Tasmania is an island state off the south-east coast of Australia, nick-named 'Tassie' or the 'Apple Isle' for its extensive apple orchards. Tasmania was the second oldest European settlement in Australia after Sydney, and many historic buildings and there surrounding gardens survive from the early 19th century, including timber buildings as there are no destructive termites (white ants). Tasmania has many unique animals and plants through its geographic isolation from the mainland, such as the Tasmanian devil.
Gardens to visit in Tasmania feature cool-climate exotics and a wide range of native plants, and include the fine Hobart Botanic Garden, historic gardens near Launceston and Hobart, and many large private gardens that open on a regular basis, especially in the spring and autumn/fall.
Garden Travel Guide to Tasmania
Getting to/from/around Tasmania
Hobart in the central south of Tasmania is the state capital and Launceston is the major northern city. Both have airports for domestic flights to the Australian mainland which is 240 km distant across Bass Strait. An ocean-going ferry connects Melbourne, Victoria, with Devonport on Tasmania’s north coast.
A driving holiday in Tasmania is an easy way to see its many garden destinations, historic buildings and striking natural beauty. There are many picturesque garden B&Bs around the island where you can stay and lots of historical and agricultural tourist places to visit, including areas of stunning natural beauty, unique animals like the Tasmanian devil, as well as wineries and breweries, berry farms and truffle farms.
Tasmania enjoys 4 distinct seasons: spring (Sept – Nov), summer (Dec – Feb), autumn (March – May) and winter (June – August).
On the western side of the island rainfall varies from 1450mm on the coast to 2690mm in the Cradle Mountains. The northern coast, central districts and eastern side of Tasmania are much drier with an average 500-650mm of rain, mostly in winter.
During winter the island feels the southerly winds from the Antarctic and experiences some of the Australia’s coolest temperatures. Average summer temperatures range between 17-23°C.
Although the days can be cold, average winter temperatures range between 3 – 11°C. Several mountainous areas of Tasmania have regular snow during winter, and sleet even in summer months, such as Mt Wellington overlooking Hobart and Cradle Mountain in the north.
Topography and natural vegetation of Tasmania
Tasmania is the most mountainous state in Australia, with many jagged peaks through the central Highlands formed by glaciers. Much of Tasmania is still densely forested wilderness, including the temperate rainforest of The Tarkine which features remnant Gondwanic vegetation, and also tall wet eucalypt forests. The natural vegetation of the eastern side of Tasmania is dry eucalypt forest and grasslands.
The floral emblem of Tasmania is the Tasmanian Blue Gum, Eucalyptus globulus.
Tasmanian garden styles
Although its soils are not particularly fertile, the milder Tasmanian climate means that English and European style gardens thrive. There are also many orchards growing apples, and stone fruits like peaches, cherries and plums. Hop growing and vineyards produce fine beers and wine.
From the arrival of the first European settlers early in the 19th century, incredible gardens have been developed throughout Tasmania of which many are now world renowned.
The gardens are lush, large and feature predominately English landscaping styles and plants. The four distinct seasons means that there is always something to see in the regularly open public gardens: form and structure in winter, delicate blossoms in spring, reclusive shade in summer and glorious colour in autumn.
Open gardens to see in Tasmania that are regularly open with FREE entry
Hobart and environs and southern Tasmania
• Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Hobart – an outstanding, well-designed and beautiful public garden featuring a large ornamental lake, Japanese garden, demonstration vegetable garden, fern gully, Macquarie Island pavilion, conifer collection and native plant garden.
• The Tasmanian Bushland Garden – 1.5 hectares of landscaped gardens featuring the native plants of south-east Tasmania, set among 20 hectares of natural bushland. 50km from Hobart, near Buckland.
Gardens to visit in Tasmania that are regularly open with PAID entry
Open gardens in Hobart and environs and southern Tasmania
• Rosedown Gardens, New Norfolk
• Avi-Fauna & Flora Gardens, Margate
• Crawleighwood Nursery and Garden, Nicholls Rivulet
• Inverawe Native Gardens, Margate
• Prospect Villa and Garden, Hamilton
• Runnymede, New Town
• Port Arthur Historic site
Gardens to visit in Launceston and north-east Tasmania
• Wychwood, Mole Creek
• Entally Estate, Hadspen
• Brickendon, Longford
• National Rose Garden at Woolmers, Longford
• Panshanger Estate (group bookings only)
• WAG Walker Heritage Rhododendron Gardens, Lalla
• Tasmanian Arboretum, Eugenana (near Devonport)
Gardens to see in North-west Tasmania
• Allendale Gardens, Edith creek (near Smithton)
• Annsleigh Gardens, Ridgley
• Villarett Gardens, Moltema
• Kaydale Lodge Gardens Restaurant, Nietta
Garden Festivals, Shows and Events in Tasmania
• Blooming Tasmania – late September in Launceston
• The Spring Community Festival at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens – one weekend in October.
• Woolmers Estate Festival of Roses – mid November
• Bloomin’ Tulips, Wynyard
• Koonya Garlic Festival – February
Best time to visit gardens/garden festivals in Tasmania
Spring (Sept – Nov) and autumn (March – May) is when you will find many gardens at their peak but late summer February-March is also a lovely time of year in Tasmania with many gardens filled with summer perennials.
Alternatives to garden visits in Tasmania
• Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart
• Attend a performance at the Theatre Royal
• Visit Franklin Square
• Visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and ZooDoo
• Stroll through historic Battery Point with many buildings intact since their founding back in 1830
• Hire a car to access and walk through different sections of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage, or hire a sea plane to see it from the air!
• Take a ferry to Bruny Island
Fun Facts about Tasmania
Tasmania is named after Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer who was the first European to sight the island in 1642. Hobart is named after Robert Hobart, the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at the time of its settlement in 1804.
In terms of natural endowment, Tasmania might be the most naturally endowed Island in the world. It has 2000 km of walking tracks and 18 national parks. Most of the island is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage, which covers an area of 1.38 million acres. Hobart is part of this Heritage site.
The Theatre Royal in Hobart is Australia’s oldest operative live theatre.
The Cascade brewery in Hobart is Australia’s oldest brewery.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the third Koonya Garlic Festival, in Tasmania on a picturesque inlet of Norfolk Bay on the beautiful Tasman Peninsula.
On an already chilly day I made my way into the still colder environment of the Subantarctic Plant House in the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) for a glimpse of the native vegetation of Macquarie Island.