Tasmania: Local Travel Info
Top Destination for 2009
Internal Flights and Major International Airports in Tasmania
Currently, there are no direct international flights to or from Tasmania. However, a number of airlines fly between mainland Australia and the island. These include: Qantas (between Sydney/Melbourne and Hobart/between Melbourne and Launceston), QantaLink (between Melbourne and Devonport), Regional Express (between Melbourne and Burnie/King Island) and Virgin Blue (between Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart/between Melbourne /Sydney and Launceston). A direct flight from Sydney to Hobart takes two hours, but most flights take three because they connect via Melbourne. Thanks to the advent of budget airlines, you can now buy a one-way ticket from Sydney or Melbourne to Tasmania for less than £50. Tasmania has two principal airports. Hobart Airport is approximately 12.5 miles (20 kilometres) from Hobart's city centre. Launceston Airport the airport is located 9.3 miles (15 kilometres) from Launceston's City Centre. Internal flights in Tasmania are a good option if you want to travel quickly the most isolated parts of the state, although it can be expensive. You will find regular flights from Launceston and Devonport to King Island and Flinders Island provided by Tasair and Par Avion. The same two companies also operate charter flights to the South-West from the Hobart region. You can charter a scenic flight, a day trip, or one-way trip with either airline. The cost of a flight to the South West is about £66 per person.
Getting to and from the Airports at Hobart and Launceston
Launceston Airport is located 9.3 miles (15 kilometres) from Launceston City Centre. An Airport Shuttle Bus Service operates from the Airport to the city centre and surrounding regions. It costs about £7 for a single and £12 for a return journey. Taxis are provided by Taxi Combined Launceston (telephone: 132 227 or 131 008) and the fare to the city centre ranges between £15 and £18. Hobart Airport is located on the Eastern shore of the Derwent River, near the suburb of Cambridge. It is approximately 12.5 miles (20 kilometres) from the city centre by the Tasman Highway. A one-way fare from Hobart Airport to the city centre will generally cost between £16 and £19 during business hours in the week. Shuttle buses operate between the main hotels in Hobart and the airport for every flight. The shuttle bus leaves from outside the terminal after the arrival of every flight, taking passengers to the city. Hobart Airport's taxi rank is located outside the domestic terminal building. The fare between the Airport and the city is about £20. Limousines and chauffeured cars are also available. All of the major car hire companies have offices at both Hobart and Launceston airports, including Hertz, Europcar, Budget, Thrifty, Red Spot and Avis.
Travel Costs in Tasmania
Tasmanian transport has developed separately from the rest of Australia. In some ways options for travel are limited. For instance, apart from tourist railways, there are no regular passenger train services and Greyhound buses do not run in Tasmania. On the other hand, the island is relatively small, making it easier and in some instances cheaper, to travel than in mainland Australia. One of the cheapest ways to get around Tasmania is to buy a bus pass from one of the two networks that serve the island. The Redline Tassie Pass allows unlimited travel on Tassielink buses within their network, costs between £70 and £110, depending on the numbers of days you want to travel. The Tassielink Explorer Bus Pass offers similar value for money. Air travel to and within Tasmania used to be expensive, but thanks to the advent of budget airlines, such as Virgin Blue and Jetstar, the cost is coming down to as little as £100 for a return flight from Melbourne or Sydney. A popular option is to rent a car, which will give you the most freedom to explore Tasmania. As prices start from as little as £35 for high-season, multi day small-car hire from one of the major companies, and only £15 from a local firm, there's a driving holiday to suit every budget in Tasmania.
Renting Cars in Tasmania
Renting a car is by far the most popular transport option for tourists in Tasmania. It is the most flexible way to get around, as you will not be tied to bus routes or timetables. It is also relatively affordable, particularly if the cost is split among several travellers. Although you can hire a car on the mainland of Australia and bring it across on the ferry, you may find that it is better to hire one in Tasmania, unless you are only planning to stay a very short time. One reason for this is that it is often cheaper to hire a car on the island than on the mainland. You will find most major car rental companies, such as Avis, Budget, Europcar and Thrifty in Tasmania along with local companies. The international companies' standard rates start at between £35 and £40 for high-season, multi-day hire of a small car. However, if you book well in advance, rates can be as low as £30 per day for one week’s hire in low season. Local firms tend to hire older cars from as little as £15 per day, depending on season and rental length. Most hire companies ask for a bond of at least £150. You should always ask if you are covered for driving on unsealed roads as many of Tasmania’s natural attractions are at the end of long dirt roads. The major hire companies have booking desks at airports and in major towns and some companies let you collect your car from the airport or ferry terminal, so you should find it easy to hire a car in Tasmania. You can also hire camper vans from several different hire companies, which is a very popular way to explore Tasmania.
Drivers License Requirements in Tasmania
UK Tourists are allowed to drive in Australia, including Tasmania, on a valid UK driving licence, which covers the class of vehicle you use in the country. However, you must carry your licence and passport at all times when you are driving. It is not enough just to have an international driving permit, so you must also have a separate valid driving licence. If you do not have your licence with you, you can be fined on-the-spot. You should also make sure that you have the correct insurance cover, even if you borrow a car from a friend or relative. Cars are driven on the left-had side of the road, just as they are in the UK. On many Tasmanian road maps, you will see letters from A to C written next to roads. These designate the importance and condition of the road in question: “A” roads are major sealed (tarmac) highways; “B” roads are secondary sealed roads and “C” roads are often unsealed. These last include Cockle Creek in the far south and the Western Explorer road in the far north-west. You should take extra care on unsealed roads. (Some some car hire contracts have special conditions in relation to unsealed roads). When estimating driving times on unsealed roads, you should always allow extra time for your journey. Many Tasmanian roads can be winding and steep, especially on the west coast. During the winter months highland roads around Cradle Mountain, in particular, may be snow covered but it is rare for snow tyres to be needed.
Tasmania by Bus
Tasmania has as a bus network that connects its major towns and centres. However, services at weekends can be infrequent. You will find two main bus companies in Tasmania: Redline Coaches and TassieLink, which cover most of the state. You will find daily intercity connections between Hobart and Launceston and from a number of regional centres on the island. TassieLink’s Main Road Express service is co-ordinated with Bass Strait ferry schedules. Hence, an early-morning express bus service runs from Devonport to Launceston and to Hobart, returning in the opposite direction in the afternoon to meet the evening boat departures. You will find bus travel passes offer good value for money, if you intend to do a lot of sightseeing and exploring in Tasmania. The Redline Tassie Pass allows unlimited travel on Redline coaches within the numbers of days indicated on the pass. For example, a 7 day pass costs £67.50, whilst a 14 day pass costs £92.50. The Tassielink Explorer Bus Pass also allows unlimited travel on the Tassielink network and is particularly good if you want to get off the beaten track to destinations like national parks and World Heritage areas. You can use these services to travel the major highways, and where a particular hike leaves from the highway, the driver will know the stop to let you off. If you give an indication of when you plan to finish your walk, the bus will even stop to pick you up as well! Some example prices for the Tassielink Explorer Bus Pass are: for 7 travel days in a 10 day period £94.50, for 10 travel days in a 15 day period £112.50 and for 21 travel days in a 30 day period £150. You could also look at the routes operated by Tigerline, although these are not as extensive as those of the other two companies. Another option you may want to consider is an organised coach tour. Many national coach touring companies offer tours of Tasmania of varying lengths and prices. Tasmania. You can also arrange for a special small group tour that reflects your particular passions, with your own expert guide.
Hitch Hiking in Tasmania
If you are planning on hitch-hiking, then Tasmania is probably one of the safer places in the world to do it. Having said that, several hitch-hikers have gone missing over the years, so you should exercise the prudence and caution that hitch-hiking anywhere demands. Also, please note that some tourist guides to Tasmania do not recommend hitch-hiking. In general however, Tasmania is has a very warm and open community supportive of hitch-hikers. You will find that you do not have to wait unduly long times excessive and there is sufficient local and tourist traffic on most roads to provide you with exposure to both local Tasmanian culture (via your hosts - the drivers who pick you up) and other tourists stopping in at all the little sights along the way. If you do decide to hitch-hike, you should remember that Tasmania has a very variable climate. This means that there will be occasions when you may be sweltering in over 30 degrees of heat one day and trudging through snow the next. You will need to make sure that you pack clothes to suit these conditions if you plan to be standing by the side of roads. Another good idea is to keep an eye on weather forecasts, and the sky, when you are negotiating where you'll be dropped off. In many parts of Tasmania however, hitch-hiking is the most efficient way of getting around if you do not have your own car. (Public transport can be thin on the ground in some rural areas). Hitch-hiking will expose you to the local populace like nothing else can and you may well find yourself invited home for tea or to stay a while!
Tasmania by Taxi
Tasmania has well-regulated taxi services that are provided by a number of different companies. These services are generally clean, comfortable and efficient and you will find taxis plentiful in Tasmanian cities and major towns. Taxi fares are highly regulated in Tasmania, with an initial charge (called a flag fall) on hailing a taxi usually costing £1.50, plus a mileage charge of approximately £1.30 per mile (AUS$1.58 per kilometre) thereafter from 6am to 8pm Monday to Friday. At other times, the mileage charge is £1.52 (AUS$1.89 per kilometre). If you are travelling to or from an airport, you will find that you generally have to pay a £1 surcharge on your fare. A one-way fare from Hobart Airport to the city centre will generally cost between £16 and £19 during business hours in the week. A taxi journey between Launceston Airport and the city will cost between £15 and £18. Another travel option, especially if you are not constrained by your budget, would be to hire a car or limousine for longer journeys. Some taxi, limousine and luxury car hire companies in Tasmania provide transport throughout the state, on request.
Cycling in Tasmania
Tasmania is a great place for cycling, because it is small enough for most places to be accessible by bike. However, you should remember that the Tasmanian terrain is not flat, so you will need to be fit enough, and to have sufficient stamina, to cope with steep gradients. Another factor is the weather, which can change dramatically from cold to hot and vice-versa. That said, you will find cycling in Tasmania a wonderful experience, with both cycling and mountain biking providing opportunities for a sensational holiday on this sparsely populated island with its ever-changing scenery. The island state has a number of organised cycle and mountain bike tours, from relaxing wine, food and heritage experiences to exhilarating mountain descents. Tasmania's East Coast highway is a particularly delightful route, with its many towns, national parks and secluded beaches that are bound to delight you. A cycle trip between Hobart and Launceston, by either coast route, usually takes between 10 to 14 days. A full cycling trip around the island will take between 18 and 28 days. If you would like to take your bike off the beaten track, Tasmania's Forest Reserves offer rugged and challenging trails. You can hire cycles, helmets and other equipment from a number of operators in Tasmania's major towns.
Water Transport in Tasmania
Boats are a part of the Tasmanian way of life and Tasmanians own more boats per person than any other Australians. In fact, unless you plan to fly to the island, you will arrive by boat. The Spirit of Tasmania (tel 1800 634 906) sails regularly between Melbourne and Devonport departing from either Melbourne or Devonport on most nights. There are also day sailings during peak periods. Fares are between £60 and £100 per person for a one-way trip, but you would need to pay more for a cabin. You can take a car or camper-van across for an additional £36 provided your vehicle is no wider than six feet (two metres), or you will need to pay more. It is a good idea to book your ferry crossing well if you plan to travel during a public holiday, or over a long weekend. Once on the island, you will find Tasmania a temperate paradise for sailors. The capital city, Hobart, sits on the banks of the broad, deep Derwent River and makes the perfect starting-point for the exploration of the island's coasts and rivers. Travelling by whatever form of boat you choose will provide you with the perfect opportunity to explore an untouched Gondwanan landscape. For example, Port Davey on the island's south-west coast is wild, remote and beautiful, or perhaps you would like to explore the east coast, where you will find protected anchorages in small coastal villages. You will find that Tasmania's Marine and Safety Department provides up-to-date information for sailors. This is important, because the conditions around the coast can be challenging at times. Tasmania also as many inland rivers and lakes that are worth exploring, especially if you would like to combine this with some superb angling for wild brown and rainbow trout. Tasmania has many popular sites on its inland waterways that are well equipped with boat ramps for easy access.
Train Travel in Tasmania
Unfortunately, there are no longer any scheduled passenger rail services in Tasmania. However, the island state does have a number of railway preservation societies that run services for tourists. One such railway is the award-winning West Coast Wilderness Railway. Step on board for more than simply a scenic railway journey. You will discover the inspiring stories of the pioneers who built the railway through the beautiful scenery of western Tasmania more than 100 years ago. Ticket prices are £90 for an adult tourist ticket and £37 for a children's ticket, which includes lunch. A premier class ticket costs £105 (adult and child) and includes gourmet lunch box, Tasmanian beer and wines and a cheese platter. The Derwent Valley Railway operates a collection of steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock. From time to time, they organise rail tours throughout the Tasmanian Railway Network. The Railway's locomotives and rolling stock are also available for charter.