City Life: Bush walks, barbecues and beer
Incredible coastlines, lush valleys, ancient mountain peaks, colonial heritage, succulent seafood, world-famous wildlife and a historical harbour - you couldn't ask for more.
Tasmania is staggeringly beautiful, awash with an artist's palette of natural colour: vivid blue seas and skies, white sandy shores, lush green valleys and golden hops. Its varied landscapes are breath-taking; coastal expanses, an ancient range of volcanic peaks and fertile orchards make for stunning exploring. The island's tiny city, Hobart, is equally enticing, with its busy harbour, seductive seascapes and tempting restaurants, all overshadowed by the looming Mount Wellington. It's unlikely that Hobart's early inhabitants - convicts sent by the British Empire in the 19th century - got to appreciate the island's encompassing beauty; much of Tasmania's architecture is the fruit of their (hard) labour. Two centuries on, the locals clearly enjoy a great quality of life, so their relaxed friendliness and bonhomie should come as no surprise.
Most major car hire companies can be found at Hobart airport or in the city itself, including Hertz (www.hertz.com.au), Avis (www.avis.com.au) and Europcar (www.europcar.com). Although Hobart is small enough to navigate by foot, it's definitely worth getting a car to explore the surrounding sights.
Hobart International Airport is about 14 miles from the centre. Regular flights are available from most major cities in Australia (Melbourne's an hour away) with Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue. You can take a bus from the airport and a shuttle service meets every flight. Since this includes drop-offs at numerous hotels, getting a taxi from the airport to your hotel may be quicker (around AU$25-AU$30 each way).
Country code: +61; Hobart: (0)3
The Fatal Shore, by Robert Hughes chronicles the transportation of more than 160,000 convicts from Britain to grim prison cells, aboard ships bound for an unknown world. Wild Rivers, by Peter Dombrovskis and Bob Brown (both of whom were instrumental in saving Tasmania's Franklin River from being dammed) gives a flavour of this spectacular wilderness area.
Do go / Don't Go
Foodies should head to Hobart in November or December to reap the fruits of Hobart's harvest; in these months, farm shops sell rations for your day's adventures by the roadside: juicy berries, fresh juices, creamy yoghurts, just-baked breads, cheeses and other goodies. Avoid Hobart in Australian winter (June-August) when the west coast of the island is lashed with rain and the Roaring Forty winds.
Tasmania's seafood is among the finest Australia has to offer. Take your pick from plump oysters, silky-smooth scallops, luscious lobster, deep sea trevalla, abalone, wild trout and succulent salmon. Sample white cherries from New Norfolk, Coal River Valley venison and have a tipple of Pepperberry Bush Liqueur, produced in Tasmania from the alpines berries that grow all over the highlands. Wine worshippers rejoice; locally produced pinot noir, chardonnay and Riesling make for refreshing and delicious drinking.
The main attractions dotted across the island are speedily navigated by taxi, and cab costs are fairly low. 131008, Australia's nationwide taxi booking service, provides a reliable service around Hobart and the surrounding areas (www.131008.com).
As with the rest of Oz, tips aren't expected anywhere - but 10 per cent is always appreciated in upmarket bars and restaurants.
Australian dollar (AU$)
Binoculars for devil spotting, a sou'wester for fly fishing and trainers for scaling the rocky magma outcrops. Quarantine laws are very strict in Tasmania, so check www.discovertasmania.com to see what you can and can't bring in.
Historians should head to Port Arthur and examine the craggy remains of Australia's first penal settlement (www.portarthur.org.au). Hobart also has a rich hop growing history, so visit the nearby Derwent Valley's timber oast houses. Hops are still grown in the area; in autumn, the valley turns an intense amber gold, bathed in light. There are plenty of art galleries dotted around Salamanca Market, or take the half-hour drive to the serene suburb of New Norfolk and browse the antique shops (www.newnorfolk.org).
Hobart's Salamanca Market is the best place to peruse beautiful locally produced arts and crafts and edible artistry: jams, honey, relishes, smoked fish, meats and delicious cheeses are all there for the tasting. Sample scallop pie - a Tasmanian speciality - from the Flatheads stall. Held every Saturday, from 8.30am-3pm, Salamanca is ideal for gifts and souvenirs. The market is framed by historic Georgian warehouses filled with wonderful galleries, bars and coffee shops, so allocate an entire day to potter around the area and admire the dockside setting (www.salamanca.com.au).
At a knee-wobbling 1270-metres high, Mount Wellington and its surrounding parkland guarantee dazzling photos for even the least camera-capable. Head for the top if you dare and admire the incredible view. Layer up though - there's a bone-battering wind chill on gusty days.
Wander down to Hobart's harbour and breathe in the fresh sea air (and the smell of fish and chips). The harbour is a great place to admire the heady heights of Mount Wellington and to lap up local life. To experience the harbour at its most romantic, stroll by at dusk: admire the boats, listen to the whispering waves and study the stars.
February The Clarence Jazz Festival is held in Bellerive, Hobart (www.ccc.tas.gov.au). March Southern Vineyards Open Weekend, where the wineries open their doors to the public for cellar-door tastings and sales (www.winetasmania.com.au). March A taste of the Huon is a two-day celebration of the region's fine food, wine, arts and crafts (www.tasteofthehuon.com). October Celebrate all things nautical including shanties, seafood and grog at the the Seafarer's Festival on Bellerive Boardwalk (www.ccc.tas.gov.au). December The state's largest food and wine festival, Taste of Tasmania (www.hobartsummerfestival.com.au), is held on the picturesque Hobart waterfront and makes a trip to the island worthwhile by itself.