Tasmania has both the smallest land area of any Australian state and the smallest population - less than half a million.

Many visitors find similarities with the South Island of New Zealand: the Bass Strait has isolated it from the mainland for thousands of years and led to some unique flora and fauna with some it only becoming extinct in the last century and much sadly threatened. You'll find the inhabitants notably more polite, friendly and more helpful than in big cities such as Sydney.



Tasmania is the smallest of Australia's six states, with an area of 68,401km² (26,410 square miles). It is comparable in size to Ireland or the US state of West Virginia. Tasmania is separated from mainland Australia by the Bass Strait, from New Zealand by the Tasman Sea and otherwise surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It's within the range of the notorious "Roaring Forties" winds that encircle the globe.

Most of Tasmania's population is concentrated around the south east and north coasts. The effect of how Tasmanians understand their island is predicated by the population being mostly in the urbanised south east and central north areas. In history, many understandings of the rest of the island has been determined by people in Hobart and Launceston, due to the demographic bias.

The Midlands (the area between Hobart and Launceston) is primarily used for agriculture. The Huon Valley and the area between Launceston and Burnie is used for both agriculture and horticulture. The Central Highlands, the West Coast and the South West are all mountainous forested areas, a majority of which are protected inside national parks.

Tasmania is the most mountainous state of Australia, its tallest mountain is Mount Ossa at 1,617m (5,305 ft). Much of Tasmania is still densely forested, with the South-West and neighbouring areas holding some of the last temperate rain forests in the Southern Hemisphere.


Hellyer Gorge

Tasmania has a cool temperate climate with four distinct seasons.

The West Coast and the South West receive a significantly higher amount of rainfall than anywhere else in the state. The number of rainy days per year in Tasmania is much greater than anywhere else in Australia. The saying "four seasons in a day" is very true here.



The first reported sighting of Tasmania by a European was on 24 November 1642 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. Captain James Cook landed at Adventure Bay in 1777. Matthew Flinders and George Bass first proved Tasmania to be an island in 1798–99.

The first European settling of Tasmania was by the British at Risdon Cove on the eastern bank of the Derwent estuary in 1804. Penal settlements were established at Sullivans Cove (Hobart), Maria Island, Sarah Island, and Port Arthur. The colony changed its name from "Van Diemen's Land" to "Tasmania" in 1856. The Colony of Tasmania existed from 1856 until 1901, when it federated together with the five other Australian colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia.


Lavender Farm, Tasmania

Tasmania's main industries are mining (including copper, zinc, tin, and iron), forestry, agriculture, fresh produce (fruit, vegetables, dairy, seafood, beer and wine), and tourism. The economy is affected by the Bass Strait, and how the freight and transport issues of goods into and out of the island are costed and subsidised, at times there are more Tasmanian born people in Melbourne, than there are in Tasmania, due to the nature of the job market in Tasmania.


National Public Holidays

Regional Public Holidays

When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday (and Tuesday if necessary) are usually declared holidays in lieu, although both the celebrations and the retail closures will occur on the day itself. Most tourist attractions are closed Christmas Day and Good Friday. Supermarkets and other stores may open for limited hours on some public holidays and on holidays in lieu, but are almost always closed on Christmas Day (25 Dec), Good Friday, Easter Sunday and ANZAC Day morning.

Time zone

Tasmania is 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 18 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Daylight Saving is observed from the first Sunday of October to the first Sunday of April the following year.

AEST - Australian Eastern Standard Time UTC+10

AEDT - Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time UTC+11

Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devil

The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial found only in Tasmania. The size of a small dog, it is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, extremely loud and disturbing screech, and ferocity when feeding. Despite its appearance, the devil is capable of surprising speed and endurance, and can climb trees and swim across rivers.

Since 1996 devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) has drastically reduced the devil population and now threatens the survival of the species, which in 2008 was declared to be endangered. The disease is a transmissible cancer, which means that it is contagious and passed from one animal to another. Individual devils die within months of infection. Programs are currently being undertaken by the Tasmanian Government to reduce the impact of the disease, including an initiative to build up a colonies of healthy devils in captivity, isolated from the disease. As of 2008 there were an estimated 10,000–15,000 remaining in the wild, but the decline is so rapid that they are predicted to become extinct before the year 2035. There are people that wish to take a more genetically resistant strain from the North West of Tasmania and introduce them to areas of mainland Australia where there are no dingoes in order to reduce feral cats and foxes and allow a better chance of survival for Australian native animals.


Southeast Tasmania (Hobart, Bruny Island, Cygnet, Huonville, Port Arthur, Richmond)
The most populous region of Tasmania. Hobart is Tasmania's capital and largest city. Hobart is also the second oldest city in Australia.
Northeast Tasmania (Launceston, Ben Lomond, Bridport, Campbell Town, George Town)
This area encompasses the city of Launceston and the Tamar Valley, the mountainous region of Ben Lomond, the Midlands, and the North East.
North West Coast (Stanley, Wynyard, Somerset, Burnie, Devonport, Cradle Mountain, Latrobe)
Small coastal townships and cities following the coast. And some very scenic inland areas.
East Coast (St Helens, Bicheno, Scamander, Swansea, Freycinet Peninsula, Maria Island)
Stunning beaches including the Bay Of Fires and Wine Glass Bay, voted some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
West Coast (Queenstown, Strahan)
The West Coast has long been the centre of mining in Tasmania. This region has the smallest population of any region in Tasmania.
South West
This whole region is protected inside the Southwest National Park.
Bass Strait Islands (King Island, Flinders Island)
The two secluded but very scenic islands in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia.

Cities and townships

Other destinations

National parks

Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, a World Heritage site
Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park

Tasmania has some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery not just in Australia but also the world. Over 45 percent of Tasmania is protected in national parks so you can't make a visit here without checking at least a couple of national parks out. The UNESCO World Heritage site Tasmanian Wilderness covers almost 20% of Tasmania. There's a park for every season and for every person. Discover spectacular landscapes from highlands carved by glaciers, to quiet solitary beaches, from cool and silent rainforests, to colourful alpine wilderness wild flowers. Tasmania's 19 national parks encompass a diversity of unspoiled habitats and ecosystems which offer refuge to unique, and often ancient, plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth.

Get in

By plane

There are no international scheduled flights to Tasmania, all flights must come through mainland cities. (Hobart International Airport has not had a regularly scheduled international passenger service since 1998, when services to Christchurch in New Zealand) ceased, although the airport still maintains customs and immigration facilities for aircraft entering Australia.)

Greenbus has up to date information on transport options from both Hobart and Launceston airports to their city centres.

By ferry

There is no ferry service between New Zealand and Tasmania. The only ferry to service Tasmania is from Melbourne.

Tasmania is served by two Spirit of Tasmania Ferries from mainland Australia. They depart daily from Station Pier in Port Melbourne (a bayside suburb of Melbourne) and arrive at Devonport taking the full night (or the full day during peak summer periods) for the crossing.

The crossing can be a little choppy at times, but provides beautiful views. It costs around $200 each way. You have the option of booking one of a range of a cabins or a reclining chair for the journey. The large ferries take vehicles, bikes, foot passengers and pets.

See the Devonport article for the details of the ferry.

Crossings can also be part of cruise ship itineraries.

Rental car companies usually have restrictions on taking vehicles into or out of Tasmania on the ferry. If you have hired a car on the mainland and need a car to hire in Tasmania, it's best to drop the car off in Melbourne CBD (there is no hire car dropoff at Station Pier), then take the 109 tram out to Station Pier (the terminus is across the road from the ferry terminal); car hire is available at the Devonport terminal.

Get around

By car

Getting around Tasmania by car is the most convenient way to see what the state has to offer. Cars can be brought into Tasmania from the mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry (see above), or hired upon arrival by the major operators such as Redspot Sixt, Hertz and Avis.

With the exception of Highway 1 between Devonport, Launceston and Hobart, travel times by car will be much longer than you think.

The state limit is 110 km/h, though achieving that speed on some of the coastal or inland highways is not often possible, and the speed limit of some of those roads may only be up to 90 km/h anyway. Many major roads wind their way through mountain passes and along coastlines, with few overtaking lanes, and some major sections of more remote road may be in need of minor repair. Seek local advice if timing is critical, or just allow more time. What appears the most direct road can add hours to your journey time. Again, seek local advice on the quickest route if timing is critical. Also be aware that on some of the winding roads, or on B roads, some locals (who are used to driving those roads) may try to overtake on inappropriate stretches of road or start to tailgate you if you aren't travelling at the speed limit. If you are concerned or feel uncomfortable, it is usually best to pull over where safe and allow them to pass.

Tasmania uses an alphanumeric system for road references, and all roads are generally well marked with references and destinations. Attractions are generally well signposted from the nearest main road. As a result, it is quite possible to navigate most of Tasmania using only a rudimentary map. Exploring the forests can often lead to a maze of forest roads. A GPS can come in handy for finding your way out, but beware GPS maps are not always up to date and following them blindly can add unnecessary time to travel.

Some indicative travel times, not including any rest periods:

By bus

If you have plenty of time in Tasmania, buses can be an option, but you would be advised to study timetables carefully and to do an extra bit of planning, as services can be infrequent.

Two major companies which provide services around the state are:

The main population centres are serviced by local bus networks provided by:

By train

There are no public passenger trains in Tasmania, the rail network is solely for freight and industry.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway is a tourist train which runs between Strahan and Queenstown on the West Coast. The trip takes about 3 hours with lunch included.

By plane

By bicycle

Bicycle touring is a popular way to see Tasmania.




If you spend any time in the bush you are very likely to see:

Less common wildlife include:


Five world heritage listed convict sites are located in Tasmania, in the Northeast and Southeast of the island. The best known is likely Port Arthur.


Adventure activities

Outdoor activities


There are a wide variety of culinary offerings in Tasmania, from the best chips and gravy at the local milk bar, to world renowned chefs in amazing upper class restaurants.

List of vegetarian and vegetarian friendly eateries in Tasmania

World-class food

Be sure to try some of Tasmania's world class food.


Cascade Brewery, Hobart

Tasmania has many exceptional world class beers, whiskies & wines.

There are two major breweries in Tasmania; Cascade Brewery in Hobart and J. Boag & Sons Brewery in Launceston, which each offer tours. A number of boutique beer makers and distillers are spread around the state.

You can tour the Tasmanian Wine Routes easily by car or on guided tours. The island's Wine Routes include the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston along both sides of the Tamar River and east to Pipers River; the Derwent, Coal River and Huon Valleys (together comprising the Southern Wine Route), an easy drive from Hobart; and the growing wine regions of the North West and the East Coast.


There is a variety of accommodation options available across the state, from camping through to 5-star luxury. Tasmania is particularly renowned for its hosted bed and breakfast accommodation where you can experience a different way of life in a whole range of different properties, including heritage listed and more modern properties in stunning locations.


Tasmanians are generally more laid-back and friendly than their mainland counterparts. They are usually very willing to help you out or give advice when asked.

Stay safe

While driving

When driving observe the speed limits. The rules are simple. 50km/h on all Tasmanian streets, and 100km/h on highways and country roads unless otherwise signposted. Many of Tasmania's country roads are narrow and windy, use common sense and drive to the conditions - not the speed limit.

Always slow down at school zones and crossings when in operation or you may be surprised by a waiting police car and receive a fine.

Be especially careful driving between dusk and dawn as this is when the wildlife is most active. Be prepared to see a lot of roadkill. Wallabies and wombats can make a mess of your vehicle if hit. Drivers swerving to avoid wildlife have caused many accidents.

In the bush

Bushwalking can be a truly breathtaking experience in Tasmania, but be sure to obtain the right gear, local advice and maps. Always sign the logbook at the beginning and end of each walk. Be aware that mobile coverage is limited in wilderness areas. The main dangers of bushwalking are getting lost and/or suffering from hypothermia. Tasmania's weather is notoriously changeable. Be sure to take a good raincoat and warm clothes with you even on a sunny day because an hour or two later it could be pouring with rain. If undertaking more serious bushwalking a map and compass is a must, as is a good sleeping bag and tent for multi-day walks.

White-lipped snake

There are three species of snake in Tasmania: copperhead, white-lipped, and tiger. The tiger snake is one of the most venomous snakes in the world, but don't let that deter you. No one has died in Tasmania by snake bite since 1977, almost 40 years ago! All three use the same anti-venom so identification of the snake if bitten is not important. Most snakes will slither away as soon as they hear you coming.

While in wilderness areas the water may be good to drink, but it is still highly recommended that you boil before consumption. If in touristy areas, such as The Overland Track, always boil your water.

Mosquitoes are present all year round. There are no mosquito-born viruses. A good repellent is advisable if going into the bush.

Go next

By plane

By ferry

The Spirit Of Tasmania ferry service between Devonport and Melbourne departs 1-2 times a day. Night sailings depart 6PM and arrive 6AM.

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