Home of the Tasmanian devil
This island-state off the country's southern coast, known as "Tassie"
by the locals, is perhaps best known outside of Australia as the home of the
Tasmanian devil-the whirling dervish of a marsupial that inspired the
Looneytoon cartoon character. But to Australians, it's a fabulous place to
spend a week's vacation. Tasmania has long stretches of uninhabited beaches,
jagged (and often snowcapped) mountains, slow-moving creeks and rivers,
gorges, historical sites, forests and a rugged shoreline.
The next stop is Hobart, the largest city (pop. 195,000) on Tasmania. Visit
the Van Diemens Land Folk Museum or the Maritime Museum in the fine
Georgian-style Secheron House. Browse through the arts-and-crafts galleries,
coffeehouses and restaurants in the old sandstone warehouses of Salamanca
Place (Saturday street market).
From Hobart, drive 60 mi/100 km past Eaglehawks Neck to Port Arthur, an old
penal colony with another attractive view. For 57 years (1830-87) Port
Arthur confined nearly 12,000 prisoners. Today, it has a museum displaying
captains' logs that list the crimes of their passengers. Twelve miles north
is the Tasmanian Devil Park, a refuge for the ferocious wolverine-like
marsupials. Overnight at the Cascades at Koonya, a bed-and-breakfast in the
old penal colony, or return to Hobart.
Nature lovers will enjoy hiking through Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair
National Park, near the center of the island. At night you might see
Tasmanian devils, wallabies and other animals. During the day you can go
canoeing, fishing and hiking.
Two islands in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Australian mainland
will appeal to adventurous travelers who aren't solely interested in
shopping, nightlife or the creature comforts of civilization. King Island
has attractive beaches and good seafood, tasty cheeses, as well as rating a
three-night stay. There's a variety of accommodations available, primarily
in Currie, the main town. Flinders Island, farther east resembles King in
that it has a rugged coast and good beaches.