Tasmania, always nicknamed "Tassie", is an island south of Australia, the second smallest Australian state, and its small size by Australian standards (roughly 300 km x 300 km) makes it easily hitchable in a single afternoon. Hitchhiking on this island is probably a bit easier than on the main land.
Connor and Tine hitchhiked almost the entire east coast of Tasmania as well as traversing across to Launceston and Deloraine with very little problems.. Most people in Tasmania still maintain that loca mentality and are more than willing to give you a lift however far you may need to go. We found Hobart the only really struggle since there is not much area for people to pull over and the speed limit quickly jumps up to 100 km. The great thing about Tassie is that its never a really long distance to anywhere like on the mainland. Two different times we got rides directly from Hobart most of the way up to Launceston and vis versa from Perth, just south of Launie, to the Hobart area.
How to get there
To cross Bass' Strait, you would have to find other lift than the ones on the road. Maybe it is possible to hitchhike a boat, but so far no hitchhikers reported such experience. If you're tempted, keep in mind that's a 300km crossing, and Bass' strait has a quite bad reputation among seamen for its tempests.
As for the rest of Australia, flights might be the easiest way to reach Tasmania, and you will find airports in Hobart and Launceston. Although because the population is quite low there are fewer flights than more international destinations like Perth, Brisbane, or Adelaide. Don't expect more than 8 flights a day, even for Hobart "international" airport, and fewer "Hot fares". Without them air fares seem to start at 89$ with Jetstar, not really cheaper than a ferry and a really less ecological.
All year round, the ferry Spirit of Tasmania link Devonport with Melbourne, and it is a better way to feel the remoteness of an island. Two crossings a day in summer (one over night), one in winter (during day or night, varying), but you can then even manage to save a night on board. Fares starts at 89$ for day sailing, 99$ for night as a pedestrian.
Geography & Climate
Its particular position, southernmost land of the Australian continent, leads to a very oceanic climate. Indeed, situated in the 40ies South, the West Coast takes each depression coming from the Indian Ocean. The inland has lots of mountains, although not really high (1600m max) by European standards, but that can get freezing cold and wet because of the climate. In the opposite way,Hobart, Launceston and the East Coast are really drier, and even in winter this can create dangerous bushfires. All these explanations to give some Tasmanian specific advices :
- Be aware of the difference of climate between both coasts. You can easily lose 10 degrees in windchill ! Possibly watch Bureau of Meteorology forecasts.
- Be really careful if you see bushfires, especially while camping at night. Bushfires can cover great distances very rapidly because of common strong winds, and every year bushwalkers get asphyxiated in their tent. That's the first cause of mortality for hikers. Avoid them as soon as you see them if you don't have a lift.
- Tasmanian winter is really cold, possibly freezing even at the coast, possibly several degrees below zero inland. If you head to the mountains inland, be prepared for snow. Australia is a warm country, but Tasmania is a bit different ; in winter you will understand why all Tasmanian has Ugg boots.
- Because of a "high latitude" position, don't forget that the length of the day vary a lot within the year. In particular the sun set as early as 4:30pm in winter ! You should though still be able to find a lift after the sunset.
Lots of friendly animals, really few nasty ones in Tasmania
The ones you want to see and where to see them
- Wallabies and possums : like everywhere in Australia, lots of them everywhere after the sunset
- Kangaroos : only one specy, the forester kangaroo. Head to Mount William Nat Park to see it.
- Platypus : very shy and hard to see, but you can try your chance at Lake St Clair.
- Wombats : Although not specifically Tasmanian, it is fairly more common on this island and you may see it on the beatches. Head to Narawtapu Nat Park (famous for its wombats), or Mount William Nat Park, or the SouthWest (lots of wombats near Cockle Creek).
- Tasman devils : The Tasmanian animal by definition, but the spread of their facial cancer killed almost 90% of its population, so you would need lots of chance to see one. A big population is kept preserved from the disease on Maria Island, to get there book a ferry from Triabunna, around 50$ return. Be careful because an extra fee may apply to heavy backpacks.
The ones you don't really want to see
No really nasty animals like on the mainland such as spiders, crocodiles, scorpions, jellyfish. There are only three species of snakes to be noticed (tiger, lowland copperhead and white lipped) ; each of them can be deadly. However none of them is aggressive, and they will just try to escape if you see them, which may even not occur in winter. Wearing long pants in the bush is though still a good idea, and anyway gaiters are always good because of the mud on the West Coast. Only one person died in 2016, and the story in Tasmania is that it was because she was bitten on her ass while getting to the toilets and didn't dare to report it.
Like on the mainland, small population entails few infrastructures, and especially few sealed roads. Only ten major roads (A1 to A10). But most of those unsealed roads seem to have enough traffic to be perfectly hitchable, for example C843 or C845 to Mount William Nat Park. They are also quite often leading to a natural park or reserve, a place where you'll find a carpark and campsite, and enough people getting there for a bushwalk, even in winter. Hitchhiker Barbo had a direct lift from Cockle Creek to Hobart in winter while finishing the South Coast Track.
The Parks & Wildlife Service provides lots of campsites in the dozen of National parks throughout Tasmania. They are often not directly on the main road, but as explained above, you'll get easily be picked up by someone heading to these campsites. As some of them are not free you may prefer to do wild camping, but in campsites you will always find lovely people with a campfire (when allowed) who will invite you to join them. To find official campsites : Camping Tasmania A good one if you have the time on your way to Freycinet : Mayfield Bay campsite, free, directly on the Eastcoast Drive (A3), and wonderful sunrise over the Freycinet Peninsula.
- Hobart Capital of the state, still 200 000 inhabitants though, but as it means almost half of the state's population, it's very easy to find a direct lift from anywhere in the state. "International" airport where you might have your first contact with Tasmania.
Hitchhiking out of Hobart can be rough because you may need to cross the Tasman bridge which is more or less only a high way but we found a few places that might be of some help. Along the Brooker Highway going north towards Launceston, in the North Hobart area next to the Botanical Gardens, we found a few spots with shoulders where cars can park. Although the speed limit is high there people can see you from a long ways away and have no trouble pulling over.
- Launceston Same as for Hobart, very easy to find a direct lift in just an afternoon. Also have an airport although air fares might be bit more expensive than Hobart.
- Devonport Where you can catch the ferry Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne.
- St. Helens
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