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There seems to be this general belief that you can only go to Tasmania in the summer. Having lived and traveled there for a year, it is very obvious when the tourist season is. So what if you’re worried you’ve missed out on Tasmania’s summer season? Well, honestly, visit Tasmania in the winter, or anytime for that matter.
Make no mistake, summer is considered the best time to travel to Tasmania and winter is probably the worst. But that doesn’t mean winter in Tasmania is completely terrible and a visit isn’t worth doing. I really enjoyed the trips at that time of year, even if the weather was sub-optimal. Even in a place as outdoorsy as Tasmania, you’d be surprised how many sights and activities you can still see and do outside of summer.
Let’s take a look at what it’s like to do in winter in Tasmania, from the weather and weather to the weather, and see if I can convince you to give it a try.
Tasmania weather in winter
So what’s winter like in Tasmania? Simple answer: cold, or at least cold for Australia. But it can also be rainy, foggy and windy. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Luckily, there are also plenty of days where it’s just a little chilly and the skies are clear, and those days are perfect for a winter adventure in Tasmania.
People may be surprised to hear that parts of Australia are getting cold. Tasmania and Canberra are the two places I’ve been in Australia where you really experience it properly. And it also depends on where you are in Tasmania. Winters in northern Tasmania are decidedly milder than the south, and the mountainous Central Highlands is certainly the coldest part of the island.
In winter, the city of Hobart typically has a low of 5ºC and a high of around 12ºC. But it is worth remembering that the city is at sea level. Head into the high mountains and those temperatures will drop to below 0ºC frequently. And all this doesn’t take into account the chill factor, especially on the coast when we face Antarctic winds.
does it snow in tasmania
With all this cold weather comes a decent chance of seeing snow in Tasmania, at least in some parts. At times, snow has fallen as far as Hobart. Snow usually tends to stick to mountains. Both times I’ve visited Cunani/Mt Wellington over Hobart, there was snow even in September.
However, the snow hits the higher elevations much harder, and places like Cradle Mountain can get really dusty. The downside to this is that the roads can become treacherous in the high ground during the winter. The road to Cradle Mountain can be snowy and icy in the winter, which can be difficult because winter tires are not common. Many of the region’s gravel roads become virtually impassable or closed during the winter. I would assume it’s because they get too little traffic to spend resources scavenging.
Snowfall in Tasmania is an opportunity for skiing. Like other southern states of Australia, Tasmania has ski fields. Ben Lomond is Tasmania’s premier and largest ski resort with its ski season generally running from June to October.
What to wear in winter?
Look around when you’re in Tasmania in winter and you’ll see everyone wearing matching jackets. Outdoor brands like Kathmandu and the North Face are mostly unofficial sponsors of the season.
Pair them with a top, gloves and a t-shirt and you should be just fine with the chilly temperatures. And if you really want to blend in, add some flannel shirts to the mix.
Dressing in layers like these will not only help with regular outdoor sightseeing, it also works for outdoor activities. Hiking Cradle Mountain in June is exactly what I wore and it worked well. Yes, I would honestly prefer to be there any other time of the year, but winter hiking can be done with layers and appropriate clothing.
Advantages of the low season in Tasmania
While the weather may not be favorable, winter does have one major upside. this is tasmania’s off season. Visitor numbers are usually very low at this time. While visiting Montezuma Falls in the winter, I barely saw another soul, which is crazy because it’s amazing.
This makes it the best time to visit Tasmania for budget travelers or people to avoid the crowds. Given how busy and booked destinations like Bruny Island and Wineglass Bay can be in the warmer months, the relative quiet of winter can be quite beneficial. For example, I had no trouble finding beachside accommodation in Strahan at an affordable price, and even better, it was adequately heated to cope with the June weather.
Not that Tasmania doesn’t get tourists in the winter. Dark Mofo is a Tasmanian winter festival that celebrates the darkness of mid-winter in an extremely volatile way. Although not for everyone, it makes Hobart quite a busy couple of weeks right in the heart of the low season. In addition to that crash on the radar, tourist numbers are especially low right now.
Outdoor winter activities in Tasmania
Probably the biggest reason people avoid this time of year is because they’re not sure what to do in Tasmania in winter. There is this assumption that all popular outdoor activities on the island are suddenly banned due to the weather. But I know from personal experience that things like hiking and finding waterfalls are viable Tasmanian winter activities.
Although deep in the Central Highlands, my first hike at Lake St. Clair was in mid-June and went pretty well. Yes, it was cold and the weather limited what hikes were possible, but I still kept busy and had a great time. Likewise, I had no problem sailing in Macquarie Harbor, mainly because the weather was kind to us and allowed for perfect river reflection.
Winter is the real time to visit Tasmania for one of its classic features: waterfalls. Due to heavy rains in winter, the state’s waterfalls are cascading. In my experience, they honestly don’t get any more impressive than this time of year.
Indoor winter activities in Tasmania
Of course, you can also just not do outdoor activities during winter visits. I mean, there are a lot of things in Hobart that are suitable for being indoors in the winter. Going to MONA or any museum in town seems like an obvious activity for a Hobart winter.
You can also gather somewhere warm and treat yourself to Tasmanian food, wine, beer and spirits. And that advice applies not only to Hobart, but Launceston as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, not to mention places with famous food scenes such as Bruny Island and the high-end Cradle Mountain restaurant.
Have you ever considered a winter trip to Tasmania before? Do you mind exploring places even when it’s cold or a little wet? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.