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An increasingly popular destination for travellers to Australia, Tasmania's rugged natural beauty is its primary draw card. Apart from a few cities and towns, much of Tasmania is pure wilderness and great for hiking and other outdoor activities.
Tasmania is an island, with smaller surrounding islands, located 200 kilometres south off the coast of eastern Australia, separated by the Bass Strait. The subantarctic Macquarie Island is also under the administration of the state.
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There are 19 national parks in Tasmania, a testament to the state's extraordinary beauty and diversity. Freycinet National Park and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park are two of the most popular. Many of the National Parks and reserves have been combined associated together to create the Tasmanian Wilderness, which covers 20% of the island.
Read more: National Parks in Tasmania
The Tasmanian climate is extremely variable with high fluctuations in temperature and wind speed during the average week.
Summer lasts from December to February and has an average maximum temperature at sea level of 21 °C. Winter lasts from June to August with an average maximum temperature at sea level of 12 °C. Still, it can be around 35 °C on some summer days and below zero during some winternights.
Although rain is possible in every month, the wintermonths of June to August tend to be somewhat wetter.
There are no international flights to Tasmania at present. Connections are best made through Melbourne International Airport. There are daily flights from Melbourne with Jetstar, Tiger, Qantas and Virgin Blue.
The two major airports in Tasmania are Hobart International Airport (HBA) and Launceston Airport (LST). Devonport (DPO) also has Qantas service from Melbourne, while Burnie (BWT) and King Island (KNS) can be reached from Melbourne by Rex (Regional Express).
A ferry service, the Spirit of Tasmania runs between Melbourne and Devonport every night of the year and during the day in peak periods. The major benefit in taking the ferry is the ability to take your car with you. Prices are often higher than the plane, but this can be offset by not having to rent a car.
Accommodation on board the ferry is either in one of several types of cabins, or alternatively you can just book a chair. Facilities and entertainment on board are quite basic. There is a bar and a few shops. There is a movie theatre, but during the overnight crossings, that is where people sleep.
The only scheduled flights within Tasmania are with Tasair, mostly to King Island.
The only train service is by the West Coast Wilderness Railway between Queenstown and Strahan. http://www.puretasmania.com.au/Default.asp?pID=46
The most convenient way to see Tasmania is by either hiring a car or bringing your car with you on the ferry. There are several options for driving around Tasmania. Although the distances are not particularly large, don't be fooled. Winding roads will slow you down considerably and what may seem like a short distance on the map could take much longer.
The national highway 1 leads from Hobart to Burnie, through Launceston and Devonport. If you need the fastest option to get from Devonport to Hobart though (i.e., if you have caught the ferry and need to get to Hobart), you can take Highway 1 down to Deloraine, then turn off on the Lake Highway to Melton. This bypasses Launceston and shortens the journey considerably. For many visitors to the state though, the much slower drive down the east coast is one of the main attractions. Spending at least several days making the trip is a great way to get a feel for the state.
Roads in general are of a high standard and signage is clear. A crude map picked up at one of the information centres is usually enough to get around with. If you are planning on doing some bush walking, then be aware that trails often start at the end of a dirt road.
There are plenty of companies you could choose to hire a car from, including Redspot, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers.
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Ask Abenham a question about Tasmania
I've lived in the capital of Tasmania (Hobart) for 15 years. In that time I have developed a passion for our island state and all the wonderful places within it. If you like unspoilt wilderness (some of the most wild on the planet), surfing, beaches, adventure sports or just relaxing in one of the most peaceful places in Australia then Tasmania is for you. So if you are one of the few but lucky tourists that come down here feel free to ask me a question. If I don't know it off the top of my head I'll personally research it for you. Happy travelling.
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