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

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

Old Jul 29th, 2019, 11:39 AM
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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.
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Old Jul 29th, 2019, 01:14 PM
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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.
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Old Jul 29th, 2019, 02:38 PM
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Thanks for your reply, margo_oz. It would be early December, ending our trip right before Christmas.
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Old Jul 29th, 2019, 06:18 PM
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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.
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Old Jul 29th, 2019, 09:42 PM
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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
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Old Jul 31st, 2019, 09:45 AM
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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!
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Old 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.
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Old 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.

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Old Aug 1st, 2019, 12:35 AM
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For your Gold Coast days: Murwillumbah- charming little town nestled in gorgeous countryside ... home to the stunning Tweed Regional Art Gallery.
www.artgalleey.nsw.gov.au

Well worth the hourís drive ( less if youíre staying on the southern GC) for the Gallery alone.
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Old Aug 9th, 2019, 01:55 PM
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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.
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Old Aug 9th, 2019, 02:20 PM
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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.
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Old Aug 25th, 2019, 01:52 PM
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Thanks for your replies. It's been a busy month, and getting back to planning now.

triplanner001, we were planning to visit Tasman National Park by staying in or near Port Arthur, but haven't booked anything yet. Our time in Hobart is so short--arrival late from Strahan then one more day. Would you recommend 4 nights in Hobart over the 2-2 split with Port Arthur? Our interest in the Tasman National Park is doing a portion of the 3 Capes Trek.

Bokhara2, your recommendation on Murwillumbah duly noted. Thank you.

Kay2, your thoughts on your Tasmania trip are so helpful. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your experiences there. I had Maria Island on the initial itinerary because I had read that it is a good place to see the Tasmanian Devils in the wild at night. We were considering spending the night at the Penitentiary, but it may be a bit too rustic, as we would need to bring all of our supplies just for that one day. So we are on the fence about the Maria Island day trip now. Do you think the scenery / experience there is distinctive enough from Tasman and Freycinet National Parks to add back to the itinerary?

marg, thanks. On the GOR portion, we will now have 2 nights. So first night in either Geelong or Torquay. I picked Geelong because our flight into Melbourne arrives after 3 pm, but perhaps we should push on to Torquay. On nights 2 and 3, where would you stay on the GOR? (Nights 4, 5, 6 are planned for Melbourne). Apollo Bay and Warnambool? What combination would you recommend?

Thanks all.
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Old Aug 25th, 2019, 04:06 PM
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4quartets, I (a woman in my mid-60s) spent two nights alone in a penitentiary lodge room in April 2018 as part of an 8-day trip to Hobart and Melbourne (which included a day-trip to Wilson's Promontory). I'd been to Tasmania once before and Melbourne several times. I wrote up half a trip report with photos, but then life interrupted in a big way and I never got around to finishing it, though the Hobart and Maria Island portions are more or less done. On my third day on Maria Island I took an island circumnavigation cruise with East Coast Cruises.

Accommodation was basic, but I enjoyed my time there; the effort was well-worth it, as it gave me more time to explore the island's convict probation station, historic settlement, geological sites, landscapes, and abundant wildlife (which included a Tasmanian devil sighting). The island hosted lots of day-trippers, but they dispersed in different directions, with Painted Cliffs being the main attraction. At night, the island was quiet and the night skies were fabulous. Even on a day trip, I expect you'll see loads (so many wombats) and gain an appreciation for the island's beauty.

Here's an excerpt from my 2018 trip report that describes Maria Island accommodation:

There are only a few options for those hoping to overnight on Maria Island. For those with deeper pockets, there's the "Maria Island Walk".
Maria Island Walk | Tasmania Hiking & Walking Tours
There are also several other smaller companies offering fully-catered, guided walks of Maria Island.

For independent budget travelers such as myself, there's basic accommodation: several campsites and a 10-room former penitentiary, which is where I stayed. The penitentiary rooms have bunk beds with plastic mattresses, shelves, dining tables with benches, and a wood fire (wood provided free-of-charge), but no electricity. Those staying overnight must bring sleeping bags, lighting, food, cooking utensils if needed, and are required to take their rubbish off when they leave. Cost of my room for two nights was AU$88. It sleeps 6, but I had it to myself. There was a comfortable wooden bench on the veranda in front of my room.

Toilets and a mess hall with drinking water, gas burners, lights, and electrical outlets are steps away. Pay showers are at the nearest campground, a five-minute walk from the penitentiary. The penitentiary bunkhouse also has a hand-laundry room with the basics: a sink and clotheslines.

Both the Darlington campground and penitentiary bunkhouse are about a 500-metre walk from the jetty. There are trolleys at the jetty, for those who need them.
More info about accommodation and booking here:
https://eastcoasttasmania.com/operat...land-tasmania/
Maria Island fact sheet:
Maria_Island_National_Park.pdf


Shown: Mess hall, penitentiary lodge accommodation, Bernacchi's Coffee Palace (pink building)
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Old Aug 26th, 2019, 03:46 AM
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If you haven't booked flights from Tassie yet, then check flights to Avalon, an airport west of Melbourne and slightly more convenient for Geelong and the coast than Melbourne airport.
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Old Aug 26th, 2019, 03:51 AM
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For the GOR, I like Lorne, mainly because there's some great walking behind the town. Hiking a section of the Great Ocean Road Walk is also an option (shuttle services are available but need to be pre-booked). Port Fairy is really nice but be aware it's a long drive back to Melbourne.
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Old Aug 27th, 2019, 03:46 AM
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I'd try for Torquay rather than Geelong .
for staying on GOR I'd prefer Apollo Bay / Skenes Creek - there's a fab treetop walk there .
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