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Tasmania

Australia's Island State

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Cradle Mountain ... popular Tasmania destination

Cradle Mountain ... popular Tasmania destination

© 2000 Australian Tourist Commission

Across Bass Strait from Melbourne — an overnight ferry journey on the Spirit of Tasmania — lies Australia's only island state, Tasmania, 67,800 square kilometres of lush wilderness, unique landscape features, striking coastlines, and small, mostly unspoiled urban areas and historic country towns.

It is such a small state that you could, if you wanted to, go around it by car in a 24-hour day and be able to visit most of its natural attractions.

But give it a week and enjoy its charms at leisure.

Wherever you start

If you take the ferry from Melbourne, you'd dock in Devonport, proceed to Launceston, Tasmania's second largest city, and from there go into inland and coastal adventures.

If you fly into Tasmania, you might opt to start at the southern end of the island, in Tasmania's capital city, Hobart.

Wherever you start, there are daytrips and longer trips aplenty.

World Heritage area

You can start at either Hobart or Launceston to visit Cradle Mountain, part of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, which itself is part of the vast Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.

At Cradle Mountain, you can go on short, or longer, walking forays into some of the most scenic nature areas in Tasmania.

If you're partial to hiking adventures, there's the 80-kilometre Overland Track to challenge you.

Hobart the capital

Most visitors to Tasmania gravitate towards Hobart on the banks of the Derwent River. This is the place where the annual Sydney Hobart Yacht Race finishes.

Hobart has the added cachet of being the hometown of Princess Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark.

A number of historic towns and villages lie within the Hobart region. As well, you'll find the ruins of historic Port Arthur a short trip away.

West to Strahan

If you drive northwest from Hobart and cross the Tasmanian wilderness area between Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair and Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Parks you'll reach the coastal fishing town of Strahan (pronounced Strawn) through the old mining town of Queenstown with its red earth and many abandoned open-cut mines.

Strahan is in the only sheltered cove on the western Tasmanian coast which is generally lashed by the turbulence of the Southern Ocean.

Eastern Tasmania

Tasmania's east coast is washed by the gentler Tasman Sea and you'll find a number or towns and fishing villages along this coast, unlike the sparsely populated west.

Freycinet National Park is on the east coast almost equidistant from Launceston in the north and Hobart in the south.

Before the coastal highway turns inland to Scottsdale in the north, there's the largest town on the east coast, St Helens, which Hollywood film star Merle Oberon claimed as her birthplace.

Journeys of discovery

Tasmania is very much a place for journeys of discovery: of natural wonders, wilderness treks, coastal adventures, and incursions into the island's country charm and its historic past.

Take time to visit Tasmania, and take your time.

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