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Tasmania (and Gold Coast) in December?: Itinerary Advice Needed

Tasmania (and Gold Coast) in December?: Itinerary Advice Needed

Jul 29th, 2019, 11:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 31
Tasmania (and Gold Coast) in December?: Itinerary Advice Needed

Hello all,

We will be traveling to the the Gold Coast for work this December. We have about 17 days afterwards to explore the area, and could use your advice on a possible itinerary.

We have been to Australia twice before. The first trip was Sydney and Port Douglas (with a day trip to the outer reef). The second was exploring the Sydney area (with a trip to the South Island, New Zealand). I have wanted to visit Tasmania for its scenic beauty and hikes; I understand that the scenery is similar to parts of the South Island of New Zealand, which we enjoyed so much. I also want to see the Great Ocean Road. I understand that December may be a good time to see the area weather-wise. The other option is to stay close to the coastal area around the Gold Coast / Brisbane, etc. (and maybe add the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef).

I think staying around the Gold Coast area would be an easier trip, but Iím inclined to go to Tasmania. But Iím open to your suggestions and ideasófor both Tasmania or for other destinations that may not even be on our radars. Here is the tentative itinerary for Tasmania. For this trip, we would book an open jaw, flying into the Gold Coast and out of Melbourne.

Day 1-4: Gold Coast
Day 5: Fly to Hobart
Day 6-7: Tasman National Park
Day 8-9: Freycinet National Park
Day 10-11: Bay of Fire
Day 12: Tamar Valley
Day 13-14: Cradle Mountain National Park
Day 15-16: Bruny Island
Day 17-18: Melbourne
Day 19-20: Great Ocean Road
Day 21: Fly home from Melbourne

Does this sound like a reasonable itinerary? I understand that we could spend months in Tasmania and not exhaust it, but given our time frame, does the above itinerary give us a good flavor of the island?

We are interested mostly in natural, scenic beauty, wildlife, and good local food (seafood and fresh produce sold at local farmers markets), and less attracted to big cities and crowded places.

If there is a destination that you think would combine better with the Gold Coast that we haven't considered, we would welcome your thoughts on that too.

Thank you in advance, and look forward to your replies.
4quartets is offline  
Jul 29th, 2019, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,091
When in December? This is the start of our busiest period, so you get traffic, minimum stays at accommodation (if you can find any), lots of people.

Having said that, I think Tasmania covers all those items on your wish list. There's great scenery, good walks, it's less trafficked than any spot on the mainland east coast. And, of course, there is some brilliant food in Tas.
margo_oz is offline  
Jul 29th, 2019, 02:38 PM
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Posts: 31
Thanks for your reply, margo_oz. It would be early December, ending our trip right before Christmas.
4quartets is offline  
Jul 29th, 2019, 06:18 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
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You could easily spend more time in Hobart and in Melbourne but it seems that you are trying to maximize your time outside of urban areas, which I can appreciate.

I would move Bruny Island to before or after the Tasman Peninsula. Both are close to Hobart, which Cradle Mountain is not. You can fly to Melbourne from Devonport, which is about 1.5 hours from Cradle Mountain; this will save you from going all the way back to Hobart, which is a long drive on winding 2-lane roads, not to mention a shorter flight.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2019, 09:42 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,475
As Margo says it's our summer break and some schools start holidays early December . The areas along the GOR are extremely busy at this time . You would need to book accommodations, cars etc asap .
Sounds a wonderful holiday
northie is offline  
Jul 31st, 2019, 09:45 AM
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Posts: 31
tripplanner001, thanks for your advice on the itinerary. Upon your suggestion, I looked at the flights from Devenport, and indeed, it would be more convenient, but the prices are much higher. As you will see in my next post, I have changed the itinerary a bit in light of these comments, and would welcome your thoughts on that, too.

northie, thanks. Yes, we are looking forward to this very much. The first trip to Australia was during May, which was nice, but our second trip was in early December and the fantastic weather at that time made such a great holiday. After the bright sunny days we experienced in Sydney, we didn't want to come back to the dreary and cold North American winter!
4quartets is offline  
Jul 31st, 2019, 09:53 AM
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After further research, I have adjusted the itinerary, taking into consideration the availability at lodges and trying to time the arrival into Hobart for the Saturday market. So we are planning to fly into and out of Launceton, not Hobart. As you will see below, Iíve split the time with 11 nights in Tasmania, 2 nights on the Great Ocean Road, and 3 nights in Melbourne. Does that strike a right balance?

Again, this is an itinerary for early December, and we finish right before Christmas. The accommodations at most places are available now, though a lot of places on the GOR are booked up.

Day 1-4: Gold Coast
Day 5-6: Launceton (and Tamar Valley)
Day 7-8: Cradle Mountain (Cradle Mountain Highlanders)
Day 9: Strahan
Day 10: Strahan River Cruise in the morning, drive to Hobart
Day 11: Hobart (Salamanca Market morning, MONA afternoon)
Day 12-13: Tasman National Park and Maria Island
Day 14-15: Freycinet National Park (Freycinet Lodge)
Day 16: Drive to Launceton for an early afternoon flight to Melbourne airport (arrival 2:00 pm). Rent car and drive to Geelong. (Should we push further here? If so, where?)
Day 17: Apollo Bay (or further west?)
Day 18-20: Melbourne (drop off car upon arrival)
Day 21: International Flight Home

Which cities would you recommend staying for the 2 nights on the GOR? Also, Iíve listed in parentheses the accommodations we are considering. In addition to the overall itinerary, we would welcome suggestions on your favorite accommodation choices as well.

Thank you in advance.
4quartets is offline  
Jul 31st, 2019, 05:58 PM
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The itinerary makes sense logistically. Be mindful that Day 10 will be long, but you will have daylight in your favor.

Are you looking at visiting the Tasman Peninsula as a day trip from Hobart? Maria Island would make sense enroute from Hobart to Freycinet, but note ferry times.

tripplanner001 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2019, 12:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,011
For your Gold Coast days: Murwillumbah- charming little town nestled in gorgeous countryside ... home to the stunning Tweed Regional Art Gallery.

Well worth the hourís drive ( less if youíre staying on the southern GC) for the Gallery alone.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We really enjoyed our week in Tasmania in January.
I wouldn't say it reminded me of NZ South Island except the sheep farming areas.
I don't know how to articulate this well, but I guess based on my ill-informed image, I expected less human development in terms of farming. There are mountains and forests and, of course, lots of coastline, but there are also large open areas of fields with scattered towns, especially in the valleys, of course. We only got to see a fraction of the island in our time there.

We enjoyed our time on the trails in Cradle Mountain NP along with many other tourists. We stayed one night and would have enjoyed two to chill out midday in our room while tourists peaked. We did get some solitude early in the morning starting hiking from Ronny Creek before the bus started, but Dove Lake trail had a steady line of people from 10am onwards. Not many people walked the trails behind Cradle Mtn Lodge (Enchanted, King Billy Pines, etc.). We took the bus to Ronny Creek for the last couple of hours of the day to see wombats up close.
We had planned to go to Mt Field NP, but it was closed due to wildfire.

We took a day trip to Maria Island. I had booked ferry in advance, but tickets were sold on the day. I think we ended up taking first ferry over and last back. Again, lots of tourists like us on the trails near the pier, to the major sites, but we found solitude going through the woods to the Painted Cliffs rather than the open trail along the coast (shady too). Really worth it to check the tide table to get to the cliffs as close to low tide as possible--simply gorgeous. We weren't impressed by fossil cliffs. We saw kangaroos at a distance, wallabies under trees, wombats in late afternoon.

Up the east coast we were underwhelmed by Kates Berry Farm -- tiny cafe and jelly/jam shop.

Driving south from Hobart, we thought the stop for the tessellated pavement worthwhile.

If you have time on the early evening you are in Launceston and you are interested, you could drive to Deloraine (toward Crater Mountain) where people often see platypus swimming in the river about 1-1.5 hours before sunset. A fellow from the hotel leads groups each evening to look for them in frequent spots, but we just joined the campers along the river.

Do believe the warnings about wildlife on the roads and danger of driving after dark. We stopped a couple of times to allow crossings and dead wallabies line the roadsides.

We stayed in a lot of places with self catering facilities (food is expensive) including Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village, Tiers Cottages in Deloraine.

We loved the people and the small town atmosphere. Hope you do too.
Kay2 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2019, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,119
If you are driving from Strahan to Hobart, make sure you stop at The Wall in the Wilderness (near Derwent Bridge) to see the most incredible wood carvings. For details, have a look here http://thewalltasmania.com.au/

I'd also suggest driving a bit further than Geelong - Torquay isn't much further and is a very pleasant place to stay. Again, I'd suggest driving further than Apollo Bay on your next night - perhaps stay overnight at Warrnambool or if you are up to a longer drive, Port Fairy is only about 20 km further west and is a pretty old fishing town with lots of choices for accommodation and restaurants.
marg is online now  
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