It is little wonder Tasmania is now high on most people’s bucket list. Not only is it famed for its world- class wilderness experiences, rugged and ancient natural beauty, it is also has a thriving creative culture, a rich history of convicts, miners and whalers and fabulous food and wine.
Don’t just take our word for it, Tasmania has recently been critically acclaimed amongst the world’s most influential travel publications with Hobart being named as one of ‘Lonely Planet’s Top Cities to visit in 2013’ and founder of Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, Tasmanian Rob Pennicott, being named a ‘National Geographic 2012 Traveller of the Year’.
The island state is also one of the easiest places to explore if you’re travelling with a pack on your back. Distances are relatively short, economical coach transport covers most of the main points of interest and the locals are friendly. Heading into the wilderness or along a glorious coastline with nothing but your backpack may turn out to be one of the most liberating and exciting times of your life.
Top 10 youth experiences in Tasmania:
1. Great walks – Tasmania is renowned for its magnificent walks. The island offers great walking experiences for all – from short strolls to challenging wilderness treks. The walks cover a diverse array of environments, from ancient rainforests and empty, white sandy beaches to inspiring overnight walks through Australia’s most mountainous landscapes.
2. Must-see MONA – The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) offers a radical new approach to engaging with the creative spirit. It’s fast becoming the must-see destination in an island state renowned more for outdoor adventuring. The building’s subterranean design houses a collection that ranges from ancient Egyptian mummies to some of the world’s most infamous and thought-provoking contemporary art. The owner’s unconventional and challenging curatorial approach makes it an unpredictable and unforgettable experience. There’s also a five-day festival called MOFO if you happen to be there in January and a weekly market MOMA, if you visit between December and March.
3. Paddle at Freycinet – There are few things more spectacular than dipping a paddle in the water on the glorious Freycinet Peninsula. Operator Freycinet Adventures offers two options -The Freycinet Paddle, with stunning contrast of pink granite mountains, pristine sandy beaches and blue waters. The Oyster Paddle glides by sea eagles, black swans and over 100 species of birds. Hear from one of Tasmania’s leading oyster farmers and taste an oyster harvested and shucked before your very eyes.
4. Explore Cradle Mountain – Uncover the remote hidden canyons of the spectacular Dove River in Cradle Mountain to gain a unique insight to Tasmania’s wilderness. Adjacent to the World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain National Park you’ll find, devils@cradle a unique Tasmanian conservation facility focusing on Tasmania’s three carnivorous marsupials, the Tasmanian Devil and the Eastern and Spotted-Tail Quolls.
5. Saturdays at Salamanca – Enjoy the sights, sounds, flavours, action and colour of Australia’s best outdoor market. Set between graceful plane trees and the mellow sandstone facades of historic warehouses, Hobart’s famous market at Salamanca Place attracts thousands of visitors every Saturday. Here you can pick up fresh organic vegetables, handcrafted jewellery, fresh fruit, Huon pine treasures, local artwork and more.
6. Affordable adventure – Take an exhilarating trip around Bruny Island or along the Tasman Peninsula, on multi-award winning coastal wilderness cruise, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Gear up to cycle down Mount Wellington from 1,270 metres high and enjoy the incredible views as you descend. Leap at the opportunity to experience the world’s highest commercial abseil at the Gordon Dam in the heart of Tasmania. Or tailor-make your trip for either one day, five days or up to a week with a range of backpacker tour operators including Under Down Under and JUMP Tours.
7. Beer lovers – Tasmanian Beerfest is Australia’s biggest beer festival held in November each year. The festival features over 300 beers from all around the globe and from Tasmania’s growing micro-brewery market including Seven Sheds, Moo Brew and Iron House. At 175 years old, the Cascade Brewery Company claims to be the nation’s oldest manufacturing enterprise. On a tour, you can learn a lot about beer here, including the beer lovers’ secret that making good beer is a more complex process than wine making. Wonderfully, beer tasting is part of the tour.
8. Native nurturing – Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 1981 as a sanctuary for injured and orphaned wildlife and is Tasmania’s most popular wildlife park. At Bonorong you will see a number of species that are sadly now extinct everywhere but Tasmania, including the Tasmanian Devil, the Tasmanian Pademelon and the shy Tasmanian Bettong. There are also opportunities for volunteering.
9. Cycle in the city – ARTBIKES is a free bike borrowing service that enables art lovers to easily access Hobart’s arts precincts and galleries. Spend the day immersing yourself in Hobart’s arts and culture with a state-of-the-art, Dutch designed Vanmoof bike. ARTBIKES provide everything, including the bike, helmet, lock and map. All you’ll need to bring is the pedal power.
10. Prison break at Port Arthur – Learn about life as a mid-19th century prisoner at the Port Arthur Historic Site on the Tasman Peninsula. Separated from Tasmania by a narrow neck of land surrounded by shark-infested waters, Port Arthur was sold as the ‘inescapable prison’. Stroll the landscaped Victorian gardens, and you’ll find it hard to imagine this was once a reviled prison that held 1,100 convicts at its peak. Today you can examine their indentured handiwork on a 40 minute guided walking tour of the site’s many buildings, ruins and restored houses.