Just imagine dense and beautiful forests, a rich arts and cultural scene, and some pretty awesome wildlife-spotting. Intrigued? Make sure you add Tasmania to your list of must-visit places in Australia. And if you’re thinking of heading there on a limited budget, here are some tips for travelling to Tasmania on the cheap.
If you live in Melbourne, take advantage of its unique location and travel to Tasmania on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. It departs from the Port of Melbourne in both the morning and evening, depending on the time of year. If you have your own car, you can take it with you on the ferry. Otherwise, you can rent one once you arrive in Devonport on the other end of the Bass Strait. Devonport is a 3.5-hour drive from Hobart, so you’ll be able to see plenty of beautiful countryside on the way. It’s also just over an hour from Launceston, Tasmania’s second most populated city.
If you prefer to fly, you can go direct from Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane depending on which local airline you choose to fly with. Jetstar is the most accommodating, with flights to Hobart and Launceston leaving from all three major capital cities. Qantas and Virgin Australia also offer multiple options. Smaller airlines such as Tigerair and Rex are a bit more limited, but can get you to Tasmania for as little as AU$140 return depending on where you’re departing from.
If you’re budget-conscious, hostels are a good choice. Whether you’re staying for a weekend or longer, hostels can be a great way to save money and dive into the culture and make friends with other tourists. Make sure you plan and book well in advance, as the more limited number of hostels in Tasmania will make last-minute booking a hassle. Also, the further you get out from Hobart or Launceston, the less likely you are to find affordable accommodation.
If the accommodation options are looking limited, you could also give camping a go. Forty percent of Tasmania is made up of protected national parks and reserves, and there’s an abundance of campgrounds across the state. You’ll also find caravan parks if you’re doing an extended cross-state trip. Just make sure your car – preferably a four-wheel drive – is fully serviced before you head into the wilderness and embrace nature under the stars. Also, camping in a Tasmanian winter is not for the faint of heart. Prepare for rugged, freezing temperatures. Likewise, during summer, bushfires can be common. Make sure to take precautions and know your exits so you can get to safety if required.
Arts and culture
Tasmania has a growing reputation as an arts hub of Australia, especially in Hobart. Make sure you visit MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art), one of Australia’s best modern art galleries. Tickets are $30 (or $27 if you qualify for a concession), but with exhibits, films, and boundary-pushing installations, MONA is an essential part of any Tasmanian visit and is well worth the money.
Depending on when you visit, there are any number of festivals and events to attend. Among them are Dark Mofo, MONA’s own winter festival that has become a cultural tradition of art, music and food; Bay of Fires Winter Arts Festival, an annual arts market in the north of the state; and the Festival of Voices, which is a must for lovers of choirs. The best part is that many of these festivals hold a bunch of free events – perfect for the budget-conscious traveller.
AFL fans can get their fix with wintery games held in both Hobart and Launceston throughout the footy season. If you’re happy to stand on your feet throughout the game, standing tickets are much cheaper.
Getting back to nature
Of course, the cheapest and most reliable entertainment in Tasmania is provided by nature itself. Across the state’s national parks and along the coastline, you can enjoy a variety of magical experiences with a guide or on your own. Think orange-bellied parrots in Melaleuca in summer, the orchid flowerings in autumn, migrating penguins on the north and east coast in winter, or humpback whales off the Freycinet Peninsula in spring. You may even see a Tasmanian devil, platypus, or quoll in their native habitat. And all of that is completely free.