Whilst there are many places & towns you must see when visiting Tasmania, there are just some towns not to be missed, yet sadly they often are. These offbeat towns are frequently driven through or past to get to another destination. Several of these are filled with history or surrounded by picturesque landscapes, in addition to offering wonderful food & accommodations. Just one more reason why we recommended planning an itinerary for your Tasmanian road trip.
We recommend you look out for these towns in your travels around the state. Once you’ve booked your car, make sure you include some of them in your travel plans. Stop to wander through the streets or admire their scenic charm. Alternatively, pause for an overnight break in your travels or just visit and have something to eat. Enjoy a charming café or restaurant to dine in or delight in a picnic of local produce.
1. Lake Leake
Lake Leake, situated in the Eastern Highlands on the upper Elizabeth River, is the name of the lake, the town & the passing highway. A highway regularly used to commute between the East Coast & Campbell Town, a central stop between Hobart & Launceston.
The lake named after Charles Leake, an early pioneer in the area, was originally created in the 1880s, to provide water to Campbell Town. At the time of construction, it was the largest artificial lake in Australia. However, now it’s predominately used for recreational fishing, stocked regularly with rainbow & brown trout. Recommended best times to visit Lake Leake, Tasmania for fly-fishing are between late September to mid-December. That said, fish are able to be caught all through summer.
Additionally, two waterfalls reside in the Lake Leake area, Meetus Falls (20min drive north) & Lost Falls (10 mins south). Lost falls whilst the closer of the two & accessible for families with children have tracks leading to the falls platform & another to rock pools. However, both the falls & the rock pools are deemed seasonal. These are, often dry as they rely on rain & snowmelt to feed the fall.
From the Lost Falls, Meetus Falls is only 15 mins away, much of which is gravel road. At the site you will find a carpark, barbeque area & toilet facility, with a short track taking you to the viewing platform that overlooks the falls & gorge below.
In addition to fishing & waterfalls, the Lake offers a wonderful spot to stop, rest & enjoy a picnic by the lakeside grounds. You are also able to get a great meal at the Lake Leake Inn that’s open 7 days. Furthermore, the Inn offers accommodation if you choose to spend the night & explore the area. Caution should be taken when driving in winter as the surrounding area & roads may not be accessible due to heavy snow.
Bothwell is the southern gateway to the central highlands and only a short drive off the main route between Hobart and Launceston. Additionally, this little town is classified by the National trust as a historic town. The town can trace its formal foundation back to the early 1820s, settled by several families of Scottish origins. Many of the buildings established in the 1820-30s are still able to be viewed today, with a self-guided walking tour around the town, wandering through the streets, and visiting the historic Castle Hotel, one of the oldest continuously licensed establishments in Australia.
In true Scottish tradition, Bothwell, Tasmania has been associated with golf, whisky & fly fishing throughout its history. Currently, an annual event celebrating all three has become a much-coveted attraction at Bothwell. The weekend event, the ‘Bill Lark Scottish Triathlon’ is presently held in the latter part of the year. Named after the man known as the godfather of Tasmanian Whisky.
The weekend includes whisky tastings golf & fishing at Ratho Farm originally settled in 1822 by Alexander Reid. Whilst the golf links at Ratho farm are said to be the oldest in Australian history, set out for the family to enjoy, there is a discrepancy of the place where the first recorded game of golf was played.
That said, Bothwell is also home to the Australian Golf Museum, in addition to being home to Australia’s first Aberdeen Angus stud. This little town offers much. Your walk around town can lead you to Mt Adelaide where you can view the township & surrounds. Accommodation is available at Ratho Farm in one of the several restored old buildings where you are also able to enjoy the amenities. Alternatively, you can stay at the Castle Hotel or one of the historic buildings around town. Furthermore, the friendly restaurants or cafés offer a fine selection of local produce to select from.
The next three towns not to be missed are in Kentish, an area of the Nort West region of Tasmania. Towns often driven-through on the way to the more popular destinations of Cradle Mountain & the Western Wilderness. Many of the towns in this area have particular traits that set them apart, some are rather quirky.
Though Sheffield is known primarily as a small farming town in the North-West area of Tasmania, it also lays claim to being the Northwest gateway to Cradle Mountain. With many a visitor driving through or around Sheffield without stopping to get to Cradle Mountain to feed Tasmanian Devils. That’s one of the reasons this has been included in here as one of the towns not to be missed when visiting Tasmania.
However, there is one other highlight of this little country town & that is the abundance of murals. The first mural was completed in 1986 by John Lendis, taking him 3 months to paint. Over the years a lot more murals have been created on Sheffield’s many buildings. From this point on they re-invented the town as, “The Town of Murals”, a name that is richly deserved. More recently it has earnt the reputation as Tasmania’s Outdoor Art Gallery.
Since 2003, a Mural Fest has been held here in Sheffield, Tasmania, where a mural is to be completed using a poem as a central theme. Nine artists engage in what can only be called a public paint-off, conducted in mural park, which is then judged. The murals stay in the park until the following Mural Fest, with the public allowed to vote for their favorite. The Mural Fest typically starts on Easter Sunday with participants having till the following Saturday to complete their works.
This little country town once known as a drive-through town, is now added by many tourists to their list of places to visit in Tasmania, staying to wander the outdoor gallery. Sheffield is also the ideal base for visiting the northwest area of Tasmania. There are a variety of attractions close by accommodation ranging from budget to luxurious & a great selection of cafés & restaurants to choose from. If you can’t spend a day in Sheffield, you can always visit it on a short tour from Launceston.
Whilst this Tasmanian town is known as the valley of views, offering picturesque views, the Lake Barrington acts as the town’s east boundary. Entering the town from the north the lake Barrington or Wilmot Lookout makes a perfect spot to view both the water & mountains. It is also known for its Letterbox Trail, which passes through the town. The locals embraced this with almost 80 letterboxes built using recycled materials that go for over 20 km. With designs such as the yellow submarine, a minion, a propeller plane, a lawnmower & Dalek to name a few.
As you drive into town you can stop at the bakehouse or visit the general store. Stop to stretch your legs & visit Pioneer Park. Where if you are there in October, the Laburnum Arch Garden will be in full bloom. Alternatively, visit the historic museum originally constructed in 1894. The museum houses a fascinating collection of colonial history, in addition to early photos of the G.W. Coles general store, where the Coles Supermarket empire started.
You can also venture down to Lake Barrington for a picnic or explore the trails leading to Forth Falls.
Before leaving the area, try some local produce, with an olive farm near the falls, you can arrange a tour any time. Or visit the Wilmot Hills Orchard & Distillery where you can taste their unique wines, cider, gin & specialty liqueurs. In addition to an offering of cheese & charcuterie platters or wood fire pizza.
If you would like to stay longer in the area, there are several BNB’s that can offer accommodations.
5. Promised Land
Looking at the scenery around the town called Promised Land it is easy to see where it gets its name from. Though in the Kentish area you will also find towns called No Where Else & Paradise. The former being named as originally the road ended at a farm with nowhere else to go. The latter came into being as the magnificent Mt Roland was exposed when thick undergrowth was first cleared.
An easy drive to or from either of the Tasmanian towns above, Paradise is a town that can’t be missed. Why you may ask, in 1987, Tazmazia was born with the first maze ‘The Great Maze’ being planted. Since then, it has continued to grow, now including 8 mazes, a lavender farm, a picnic area & café. Within the mazes you will find secret passages, the three bears cottage, & a cubby town venturing onto the Lavender farm which has the spectacular backdrop of Mt Roland, an amazing sight especially when in bloom.
Once clearing The Great Maze, you find The Village of Lower Crackpot, built to a 1/5 scale & as the name implies a somewhat quirky village. There are upside-down houses, bent-over houses, some houses that are not always politically correct & much more. Additionally, within the village, you will find the Embassy Gardens, which includes buildings representing 40 countries & a few imaginary ones. To top it off, sit down in the pancake parlour & enjoy one of their amazing sweet & savoury pancakes. This little Tasmanian town has many hours of fun for the young & young at heart so don’t miss out on this one.
These next three towns are regarded as not only Tasmania’s but Australia’s most southern towns (that can be driven too). They honestly can not be missed, and make a great addition to the must do one day itineraries around Hobart. Being just over an hour’s drive away it can be done in a day. Alternatively, stay overnight to enjoy a great far south outdoor adventure.
This small Tasmanian town that was established in the early 1840s is predominately known for its timber industry and apple orchards. More recently, it’s known for the Tahune Adventure with plenty of adventure activities available. Walking out on the Air Walk and gliding through the canopy, 50 meters over the Houn River, taking a raft or kayak on a twin rivers adventure, through the rapids of the Picton River, before returning to the Tahune Adventure site. Or you could get an adventure pass and do it all over a 12-month period.
Additionally, Geeveston is the entrance to the Hartz Mountains National Park, part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area. Here you will find an abundance of natural splendor being able to explore on short walks or an expedition wandering amongst the giant trees to the likes of Arve Falls, Lake Osborne, or Waratah lookout. Alternatively, you can try the more vigorous walk to Lake Esperance or the challenging hike up to Hartz Peak.
In addition to the outdoor adventures, Geeveston, Tasmania has much to offer. Wander around the town you will find wood carvings depicting the first settlers, or go hunting for the elusive platypus along the platypus walk. Or take a leisurely stroll through Heritage Park, past the old town hall, or visit one of the local artisans.
You can sit down and enjoy a meal at one of the local cafés or eateries or can get some local produce to make your own grazing plate, in addition to a visit to the wall of lollies shop. Accommodation in Geeveston & the surrounding area is predominately bed & breakfast styles and some homestays options are available.
If you continue 30 minutes further south to Hastings, Tasmania, you’ll find one of the several cave systems known to be scattered around Tasmania. Hastings Caves is in the state reserve & is also home to the thermal springs.
Before exploring this extraordinary cave, go wander around the thermal springs circuit or platypus walk. Visit the point where both streams meet and hot meets cold water. You are even able to take a swim in a pool that is fed with water from the hot thermal spring.
If you drive a short distance down the gravel road to the main cave area, you’ll find the remnants of the old timber harvesting area. These caves were discovered during the felling of trees close to the current entrance in 1917 by timber workers. The Hastings caves have a uniqueness in that unlike other cave systems in Australia because they are formed by dolomite, not limestone. You are still able to find the typical configurations of stalagmites, stalactites, straws, shawls, flowstones and more.
You can also visit Duckhole lake, a part of the caves system created from a sinkhole in a limestone area. It’s about 25-minute drive along a gravel road or via a 45-minute scenic walk along the old sawmill tramway track.
The Recherche local area is called Far South Tasmania, as it includes Cockle Creek, which is literally the furthest point south you can drive in Australia. Here you can discover what real peace is all about. Whether you enjoy kayaking in & around Recherche Bay & Cockle Creek. It’s perfect for enjoying some leisurely downtime at one of the beaches or a short walk to the whale lookout at the tip. This point is also considered one of the best places to see the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis), a good alternative to the Northern lights. But the Southern lights can be seen all over the coastal areas of Tasmania if you are lucky enough to view this elusive beast.
If you prefer something more robust you can enter the Southwest National which was declared a Wilderness World Heritage site by UNESCO in the early 80s. If you have more time, you can do a 4-hour return walk to South Cape Bay, a walk that requires some bushwalking experience. Or for the more adventurous 6-8 day (one way) trek along the South Coast Track. This is an 85 km trek that is described as long, rough & very steep, so not for the lighthearted. It is considered one of Tasmania’s most rigorous walking tracks. This walk can be taken from Cockle Creek – Melaleuca or vice versa, walking notes are available for the walk & highly recommended if considering. If you’d rather have a bird’s eye view, take a flight tour and soar over South West National Park.
9. St Helens
The point at the entry to the bay was named by Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773 after St Helens on the Isle of Wight. St Helens, Tasmania is currently the east coast’s largest town originally identified & called Georges Bay, St Helens Point.
This area was primarily used by whalers & sealers in the 1830s. With land grants given in the same year & a small settlement set up in 1835 it was renamed, St Helens. In 1874, tin was discovered in the Blue Tiers & the town rapidly grew from both, an influx of miners arriving & tin being shipped out. However, once the mines were depleted many miners left the area, some locals settled in the town & the commerce changed from mining to boat building & fishing. Whilst today tourism & family holidays are the main drivers, fishing is still a significant commerce within the town.
Whilst visiting St Helen’s you can choose to do as much or as little as you desire. Take in the history of the area, from viewing the indigenous stone tool collection to following part of the ‘Trail of the Tin Dragon’ at the History Room. With St Helens sitting within Georges Bay it’s not hard to find a water activity. Book a fishing charter, river, or bay trip. Relax at one of the many beaches in the area or grab your surfboard and enjoy some watersports.
Explore one of the walking tracks – ‘St Helens Point’ or ‘Georges Bay Foreshore’. Peron Dunes is also a short walk to the beach. (Caution is needed as Peron Dunes is classified as a vehicle recreational area). You are also able to explore one of the mountain bike trails on foot, though I would recommend caution here & stay on the walking tracks.
Alternatively, you can be adventurous & take one of the mountain bike trails from the mountains to the coast. Trails rate from easy (300m – 1800m), difficult (4.5km – 42km), extreme (470m – 3200m). Bring your own bike or organize a rental from Gravity Isle or Vertigo MTB in St Helens, group packages are also available.
Scamander can be characterised as a typical small coastal Tasmanian town, with a wide river opening to the sea. Though with any river open to the sea it comes with its own trials, Scamander’s bridge was no different. The first wooden bridge fell victim to a herd of cattle crossing, collapsing the bridge. The next two bridges collapsed (1889 & 1911) due to severe flooding of the river. Several more bridges were built over time each one falling victim to flood or shipworms, the last timber bridge collapsed in 1929. In 1936 a steel truss bridge was built, which still stands today. Today it is used as a crossing for pedestrians, cyclists & sometimes as a diving platform into the river.
However, this small Tasmanian town is not to be missed or the bridge passed over. It offers stunning ocean views onto sandy beaches, perfect fishing spots making it a much-desired holiday destination. The activities revolve around the sun & surf or a visit to the clear waters of Henderson Lagoon. Access to the lagoon & the 7 kilometres of walking trail can be made via the Winifred Curtis Scamander reserve boardwalk. Play golf at the Scamander River Golf club. Fish off the jetty or in the river, which is said to be one of the best locations in Tasmania for bream. Alternatively, beach fishing for salmon & flathead is also very popular, with somewhat of a challenge between fish & fisherperson.
11. St Marys
A short drive inland from the northeast coast of Tasmania, this little town sits below St Patricks Head. Whilst St Patricks Head was sighted & named in 1773, the township itself was mostly overlooked, until the early 1820s. It became the site of a convict camp, which in the 1840s became a probation station. Housing 300 convicts assigned to build an access road between the east coast & the mountains.
St Marys wasn’t proclaimed a town until 1864, where the main commerce consisted of sheep farming until the 1880s when coal was discovered at nearby Cornwall. Which again pivoted the focus on the town only to shift again at the completion of a railway line providing increased importance on this small town as a service centre.
Make a day trip to explore the remnants of history in the area starting at the Cranks and Tinkerers Museum. Visit Cornwall, 5 mins down the road & view the Coalminers’ Heritage Wall & Heritage Walk. A monument to the miners that hand-tunneled the coal mine in the early 1840s.
Upon your return to this Tasmanian town, stop at the bakery or local hotel that has stood on the corner since 1916. For the more adventurous make your way to St Patricks Head Track which is said to be a moderate 90 min return walk. A clear track to the peak that offers 360° views of the surrounding area mountains to the sea. Before leaving the vicinity stop at the Grey Mares Tail falls on your return to the northeast coast road or west to Launceston.
This small town is definitely not to be missed, especially for families & the young at heart. Grindewald, Tasmania was originally a residential development styled to resemble a small Swiss village only 15 km out of Launceston. Established in 1980, the residential development was gazetted as a locality in 1983. Set on 60 hectares (150 acres), all houses within the estate have been built in a typical Swiss tradition. The location offers stunning views across the Tamar River & Valley, as well as numerous peaceful lakes formed within the development, and in 1989 a resort of Swiss-style was added.
The resort currently ‘The Aspect Tamar Valley Resort’, includes the focal point of the development, the 7-hectare man-made lake, a wedding chapel & a 10-hole golf course. It can be accessed by guests or day visitors & offers numerous activities & shopping opportunities with the sweets & treats shop, a boutique, bakery & café. These include putt-putt golf, watercraft activities on the lake, a play area & pirate ship. The resort also has its own bistro & bar if that isn’t enough activity for you & the family. You are also just a short drive from other attractions including Tasmania Zoo, a distillery, several wineries & restaurants.
One of three towns on the north-east coast ideally suited for relaxing & recharge, whilst being only 50 min away from Launceston. Established as a town in 1964 on Tam O’Shanter Bay, named for a barque wrecked in the bay in 1837. This Tasmanian town was designed as a coastal escape to enjoy fishing, surfing, walks on the beach, or through the coastal sand dunes. That continues to this day with Tasmanians & interstate travelers alike enjoying it as a holiday destination. One highlight of the visit here is when at low tide you can walk along the stretch of beach between the three towns Lulworth, Weymouth & Bellingham.
Now locals & visitors alike can also enjoy, a round of golf at the Tam O’Shanter Course established in 1991 by locals. At Fannys Bay to the east of Lulworth named after another boat wreck in the 1840s, you will discover a whisky distillery where you can arrange a tasting by appointment at Fannys Bay Artisan distillery.
About the Author: Jeanine De Diana – Let’s go a Wandering
Jeanine, one of the founders of Let’s go a Wandering, a qualified food science researcher blended the research experience with our passion to travel. Applying this experience to our business to find the unique areas, places and hidden gems of all the destinations we visit. You can follow Jeanine on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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