Tasmania: The 5 Best Day Trips from Hobart

Wombat Mama and her Joey on Maria Island, Tasmania

The entire state of Tasmania is near the beaten path. This large island is a quick hop from Melbourne and has many beautiful and unique places that are relatively easy to access. But it’s still sparsely traveled outside of the brief Australian school holiday season. In fact, all of the following day trips from Hobart, Tasmania’s quaint capital city, boast peaceful spots to enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery. You can jump ahead in this post to the various daytrips from Hobart with the links below.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania! Pictured: Remarkable Cave on the Tasman Peninsula

Basic Information for Touring Tasmania

When to Go

December through February is when the highs hit a comfortable 70 degrees (21ºC), but Australian school holidays can make things a little busier from mid-December to the end of January. February is truly an ideal travel month for Tasmania if you want the best weather with fewer people. However, March, April, October, and November are great shoulder season months. The temperatures are still comfortable for hiking, the tourists are few, and the prices are better. Since it’s an island, extreme temperatures aren’t common on Tasmania, but the winter does get chilly and the mountainous regions can get snow.

Getting Around

There are two primary ways to take day trips in Tasmania, by car or by tour. Some places do have a once-a-day shuttle bus from Hobart if you don’t want a full tour. I’ve outlined the best options with each of the day trips from Hobart below. But before you decide, make sure to read the following post: Should You Rent a Car in Tasmania Australia? Also see our Best Things to Do in Hobart Guide to help plan your trip as a whole.

Tasmania National Parks Pass

It’s hard not to stumble into a National Park in Tasmania. They’re home to many of the state’s key attractions and cover a large swath of the island. A Parks Pass is required to enter the National Parks. It’s mostly on the honor system, but they do check sometimes.

If you’re taking day trips by tour, the tour usually covers your entry. But if you are driving, you’ll need to purchase a Parks Pass at a park visitor’s center or the tourist information center in Hobart. It will cover everyone in your car, even if you’re going to Maria Island (without your car). If visiting National Parks on more than two days, they recommend a Holiday Pass, which is unlimited for 2 months. If you will be renting different cars, let them know when you purchase the Pass. For more specifics, check out Tasmania Parks & Wildlife.

Personalized Detours

I’ve noted some specific detours we recommend with these day trips from Hobart. But Tasmania is also home to many local farms, distilleries, wineries, breweries, and cideries. Some of them have shops and tastings. If interested in these types of stopovers, search Google maps to discover any open options on your journey before heading out.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania! Pictured: Painted Cliffs on Maria Island

The 5 Best Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania

Nearly 50% of Tasmania is managed by Tasmania Parks & Wildlife. This includes 3 World Heritage Areas, 19 national parks, and more than 800 reserves. Needless to say, there is a lot to explore. But these are the day trips from Hobart that I’d recommend starting with. They beautifully cover the diversity of Tasmania, all within 90 minutes of the capital city.

Mt Field National Park & Junee Cave

If you can only fit in one day trip from Hobart, and you enjoy light hiking, I would make it Mt Field State Park. The vast Eastern side of Tasmania is relatively dry, but Mt. Field is the beginning of the temperate rainforest to the West. It’s dense with eucalyptus, fern trees, and mosses, and is also home to one of the loveliest trails: the Three Falls Circuit.

Three Falls Circuit & Tall Trees Loop

I was quite skeptical about seeing any “true” waterfalls, especially since it was late summer when we visited. But the Three Falls Circuit delivered in every way possible. Even though they weren’t at their fullest, each waterfall was stunning. And this was the easiest trail system I’ve ever encountered.

We parked at the visitor’s center, where we purchased our Parks Pass, and then walked out the back door, right onto the trail. Big signs keep you on track and tell you distances along the way. The trail starts as a paved, somewhat romantic path that cuts through an awesome giant fern forest to Russell Falls. It was a wide, multi-tiered waterfall, with about a dozen people coming and going as we admired it.

Horseshoe Falls was very close by, but the trail turned to dirt and went up some stairs, so the “crowd” thinned a little. It’s made of two cascades that connect in the stream to create a horseshoe shape. The water is surrounded by so much lush vegetation that this lovely spot feels almost tropical.

We continued on to the equally alluring Lady Barron Falls, which is the longer leg of the journey. Consequently, the trail became much quieter, with just the occasional hello from other hikers. Along the way, we took a detour onto the Tall Trees Loop trail with dozens of towering eucalyptus trees. It was Tony’s favorite part of the hike, and there wasn’t another soul on it.

Junee Caves

There are more trails further into Mt Field, but the road through the park is gravel, narrow, and it was complete washboard when we visited. So we turned around and headed west outside of the park to the unique Junee Caves (about 20 min by car).

The flat track to Junee Cave is only 1km (.7 mile), out and back, and it follows an inlet channel for the Junee River. It’s an enchanting and quiet little nature trail (we only saw one other person) that ends at a platform overlooking the cave opening (you can’t go inside). Inside the cave, the Junee River rises to the surface after it has traveled about 30 kilometers underground through a network of nearly 300 caves. It’s a pretty cool little place.

  • Three Falls Circuit from the Visitors Center in Mt. Field National Park
    Three Falls Circuit from the Visitors Center in Mt. Field National Park

Other Detours

Ten minutes before you reach Mt Field National Park, you can stop to look for platypus in the Tyenna River behind The Possum Shed Cafe. We didn’t spot any, but several people told us it’s a reliable spot. Between Mt Field National Park and Junee Cave, Marriotts Falls is another relatively short, pretty, and rewarding hike. It’s 5km (3.1 miles), out and back, and takes about 1.5 hours. It was getting late in the day, so we passed by it, but you can fit it in if you head out early enough.

Things to Know

The full Three Falls Circuit, starting and ending at the visitor’s center and including the Tall Trees Loop, took us about 2 hours. It’s 6km (3.7 miles) plus 1 km (.6 miles) for the Loop. We hike relatively quickly, but did make many stops for photos. I would allow 2.5 hours for a leisurely hike. The portion to Russell Falls is mostly paved. The remainder of the track is still easy and family-friendly trail overall, with some uphill sections and stairs. Parts of the trail could get muddy after heavy rain, especially on the Tall Trees Loop. This is a National Park, so a Parks Pass is required. If on a tour, the Parks Pass is typically included. There are full facilities at the visitor’s center, including toilets, a gift shop, and some food.

How to Get There

You can drive from Hobart (1hr 10min). Once you enter the park, it’s a gravel road, but the visitor’s center is near the beginning. It’s where you will park if you are only doing the Three Falls Circuit and Tall Trees Loop. Some tours only allow time to go to Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls. If you don’t want to drive, look for a tour that involves hiking the full trail. Shuttle options from Hobart are minimal, and often cost more than just booking a tour. To visit Junee Cave, Marriott Falls, and the platypus spot, you will typically need to drive.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania! Pictured: The Tall Trees Loop and Russell Falls on the Three Falls Circuit in Mt Field National Park

Maria Island

A chatty guy working at the visitor’s center in Hobart told us this was a must do for something a little off the beaten path. He was right. The entire island is a national park, and there are no cars on it, except for the rare park maintenance mobile. It gets about 12,500 visitors a year. That’s an average of just 34 people per day on an island that’s 115 square kilometers!

But what amazed me most, is how such a peaceful island can be so darn accessible. You take the pleasant passenger ferry across, walk off the boat, and you’re already on their well-maintained park trail system. There’s no fuss or confusion thanks to the big signs telling you the direction, distance, and time needed to get places (on foot or by bike).

Wildlife

But what truly sets Maria Island apart from other day trips from Hobart is the wildlife. Adorable wombats openly graze around Darlington and Fossil Cliffs, both of which are within view of the ferry dock. Wallabies and kangaroos are shyer, but can still be spotted hopping around. There are also quite a few rare and strange birds to watch. Maria Island does have a growing population of protected Tasmanian devils and other marsupials, but they are rare to spot midday. You’ll need to camp overnight to view wildlife activity around dusk or dawn.

Walking & Biking Tracks

Maria Island isn’t big, but it isn’t tiny either. You won’t see everything in a day. (Some people opt to camp on the island and do multi-day walks.) But you can easily walk to the primary sites on the north end of the island, including the stunning Painted Cliffs and the dramatic Fossil Cliffs Circuit. The former is shaded part of the way, the latter is a lot of wide open sun.

If you want to get a little further, are relatively fit, and don’t want to spend too much time in the blazing sun, it helps to bring your own bike (they are allowed on the ferry) or hire a bike on Maria Island. We rented bikes, which allowed us to continue down past Painted Cliffs to French’s Farm and the serene Chinamans Bay near Encampment Cove. It was a nice, mostly shaded ride, with the occasional wildlife sighting, detours to white sand beaches, and beautiful ocean views. French’s Farm is really a couple old buildings. But it’s a great place to stop for lunch, do a little bird watching, and if you’re lucky, spot some wildlife.

  • Fossil Cliffs on Maria Island, Tasmania
    Fossil Cliffs on the North End of Maria Island

Bike Rental Information

Before deciding to hire a bike on Maria Island, it’s important to know the bike trails can be moderately strenuous. The pictures online and “easy” labels for the tracks make biking Maria Island sound like a cruise. The primary tracks are nice wide maintenance style dirt roads, but they have many ups and downs, which can be steep. Even fit 20-year-olds can be spotted walking their bike at times.

If you do want to rent bikes, there is just one bike hire place on the island (in Darlington). You can book mountain bikes and order ferry tickets together at the official website, Encounter Maria Island, which I recommend. Be prepared for a rather abrupt, unfriendly, and strange experience with the men who run the bike rentals. They have a lot of negative reviews online, and for good reason. But they do have all the supplies you need. Grin and bear it, and you’ll be off on the tracks in no time.

Things to Know

There are no cars, hotels, restaurants, stores, or trash cans on Maria Island. You have to pack out everything you bring in. There are rustic toilets in Darlington (near the ferry dock), at French’s Farm, and in Encampment Cove. Otherwise, you’re in nature. And most importantly, there is limited potable water on Maria Island. Pack all of the food and water you might need for the day (or longer if camping). Maria Island is a National Park, so a Parks Pass is required before boarding the Maria Island ferry. They do ask you for the pass when picking up or buying your tickets.

How to Get There

There are no cars on Maria Island, so everyone must take the 30 minute pedestrian ferry from Triabunna to Maria Island. Fortunately, it’s a relatively comfortable and pretty boat ride, with food, drinks, and toilets aboard. You will pick up or buy your tickets at the small Maria Island Gateway building right by the ferry dock. I recommend ordering them in advance, just in case, especially if you are hiring bikes. To get to Triabunna from Hobart, drive (1hr 15min), take the Maria Island Shuttle (1hr 20min), or book a Maria Island tour with a local company.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania! Pictured: Tasmanian National Park Signs on Maria Island to Guide both Bikers and Hikers

Tasman Peninsula

This is a choose-your-own-adventure area, with multi-day hikes, quiet natural walks, unique easy-access views, big historical sites, and local touristy stopovers. We chose a mix of the nature walks, unique views, and the major historical site, Port Arthur.

Remarkable Cave & Maingon Bay

We went to our southernmost destination first, Remarkable Cave. This is a minimal effort / maximum reward spot with Remarkable Cave, Maingon Bay Lookout, and Salmon Rock views located mere feet from the small carpark. It’s only a 10 minute drive past Port Arthur, and well worth the detour. Especially since most tours don’t venture to this extremely scenic spot. There are also relatively easy hiking tracks starting from the parking lot that lead to a small mountain top and a secluded crescent beach. It was a very sunny day, and the trails aren’t very shaded, so we headed back north to Port Arthur instead.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur is a 19th-century penal settlement turned open-air museum. It’s the most touristy spot I’ll recommend, but it still wasn’t overwhelming. An anchored cruise ship was shuttling visitors over by boat, and a row of tour buses were parked out front. But this is a massive place with ample space to roam. We were often alone and never felt crowded. I imagine it’s even quieter if you time your visit when a cruise ship isn’t in the bay (ship dates are listed here).

They’ve done a wonderful job preserving the heritage at Port Arthur. I was worried this would be a morbid destination, but it was quite the opposite. The lush, green acreage is colorful, bright, and littered with flower gardens. The buildings and ruins are open to wander in and out. Each one houses stories of various residents – ranging from prisoners to wives of commanders.

We spent over 3 hours at Port Arthur, and I could have stayed for a few more. In addition to the stunning grounds, sites to explore, and the interesting boat tour (included in the entry fee), there are peaceful trails that exit from the property for more nature and wandering. We detoured through a couple of them, but wanted to leave room in our day trip for a couple more stops.

Tasman Arch & Waterfall Bay

On our way back north, we detoured just before the Eaglehawk Neck to Tasman Arch. Here we enjoyed the short but beautiful Tasman Arch Track. It’s a nature walk circuit with ample lookouts. From there, we continued on the lovely Waterfall Bay Track. The ocean falls weren’t flowing when we visited, but that didn’t matter. It’s still an easy hike with minimal people, several lookouts, and partial shade along the way. While in the area, we drove out to the Blowhole and Fossil Bay Lookout. This was a pleasant diversion, but one you can skip if short on time. Tony liked the small marina there.

Tessellated Pavement

After we headed back up the neck, we stopped at the Tessellated Pavement State Reserve. This is another easy access spot, and it’s quite intriguing. The stone ledges look manmade, but I swear, they’re solely the work of mother nature.

  • Maingon Bay and Remarkable Cave on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania
    Maingon Bay and Remarkable Cave on the Tasman Peninsula

Other Detours

For a less touristed former convict colony, head 30 minutes west from Eaglehawk Neck to the Coal Mines Historic Site. It’s not as expansive or detailed as Port Arthur, but it’s a free alternative that’s still interesting and far less visited. At Eaglehawk Neck, near the Tessellated  Pavement, you can also make a quick stop to check out the Dog Line and the Officers Quarters Museum (it was closed when we were there).

Things to Know

The Remarkable Cafe and Tasman Arch areas are part of the Tasman National Park. There aren’t visitor centers or checkpoints at these spots, but they might patrol and check your dash for the Parks Pass. Port Arthur is not in the national park, but has its own entry fee. Restaurants and food stores exist but are somewhat sparse on the Tasman Peninsula. They do have a gift shop and full restaurant cafe (with special diet options) at Port Arthur.

How to Get There

You can drive east from Hobart. It’s about 1 hour to get to Eaglehawk Neck, the entry point to the peninsula. From there, it’s about 15 to 20 minutes to Port Arthur, and another 10 minutes to Remarkable Cave. If you just want to visit Port Arthur, there are a few shuttle bus options from companies like Pennicott Wildernes Journeys and Tassie Tours. If you want to include some hiking, and don’t want to drive or travel with large groups, look for active day tours from companies like Tours Tasmania.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania! Pictured: Ruins of the Church at Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula

Bruny Island

Just 30 minutes from Hobart, you can drive onto the Bruny Island ferry. The speedy 20-minute boat ride transports you to an epic road trip on what feels like a relatively remote island. The ferry runs regularly, but it’s limited to 30 cars. So crowds aren’t common on Bruny Island. That said, it is a long island, and will involve more driving than you might think. I’ve included our full adventure, with an optional note, which is followed by a shorter alternate route.

Truganini Lookout

When it docks, the traffic primarily funnels south, down the main highway. Most cars stop first at The Neck Game Reserve / Truganini Lookout, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful spot with ocean views to the east and west. The views at the top platform are fantastic, but also take the flat platform to the beach. Few people venture down to that stunning white sand beach, which is amazing for collecting shells.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse & The Bruny Baker

Tony loves lighthouses, so we continued south to the Cape Bruny Lighthouse and Lookout. Not far along the way, we pulled off at the Bruny Baker Bread Fridges. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, there are two picturesque fridges on the side of the road. Each is stocked daily with freshly baked sourdough and pastries from The Bruny Baker. There’s a spot to pay once you pick your selection.

Continuing on, the pavement eventually transitions into a well maintained dirt road. This leg is longer, about 35 to 40 minutes, and I would call it optional if you aren’t into lighthouses and “end of the road” places. There are tours available inside the Lighthouse, but we decided to wander around the short tracks instead. The views are expansive, and it’s amazing to realize you’re at the southern end of civilization. Looking south, the next land mass is Antarctica. Due to the lack of shade in this area, we only lingered for an hour. But it was still work the trek.

Adventure Bay Grass Point Track

On our way back north, we detoured to Adventure Bay for the Grass Point Track portion of the Fluted Cape Walk. It’s about 4km out and back (2.6 miles). The first part of the track is on the beach, but it enters the park at the end of the beach for a mostly shaded walk. We discovered a big wallaby colony just south (100 feet or so) of the South Bruny National Park sign. (Nearby, there is also a white wallaby colony.)

The track itself was pleasant, easy, follows the bay, and despite its “popularity,” we didn’t see a soul on it. We both enjoyed the rocky tidepools between Bruny Island and Penguin Island, where the trail turns into the Fluted Cape Track. They were full of white, blue, and purple seastars. We didn’t have time to do the full Fluted Cape Walk circuit, which adds a little more challenge to the hike.

  • Neck Beach at the Neck Game Reserve Lookout on Bruny Island, Tasmania
    Neck Beach at the Neck Game Reserve Lookout on Bruny Island

Alternate Shorter Route (no Parks Pass needed)

If you want to skip some of the driving and don’t have a Parks Pass, the Cape Queen Elizabeth Track is a well loved, moderate, out-and-back hike. It starts just 18 minutes from the ferry, and is a lovely lagoon trail that takes you to a cool rock arch on the beach. After the hike, drive just a few more minutes to the Truganini lookout. If you have more time, the Bruny Baker Bread Fridges (mentioned above) are just another 8 minutes southwest. Head west another 3 minutes, and enjoy the easy 3km (1.9 mile) Alonnah-Sheepwash Bay Track along the foreshore. See Hobart & Beyond for a great map to more walking tracks on Bruny Island.

Things to Know

The Cape Bruny Lighthouse area, Grass Point Track / Fluted Cape Walk, and much of the Southern portion of Bruny Island are in the South Bruny National Park. So those areas do technically require a Parks Pass. The alternate route I’ve noted above does not. Most of the food options on Bruny Island are at touristy spots, like farm stores, cheese and chocolate companies, the oyster supplier, and a general store. I do recommend packing along food and drinks unless you have a specific destination in mind.

How to Get There

As mentioned, you can easily access Bruny Island by a short car ride and ferry across. The ferry runs every 20 to 40 minutes, and is about $50 AUD round-trip. Some car rental companies don’t allow you to take the car to Bruny Island, so verify before renting. It must have something to do with the ferry, because the roads are similar to the other day trips from Hobart.

If you don’t want to drive, Pennicott Journeys offers Grass Point/Fluted Cape Track transport with Parks Pass, ferry ticket, and Truganini Lookout stop included. They also have a boat tour and touristy full island tour to suit different tastes. While you can take the bus to Kettering and ride the ferry across sans car, there is no bus on the other side. A car or tour group are the only good means of transport on the island.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania! Pictured: Truganini Lookout / The Neck Game Reserve Lookout on Bruny Island

Hastings Caves

Rounding out our recommended day trips from Hobart is Hastings Caves. This underground labyrinth houses the largest dolomite cave in Australia that’s open to visitors. It’s only accessible by a guided 45 minute tour, which is well worth it in my opinion. A knowledgeable park employee offers interesting facts as you wander up and down stairs (there are hand rails) through the strategically lit chambers with “subterranean formations from millions of years ago.”

Platypus Walk

Your cave tick will include the Thermal Springs and the Platypus Walk. The thermal springs is really just a warm swimming pool. It’s great for family pool time, but don’t expect a restorative soak. We didn’t see any platypus on the walk, but it was still a lovely, interpretive boardwalk through nature that starts next to the pool. I highly recommend it before you leave the area.

  • Hastings Caves on Tasmania
    Stalactites Create the Illusion of Icicles in a Winter Wonderland at Hastings Caves

Other Detours

The Tahune Airwalk is a popular tourist spot to visit for their pretty walking tracks, suspension bridge, and suspended viewing platform “airwalk.” We aren’t big on paying for hiking trails, but it’s a detour (30 minutes from Geeveston) that many people pair with Hastings Caves. They do offer many activities, too. If you’re traveling sans kids, you can take the Huon Valley Wine & Cider Trail back to Hobart. But our favorite near the beaten path detour is from our Hobart guide, the sketchy Shot Tower and Alum Cliffs Track. It’s close to Hobart, but on the way back. The latter detour does involve a lot of stairs (both the tower and the walk).

Things to Know

When we called, they said reservations weren’t needed. The tours are limited to 20 participants, but they will run two tours in the hour if there are more people. Hastings Caves is technically in a national park, but a Parks Pass is not required to visit the caves. There is a gift shop and a small cafe with snacks where you buy the tickets, should you have a little time before your tour. They also have toilets there. You have to drive another 5 minutes from the ticket building to the parking for the caves. I’m not sure why they say 20 minutes on the Tasmania Parks website.

How to Get There

Hastings Caves is accessible by car from Hobart (about 1hr 30min). If you don’t want to drive, there are tours from Hobart that include Hastings Caves and the Tahune Airwalk on Klook and Viator. These are basically transportation tours.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Hobart Tasmania! Pictured: Hastings Caves Tour


Discover more from Near the Beaten Path

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a Reply