This post was originally published in May 2018 and has since been updated with more tips on things to do in Devonport, Tasmania.
The beauty of Tasmania lies in its diversity, which could be said of entire Australia. But what makes “Tassie” so amazing – apart from its obviously stunning natural beauty – is that with a relatively small population (about 520,000 as of June 2018), it carries the vibrancy and culture of a much bigger state.
Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, has developed greatly and has become one of Australia’s most vivacious cities. It’s a sure stop for anyone heading over to this beautiful island state.
But just 282km north via highway (about a 3-hour car ride), lies an overlooked gem – the city of Devonport, one of the major regional centres of the Tasmanian north-west.
Positioned at the mouth of the Mersey River, it is a city with inarguable small-town charm and a population of only about 31,000 locals. Being the largest port on Tasmania’s north coast, it presents an important connection to mainland Australia and is thus often referred to as “The Gateway to Tasmania”.
Sure, it doesn’t bustle with as much activity as the capital or the northern regional centre, Launceston, but there are plenty of things to do in Devonport Tasmania that make it worth a visit. It is often overlooked by tourists so it really carries the quality of a place left to explore in peace – a place where you can roam around and feel like a local.
Additionally, it’s a great location to base yourself and explore Tasmanian north, interchanging between the neighbouring cities of Burnie and Launceston.
BEST TIME TO VISIT DEVONPORT TASMANIA
The entire island of Tasmania boasts a better climate than the rest of the continent, so that’s great news right from the start! There will be no scorching heat, ever, as temperatures rarely reach 30 degrees Celsius. But something to bear in mind when visiting Devonport Tasmania is that humidity is high throughout the whole year – about 70%. That’s one thing to be prepared for if you’re not a fan of humidity like most of us.
However, the humidity is much easier to withstand because of Devonport’s mainly pleasant temperatures, as its humid northerly winds that prevent heat waves. That gives Devonport an advantage compared to Tasmania’s south and east coasts.
The best time to visit is in the summer months, from January to March, when the temperature is always pleasantly nestled between 19-24 degrees Celsius, and the days are filled with lovely sunshine.
As Devonport is not a chaotic tourist hotspot, you can explore the north-west in peace during peak season, and the shoulder months from April to June also make for a pleasant stay, with mild weather and sunshine.
July and August are the wettest months. This is Devonport winter – cool, cloudy, and with frequent but light rain. Winter temperature always stays between 0-15 degrees Celsius, so it’s not tragic if you find yourself there at that time, however, the summer months are still incomparably better times to visit. If you’re in the city near the end of July and are looking for things to do in Devonport Tasmania, you’ll have the Devonport Jazz Festival to remedy the wet weather.
What makes Devonport such an exciting place to visit are the opportunities to be active and try rowing and sailing on the Mersey River. It’s best to avoid visiting in the months between September and December, as the fickle spring could be an obstacle to your waterside plans.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN DEVONPORT, TASMANIA
This is a wonderful, energetic city that likes to treat its residents (and visitors) with a plethora of planned events throughout the year. From art exhibitions to recreational programs and youth workshops, you’ll be sure to find things to do in Devonport Tasmania that spark your interest. Use this guide to browse community events and pop over to hang with the locals.
To get to know the culture and Devonport’s history, I strongly recommend you visit the Bass Strait Maritime Centre. Even if you’re not one for museums, it’s a great place where you’ll hear stories of the past and get a real feeling for the identity of Devonport. The most fun part is that you can try the simulation of sailing into the Mersey River on a 20th-century steamer as a captain!
But if you’re up for getting wet and trying the real thing, you can book a ticket for the Julie Burgess ketch, a newly restored remnant of the Bass Strait fishing vessels. The sailing takes two hours and all bookings are made via the Bass Strait Maritime Centre. It’s definitely one of the more unique things to do in Devonport Tasmania and thoroughly recommended.
There’s also the Devonport Regional Gallery, where you will be able to marvel at Tasmanian art and crafts. There are a lot of beautiful things to see there, and the gallery deserves the utmost respect for its dedicated support to local and statewide artists.
Culture vultures won’t be stuck for things to do in Devonport Tasmania, as there are many other cultural and historic sites and activities to check out, such as the Don River Railway museum and train trip.
Devonport’s enviable location on the Mersey River and Bass Strait allows you to enjoy river, ocean, and mountain views. There are many scenic walking routes for you to take leisurely strolls and get to know your surroundings. You could also explore these on a bicycle. There are different routes that cover the city and coast so you have plenty to choose from. Here is a handy map of walking and cycling trails to use when exploring Devonport Tasmania.
If you’re looking for some more serious exploration and are interested in hiking in Tasmania, Devonport is a great base, especially because you can reach it via ferry (or plane) from Melbourne and take your journey from there.
There’s even public transport to the beautiful Cradle Mountain National Park (roughly an hour away), where you can take guided tours and experience the stunning wilderness. You’ll have panoramic views of mountains, glacial lakes, rainforests, and a truly contemplative experience in the wild.
But if you’re up for a more domesticated experience of nature, make sure to book a walk at the Tasmanian Arboretum, a beautiful botanical tree park located only a few kilometres south of Devonport.
Lastly, for any shopaholics looking for things to do in Devonport Tasmania, make sure to head over to the Antique Emporium on Formby Road. This is a place where you can really get lost in bizarre curious and surprising treasures. Spend a solid couple hours here rummaging through the knick-knacks. You can find anything here, from collectables to clothes and jewellery, and it’s the pure sight of all the antiques that really sparks the imagination.
WHERE TO STAY IN DEVONPORT TASMANIA
Municipal Devonport is small and compact, so there’s not much fuss about proximity to the city centre when looking for accommodation in Devonport Tasmania. It’s best to stay on the west side of the Mersey River, where you can cross the whole city diagonally in just about an hour, walking at a moderate pace.
You’ll find a wide range of Accommodation in Devonport Tasmania. B&B’s, hotels, hostels, private accommodations, and lodges are located along either side of the river, as well as long the coast of the Bass Strait. Prices start from $25 per night and upwards, so there’s really something for everyone.
One of the best-rated Devonport Tasmania hotels is the Sunrise Devonport, located in close proximity to the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, but it is among the pricier options.
Hawley House is a renowned B&B as it is a family-run, conserved property, offering a sense of history and a hospitable approach to its guest. It is located at Hawley Beach, 20 minutes away from the city. The property also has its own vineyard so you can sample their wine at dinner.
Find and book these hotels on our favourite accommodation search website: Booking.com
Airbnb is also a great option for finding accommodation in Devonport Tasmania, but there are less than a hundred places offering accommodation, all within the municipal area, so make sure to book well ahead.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a $40 USD credit to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
WHERE TO EAT IN DEVONPORT
Now we’re talking! The Devonport food scene won’t leave you disappointed. It’s strongly recommended to try the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail if time permits– you can find out more about it and download itineraries for self-guided tours here.
Hopefully, you’ll find yourself here in late February or early March, so you’ll be just in time for the Taste the Harvest Festival, when local eateries and wineries set up stalls at Roundhouse Park for you to try the products from Tasmania’s northwest coast. It’s certainly a must for foodies looking for things to do in Devonport Tasmania.
Laneway is a beloved restaurant and café on Rooke Lane where you can get huge breakfast plates and delicious vegan meals. It’s a cool place, and they even have live gigs and events!
Mrs Jones is another favourite, that is famous for its global cuisine, especially the drunken chicken, but isn’t short on vegan options as well.
Make sure to try the Central Restaurant – the prices are reasonable, the portions hearty, and best of all, the menu is creative and unique, filled with healthy vegetable sides.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED IN DEVONPORT
You don’t need extensive time in Devonport itself and two days is enough time to get around the whole city and sample all the great things to do in Devonport Tasmania. You can visit all the museums, take strolls and even fit in a walk in the Arboretum.
But you could prolong your stay if you use it as a base for hikes, go on day trips in the wine region, or combine your stay here with visits to Burnie and Launceston. Not to mention, if you’re looking for some rest, you can sprawl on one of Devonport’s beaches, enjoy the view, and swim for as long as you want until you’re ready to pack up and leave.
Author’s Bio: Lena Hemsworth spent a better part of her life working as a business consultant. Now she is a freelance blogger pursuing a life far from deadlines and neon office lights. In her free time, she is exploring trends in architecture and design, watches her garden grow, and tries to find the perfect destination for kitesurfing adventures.