Under Down Under: A Weeklong Road Trip Up Tasmania's Dazzling Eastern

Under TASMANIA

Wild, rugged, and remote even by Australian standards, Tasmania feels very different from the red sands of the Outback and turquoise waters of the mainland beaches. The island state is primordial with old-growth forests, wispy overcast clouds, and vertiginous cliffs. A trip along the coast of the green Eastern Drive brings a constellation of sacred sites to light, connecting the island's two major towns.

Day 1: Hobart
Cure your jet lag with a caffeinated visit to Hobart’s historic downtown (it’s Australia’s second oldest state capital after Sydney); Hobart Walking Tours specializes in coffee-themed excursions that offer compelling insight into the importance of café culture in Oz. Outside the city limits, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is home to David Walsh’s world-famous collection of art that’s not only contemporary, but contemplative and contentious (hello, 72 plastered vaginas; hello, robotic pooping machine!). Swing by the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary nearby, where rescued marsupials are nursed back to health.

Back in the heart of town, feast on fresh oysters and line-caught sashimi at The Glass House, then retreat back to the city’s newest and poshest pad, MACq01. The third-floor rooms have generous AstroTurfed balconies perfect for self-guided yoga amid potted succulents.

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Day 2: Tasman Peninsula
The crumbling ruins of Port Arthur Historic Site were once home to some of Britain’s most hardened criminals. In good weather, the former penal colony kinda feels like a colonial-style holiday park (gruesome stories of leg sores from bearing actual ball-and-chains notwithstanding). The area also features ethereal rock formations, birthed by torturous seismic activity and the immemorial pounding of waves born in Antarctica. A boat ride with Pennicott Wilderness Journey hugs the coastline where pillars of dolorite line the cliffs like organ pipes—if you’re lucky you’ll spot dolphins frolicking in your vessel’s wake.

Catch the sunset at Tessellated Pavement, a mini Giant’s Causeway where the purple haze of twilight glitters off of the shiny, striated ground.

Day 3: Freycinet National Park
Like the tail of a dragon, Freycinet National Park whips out into the sea—you’ll see the peninsula’s stony crest in the distance long before you arrive. Once you’ve settled into Coles Bay, the launching point for the reserve, jump into a kayak with Freycinet Adventures for a sea lion’s perspective of the fjord-like surrounds.

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Day 4: Friendly Beaches
After a scramble up Mount Amos, reward yourself with oysters and uni at Freycinet Marine Farm, the best place in Tasmania for a buffet of bivalves. The extreme vastness of the talcum-white Friendly Beaches lies ahead, where you can delight in the notion that there are still places of unimaginable beauty left in the world that are unadulterated and unexplored.

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Day 5: Bay of Fires
Near the township of St. Helens, you’ll reach the Bay of Fires—a mystical moniker given to the area perhaps because the ancient aboriginals would light bonfires along the shore, or maybe it’s because of the scorching red color of the pervasive lichen. Explore the village of Binalong Bay, then withdraw to the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat—a huddle of glamping tents purpose-built for a hipster’s Instagram account. Dinners prepared by the husband-and-wife owners are worthy #foodporn, too.

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Day 6: Launceston
Start early the next morning at The Gardens to catch the rays of the rising sun as they bleach the rings of crimson moss on the seaside stones. Pull over at one of the tidal beaches like Cosy Corner, where pensioners park their caravans to imbibe the warm, unusual light that can only be found in “Tassie.” The drive inland towards Launceston looks like an ad for ranch salad dressing, where hidden valleys are hemmed by ridges of impenetrable forest. Wind your way down to low-lying Launceston for a winning evening in one of the art-inspired studios at friendly Hatherley Birrell Collection. Its Muse Garden and Magnolia Garden pavilions have inviting outdoor bathtubs. Just sayin’.

Day 7: Tamar Valley   
It’s worth sticking around “Lonnie” to take in the throwback architecture (Victorian- and Federation-style facades) that gives the town its frontier vibe. A dinner of New Nordic-inspired mains at Geronimo Aperativo Bar & Restaurant is also a must, but spend the afternoon in the dales of the nearby Tamar Valley, which produces most of Tasmania’s world-class wine, like the award-winning bottles at Josef Chromy.

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