Tasmania with AAT Kings
Tasmania with AAT Kings
I travelled to Tasmania with AAT Kings.
I was met at Hobart Airport by AAT Kings and transferred to the Grand Chancellor Hotel. This is in a fantastic location right in the heart of the Hobart’s CBD, and the harbour view rooms offer a spectacular view of iconic Constitution Dock. Hobart is very easy to walk around, and it was only 10 minutes’ walk to the famous Salamanca district. This area really comes alive every Saturday from 8.30am for the Salamanca Markets, where streets are closed to traffic and the markets take over. If you cannot be there on a Saturday there are still plenty of eclectic artisans displays as well as cafes, bars and restaurants where you can just sit and enjoy the picturesque surroundings.
Hop on hop off bus tours are the best way to get a feel for the city, so I jumped straight on the 90-minute tour which was $30 per adult. This tour took us to the Royal Botanical Gardens, Cascade Brewery (Australia’s oldest operating Brewery) and Battery Point. If you wish to spend an extra $25 you can jump on another bus and take a ride to the stunning Mt wellington where the view is just breathtaking.
The AAT Kings ‘Welcome dinner’ was a short walk from the hotel at a local Pub, Customs House. I recommend the Seafood Chowder and the Salmon!
The next morning was an hour and a half coach travel from Hobart to Port Arthur which is one of the most fascinating places I have ever been to. It is a Historic Site and has a special place in history and cultural heritage, the stories from our guide Andrew were so compelling I felt like I was involved in one of the best history lessons. The grounds and new main building are stunning, with AAT Kings your tour includes entry and a short cruise around the bay (Isle of the Dead) with a very knowledgeable and engaging guides on board. Port Arthur the site itself is a world Heritage listed on the Tasman Peninsula and is the most intact convict sites. The historic site has over 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes set in 40 hectares of lush landscaped grounds. AAT Kings allow you plenty of time to fully experience the site. I found the whole experience very moving. The Broad Arrow Café is now a memorial garden shielded from the rest of the site by a row of native trees. The gutted building is still there honouring the people who perished that fatal day.
Next, we journeyed west to magnificent Mt Field National Park to see the beautiful Russell Falls on our way to Strahan. We stopped for a walk, through Lake St Clair and the Wall in the Wilderness, a fascinating sculpture that artist Greg Duncan has hand carved. We then continued along the rainforest bordered road of World Heritage protected Franklin - Gordon World Rivers National Park through eerie Queenstown to the gorgeous coastal town of Strahan. The views from our Hotel the Strahan Village Hotel over the Macquarie Harbour were stunning.
Strahan is the one of the most picturesque towns I have ever seen, it has a port to small fishing fleets. It is the gateway to the south west wilderness. Boats, planes and helicopters utilise Strahan as their base when travelling into the region.
After taking a morning walk around the town, we were able take a Cruise along the Gordon River, where the wilderness comes to the water’s edge. You stop for about an hour at Sarah Island, which is a lesser known convict settlement, set on the remote reaches Macquarie harbour Penal Station. A local guide took us on a walk around the Island informing us of the history of what took place there over 200 years ago. You also experience Hells Gate and the heritage landing, the site of the 2000-year-old Huon pine.
The Cruise is a half day experience, you can purchase coffee, snacks and souvenirs on board. After your tour of Sarah island, you are offered a light buffet lunch back on board. Lunch consists of primarily seafood, however if seafood is not to your liking they offer a range of cold meats and salad’s. You get to sit back and enjoy a soft drink or wine/beer if you prefer. Drinks are at your expense.
Then it was on to picturesque Cradle Mountain! The drive from Strahan took 3 hours and we passed the towns of Rosebery and Tullah. We stayed at Cradle mountain Hotel, which is set on the boundary of the Cradle Mountain National Park. The hotel also has a Wilderness Art Gallery on site, this is a must to walk through before you leave.
One of the AAT King’s optional excursions in Cradle Mountain is a spotlighting guided bus tour after your buffet style dinner at the hotel. This is a must. We were lucky enough that our local bus driver Stan had us seeing Wombats, pademelons, Bennett’s wallabies and Quoll’s in no time.
We also enjoyed a Cradle Mountain National Park guided walking tour. Local guide Steve took us down to Dove Lake and boat shed, we were able to take in the beauty of Cradle Mountain. There are many walks that cater for all fitness levels and if you are wanting a more challenging hike, head to Marion’s Lookout which is an 8 hour walk, which takes you via the wombat pool.
From Cradle Mountain it was about 4 hours drive back to Hobart, we stopped off at the township of Sheffield and enjoyed the towns famous scallop pies from the local Bakery Bossimis. I highly recommend stopping there and enjoy a vanilla slice as well!
Once back in Hobart, our visit was the MONA- The museum of Old and New Art. This is located at Berriedale to the north of Hobart only 20-minute drive from the city centre of Hobart. This was the highlight of the trip for me, MONA is truly a unique experience, the collections of David Walsh’s ancient and modern art are a “must see “. MONA houses over 400 artistic works. The Museum offers cafes, bars and on a Sunday afternoon some eccentric market’s stalls and live music. This is not for everyone; however, the architecture of the main building is a masterpiece.
The AAT Kings buses are equipped with WIFI and are so comfortable for the travel days you have. Your time on the bus is very informative as Carolyn was such a wealth of knowledge and we were always kept informed of where we were and the history of the sites. Our driver Tom was amazing, driving those winding roads I felt in very safe hands.
After spending the last 6 days in Tasmania I have certainly gained such an appreciation of what natural beauty we have right at our finger tips.