Getting Around Tasmania
The best way to get around Tasmania is by car. Though you'll have to get used to different driving norms, such as traveling on the left side of the road and calculating distances in kilometers, hiring a car is an affordable and convenient way to see many Tassie cities and sights. Organized bus tours from local companies are also available but are often more expensive and require sticking to set itineraries. Within major cities like Hobart and Launceston, public and private bus services are also an option. Keep in mind that bus operators vary by destination, and routes between cities are generally limited. Additionally, you can hail a taxi, but cab fares are high and are dependent on the location and time of day.
To get between smaller Tassie destinations, you may have the option of flying into regional airports, though you'll need another way to get to and from attractions. The Spirit of Tasmania offers ferry service between Devonport and Melbourne, however, this mode of transportation cannot be used to reach other mainland cities in Tasmania; some ferries do travel to and from smaller Tasmanian islands. If you don't reach the island by ferry, plan on flying into Hobart International Airport (HBA).
Getting around Tasmania with a car is fairly straightforward thanks to the island's compact size and well-maintained roads, which are generally uncrowded. Plus, road signs are in English, and Americans only need a valid U.S. driver's license to drive in Australia. But remember, some Tasmanian customs are different than those found in the U.S. Locals drive on the left side of the road, gas is sold by the liter – most gas stations are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily – and distances are measured in kilometers. You should also take extra precautions when driving on ice- or snow-covered roads and keep an eye out for wild animals, especially when driving early in the morning or as the sun sets. For a list of self-drive itineraries, visit Discover Tasmania's website.
Car hires are offered by both international companies and local firms. Fees vary by company and season, but generally, prices at smaller car rental vendors are lower. Remember, local companies typically don't have booths at Tasmanian airports or Devonport's ferry terminal, but pickups or drop-offs at transportation hubs can often be arranged. Should you opt to rent from a larger firm, you can visit an airport or ferry terminal car rental desk.
If you don't mind paying a little more to avoid driving, consider joining an organized bus tour. Offered by companies like APT and AAT Kings, these multiday excursions are typically four to 14 days and include visits to must-see sights like the Port Arthur Historic Site, the Launceston Cataract Gorge & First Basin and Freycinet National Park, plus most meals, bus transfers and accommodations at area hotels or on a catamaran. Itineraries, however, cannot be customized, and you'll pay approximately $1,645 to $4,595 per person.
Although traveling by bus within a city can be a cost-effective and easy way to get around, public transportation is limited between cities, and bus operators vary by destination. In Hobart, Burnie and Launceston, the cities with the largest bus networks, most buses are operated by Metro. Fares are calculated by zone and payment method. Rides in downtown areas cost 3.30 Australian dollars (less than $3) for adults and AU$1.70 (about $1) for children ages 5 to 15 when paid with cash; if you purchase a preloaded Greencard from select locales in Hobart, fares are AU$2.64 ($2) per adult. Kids Greencards are not sold in any retail stores. Bus schedules and routes differ by city, but maps and timetables can be found on Metro's website.
In Hobart, Burnie and Launceston, as well as smaller cities like Devonport, Port Arthur and Strahan, you have access to buses run by Tassielink Transit. These buses are a convenient option for longer distances but are expensive at AU$3.80 to AU$112.60 (or $3 to $89) per adult, per ride; reduced fares are offered for children and travelers with Greencards. Multiple stops are generally provided in each major city with Tassielink service. Available routes include stops at attractions like Cradle Mountain - Lake St Clair National Park and the Port Arthur Historic Site. For exact prices and departure times, check out Tassielink's Fares page and Bus Routes & Timetables page.
When traveling between Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie, you can opt to use Redline, Tasmania's largest private coach company. However, this service is best used for airport transfers. Redline offers rides to and from Launceston Airport and Hobart International Airport. One-way services cost AU$15 to AU$19 (approximately $12 to $15) per adult and AU$14 to AU$15 (or $11 to $12) for children; discounted rates are available when booking a round-trip ticket. Trips to either airport must be made at least two hours before you want to be picked up, while round-trip reservations require 24 hours advance notice. Airport routes typically run from 4 or 4:20 a.m. to 7:30 or 9:30 p.m.
Taxis can be hailed by phone or on the street throughout Tasmania, but prices are high and vary by location and time of day. Rates are most expensive on weekends, public holidays and between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays. On King Island and Flinders Island, meters start at AU$5.10 ($4) and increase by AU$2.17 or AU$2.60 for each kilometer traveled (or between $2.50 and $3.50 per mile). For all other areas, rides cost AU$3.60 (less than $3), plus AU$1.91 to AU$2.32 per kilometer traveled (or $2.50 to $3 per mile). Fees are higher when at least one passenger is using a wheelchair. Additional charges may also apply for late-night trips that originate outside major cities, paying with a credit card and starting your journey at an airport. Tipping is not expected when using taxis in Tasmania or other parts of Australia, but Aussies generally round up to the nearest Australian dollar. In Hobart and its suburbs, you can also use the Uber ride-hailing service to get around.
After arriving in Tasmania, you can fly between various Tassie destinations. Hobart is where the island's international airport is located, but regional airports are also available in cities like Burnie and Launceston. Two domestic airlines operate in Tasmania: Sharp Airlines and Par Avion Airlines. Sharp Airlines offers daily flights between destinations like King Island and Burnie, and Flinders Island and Launceston, while Par Avion Airlines operates between Hobart and Burnie three days per week. Flight prices depend on the route and dates booked but start at AU$125 (or $99) per person.
To get to Tasmania from mainland Australia, you can take a Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Melbourne to Devonport. Most ferries depart at 7:30 p.m. daily, but select days have sailings at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Each trip lasts about 10 ½ hours. Ferry tickets cost AU$79 to AU$160 (or $62.50 to $126.50) per adult and AU$29 to AU$60 (about $23 to $47.50) for every child between 3 and 15.
For travelers interested in getting to smaller Tassie islands like Bruny Island and Maria Island, ferry services are offered by Bruny Island Ferry and Encounter Maria Island. Bruny Island Ferry's boats travel between Kettering and Bruny Island from 6:30 or 7:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. daily and are free for pedestrians. Encounter Maria Island's ferries travel between Triabunna and Maria Island, but schedules vary by season. In May, June, July and August, ferries operate every day except Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; from September to April, ferries are available daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. All tickets, which cost AU$50 ($39.50) for adults and AU$33 ($26) for kids ages 4 to 16, are for round-trip rides and include Maria Island National Park admissions.
Ferry service on Lake St Clair between Cynthia Bay and Narcissus Hut, where the Overland Track ends, is also provided year-round by Lake St Clair Lodge. One-way fares are AU$40 (less than $32) per adult and AU$20 (approximately $16) for each child 11 and younger.
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