Tasmania from top to tip
From Smithton to Southport and a woven journey in between in a roomy Apollo motorhome. We covered almost 2000km in 10 days - everything from the incredible Tarkine to dining at Australia’s southernmost pub.
There was plenty of choice across Apollo’s fleet for our road trip, but as our teenage son and pet dogs (thanks to the pet-friendly Apollos) would be with us for part of it, we opted for the larger motorhome – the Euro Deluxe. This offered space to sleep six, as well as an onboard toilet plus shower.
After picking up the Apollo from Hobart Airport and being given a good rundown on the Euro Deluxe, we were feeling prepared and eager to get underway.
Our trip being at the tail-end of autumn, we were well aware we’d be encountering some cold weather, particularly of an evening, so we chose to stay at caravan parks with powered sites (site fees cost $28 - $32 per night).
The plan was to cover ‘the top’ first, so we looked for somewhere that would break up the long trip from the south and position us well for heading north-west. Travelling initially with our dogs, we needed pet-friendly stopovers. Our first night was at Lakeside Tourist Caravan Park in Eugenana, 10km from Devonport. A well-equipped park, this lovely spot would have made the ideal base had we been exploring that area.
Waking up to a foggy and crisp morning, we were pleasantly surprised at how cosy this spacious motorhome felt – we found the little fan heater included was sufficient for heating the whole van, without needing to run the larger, reverse-cycle one. With a good few kilometres to cover of the Northern Forage and plans for a couple of stops, we got straight on the road.
We found the Apollo great for including our dogs. They easily settled into motorhome journeying, and quite quickly in they were returning from any stops and settling straight back into their spot in the van. The Apollo website contains very handy advice for travelling with dogs, so with a little advance planning we were able to find ample dog-friendly spots.
‘Waterfalls of Tasmania’ website also proved a good reference for finding locations suitable for dogs and RVs. So from day one we found ourselves able to double-up sightseeing and exercising both ourselves and our dogs, taking in the lovely Guide Falls in Ridgley before continuing to our next booking at River Breeze Caravan and Cabin Park, Smithton.
The park staff suggested one night would not be enough and, as it turned out, the Smithton region was the ‘surprise package’ of the trip and I was pleased we took the local advice to stay an extra night. There was so much to see – Green Point Beach near Marrawah offering distant views of Woolnorth Wind Farm, the dramatic ocean at the Edge of the World, many sightseeing and walking opportunities on the Tarkine loop drive (Trowutta Arch is a must-see) and in the evening dining at Tall Timbers was well enjoyed.
On the way to Boat Harbour and Sisters Beach, we took a detour to Mawbanna. Whilst a little out of the way, we found the impressive Dip Falls and Blue Hills Honey (with a lovely café, gift shop and production line viewing) worthwhile to visit.
The Apollo Euro Deluxe Motorhome was the perfect vehicle for exploring as much as possible. If you liked a spot, you could stay longer. If you were done, you simply jumped in and moved on.
The Apollo Euro Deluxe really is self-contained – you can not only shower in the van, you can dine. Whilst we opted to try many eating establishments and wineries, the kitchen was perfectly functional and allowed us to easily prepare meals. The fridge was a good size – we were able to have it packed with the makings of a meal, a cheese platter, condiments, wine/drinks and milk for cuppas. I loved being able to get up of a morning and easily put the kettle on!
We even spent a couple of nights entertaining in the motorhome, with the six-seater table at the rear a perfect space for gathering. Along our journey we caught up with friends and parked one night next to family at the Longford Riverside Caravan Park, beautifully positioned next to the river, to share a meal and games night in the Apollo. Evenings were mostly spent playing cards and board games, old-fashioned fun accompanied by laughter, and with the inbuilt stereo we were able to Bluetooth music not only while travelling but whilst relaxing onboard.
The Euro Deluxe was nicely flexible. Whilst travelling as a family we were able to set up an area for the dogs and for the last leg of the trip, as just a couple, we could leave a bed set up of a day and still have a table for dining.
Moving into the second half of our trip, we headed back south, but not before turning off onto the Great Eastern Drive bound for Triabunna to catch a tour with East Coast Cruises. This proved an absolute highlight! The tour running that day was the Ile Des Phoques (Island of Seals) taking in sea caves and the Maria Island coastline, including the painted cliffs, before docking at Darlington to explore Maria Island. The sunshine provided us with a spectacular viewing experience for the sea caves, and multiple pods of dolphins joined us alongside the boat.
Next we headed to the Tasman Peninsula, where a visit to Port Arthur Historic Site is a must – but allow yourself plenty of days to explore, as the area offers an abundance of walks and sightseeing that can be undertaken for free (or just the cost of a National Parks pass). We decided on a full day exploring the area, fitting in Remarkable Cave, the Blowhole, Fossil Bay Lookout, Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen and the Tessellated Pavement. Also in the area, McHenry Distillery was a thoroughly enjoyable visit, with some excellent Tasmanian gin and whisky being produced there, and the dining at Port Arthur Lavender Farm was superb.
The NRMA Port Arthur Holiday Park facilities were extensive, with an impressive camp kitchen containing a wood-fired pizza oven, multiple barbecue shelters, playground, pump track and a path to Stewarts Bay (or further on to the Port Arthur Historic Site, if you are more eager).
Stopping off at the lovely Bangor Vineyard Shed at Dunalley to enjoy a tasting and stock up on some Tassie wine, we then headed back across Hobart and onto our very last leg – the Southern Edge. We took in some scenic landscape on the drive to Hastings Caves before heading to Southport, home of Australia’s southernmost pub, where an on-site caravan park meant we could set up and stay.
All too soon we’d reached the last day of our trip, but we were able to fit in a couple of last stops. Heading through the Huon Valley, a visit to Willie Smith’s is a must, not just for the cider (or, even better, the mulled cider), but because it’s such a unique establishment. Staying for lunch, we discovered the food was equally as good. Finally we made a return visit to Every Man & His Dog Vineyard in Richmond – another favourite, as it’s a lovely boutique vineyard experience with a unique winery tour and great wines.
Then it was time to say farewell to our Apollo with an easy drop-off at the depot.
My husband, who did most of the driving on our trip, said the motorhome was great to drive (it tackled the Tarkine and winding roads beyond the Huon Valley with ease). When I took the wheel I was surprised to find, despite its size, that it really was easy to handle and I felt comfortable driving it.
At the eight caravan parks we stayed in, the van just required plug-in power at night, and in the morning unplug, latch cupboards, put up step, and away you’d go. We found we didn’t need to empty/refill water and waste daily.
Over the 10 days we covered more than 35 venues and sightseeing locations. But don’t fall for the story, “You can see Tassie in just a few days” – you can see only a snippet! The Apollo’s mobility allowed us to cover quite some territory and tick off bucket-list locations. Despite living in Tasmania our entire lives, there were many spots that one/both/none of us had visited. We’d have quite happily kept going to cover the regions we couldn’t fit in.
The Apollo proved itself the perfect way to do such a trip.
Keli’s tips for extras to pack:
- Dishwashing liquid
- Rubbish bags
- Toilet rolls
We needed to take very little other than personal attire and toiletries. Nearly everything was included on board, from linen to – as we discovered when we inadvertently purchased a bottle of Tassie white with a cork – a corkscrew!