands of Trousers Point. The rest of the area is bushland home to granite massifs, casuarina woodlands and coastal heaths.
When you’re not hiking or walking along deserted beaches, enjoy fishing expeditions, challenging rounds of golf, and incredible food thanks to the island’s top-quality producers – you’ll find everything from freshly caught seafood (don’t miss the southern rock lobsters) and fresh fruit to wine and cheese here. Accommodation is as diverse as the island’s scenery: you can camp on the sand or stay in B&Bs, self-contained cottages or boutique hotels.
As ruggedly beautiful as it is remote, Maria Island is blissfully shop and car free, except for the patrolling rangers in their 4WDs. When your ferry from Triabunna (an hour and a half north of Hobart) docks on the island, off the east coast of Tasmania, you’ll be met by sweeping bays, rugged cliffs and mountains, abundant wildlife and historic ruins – Maria is home to a convict probation station, which is one of 11 historic places that together form the Australian Convicts Sites World Heritage Property.
There’s basic bunk accommodation in the old penitentiary here, or you can free camp at a number of picture-perfect spots around the island. The reason most people come here is for the wildlife: Maria is one of Tasmania’s great bird watching spots, with 11 of the state’s 12 endemic species to be found on the island. Bring your binoculars, because you’ll likely spot rare Cape Barren geese along with the endangered forty-spotted pardalote. And then there are the wombats, pademelons, Forester kangaroos, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian devils, among many other animals.[related_videos]44070[/related_videos]
(Lead image: Great Walks of Australia / Tourism Tasmania)[qantas_widget code=TAS]Check out Qantas flights to Tasmania[/qantas_widget]
After spending close to a decade in Asia, Natasha Dragun swapped the bright lights of Beijing and Jakarta for the beach vibes of Sydney. A freelance food, travel and wine writer, Natasha has visited more than 80 countries in the name of adventure and a good story. She is a regular contributor to publications across Australia and the world, from CNN and The Australian to Escape, DestinAsian, MiNDFOOD, Delicious, Voyeur, National Geographic Traveller, and more.