Tasmania is an adventurer's paradise full of mountains to conquer and views that inspire, especially from high in the treetops, writes Bernadette Chua.
Tasmania's north is a land of stunning natural beauty, a landscape which lures outdoor lovers and adventurous souls. Just outside of Launceston, Hollybank Wilderness Adventures is nestled in a 140-hectare state forest reserve. From ziplining and high-ropes courses to mountain-bike and Segway rides, the thrills range from mildly exhilarating to heart-pumping.
The zipline course takes you high above the bluegum trees, across the valley, and over Pipers River. The Hollybank team fits you for all necessary equipment and provides specialist training, before helping you launch on your high-flying adventure.
As you travel the network of six ziplines, stopping at each "cloud platform", guides will tell you about the forest's unique ecosystem. The adventure culminates in the longest flying-fox - a 400-metre ride over the treetops.
It's great fun for the whole family; children as young as three years old can fly tandem with adults using special harnesses.
The nature reserve is also home to the first treetops high-ropes course in Tasmania. The network of obstacles is a self-guided route across wobbly bridges, balancing on ropes and crawling through nets high above the pinetrees.
The course is for ages four and up and starts at an easy two metres and rises to an adrenaline-pumping 25 metres. Courses are colour-coded, so you can progressively challenge yourself.
Hollybank is also home to some fantastic mountain-biking tracks, designed in consultation with Tasmanian experts. You can rent bikes and helmets. Choose from three levels, starting with the beginner No Sweat option, a gentle family-friendly 5.5-kilometre loop along wide forest trails and over gentle hills. The intermediate Tall Timbers ride has plenty of twists and turns, and drops of up to 200 metres.
The advanced 10-kilometre Juggernaut track is one of the top mountain biking trails in Australia. The steep and rugged track takes advantage of the natural rock features to create a technically demanding ride.
Another activity on two wheels, for over 12s, is a tour through the forest on an off-road Segway. Big, rugged tyres will tackle the paths through the forest with ease. You'll practise on the training circuit prior to the 90-minute journey.
After a day of adventure, head into Launceston for some history and culture. Australia's third-oldest city boasts some lovely streetscapes lined with elegant colonial and Victorian architecture.
There is plenty of culture on offer in its art galleries, museums and design studios. The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is the largest regional gallery in Australia.
Extend your stay in Launceston at one of the many lovely hotels or bed and breakfasts. On the banks of the Tamar River, four former grain silos now house the luxurious Peppers Silo hotel. For a historic stay, The Florance offers cool boutique accommodation for 24 guests in a grand Victorian mansion.
Just a short walk west of the city centre, Cataract Gorge is one of Tasmania's star natural attractions. The gorge has lovely walking tracks, swimming pools, the world's longest single-span chairlift, a suspension bridge and lookouts with spectacular panoramic views. The peacocks and native wildlife add to the full nature experience.
From Launceston, follow the river north through one of Tasmania's premium wine-growing region, the idyllic Tamar Valley. Visit the Wine Room at the famous Jansz vineyard in Pipers Brook to sample its showcase vintages, accompanied by a platter of Tasmanian cheeses.
Explore the countryside south of Launceston, travelling on the Heritage Highway from Evandale to Longford, Ross and Campbell Town.
Fly: Flights to Launceston from Canberra start at $402 return with Virgin Australia. From Newcastle flights start at $178 return with Jetstar.
Ferry: The Spirit of Tasmania sails the Melbourne-Devonport route. Sale fares start at $99 per person, one way.
Stay: Peppers Silo Launceston starts at $234 per night (or $354 for a family room); The Florance starts at $200 per night for a standard queen.
Adventures: Zipline tours are $125 (2.5 hours); Segway adventures are $100 (1.5 hours); tree-ropes session are $48 (2.5 hours); and mountain bike hire is $30 (2 hours). Adult supervision is required for children aged 8-12 years and weight restrictions apply.
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