Tasmania Itinerary author: Jennifer Cossins
This is the second Tasmania self drive itinerary put together by our guest author, Jennifer Cossins. She runs her creative business, Red Parka Designs out of Criterion Street, Hobart in Tasmania. So if you are planning a 5 to 10 day self drive itinerary around Tasmania or just a visit to North East Tasmania, then these two blog articles are just for you!
Except where indicated*, all photos were taken by Jennifer Cossins.
Tasmania Self Drive Itinerary: Driving North from Hobart
For this North East Tasmania self drive itinerary we drove up from Hobart via the historic Midlands Highway. This is the fastest route in Tasmania but is also very interesting with lots of small towns worth a visit on the way, such as Oatlands (don’t miss a coffee at The Imbibers – such a great little place!) and Ross.
Then we turned off the highway just before Launceston to visit to gorgeous town of Evandale. This has to be one of the loveliest little towns in Tasmania! You really should include this small town in your self drive itinerary – particularly if you are arriving or departing from the Launceston Airport. Evandale is special for many reasons:
- it’s close to the Launceston airport
- it’s super quaint
- has a great weekend market
- has loads of quirky artisan shops, and
- is home to an annual penny farthing race!
Of course our first stop was for a coffee at the Ingleside Café Bakery.
The Village Store has an enticing array of beautiful kitchen wares.
Evandale is also special to me because it was home to my ancestors! Like many Tasmanians, I have convict ancestry – a Scottish thief called Kennedy Murray to be precise!
Upon his release, the Governor of the day granted Kennedy Murray a little chunk of land to farm in Evandale. He then found a wife and had a couple of kids. But by all accounts he was a bit of a ratbag because he left his wife and kids. He went to the mainland where he got caught stealing chickens.
But his wife, an English former convict who got sent to Tasmania for stealing a ream of fabric, worked very hard. She raised their their 2 sons to be upstanding citizens who went on to have 14 children each – they pretty much populated the town and are the reason I’m related to half of Tasmania!
A few generations later, Harry Murray (who was my grandmother’s 2nd cousin I think) became Australia’s most decorated war hero for his actions in WW1. The visitor information centre, which sells some of my @redparka work, has a room dedicated to Harry Murray and his legacy. I even found my name in a book there about the town’s history!
The Wattlebird supports local makers including Tracy.
Exploring Tin Dragon Cottages
Self drive itineraries in Tasmania are terrific for many reasons. Of course one of those reasons is that you can choose beautiful boutique accommodation that is off the beaten track!
Tin Dragon is an amazing place to stay partly because of their incredible devotion to sustainability. Everything here is so well thought out – it’s down to earth, simple luxury, from the cottages they built themselves, to the surrounding property that is a wildlife haven, the plastic-free amenities (think handmade shampoo bars in the bathrooms and compost bins in the kitchen). They have even built their own micro-hydro system and between that and the solar panels, they are entirely self-sufficient.
One of the best things about staying at this eco retreat is getting to hang with the alpacas. You can even join in on the daily alpaca walk as they move from top to bottom paddock! There’s a small herd of 12 alpacas and one sheep and I love this story…. the sheep just randomly walked on to the property one day and never left, deciding to join the alpaca herd!
You’ll also find a friendly clutch of free range chickens and a bountiful veggie garden, and when possible, owners Christine and Graham love to share whatever is in season with their guests. For us that meant farm fresh eggs for breakfast and a beautiful bunch of greens to cook up for dinner!
The Ringarooma River
One of the best things about staying at Tin Dragon Trail Cottages, and another great reason to include it in your Tasmania itinerary, is the Ringarooma River. The river runs through their property. It’s such a gorgeous river that you can walk along from the back of your cottage, and it’s a good place for spotting platypus! We both got lucky with quick glimpses of these elusive little critters – always a super exciting moment!
There are kayaks you can borrow here as well and it truly is a beautiful spot for a paddle if you’re so inclined, especially during wattle season – how gorgeous is all that yellow?
The Bridge over the Ringarooma River here in Branxholm is really cool as it’s bright red and commemorates the Chinese community that brought so much to this region back in the 1800s mining boom.
Tasmania Self Drive Itinerary: Tin Mining Heritage, Waterfall & Derby
Today our Tasmania itinerary took in a circuit through the foot hills of the Blue Tiers.
Harridge Falls is another hidden treasure in Tasmania’s north east that we so easily could have missed – We only found this place thanks to our wonderful hosts Christine and Graham who came with us on this walk. The trail was not marked so you really need to know!
And we’re so grateful they showed us as it really is such a beautiful spot! The falls are lovely with plenty of good rocks for sitting on and drinking tea. We loved the amazing fungi found along the trail and we saw one of my favourite little birds, the pink robin, flitting about, his bright pink chest feathers juxtaposing superbly with the sandy coloured rocks.
All in all, an extremely pleasant outing and a rarely visited waterfall – great for waterfall chasers! So add this one to your Tasmania self drive itinerary.
Duco Tin mine
After leaving Harridge Falls we continued through the small settlement of Weldborough. Then a short distance outside Weldborough we turned left to follow the Big Tree Walk signage at Little Plains Lookout. The Duco addit is marked by a yellow blaze on a large tree just before the Crystal Creek bridge.
This small damp cave is remarkable for its cave-life. If you are lucky you should see Glow worms and Tasmanian cave spiders. However, it is important that you don’t allow more than one or two people into the cave together, so you don’t disturb the ecology!
Following along Lotah Road, we turned right into Anchor Road – this makes a circuit drive back to the main highway.
Tucked away in the forests of Blue Tier are several abandoned remnants of the tin mining industry that used to thrive here. Of course untouched nature is the best, but I also love seeing places with a rich history where nature is busy reclaiming areas interrupted by humans.
In the late 1800s, this area was huge for tin mining, and many Chinese came here for this reason, creating a rich Chinese history in the region. The anchor stampers are a huge bit of machinery that was powered by a massive water wheel to break down the rocks to help extract the tin. There’s many places in this region where you can see and explore the mining history but this was my favourite!
It’s a beautiful 30 minute return walk from Anchor Road, near Lottah, to get here through regenerated forest and is a great little excursion if you’re in the region!
Thanks to our hosts for bringing us to this trail and telling us about this region – they have written much more about it on their blog so if you are coming to this area, I totally recommend reading it for more details!
Derby is the most well-known town in this region as it’s recently become famous worldwide for it’s mountain biking trails. But even if you’re not into mountain biking, there’s still plenty of reasons to add Derby to your Tasmania itinerary.
Our afternoon in Derby involved walking through the Derby Tunnel, another very cool remnant of the mining era that has been restored, complete with lights, for a great experience. After the tunnel, the trail leads you to one of the prettiest little streams I’ve ever seen, before bringing you back to the main road where all the trails start.
We also walked over the suspension bridge to explore the trails and the lake (AKA Briseis tin mine hole) on the other side of the river. Here we found the Lake Derby Floating Sauna which has gone right to the top of our to do list for our next trip to this region! I’m already scared about jumping in the cold lake, but it just looks so beautiful out there in water I think I’d have to try it!
A walk through the town of Derby brings you lots of quaint, old buildings, several cosy coffee shops and bike shops where you can rent a bike or buy some gear if seeing all the mountain bikers in town has inspired you!
A relaxing night in
So not much to report here – but isn’t that the point? After watching the river flow and saying hello to the alpacas, we wandered back to our cottage.
Here, we cooked our dinner. After eating we toasted the evening. And how better to do that than to sit in the spa watching the stars appear? Then one last night-cap and off to bed!
Tasmania Self Drive Itinerary: Driving South (Home) from Branxholm
On this road trip away, we needed to get home and back to work. So we drove south via Fingal and the Midlands Highway to Hobart. But before we left Tin Dragon Cottages and Branxholm we walked the Ah Ping Sculpture trail.
Another amazing reason to stay at Tin Dragon is they have a great short walk you can do right on their own property! The region around here is amazing with plenty of wonderful hikes, but this one, you don’t even need to leave the grounds! It’s about a 30 minute easy trail that features amazing plant life, tall trees, plenty of birds and a few remnants of the old tin mining industry that used to thrive here.
A local artist has made various sculptures that are scattered throughout the walk to conjure up vibes of the local Chinese mining history, and owners Christine and Graham have created their own meditation circle in the middle of the ferns for any visitors to sit, contemplate and immerse themselves in the nature here.
This was the perfect way to end our 3 days in the North East!