We loved Tasmania, it is great for touring in a campervan as the distances are small, the scenery beautiful and it is very geared for tourism. However, we found that Tasmania wasn’t quite as dog friendly as at home on the Sunshine Coast. The main issue is that there are a lot of places that you will want to visit where you cannot take a dog, i.e. National Parks and historic sites and then there is the trip over to consider. For many it might be best to leave your dog at home with a dog sitter, but for those who can’t bear to leave their pooch behind, here are some ideas.
Unless you are flying, the first thing to contend with will be the Spirit of Tasmania. There has been a couple of issues recently with their transportation of animals, but most people take their dogs over without a problem.
The kennels are a series of cages sat on one of the car decks. They are sheltered from the rain and wind, but are otherwise open to the elements, which does give good ventilation, but can be noisy. You will not be allowed onto the car deck during the crossing to check your pet, but there will be a member of staff checking them.
Many people prefer to leave their dog in their own vehicle. If you do, you will need to inform the check-in staff to sign a waiver and ensure your vehicle gets placed on the car deck that has the most ventilation. Do bear in mind that, if the crossing is rough, it is highly likely that your dog will be sick.
We put our dog in a cage for the crossing and he was ok, but a bit stressed when we collected him the next day.
On reaching Devonport, there are a couple of nice parks where you can all stretch your legs and get some fresh air. One is back up at the river mouth, off Tarleton St and near the caravan park and the other is on the other side of the river towards Burnie, off Victoria Parade.
Our Favourite Caravan Parks
We were touring with a small campervan and used Wikicamps to search out dog friendly caravan parks and campgrounds. We tend to prefer the smaller, quieter parks, here are a few we really liked. They are listed in the order that we visited them, an anti-clockwise loop from Devonport.
This little caravan park is a great stopover for visiting historic Stanley and driving the Tarkine Drive. There are powered sites right on the river where you can watch the ducks and the sunrise. The bathrooms are little individual ensuites and there is a well set up camp kitchen on the deck overlooking the river. All very friendly and peaceful. Enzo writes about this park in “Guard the van Enzo”.
Situated on the Derwent River and within walking distance of the town centre, this caravan park is ideally placed. There are nice walks along the Derwent and the Lachlan Rivers, plus a dog off leash area in the park nearby. The amenities are new and clean and there are plenty of trees for shade in the main section. There is also an overflow area that is unpowered but shade here is limited. Enzo has a great time swimming in the Lachlan River A lunchtime gig in New Norfolk.
Across the road from beautiful Raspins Beach (dog off leash at certain times) and walking distance to the pub and shopping centre, this quiet little village was a welcome respite after the activities of Hobart. The caravan park is fairly new, and the owners are making a big effort. There is a huge and well-appointed camp kitchen, modern amenities and laundry. Shade will take a while to grow and it was a bit windy when we were there. Raspins Beach looks out to Maria Island and is a beautiful long stretch of white sand. There is also a great walk alongside the Prosser River, past the pub, into the village where there are a couple of cafes, and an IGA. This was one of Enzo’s favourite places too Orford a bit of doggy heaven.
Another park on a river, this one had a great view of the historic convict-built Ross Bridge. We opted for an unpowered site as it was shaded by large trees (the powered sites were more exposed) which was very welcome on a 37 degree day in Tassie. Very friendly manger, who made a point of saying hello to our dog and gave him a bone biscuit. Lovely historic town with a few coffee shops and a pub with a large beer garden (the cold beer went down really well on this day). Small and older style amenities, but nice and clean. Enzo was quite taken by the manager Oatlands and Ross on the Heritage Highway.
Great place near Launceston and Devonport to spend the last few days. Beauty Point is on the west bank of the River Tamar, and the caravan park to the north of town near the Redbill Point Conservation Area. Despite its name the beach here is a dog off leash area and great for a walk at low-tide. The park has hedges surrounding each site, which gives great privacy. It is a bit of a walk into town, and to be honest, there isn’t much there, but there is a really great cafe – The River Cafe. Platypus House and Seahorse World are also worth a visit. Click here for Enzo’s post that mentions this park.
Our favourite dog friendly cafes
Penguin Creek Gallery, Penguin. Not many places where they let your pooch inside, but this was one. Lovely cakes and coffee, very pleasant owner and interesting art to browse.
The Glutch, Bicheno. Fish and chip shop at Bicheno Marina. The best fish and chips but be prepared to queue. There is outside seating, very rustic, but great outlook. They even have a liquor licence, so you can have a beer or glass of wine with your dinner.
Josef Chromy Winery, Relbia, near Launceston. Has a lovely shady garden where you can have a glass of wine and a snacky lunch. There were some shady spots in the nearby carpark, so we were able to leave Enzo in the campervan while we did the wine tasting.
The River Cafe, Beauty Point. Serves great coffee and breakfast, with a large shady courtyard area that is dog friendly. There were dogs at three of the four occupied tables when we arrived, and then the local dog-walking group stopped there for breakfast! Almost more dogs than people.
Our overall conclusion was that Tassie was a great place to visit either with or without a dog. With a dog, you just need to be more organised in planning ahead for dog sitters when there are non-dog-friendly places you want to visit. There are plenty of beaches that allow a dog off leash and most cafes/ pubs etc have an outside area you can sit with your dog. I think Enzo loved it as much as we did (apart form the ferry!) Would we go again with a dog? Probably, but might wait until the Spirit of Tasmania improve their pet policy.