The Ultimate Guide to Camping in Tasmania in 2019

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Everything you need to know about camping in Tasmania as you prepare your Tasmania camping adventure: from itineraries and campgrounds to camping tips to packing lists!

Camping in Tasmania is often overshadowed by the myriad opportunities Australia provides a traveller.

But have you always dreamed of visiting Australia? Of camping under the stars and hiking epic landscapes?

So often it’s Great Ocean Road and Queensland that get all of the attention.

But did you know that around 40% of Tasmania is made up of mind-blowing national parks?

It has everything from mountains and crystal clear lakes, to white sandy beaches and dense forests.

The tiny island state has a lot to offer but skips the crazy driving distances for which Australia is known.

Want to cram maximum adventures into a short trip?

Tasmania is the perfect location for you.

It also has around 50 caravan parks and lots of amazing free camping for planning the ultimate road trip and camping holiday.

Bakers Beach Camping in Tasmania

Bakers Beach, Tasmania, pic by Steven Penton via Flickr

My Camping in Tasmania Guide

While Australia is one of the dream countries for road tripping and camping, Tasmania is often overlooked.

It’s a bit of a hidden gem for travellers because so many who visit the mainland never make it down to one of the most untouched parts of the country.

Tasmania is wild, untamed natural beauty at it’s finest.

It even rivals the famous New Zealand landscapes with its epic views.

Want to breathe the crispest, cleanest air straight from Antarctica and stand on the Edge of the World looking out to Africa?

The only place to do it is Tasmania. 

Not only is it unbelievably beautiful, but Tasmania is one of the easiest places in Australia to visit.

You can easily road trip the whole island on a budget with just a two-week itinerary.

Or you can spend months exploring the coastlines and enjoy luxury stays.

It’s perfect for any itinerary and offers a real blend of history and culture, awe-inspiring landscapes, adventure and ways to get active.

Plus the island boasts some amazing delicacies to tantalise your tastebuds.

Whether you want to climb a mountain, taste local oysters and wines, or see artwork that will blow your mind – there’s something for everyone.

How Long do you Need to Explore Tasmania?

Tasmania is very small and driving distances are short between popular locations.

You could easily spend 1-2 weeks road tripping around the island and visiting national parks.

Around 10 days is a perfect length of time to complete a full circle of the island. Plan to spend a few days on the east coast around Wineglass Bay, Bay of Fires and then round to the west and Cradle Mountain.

This will give you enough time to hike and explore the national parks (of which you can cover around 11 national parks in this time with ease).

But you will still have time to relax and explore the little towns and villages along the way.

Hiking in Tasmania

Mount Oakleigh, Overland Track. Tasmania, pic by Ed Dunens via Flickr

My Tasmanian Camping Itinerary

This route can be completed in 10 days or two weeks. Or you could also spread it out over a month or longer.

It all depends on your budget and how much time you have available. These are 10 activities you want to plan while camping in Tasmania:

1) Wander Through Hobart

Start in beautiful Hobart and spend some time exploring the quaint colonial city.

Visit Salamanca Markets for the amazing local food, head up Mount Wellington for the views and don’t miss MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art)

I recommend that you orient yourself with a guided walking tour of the city.

2) Visit Tasman National Park

Drive down to Tasman National Park and enjoy your first glimpse of the stunning, untouched, east coastline.

Plan for coastal camping, wildlife spotting and some amazing hiking trails.

3) Enjoy Freycinet National Park

Head up to Freycinet National Park where you can camp at Friendly Beaches and expect wild wallabies to come right up to your tent!

Spot whales migrating past the beaches, visit the lighthouse and spend time soaking up the beauty of these white, sandy beaches.

BONUS TIP: Rushed for time? Do a daytrip here from Hobart!

4) Tour Bay of Fires

Afterwards, it’s up to Bay of Fires and you’ll be passing through Douglas-Apsley National Park, Ben Lomond National Park and up as high as Mount William National Park.

All offer incredible coastline, great hiking, epic views, swimming, wildlife and lots of amazing free camping.

5) Stop in Launceston

Towards Launceston, you’ll be able to jump on the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail which will take you to amazing local producers of wines, cheeses, fruit, meats and much more.

You can stop at Mountain Valley to spot wild platypus in the river.

6) Explore the Northern Coast

In the north, you’ll find great walks and fascinating Aboriginal history at Rocky Cape National Park.

Plus why not stop around Devonport to explore, and head to Stanley to climb The Nut rock formation? (Or get the chair lift)

READ MORE: Don’t miss our guide to hiking the Larapinta Trail, one of Australia’s best treks!

7) Look Out at the Edge of the World

Don’t miss the Edge of the World, and most western point of land until Africa, at Arthur River.

It’s absolutely incredible to stand on the very edge of the wild west coast where wind speeds have hit 200 kph and waves crash against the rocks.

8) Spend Time in Cradle Mountain National Park

Now it’s down to Cradle Mountain National Park – stock up on supplies before driving in.

Plan to spend two to three days here if you want to enjoy a couple of hikes around the park.

If you’re feeling brave and want amazing views from the top, go for the popular hike and boulder scramble to the snowy summit for amazing lake views (not for the faint-hearted!).

If you’re running low on time you can also do a great guided tour as a day trip from Hobart here.

9) Explore Native Heritage

Cruise through UNESCO site Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park for incredible Aboriginal heritage, mountains, forests and gorges.

Plan for lots of hiking, abseiling and climbing.

10) Add a Few More National Parks to Your Itinerary

Drive back through Mount Field National Park and Russell Falls for beautiful waterfalls and campsites on your way back to Hobart.

Or you could head down to Hartz Mountains National Park and South Bruny National Park if you have more time.

Ben Lomond Cliffs Tasmania Camping

Ben Lomond Cliffs, pic by Tim Sneddon via Flickr

The Four Best Tasmanian Campsites You Won’t Want to Miss

While you will come across plenty of amazing places while camping in Tasmania, these are the campgrounds that you definitely don’t want to miss!

1) Fortescue Bay Camping Ground, Tasman National Park

  • $13 per adult, $2.50 for children, or $16 for a family.
  • Access to showers, toilets and barbecues and a boat ramp. Untreated water available (boil before use).
  • Ranger on site and dogs not allowed. Lots of wildlife around (no feeding).
  • Unsealed road to access, but 4WD not necessary.
  • Call ahead to book in peak season – (03) 6250 2433

2) Friendly Beaches Camping, Freycinet National Park, Coles Bay

  • Free campsite, bush camping & very basic but directly at a beautiful beach.
  • 25 camping spots suitable for tents, cars, motorhomes, camper vans and big rigs.
  • No access to water or firewood, no showers, pit toilets available. No pets.
  • Gets extremely busy over Christmas/New Year (peak season) so arrive early.
  • Max stay 2 weeks and ranger on site.
  • Nearest shops/facilities 20 km away in Coles Bay.
  • Lots of wildlife – wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, pademelons and more.

3) Bay of Fires Conservation Area Camping, from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point

  • Cosy Corner is one of many amazing free camping spots along this section of the coastline.
  • Southern end access is available from St Helen’s.
  • Chemical toilet, no freshwater, no firewood.
  • Full range of Aussie wildlife from kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons to wombats, sea eagles, echidnas and more. 

4) Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park

  • Easy access to the national park and hiking trails, plus one of the most beautiful areas to camp overlooking the lake.
  • A range of different levels of camping from free bush camping to paid for camps with full facilities.
  • Depending on where you stay, there are showers, toilets, barbecues, picnic tables, camp kitchens, laundries and kiosks available if you want. 
  • Pets are not allowed and bookings are essential around this area due to popularity during peak season.
  • Limited drinking water available – it is best to fill up before arriving with enough water for hiking and cooking.
Cradle Mountain National Park

Cradle Mountain National Park, pic by Julia Koefender via Flickr

5 Things You Need to Know Before Camping in Tasmania:

  1. If you are planning to visit the national parks, you will need a National Parks pass. It costs $56 per vehicle up to 8 seats and gives you access for two months. There are also annual and two-year options available online.
  2. Download the Wiki Camps app for Australia. It works offline so even if you have no phone signal, you will still be able to find a campsite. It also makes it really easy to see what facilities are nearby and find free camps.
  3. Even if you’re travelling in the middle of summer – remember the weather is much more volatile here than on the mainland. Prepare for all weathers and bring lots of layers so you’re prepared for cold nights.
  4. Much of the island is protected and part of The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Follow basic guidelines while there: only camp where you are allowed, don’t feed the wild animals and look for signs before starting campfires.
  5. Despite being such a small island, national park areas and campsites can be very remote and don’t always have running water or phone signal. Be prepared and take all you need in your vehicle.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Adventure Activities in Australia.

Should I Hire a Campervan or Pack a Tent?

The big decision that could make or break your trip – but should you choose comfort or accessibility?

When planning your visit to Tasmania, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration before choosing whether to camp or hire a van.

Hire a Camper Van

Picking a camper van or motorhome as your accommodation gives you a level of comfort and luxury that a tent just can’t provide.

You get the added benefits of indoor cooking and your own toilet/shower facilities which mean you won’t have to rely on remote campsites to provide the goods.

It also means you can sleep in a proper bed after a day of hiking and can easily shelter from the unpredictable weather such as harsh winds and rain.

This is by far the biggest benefit when you arrive at some of the more exposed camping spots with rockier surfaces or marshy ground.

Finally, a camper van will also help you to keep any unwelcome visitors outside.

You will find a lot of very friendly wildlife around the campsites. This includes some rather cheeky wallabies and kangaroos, wombats and echidnas who are not shy and will come right up to the tents looking for food.

However, in exchange for these advantages do expect to pay a premium for the luxury of a camper van.

Top tip: Do your research when you know what time of year you will be visiting. Check weather patterns for both east and west of the island before deciding whether to camp or hire a van.

Pitch a Tent

While hiring a motorhome does sound perfect, make sure you consider all your options before booking.

There are also huge benefits to hiring a car and just taking a tent with you.

You can pitch in some amazing places with views of the ocean or mountains that you can’t always access as easily by car or by van.

It gives you the freedom to pitch up wherever you like and to take up a lot less space than you would with a van.

If you hire a car, it also means you can hire a 4WD if you decide you would like one for extra adventures (you don’t need 4WD for Tasmania).

If there’s a big group of you travelling together, it may be impractical to squeeze so many into motorhomes.

Instead, why not squeeze into cars and take bigger tents to share?

For backpackers or budget travellers, Australia can be expensive to travel and the cost of hiring a motorhome is an easily avoided spend.

There are $5 tents and cheap camping equipment readily available in supermarkets.

Australia also has fantastic free facilities including free BBQs overlooking the beaches and free toilets/water.

Must-Have Camping Gear

Australia is one of the best countries in the world for camping. Campsites across often come very well-equipped.

But when it comes to Tasmania, it’s important to be prepared.

While many campsites will have toilets available, lots won’t have running water, firewood or showers (particularly if they are free ones).

Plan to be self-reliant and be prepared for remote campsites.

Before starting your trip, I also recommend stocking up on food at a supermarket in Hobart. When you reach the smaller towns and villages you will only have access to more expensive grocers.

Don’t forget to pack these key items:

  • A big water tank and lots of big refillable bottles for hiking
  • Gas stove and canister
  • Plates, cups, cutlery and all your cooking equipment
  • Sleeping bag suitable for low temps at night, plus a sleeping mat or blow up bed.
  • Paper map as back-up for when phone signal fails
  • Toilet roll and baby wipes – if you’re camping wild, these are life-savers!
  • Rubbish bags – often campsites have a take your rubbish policy and don’t have bins because of wildlife. Take your rubbish away and use bins in towns.
  • Warm clothes – thermals and lots of layers
  • Hiking gear and good walking shoes/trainers.
  • Waterproofs
  • Food and snacks to keep you going for several days at a time. Choose simple – lots of veggies and staples like pasta, rice, beans.
  • Chilli-bin – that’s a cool box to anyone who’s not down with the Aussie lingo! Great for keeping your veggies fresh if you don’t have a fridge.
Hobart Sunrise Camping in Tasmania

Tessellated pavement sunrise near Hobart, pic by JJ Harrison via Flickr

Other Tasmania Highlights You Won’t Want to Miss:

  1. The Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail. This is a food trail that takes you to the finest of fresh producers, cellar doors, market stalls and food festivals including award-winning favourites.
  2. Go platypus spotting! Australia’s weirdest animal can be found in Tasmania. I actually spotted four at Mountain Valley Private Nature Reserve.
  3. Stand on the Edge of the World. Head to Gardiner Point, Arthur River, where you will find a wild coastline and the most western landmass until you reach Africa.
  4. Find fairy penguins on Tasmania’s east coast! After all, the next landmass as you travel south would be Antarctica. You can also find Tasmanian Devils at a wildlife sanctuary near Hobart.
  5. Spot the Southern Lights! Aurora Australis is one of the most magical sights south of the equator. But even if you don’t get lucky, the stars alone here will blow your mind

About the author

Lucy Ruthnum

If you want a solo female travel blogger who chased a life of adventure and wants to help others do the same - Absolutely Lucy is the one for you. Full-time traveller and digital nomad of five years, Lucy has lived and travelled across six continents and 40 countries. She writes about how to make your adventure travel dreams a reality to suit your budget and your lifestyle. Aimed at women with adventurous hearts and curious minds. Lucy forgoes the polished blogger style for a raw, relatable collection of stories from her travels and isn't afraid to talk about the harder side of traveling, life and relationships.

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