I remember the days when barely any tourists would actually consider visiting Tasmania in winter.
Australia’s southernmost state has always been known for being a somewhat cold destination, so the majority of people who journey south of the mainland tend to do so in the summer months. However, I have noticed on my regular visits home that the state has changed significantly over the past few years, and Tasmania now offers some very compelling reasons to visit in winter, too.
Yes, it can be cold, but you just have to lean into it and dress appropriately for the weather by rugging up – bring an insulated jacket, thermal underwear, warm boots, and a trusty beanie and scarf. Then you’ll be fully ready to discover that Tasmania has some pretty neat winter attractions and activities that are most superb when done during the colder months.
I really think you should ditch the popular option of travelling to Tasmania in summer and opt for a winter trip instead! If you’ll be visiting Tassie during the chilly season, here’s some suggestions from an ex-local on what to do in Tasmania in winter.
Check out Dark MoFo
Anyone considering a winter trip to Tasmania should arrange their travel dates to catch the Dark MoFo festival, if possible. This annual celebration is held mid June in the lead up to winter solstice. Created by the same people that run Mona, this festival is something worth travelling down to Tasmania for (apparently more than half of the attendees arrive from interstate).
This year was my first time visiting Tassie for Dark MoFo, and I have to say – it totally exceeded my expectations. There are a range of events, exhibitions, and installations that happen throughout the festival, and these change every year so what goes on at Dark MoFo in 2021 will not be the same if you choose to come down next year.
Rob and I hit up the winter feast on opening night for food and drinks, and we ended up sampling some fire-roasted pumpkin and potato with a side of Moo Brew dark ale (yummm!). All of it was beyond delicious, and the atmosphere at the feast was cosy with outdoor firepits and live music as well as an indoor drinking area lit by candlelight.
The art walk in downtown Hobart was also super impressive. Various locations each had art installations or stage shows, which are marked on a map on the Dark MoFo website. No-one really knows what any of these are until they arrive (the website descriptions are all vaguely mysterious) so you just have to turn up and see what you find!
Taste some local beer, cider, wine, or whiskey
Tasmania is known for serving up some of the best beer, cider, wine and whiskey in the country. You can taste the state’s premium beverages year-round, and some are actually better if sampled in the winter. If you’d like to try a range of these craft drinks while in Hobart, it might be worth getting a ticket on the Drink Tasmania Signature Tour which will take you to various locations with transport included. Otherwise, hit up some of the venues below.
For beer, Hobart has a handful of craft breweries that you can sample while in town including Hobart Brewing Co. on the waterfront or T-Bone Brewing in North Hobart. The Moo Brew Cellar Door is also a great option if you’re heading over to Mona – their dark ale and stout are both particularly good to drink in colder weather.
For cider, head to Willie Smith’s Apple Shed in the Huon Valley – they have an exceptional mulled cider that will warm up your insides! This is also the location of theHuon Valley Mid Winter Fest in July with local food and drinks available during the festivities. You must buy tickets in advance for this event, so don’t wait until the last minute or you will miss out.
If you’re into wine, then there are a handful of vineyards just outside of Hobart near the historic township of Richmond. If you’ll be in Launceston, then be sure to put aside time for a day trip to the Tamar Valley for some of Tasmania’s best wineries.
For those of you who like a good whiskey, Lark Distillery in Hobart is a great place for some tastings or stop in at McHenry Distillery for whiskey or gin if you’ll benear Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula.
Spot an aurora
Did you know that the aurora australis (otherwise known as the southern lights) can actually be seen from Tasmania? This phenomenon is most likely to be visible around the winter months and from locations in the south of the state.
I can only remember one time when I ever saw the aurora with my own eyes in Hobart. As Tasmania is not particularly close to the arctic poles (like Iceland), a camera is usually required to capture the aurora colours on the horizon. Come to Hobart prepared by bringing the necessary camera gear if you’re hoping to do some aurora spotting.
Tasmania’s skies are often cloudy andthe aurora tracker needs to indicate that the solar event is fairly strong (levelKp5+) for an aurora to be visible in a long exposure photo. When the aurora levels are high enough to be spotted from Hobart, seek out a dark spot without light pollution or head up to the Mount Wellington summit to capture the light show with your camera.
If you’re not sure about the best way to photograph the aurora, you may want to book a private Hobart photography tour. This way, you’ll get expert advice on setting up your camera for low light and night time photography, and get some practice before the aurora appears.
If you lean into Tasmania being a winter destination, you can actually use this opportunity to frolick in the snow! It may not get as much of the white stuff as the Australian Alps, but there are a handful of places in Tasmania that get the occasional snowfall. Keep an eye on the weather forecast so that you can hit the road when a flurry is due!
If you’re staying in Hobart, then Mount Wellington is the closest place that is likely to receive snow. Look up towards the summit on a clear day and if there’s snow there, you’ll see it! Drive up Pinnacle Road until you hit the altitude that has snow by the roadside, though be aware that if the snow is heavy, the road may be blocked to vehicles at certain points. Check the City of Hobart website before you go to check for road closures and find tips on visiting Mount Wellington with snow.
Other places that you can often find snow in Tasmania are Mount Field National Park,Cradle Mountain, or the Ben Lomond ski field.