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Hanging beneath Australia like a green jewel, Australia’s islands state, Tasmania, is best known for having the world’s cleanest air, untouched wilderness, and the richest history in Australia. Cloaked in 2,000-year-old trees and home to real-life devils, Tasmania is the stuff outdoor adventures are made of.
Arguably the world’s most mountainous island, Tasmania is a wind-lashed, wave-carved atoll, and the Southern Hemisphere’s last landmass before the Southern Ocean.
Tasmania is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by the Bass Strait. In the southwest corner of this dense, rain-drenched island lies Tasmania’s wildest region: hundreds of kilometres of steep dolerite cliffs, cool dripping rain forest and glacial valleys virtually untouched since the last ice age.
Source: Google Earth 2020
Tasmania speaks to those with a love of adventure and eco-exploration, with more than 20% of the state-protected as World Heritage-listed wilderness. Also known as the “Apple Isle”, for many years Australia’s island state was one of the world’s major apple producers. Apples are still grown in large numbers, particularly in southern Tasmania.
Tasmania is also known for having the world’s cleanest air and was notably home to the world’s first Green political party established in 1972.
Tasmania is a natural haven for Australian wildlife with fewer introduced predators and a relatively large amount of intact habitat. Visitors can share the Southern Ocean swell with seals and dolphins, watch penguins waddling home at dusk, and seek out woolly wombats waddling past with their young.
Macropods are the most readily visible marsupials in Tasmania with kangaroos, wallabies, and pademelons frequently sighted.
The island state was once home to the thylacine, a marsupial which resembled a wild dog, known more commonly as the Tasmanian tiger for the distinctive striping across its back. The Tasmanian devil later became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936 and is today found in the wild only in Tasmania.
Tasmania’s intriguing colonial history is underpinned by a compelling convict heritage and historic sites. Visitors can follow in the pioneering footsteps of intrepid colonial explorers to the farthest reaches of the island where tales of maritime adventures abound, preserved streetscapes are virtual living museums and world-class artists find inspiration at every turn.
Tasmania was occupied by Indigenous people for 30,000 years before British colonisation.
Archaeologists have found remains including bones and charcoal at many sites and have used radiocarbon techniques to date these materials, showing where and what Aborigines were hunting and eating, and how long ago. It has been found that women traditionally gathered vegetable foods and birds’ eggs, climbed for possums, hunted seals, and dived for abalone and crayfish. Men traditionally hunted for larger game.
When the rising seas flooded the Bass Plain at the end of the last ice age, the Tasmanian Aborigines were isolated for the following 12,000 years from the Australian mainland. As a result, they developed physical and cultural differences from mainland Aborigines; characteristics such as woolly hair, often reddish-brown pigmentation and generally stocky bodies were the result of isolation and adaptation to cooler moister conditions.
If a ship caught the Roaring Forties east from the Cape of Good Hope, Tasmania would be her first sight of land, and its wild and rugged south-east coastline her first harbour. The first reported sighting of Tasmania by a European was by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642, who sailed strong westerly trade winds and landed at today’s Blackman Bay in 1642, unable to anchor.
Tasmania was ultimately named after Tasman, who had initially named the island Van Diemen’s Land in 1825 after Dutch colonial governor, Anthony van Diemen. In 1854 the present Constitution of Tasmania was passed, and the following year the colony was granted permission to change its name to Tasmania.
More than a century after Tasman’s expedition, in 1772, a French expedition led by Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne landed at (nearby but distinct) Blackmans Bay. Five years later, James Cook and Tobias Furneaux were separated in fog near Antarctica, before Furneaux washed up in a sheltered bay he named Adventure after his ship.
Matthew Flinders and George Bass later sailed through the Bass Strait in 1798–99, concluding for the first time that Tasmania was an island. Tasmania was permanently settled by Europeans in 1803 as a penal settlement of the British Empire.
Reinvented more recently as one of Australia’s most compelling food destinations, the ‘Apple Isle’ has become known for its paddock-to-plate food experiences. Emerging from centuries-old cellar doors and farm gates are award-winning cheeses, premium wines, craft beers and artisanal spirits inspired by Tasmania’s striking natural assets.
Today Tasmania’s contribution to world food extends to premium seafood, cheese, bread, honey, nuts, truffles, stone fruit, craft beer, whisky, gin, and intensely flavoured cool-climate wines. This is the perfect destination to experience farm-gate suppliers, cellar doors and niche provedores.
Tasmania’s pristine World Heritage wilderness and national parks teem with native wildlife, where rugged mountain ranges meet the sea with soaring coastal cliffs and crescent-shaped beaches carved by the elements. Australia’s island state is viewed as an outstanding natural laboratory for studying the geology, natural history and biogeography inherited from the Gondwana supercontinent; the history of biology and geology, and issues of modern land use and conservation.
The diversity of Tasmania’s vegetation is also remarkable and includes some of the most ancient plant species on Earth, the tallest flowering trees, the oldest plant clones, and a high proportion of endemic species.
Framed by some of Tasmania’s finest beaches and rising into low granite mountains, Freycinet incorporates the southern end of Freycinet Peninsula, people-free Schouten Island and the lesser-known Friendly Beaches north of Coles Bay. A captivating arrangement of pink granite mountains, azure bays and white-sand beaches including Tasmania’s most famous beach, Wineglass Bay, the park was named after French navigator Louis de Freycinet and proclaimed in 1916, making it Tasmania’s oldest national park.
Freycinet National Park is home to an array of spectacular native Australian wildlife including black cockatoos, yellow wattlebirds, honeyeaters, and Bennett’s wallabies hop between the bushes, and you might catch glimpses of white-bellied sea eagles, dolphins or even whales.
Bruny is effectively two islands joined by a narrow, 5km-long sandy isthmus called ‘the Neck’. Renowned for its wildlife including fairy penguins, echidnas, and mutton-birds, the island’s two halves – North Bruny and South Bruny – showcase different characteristics: the rural north and the rugged south with its high cliffs, beaches and national park, which runs a frame around South Bruny’s coast.
Bruny’s coastal scenery is magical, showcased on beautiful walking tracks around Fluted Cape, Labillardiere Peninsula, Cape Queen Elizabeth, and Cloudy Bay. After a day hiking, sample the island’s prized cheeses, oysters, wine, and whisky at an onboard event.
The island is home to all twelve bird species found only in Tasmania. The bird with the world’s largest wingspan, the Wandering Albatross’ turn the wild weather into a thing of beauty as it works its dynamic soaring magic alongside us in the surrounding waters.
Tasmania’s island national park is a haven for hiking, wildlife, and history. Effectively two islands joined by a narrow neck of land, Maria Island is characterised by looming 700-meter-high mountains rising out of the sea, prolific wildlife and a World Heritage Listed convict settlement.
Wombats, Bennett’s wallabies, and a population of Tasmanian devils roam the grasslands of this vehicle-free island.
Recognised as one of Tasmania’s most iconic and significant heritage destinations, Port Arthur is where one can find Australia’s colonial history is written in stone and brick. This World Heritage-listed historic penitentiary building is the centre of a sprawling 19th-century convict settlement.
Summer is also the most popular time of year for visitors to Tasmania. December through to February are the warmest months in Tasmania with daily average temperatures ranging from the low teens to the low/mid-20s (Celsius) across the state. It is also the driest time of year and sees the longest daylight hours anywhere in Australia, of up to 15 hours.
Coral Expeditions’ Tasmania cruises explore Australia’s island state poised at the edge of the world where the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans collide on 10-night voyages departing Hobart through January to March.
10 Nights | Departs & Returns to Hobart | January to March 2021 & 2022