Top Things to See and Do in Tasmania - A Circumnavigation

As we sailed into the south end of the Murray Channel and into Deal Island's East Cove, we completed our circumnavigation of Tasmania. It took a year, almost to the day, but hey, we're slow sailors. It gave us cause to sit back one evening, while sipping our congratulatory cups of Tasmanian wine, and reflect on the highlights of our time in and around this very special island. We readily admit we missed a most of the interior (no car) and all the north coast (no time). We would have loved to linger in the Furneaux Island Group and explore Flinders Island (bad weather). Though we try, we just can't do it all. These are our picks of the top things to see and do in Tasmania.  



Our first port of call along Tassie's wild west coast the entry through the infamous Hell's Gate into Macquarie Harbour. The tiny town of Strahan was picturesque and a calm respite from the west coast's churning waters. We sailed up the Gordon River, explored the convict ruins at Sarah Island and traipsed around the bush at Kelly's Basin. It was spectacular. You can reach Strahan by car and take tours of the harbor and the river.


port davey

Port Davey

Approaching Breaksea Island, knowing we needed to skirt behind it to find the calm waters of the Bathurst Channel took a leap of faith. Rollers crashed and the craggy shore looked uninviting and ominous. But the chart and hundreds of mariners before us assured us there was peace behind those ragged spires...and there was. We hiked to tops of hills and mountains for glorious views and took the dinghy up the Melaleuca River to areas originally inhabited by Aborigines and rarely seen or visited by modern man. Part of Southwest Wilderness National Park, this area is only accessible by boat, on foot or by small plane. It's unbelievably and wonderfully remote.


bruny white wallaby

Bruny Island

A world unto itself, the island offers history, spectacular vistas, beaches and diverse flora and fauna including rare, endangered birds and white wallabies. Reach the island via a tour, your own boat or the car/passenger ferry at Kettering.


cygnet swan boat


This was our favorite little port on the east coast. It's friendly, tiny and a bit Bohemian with a cafe and boutique-lined main street. Drive there or sail there. It's worth the trip.



Hobart Town

An historic, must-see seaport with so much to do and explore. See our Top Things to See and Do in Hobart for specifics.


port arthur

Port Arthur

Re-live history here while meandering through the remains of this substantial, well-preserved convict site. Take a tour, drive there or sail there.



Maria Island

Another of Tasmania's national parks and historic convict sites. View remnants of the convict colony and the past settlement at Darlington or hike for miles enjoying the natural beauty of the Painted Cliffs, sharing the experience with kangaroos, wombats, wallabies and hundreds of birds. Access via passenger ferry from Triabunna or your own boat, of course.


deal island lite

Deal Island

Magic in the middle of the Bass Strait. Climb the steep hill to the small complex of historic lightkeeper's buildings, visit the tiny museum, hike the path to the lighthouse and climb its spiral stairs to the top viewing platform for unsurpassed views of the Strait. Cape Barren geese, wallabies, butterflies and birds galore keep you company. Part of the Kent Group National Park and accessible only by boat.


Get to know the locals. They're warm, friendly and knowledgeable. Thanks to Ian & Wendy, Craig, Marcia & John, Tony & Mary Anne, Reg, Anne & Phil, Gerry, Jack & Jude, Jim & Anne, Bob the octogenarian kayaker, Jackie, Mary & David and Tom, Maree & Floyd. If we've missed some of the many people who showed us kindness and friendship, we humbly apologize. As always, it is the people who enhance our lives and give us a better appreciation of the places we visit.


Days and Ways to Celebrate
A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.
National Lox and Bagel Day
Bagels are not as easy to come by in Australia as they are in the US. We can find them, but it's not like Einsteins or Brueggers or a good deli in New York City. Revel in bagelry today. Schmear on the cream cheese. My mouth is watering!
National Read in the Bathtub Day
Hmmm...IF I had a bathtub, I'd consider this.

Up the Huon River to Kermandie

kermandie hotel entrance
kermandie hotel entrance


Tony has always said his two favorite islands were Lord Howe and Tasmania. So when he told us that he and Mary Anne had taken over management of the Kermandie Marina and Hotel complex in Tasmania, it really wasn't a surprise. We first met them in Sydney. Tony is an avid sailor and had been following our blog as we crossed the Pacific. He got in touch when we neared Australia and we've become good friends.

The Kermandie Marina is at the junction of the Kermandie and Huon Rivers, not far away from Cygnet, so it only made sense to head up river 10 miles or so to pay them a visit. Easier said than done when the wind is whipping up the channel to Cygnet at 25 knots. We stayed put an extra day in Cygnet waiting for the winds to subside, then headed up river to Port Huon and into Hospital Bay in the early morning when things were calmest.

The Huon River is wide and deep here. The air was still thick with a brown, smoky haze from the current bushfires as we wended our way around Poverty Point and headed north/northwest up river. Small boats were moored in many of the little nooks and inlets along the river's edge. Fish farms lined the riverbanks on both sides and we kept a close lookout for their marking buoys. The area is hilly and treed, with large patches of dry bush which looked potentially dangerous with the current wildfire plague here. Orchards sprawled up the hillsides...this is fruit growing country. The area is sparsely settled and landholdings look to be large and spread out.

port huon
port huon

We rounded Whale Point and the tiny town of Port Huon came into view. A large jetty extended out from the port buildings and a large PORT HUON sign proclaimed we'd arrived at our destination. We anchored behind the moored boats just as the winds increased to 25+ knots. For once, our timing was good for the winds; but poor for the tides.

kermandie marina
kermandie marina

Kermandie Marina is reached via a well-marked, narrow, shallow channel and we felt uncomfortable navigating its shallow depths with our 7'2” draft. At high tide, there would be a couple of inches to spare. High tides were unfortunately at 0445 and 1800. We opted to anchor in the bay and visit our friends via dinghy. We did, however, take advantage of the marina's hot showers which were thoroughly appreciated.

olive may
olive may

The historic Olive May was tied up at the marina. Built in Tasmania in 1880 out of local Huon pine, she's the oldest Australian charter vessel in survey and visitors can book passage for a ride up the Huon River.

The marina faces a beautiful wetland area. Birds are abundant here. Gulls, cormorants, black swans, grebes and ducks swam and darted in and out of the reeds and cat tails that cover the marsh. A kookaburra laughed from a tree branch on the river bank.

kermandie hotel entry
kermandie hotel entry

The Kermandie Hotel, just across the street from the marina, was built in 1932 to accommodate the local timber, orchard and river workers. It's a charming country hotel. Each room has a different homey décor and it would be a fun, pleasant place to stay if we didn't have our “hotel room” with us.

Recently renovated, the Sass Restaurant & Huon Lounge offer a varied menu featuring Tasmanian grown fresh produce, fish and seafood. We had the local salmon for lunch and it was wonderful. The name Sass is short for sassafras, a native Tasmanian timber, in which the walls are paneled. The Lounge has a funky “retro” décor, a bit of country-modern fusion. It would be a comfy place to sit, read a book and sip a cuppa on a cool day with the fireplace at your back and a view of the marina out the large front windows.

There's a pub on site and a bottle store (liquor store). Guests have access to the swimming pool at the Aquatic Center across the street. There are gardens and picnic tables on the front lawn. It's an all-inclusive place as far as we were concerned.

Tony & Mary Anne Purkiss aboard Nine of Cups

Tony & Mary Anne Purkiss aboard Nine of Cups

A couple day's stay is all we could manage. Wish it could have been longer, but Tony and Mary Anne are busy folks and the clock's ticking for us to get a move-on.


Days and Ways to Celebrate

A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.

International Thank You Day

This is a day when you go out of your way to be polite and kind. Try it... it's contagious.


european goldfinch Whenever I used to think of “birdwatching”, I pictured a skinny-legged fellow in khaki shorts, probably wearing black socks and “sneakers”, a wide-brimmed hat, binoculars around his neck and a bird list in his hand, ready to tick off each bird he spotted. Birdwatching was a hobby for old people or nerds with nothing better to do with their time. It's not that I disliked birds. It's more that I saw them, but never took the time to really notice them. Oh, a bluebird. Gee whiz, there's a seagull. Hmm, the first spring robin. Not much enthusiasm. Boy, did I have it wrong.

pacific black ducks

When we moved aboard Nine of Cups and we were sailing, birds really started to get my attention. Sea birds, shore birds, passerines, non-passerines, big, little. Each new area had its own particular birdlife and that became even more apparent as we traveled from country to country and then from the Equator to the Antarctic. With nearly 10,000 bird species throughout the world, we'd be hard pressed not to find a new species wherever we went. What once seemed nerdy became absolutely fascinating.

birdwatching book

Of course along with finally noticing birds, came the need to identify them. So I bought a big “Birds of the World” identification guide. Soon, this was not enough. I needed a less bulky book that I could throw in my backpack. I wanted one which included more identification photos and/or sketches, like seeing a bird in flight as well as sitting on a bough. I wanted more information about the bird and its call. I've ended up investing in a bird book for each major area we've visited and I don't regret it in the least. I usually find a used copy which helps the budget significantly. In fact, I even traded a bird photo of a Pitcairn warbler with a publisher one time in return for an Australian bird book. That's how I got my Simpson & Day Birds of Australia which is in constant use.

pitcairn warbler

Now, I'm so totally enthralled with birds and photographing them, I've created separate pages on our website for them. Australia has ~800 bird species and though we'd seen and identified lots, it's not even close to what's out there. The best bird site and bird photography I've ever seen is Ian Montgomery's Birdway. When I can't find what I'm looking for in my bird book, I refer to his site for an answer and he never lets me down.

masked lapwing

That brings us to our current location in Cygnet. Not far away from our anchorage at the head of the bay is the Port Cygnet Conservation area. It's a ~250 acre wetland reserve and wildlife sanctuary and an important feeding, nesting and roosting area for over 70 species of birds. A boardwalk and paths meander through the wetland area allowing close up views of its visitors and inhabitants without encroaching too much on their turf.

white faced heron

It's a pleasant and fascinating place to explore. Tasmanian native hens scurry around on the grass and disappear into the tall marsh reeds. Masked lapwings shriek and tromp around in the mud at low tide and white-faced herons wait stone-still, hoping for some breakfast to swim by. Sea eagles regularly frequent this area, but unfortunately we didn't see any. There was much less birdlife than we saw on our last visit and we wonder if the smoke and soot from the bushfires is keeping them away. Hopefully, it's just a temporary thing.


Days and Ways to Celebrate

A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.

World Nerd Day

Where would we be without them? We'd still be using tin cans and string while calculating on an abacus. High five a nerd today...they're easy to pick out in a crowd.