Tasmania travel guide - Rusty Compass

An independent travel guide to Tasmania with candid reviews and recommendations. No sponsored content, no advertorial.

Tasmania travel guide

Tasmania Introduction

| 06 Nov 2023
Last updated 06 Nov 2023

Tasmania. It took me more than 50 years to visit. Make sure you don't leave it that long.

When I finally headed to Tasmania in late 2020, it was the last major destination in Australia I had not visited. I spent two weeks exploring the island. That's not nearly enough time!

If you like to travel slowly as I do, stay longer. Stay a month or more and see the whole island. I'm already planning my return.

I'm signed on to the idea that Tasmania might well be the most special place in all Australia. It has a magic. The campaign says "come down for air". And it has plenty of that too.

For now, this little Rusty Compass travel guide is a collection of the stuff I took away from my two weeks on the road. There's a lot more to come.

Our guide to Hobart is well under way and you can check it out here.

Tasmania Introduction

Tasmania is the island off the South East coast of the world's biggest island, aka, Australia. Sometimes it's overlooked. If you're visiting Australia, make sure you don't overlook Tasmania.

It may be the most beautiful place in Australia. It's also a place with an unbreakable connection with the drama and tragedy of Australia's past.

Maria Island, Tasmania
Photo: Mark Bowyer Maria Island, Tasmania


Hobart, Tasmania
Photo: Mark Bowyer Hobart, Tasmania


Maria Island, Tasmania
Photo: Mark Bowyer Maria Island, Tasmania

Known as Van Diemen's Land until 1855, Tasmania was inhabited by Indigenous people for thousands of years before Europeans discovered its coastline in 1642. Abel Tasman was a Dutch sailor, a very long way from home, when he first logged the existence of the island - though he didn't even know it was an island. It was well over a century before the British charted Australia's east coast in 1770. The colonial invasion followed in 1788.

British colonisation of Tasmania began in 1803 - right after Sydney and long before other now-famous Australian cities were settled. Tasmania quickly became a major part of the penal colony system. Just under half of all convicts transported to Australia were sent to Tasmania. Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula, is Australia's best known convict heritage site.

The brutal wars between the local indigenous people and invading colonials in Tasmania, caused the catastrophic collapse of indigenous societies.

Tasmania has remained a place of disadvantage with a sluggish economy and lower educational achievement than mainland states.

In recent years, Tassie has enjoyed a new energy following the opening of the MONA Museum in Hobart. It's also experiencing a minor boom as Australians from the mainland discover its quality of life and its appeal as a place to live.

The whole island deserves your time. It's the best combination of scenic beauty and profound history and heritage I know in Australia. I'm gonna be spending lots of time getting to know Tasmania in the coming years.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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