Take the scenic route with our ultimate drive-along itinerary from Hobart to Cradle Mountain.
While Cradle Mountain is praised by photographers, hikers, nature enthusiasts and eco-friendly travelers alike, it’s far from being the only attraction in the not-so-tiny island of Tasmania.
If you’re looking to experience the beauty and eclectic personality that Tasmania boasts (and lets not forget the scenic route), load up the car and tour through historic villages, witness stunning natural wonders and scope out the charismatic charm that Tasmania is renowned for; as on this ultimate road trip itinerary from Hobart to Cradle Mountain, Australians will fall in love with this humble state all over again.
How long does it take from Hobart to Cradle Mountain?
Without stopping, from Hobart it takes just over a four-hour drive to reach Cradle Mountain. We recommend extending this day trip into a weekend getaway so you can explore some of Tasmania’s most famed towns and cities.
So what’s the best route to take? Buckle up as we’ll take you through this Tasmanian travel guide for all of the best stops!
Note: Please take caution while driving as wildlife are prone to jaywalking.
Even if you weren’t planning a trekking expedition of Tasmania’s fifth-highest mountain, chances are the village of Richmond would be part of your itinerary anyway. This historic township contains several heritage-listed landmarks, making it a haven for history buffs and photographers – but it also shares attractions and commerce for everyone to enjoy. Richmond is home to its own puzzle shop, The Puzzle People and Friends; a Sweets and Treats candy store for the young and young-at-heart; bakeries and cafes for those who “forgot” to eat breakfast before they left; and various stores selling a range of new and vintage items like paintings, framed pictures and even crafted wood.
However, the best part of Richmond is its historical significance and mostly unchanged landscape. Grab a camera and check out their stone bridge – the oldest stone bridge in Australia; feel like a giant at the Old Hobart Town; or even tour through Australia’s oldest intact gaol, Richmond Gaol. There are also a handful of wineries and vineyards surrounding the village which are worth checking out.
Now we’re heading into what city-slickers tend to call “the sticks”, which also means untouched landscapes and well-preserved historical buildings. Oatlands, compared to other settlements on this road trip, has the largest collection of historical buildings – 150 to be exact. As you continue on this road trip from Hobart to Cradle Mountain, in Oatlands you’ll feel an appreciation for the convicts who built most of the sandstone buildings throughout Australia. The most notable silhouette on the skyline of Oatlands is the Callington Mill, which is the only still-operating colonial windmill in the southern hemisphere. Interestingly, it also produces and sells the best flour in Tasmania.
Another popular historical landmark is the Oatlands Supreme Court – built in 1829 to deal with extreme cases like murder and rape – the court was responsible for the execution of 18 people. The man responsible for the executions was Solomon Blay, the longest-serving public executioner in the British Empire. In his time, he travelled between Hobart, Oatlands and Launceston to execute over 200 people. During your stay in the town, we recommend checking out their local stores selling arts, crafts and antiques.
Oatlands was considered a mini-capital city during the colonial years, but Campbell Town was the ultimate pit stop between Launceston and Hobart. It was where you’d stop for lunch, stock up on supplies, recuperate your thoughts and then continue on. Mind you, back then they had the horse-and-cart mode of transport, which could take upwards of 10 hours to travel between Hobart and Launceston. So stopping for a pie and a lager was well needed!
While you settle your mind and stomach, we recommend a perusal of the town history. Gander at the Red Bridge that crosses the tranquil Elizabeth River (said to contain a million red bricks) and stroll up High Street for the Convict Brick Trail, sharing the offences committed by Tasmania’s convicts. Can you find Joseph Maples who was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for stealing clogs? Also, if you’re a book lover like us, check out The Book Cellar, adjacent to the Red Bridge. The bookstore is set underneath what was once a convict-built coaching inn.
Next, on this ultimate self drive itinerary from Hobart to Cradle Mountain we take a slight detour as we pop into Launceston that sits at the end of River Tamar and features some of Tasmania’s most popular tourist attractions including Cataract Gorge. Work on your trekking skills and hike around the gorge and nearby trails, cross over a suspension bridge, and take a ride on the world’s longest single-span chairlift.
If you’re looking for something less brisk, take a leisurely stroll through the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery with permanent fixtures and regularly changing exhibitions. A popular attraction is their planetarium which displays various shows about the night sky. There is also the Tramway Museum and Battery Shed nearby. And, if the most important reason for stopping by is to eat and drink (coffee), then may we suggest Bryher Cafe – a 1920s-like cafe with a seasonal menu and a decadent dessert bar laden with sweet baked goods. As for the beer lovers, be sure to stop in at the James Boag Brewery for a tasting and tour. For the five best things to do in Launceston, check out our guide here.
If you love arts and crafts, then Deloraine is a great spot to stop on your Hobart to Cradle Mountain road trip, especially if you’re driving through in early November when the annual Tasmanian Craft Fair rolls into town. It’s the largest craft fair in Australia, attracting over 20,000 visitors each year. There are currently five different galleries in Deloraine that sell local and regional art, from paintings to sculptures and even yarn and silk. While you’re there, take a wander along Meander River for the fresh sounds of running water, and to check out the surrounding flora.
If you still have a bit of time in your day, drive a few kilometres southeast of Deloraine to visit Liffey Falls. A return walk along the Liffey River takes 45 minutes, depending on how many snaps you take. There are several distinct waterfalls along the route, with the most majestic being Victoria Falls (commonly referred to as Liffey Falls). As for food in Deloraine, our top pick is Cruzin’ in the 50’s Diner. It’s decked out with all the necessary 1950s memorabilia, and even the overhead music is in on the action. Burger and milkshake anyone?
While many Cradle Mountain travellers tend to stop in Sheffield for food and supplies (even though you can get your basic groceries near the information centre at Cradle Mountain), it’s not the sole reason to stop here. Sheffield is locally named the ‘town of murals’, with over 140 splashed on the sides of buildings and walls around the town. They even have Mural Park, dedicated to Sheffield’s International Mural Fest, where every year around Easter, nine painters are chosen to have a ‘paint off’. Once all the murals are painted and the winners are selected, they are then left there in Mural Park until next year’s competition.
Before you head off, we highly recommend a visit to Tasmania’s (and possibly Australia’s) best second-hand store: The Emporium. They truly fit the definition of eccentric selling all sorts of knick-knacks, with many products featuring funny reviews by the owner. Sneakily sift through some still-wrapped Playboy magazines or consider purchasing a bedpan. Whatever you need, they probably have it. Also, to make your stroll through the store a little more authentic, ask the cashier to play “the dinosaur song” – you won’t regret it.
Welcome to Cradle Mountain! First things first, if you’re looking at Cradle Mountain accommodation, we’d recommend the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village. Their family-oriented villas are fitted with heaters, a television with DVD player, a self-contained kitchenette with a fridge and microwave and, most importantly, comfy beds. They also have other cabins, including a spa cottage for couples and differently sized chalets for differently sized groups. Also, check out the main hub for board games and DVDs, and to play some pool while drinking a beer or much-needed hot chocolate. For something to eat and drink, start the day with a Breakfast Hamper ($50 each for two) that’s delivered straight to your cabin to enjoy. Or, for lunch and dinner head on over to Hellyers Restaurant for a tapas-style feed.
When you’re ready to go out hiking, head across the road to the visitor’s centre for hiking gear and for a briefing on Cradle Mountain. In our experience, the Dove Lake circuit is a popular trek and perfect for all levels of fitness. Experienced hikers or at least the physically capable, should try Marion’s Lookout which gives you a gorgeous 360-degree view of Cradle Mountain and surrounds. There are also two gentle walks to complete near Cradle Mountain Lodge – the last stop before the gates – as well as trails along the way to Dove Lake.
And, lastly, if you want to take a different route back to Hobart, go via the Great Lake. It’s a stunning expanse surrounded by a desolate landscape and the odd shack-dwelling village.
Although you’ve ended up at your destination, Hobart to Cradle Mountain via Queenstown is a definite road trip that you must consider! Queenstown Tasmania is a small town that sits in the sloping valley of Mount Owen. Despite Cradle Mountain to Queenstown adding on an additional two hours to your road trip, it’s the perfect oasis for nature enthusiasts. A haven if you will, if you’re looking for things to do in Queenstown, we recommend first stopping at the West Coast Wilderness Railway.
Departing from Queenstown Station, visitors can choose between a half- or full-day tour that will either keep you on the ground and passing through the rainforest or, if you like to splash around, you can pair your train tour with a river rafting experience. Once you’ve dried off, we recommend visiting the Iron Blow Lookout – an abandoned, open cut mine that has a viewing deck which makes for the perfect spot to grab a few Instagram shots.
If you’re looking to add more things on to your road trip itinerary, check out our list of 10 Unique Getaway Gems to Discover around Tasmania. And, before you head off in the car, be sure to tick-off these 10 Must-Have Travel Items for Your Next Road Trip.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.