Tasmania - car-free itinerary?

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Mar 16th, 2016, 08:06 PM
  #1
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Tasmania - car-free itinerary?

Hello,

We’re planning a trip to Australia in Jan. 2017. Our priorities are seeing the native wildlife and being out in nature, though we are not fit enough to be doing the Overland Track (or anything remotely like it). Our entire trip is shaping up like this: three days in Port Douglas (snorkel reef one day, two days open for relaxation), one week in Tasmania, three days in Melbourne (including an overnight on French Island - glamping! That’s our style).

Question: Can we get by without a rental car? We planned to get one in Tasmania only, relying on tours/public transport in Port Douglas and Melbourne. However, only one of us is a licensed driver, and we’re from the States, so she is not accustomed to driving on the *wrong* side of the road (that’s a joke, sort of … it feels wrong to us, so it could be stressful on our driver).

Our original plan was to rent a car for our week in Tasmania, and do Bruny Island - Bicheno/Freycinet - Cradle Mountain. But I’ve done some research, and I think we can do Tasmania more inexpensively and stress-free if we don’t get a car -- but we have to drop one of our desired destinations.

Would love to get opinions from you all. Here are our proposed car-free options for Tasmania:

Tasmania itinerary option A: Freycinet and Cradle Mountain
Saturday - arrive in Hobart (overnight)
Sunday - Tassielink to Bicheno (arrive 2 pm); overnight in Bicheno
Monday - Calows Coaches to Freycinet Park & return (morning); afternoon, overnight in Bicheno
Tuesday - Calows Coaches to Launceston (arrive 11 am); overnight in Launceston
Wednesday - McDermott's Coaches or TassieLink to Cradle Mountain; stay in Cradle Mountain through ...
Saturday - TassieLink to Devonport (arrive 2 pm) (overnight on Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne)

Tasmania itinerary option B: Bruny Island and Cradle Mountain
Saturday - arrive in Hobart (overnight)
Sunday - metro to Kettering, ferry to Bruny, taxi to Inala (overnight in Bruny)
Monday - Bruny Island
Tuesday - taxi to ferry, ferry to Kettering, Metro to Hobart, Tassielink to Launceston (arrive 5 pm) (overnight in Launceston)
Wednesday - McDermott's Coaches or TassieLink to Cradle Mountain; stay in Cradle Mountain through ...
Saturday - TassieLink to Devonport (arrive 2 pm) (overnight on Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne)

I estimate Bruny Island will cost $200+ more (transportation, accommodation) than Freycinet Park/Bicheno, but we are willing to pay more if the experience is worth it.

Assuming we do not get the car (I suspect many will recommend doing so) -- would you choose Option A or B?

And we're not wedded to this plan - suggestions welcome!
beezus9 is offline  
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Mar 17th, 2016, 07:45 AM
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Well, let me be the first one to suggest you confront your fear of driving on the left and get a car. Think of it as part of the adventure.

I really can't imagine seeing TAS without one. You will miss so much - lots of off-the-beaten path places to venture to with a car.

TAS is a good place to learn too, not as much traffic as a big city and lots of opportunity to practice in between destinations.

I too am American - I learned to drive on the left during our first visit to NZ and then later again when we moved to Indonesia and Australia. I too was wigged out at the prospect, but it's easier than you might expect. Think of all the Aussies who've visited the US - where it's almost impossible to NOT drive.

Okay, that's my speech. If you're really that uncomfortable with driving on the left, don't do it, but you may regret not giving it a go. Or not.

Enjoy your trip.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 11:02 AM
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Tassie is much easier with a rental car and I'm surprised to hear you can do it more inexpensively without one. I would think all of those transfers would add up to more than the cost of a rental car.

That's not to say it's impossible without a car but you'll have much less flexibility and miss out on little stops along the way which is part of the fun of visiting Tassie. I'd have no problem going carless in PD or Melbourne.

Between Freycinet and Bruny, I've only been to Bruny which is excellent for wildlife but if you don't have a car, how are you planning to get around Bruny on Monday?
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Mar 17th, 2016, 12:13 PM
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I confess -- it might be me, as the passenger (not the driver) who is most concerned. And I don't like leaving all the driving to my traveling companion, it doesn't seem fair.

Re: Patty's question about how we'd get around Bruny -- our plan is to stay at Inala (http://www.inalanaturetours.com.au/) and sign up for a nature tour or two. The taxi to/from ferry is the big expense.

Re: cost comparison - When I checked a rental car site for rates for 2WD vehicles, they were coming in at $700 - $1000 AUD for one week. Is that right? Seems very expensive. Coach fares each way range from $25 to $75, so it takes a lot of coach fares to add up to the cost of a rental car. I estimate the total transportation cost of our Option A about $400 and Option B about $500.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 02:52 PM
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I don't remember paying anywhere near that much for a sedan on either trip but both of our trips were in low season. As a matter of fact we ended up keeping the car for two extra days after we got to Hobart when we found out a taxi to the airport would cost more than keeping the car.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 03:49 PM
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Not sure where you got those rental car rates, but I just did a search for a random week in January 2017 with a Hobart pick up and a Launceston drop off - lowest price was AUD $240 for a Yaris, and AUD $346 for a Camry.

https://www.vroomvroomvroom.com.au/l...alia/tasmania/
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Mar 17th, 2016, 03:51 PM
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Just did a search for pick up Hobart drop off Devonport - even cheaper.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 04:10 PM
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I couldn't imagine those car rental rates being right, either.

OP, if you're not a driver, perhaps you may be over-thinking/ attributing more apprehension to driving than your driving friend would feel.

Most competent drivers are easily able to accustom themselves to driving on "the other" side of the road pretty quickly.

For starters, the steering wheel & controls are on the appropriate side to put the driver in the middle of the road - the same as in everyone's home country. And then, everyone else is also driving on the correct side of the road. Just pay extra attention at intersections, roundabouts ( traffic circles) and on country roads where there may not be any other traffic.

I would, as you suspected, encourage renting a car. Tasmania is so beautiful, that it would be a shame to limit yourselves to just doing tours that may not suit your schedules or interests. And I think it would be fairly challenging to see & do much at all in a short time using public transport.

First choice: Rent a car
2nd - Do some tours.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 05:05 PM
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>>And I don't like leaving all the driving to my traveling companion, it doesn't seem fair.<<

Don't sweat it -- your traveling companion will probably much prefer doing the driving rather than navigating for you

I havent been to Tasmania but have driven in the UK many times -- isn't hard, honest.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 05:28 PM
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Well, we're not youngsters -- nearing retirement age -- so we're not as quick to learn as we used to be. Having said that, I'll leave the decision re: the car to my driver companion.

Re: rates -- I'm quoting rates from vroom vroom. Expect I'm getting quoted higher rates for two reasons. 1) I'm in United States 2) pick-up and drop-off time/locations are outside of budget company operating hours. When I adjust the latter, I get slightly better rates, but still $600+. Dates are Jan. 7 - 14, 2017. Pick-up Hobart Airport, drop-off Devonport (city or ferry).

On the question of which destination to drop, I'm not hearing a strong preference for Bruny over Freycinet, or vice versa. I'm leaning toward Freycinet if we have to choose only one to visit... seems easier to get there and to get around if we don't have our own car.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 05:34 PM
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>>1) I'm in United States <<

I have rented cars all over the world and being from the States usually gets me lower rates, not higher.

Just like foreign visitors can often get lower rates in the States than Yanks can.
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Mar 17th, 2016, 05:35 PM
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We rented through Europcar in December, picking up and returning in Hobart. Our 8-day rental was $173 U.S. I wouldn't necessarily recommend Europcar, but you should be able to find something for a reasonable rate.

I was the sole driver since my husband is a better navigator (though navigation wasn't difficult in Tasmania) and we've settled into the single driver routine. I've driven on the left in many parts of the world but have found it easy to manage the change, especially on good roads with little traffice, as in Tasmania. The biggest irritation is always turning the windshield wipers on when I mean to use the turn signal, since they are on opposite sides to their position in righthand drive countries. Even that is eventually overcome (and the windshield gets superclean).

As for Freycinet vs. Bruny, we went to both but visited Bruny on a tour rather than by car. We liked Bruny (especially the boat trip down the island) but loved Freycinet--not least because we had so much more freedom with the car. Think hard about your choices, but I know you will enjoy Tasmania either way.
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Mar 18th, 2016, 07:21 AM
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I just looked at VroomVroomVroom again using your specific dates - price IS higher, $557 for cheapest car.

Further research indicates that there are a few events going on in Hobart that week which may be the reason the prices are so high.

I even flipped the pick up to Devonport and drop off to Hobart and the prices are still high.

It's the height of school holidays, all of Australia is on holiday and TAS is a popular place to go. Perhaps that explains the high cost of car rental. Which means accommodation will also be at a premium.

I think you'll find Freycinet difficult to explore w/o a car. We would have anyway, but we based ourselves in Coles Bay and drove everywhere from there.

If you haven't already, you might want to do some research just to make sure you can see and do all that you want to within the park w/o a car.

http://www.wineglassbay.com/freycinet-national-park/

Good luck with your planning.
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Mar 18th, 2016, 02:26 PM
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Could be the Sydney to Hobart ( yacht race) spikes rental car demand in the couple of weeks that the OP will be in Tasmania, too.
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Mar 18th, 2016, 05:32 PM
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Well, we have decided for sure to do Tasmania without a car. Truth is, we're too easily distracted .... you really don't want us driving. As passengers, we can get distracted to our hearts' content.

For Bicheno/Freycinet, I am thinking our short time there will be OK without a car, though not ideal. Something like this:

Sun eve: Tasmanian Devil tour in Bicheno
Mon am: early coach (7 am) to Freycinet; walk to Wineglass Bay Lookout; explore adjacent areas? take last coach back to Bicheno at 12:30 pm (wish there were later coaches, but no such luck)
Mon aft/eve: relax in Bicheno, walk the town, beach, snorkle maybe?, see the penguins at dusk
Tues: coach to Lanceston
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Mar 18th, 2016, 10:33 PM
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Fair enough. It's your trip & you know your boundaries & capabilities.

Hope you have a good time & would be interested in seeing a wrap up of your trip when you're finished.
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Mar 19th, 2016, 07:13 AM
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For your day in Freycinet, you might consider the Wineglass Bay/Hazards Beach circuit.

You can start at the Wineglass Bay Lookout (awesome views!), then continue on to Wineglass Bay, then cross the isthmus to Hazards Beach, and follow the coastline around the base of Mt Mayson. It's an 11 km undulating walk (marked at 5 hours return) but we walked it in just under four hours. Good wallaby viewing.
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Mar 19th, 2016, 09:58 AM
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Just our 2 cents, my 72yo DH did all the driving in our recent (almost 6 week) trip to Australia and New Zealand. No driving at night. I think Tasmania was the easiest driving of anyplace we went. In general, roads are not crowded and drivers are VERY courteous. I agree with all the comments that encourage you to drive - - stopping at random places was such great fun. Much more to do in Freycinet than Burny Island (although we thoroughly enjoyed our day trip there - - took the car on the ferry, can't imagine getting around there without a car). And when adding up the costs, don't forget that tours are quite expensive and don't give you any flexibility.
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Mar 19th, 2016, 09:33 PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions! Much appreciated.

Bokhara2, you are right, we know our limits ... and we know we'll enjoy the trip more if we leave the driving to others. And yes, I hope to post a trip report when we're back. Reading others' reports has been very helpful.

Melnq8, the downside to taking public transit to Freycinet is that we only have 5 hours there (7:30 - 12:30). And I believe the Calows bus stop is in Coles Bay, so we'll have about 1 hour walk to the beginning of the Wineglass Bay walk... that's not enough time to complete the whole circuit. We'll do the lookout for sure -- and maybe continue down to Wineglass Bay, if we have the stamina and time to do so. We probably aren't fit enough to do the entire Hazards Bay loop, though I am sure it is quite lovely.

FromDC, I read (several times) your trip report. It was immensely helpful, as we're hitting a lot of the same spots you did. Thank you! Re: tours -- For the most part, we are avoiding tours. So far only two tours on our docket - Wavelength in Port Douglas (for certain) and one of the dolphin swim/sighting tours out of Portsea/Melbourne (not yet certain). In Tasmania, we'll rely on coaches just for transportation. Departure times are fixed, yes, but once at our destinations, we choose our activities. And as noted, it's actually going to be cheaper than renting a car, given that we're there at a peak time.

Again, thanks everyone. I am pretty sure we'll choose Freycinet over Bruny.

Hope this thread is useful to others with similar questions.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 07:18 AM
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Indeed it was beezus9, please report back and let us know how it all goes.
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