The main city in this region is Launceston. It is Tasmania’s second largest city and a gateway to the north and north east-coasts. At its heart is the magnificent Cataract Gorge Reserve, a natural amphitheatre, famous for its wonderful outdoor concerts.
Almost 70 per cent of Tasmania’s acclaimed cool climate wines are grown in the undulating landscapes of the Tamar region. Succulent stone and berry fruits are sold in season at roadside stalls and served with country fare at the pubs and tea rooms that are dotted throughout the region.
Stately homes reveal the region’s early history and the life of the prosperous country gentry. Further inland are the highlands, icy streams alpine lakes where anglers fish for Tasmanian trout. Walkers of all ages can follow paths to numerous waterfalls, forest glades and picnic spots.
An hour’s drive from Launceston are the ski fields of Ben Lomond, which in spring expose a maze of nature trails. Further East are the stunning beaches of the sun coast, turquoise seas, superb sea food and abundant wildlife.
Jewel of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area, this magnificent national park is a wonderland of high peaks, spectacular glaciated landscapes and alpine flora. To reach Cradle Valley at the northern end of the park, travel 85 km south of Devonport via Sheffield, where murals on the town’s buildings tell stories of the district. Take the B13 to Sheffield, then the C136. All routes are clearly signed.
The visitor centre at the park entrance has an extensive interpretive display and on-site rangers to give you weather, camping and walks information. Waldheim, at the northern end of the park, is the starting point for a number of superb short walks, including several of Tasmania’s Great Short Walks. Waldheim is also the start (or end point) of the multi-day Overland Track to Lake St Clair one of Tasmania’s – and the world’s – Great Bushwalks. Accommodation options in Cradle Valley range from a campground with excellent facilities to comfortable wilderness lodges.
Two kilometres out of Launceston on the West Tamar Highway (A7) turn left to the Trevallyn State Recreation Area, where you can enjoy walking, mountain biking and horse riding and the Trevallyn Dam. (From the dam, the Hydro releases water to create the rafting and kayaking action in the Cataract Gorge.) Boating and swimming are popular pastimes on Lake Trevallyn, and there are well-kept picnic sites in the area. Back on the A7, continue north for six km to Tamar Island, adjacent to the old 7LA radio tower. This important wetland habitat provides a haven for birdlife and the wheelchair-standard tracks provide excellent access to viewing sites.
Stay and enjoy a picnic or barbecue. Just north of Tamar Island is Legana and the turn-off (C732) to Notley Gorge State Reserve. Notley Gorge is a rare remnant of rainforest, and the site of one of bushranger Matthew Brady’s hideouts. Nature study, birdwatching and walking are highlights. From here, your route could continue by the river (perhaps calling at a Tamar Valley winery along the way) to cross on the Batman Bridge and explore the East Tamar region.
Take the Batman Bridge over the Tamar and head north on the East Tamar Highway (A8) through George Town to Low Head at the mouth of the Tamar, site of the Light Station museum. From here, you can take the B82 to Pipers River, turn south on the B83 towards Lilydale. Here, as well as friendly roadside vineyards, you’ll find the W.A.G. Walker Rhododendron Reserve – a springtime delight – and the magnificent Hollybank Forest, with its exotic deciduous trees blazing with autumn colour, and an interpretive walk through a demonstration forest. East Tamar
Take the Batman Bridge over the Tamar and head north on the East Tamar Highway (A8) through George Town to Low Head at the mouth of the Tamar, site of the Light Station museum. From here, you can take the B82 to Pipers River, turn south on the B83 towards Lilydale. Here, as well as friendly roadside vineyards, you’ll find the W.A.G. Walker Rhododendron Reserve – a springtime delight – and the magnificent Hollybank Forest, with its exotic deciduous trees blazing with autumn colour, and an interpretive walk through a demonstration forest.
The craggy peaks of Mt Barrow and Ben Lomond beckon those with a taste for mountain walks and wide horizons. Steep, winding roads reach both summits, and in winter, there’ll be snow on the peaks – Ben Lomond has Tasmania’s most popular ski slopes. The Mt Barrow turn-off is 42 km east of Launceston on the A3. The Mt Barrow Falls State Reserve, with its wet sclerophyll forest and waterfalls, is worth a visit and the views from the summit of the mountain are magnificent.
To reach the Ben Lomond National Park, take the Tasman Highway (A3) for three km from Launceston, turn right on the Blessington Road (C401) then travel for 40 km to reach the Ben Lomond Road. The ski village is a further 18 km, via Jacobs Ladder, the dramatic access road. In winter, you’ll need chains or alternatively park and take the shuttle bus via Jacobs Ladder. In good summer conditions, the plateau’s tarns and alpine flora are attractive. This is an elevated and exposed area – be prepared for bad weather.
Leaving Launceston on the Bass Highway (A1), discover Tasmania’s heritage at Entally House Historic Site. (Turn off the highway one km west of Hadspen.) The homestead and its outbuildings date back to the 1820s – you can tour the site, see the painstakingly-restored period farm machinery and wander through the magnificent old gardens.
To reach Liffey Falls, either turn off the Bass Highway (A1) at Carrick and take the C513 through Bracknell and Liffey to the Liffey Falls State Reserve, or turn left in Deloraine on the Lake Highway (A5), then take the Riversdale Road to the Liffey Falls Forest Reserve, where there are excellent picnic, barbecue and toilet facilities.