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Winging It in Tassie: A Camping Roadtrip with Tasmania's Little Penguins

Updated: 6 days ago

Welcome to the Land of Little Wonders! There's something magical about Tasmania – the rugged landscapes, the crisp air, and, of course, the enchanting Little Penguins that call this island home. Join us on a van adventure as we explore the hidden corners of Tasmania and witness the charm of these pint-sized seabirds.

Low Head Penguin Tours single little penguin about to jump in the sea
Credit: Flow Mountain Bike

Day 1: Hobart to Bicheno - A Penguin Prelude

Our adventure begins in Hobart, where the salty breeze carries the promise of coastal wonders. The van, loaded with anticipation, heads eastward toward the charming town of Bicheno. The road meanders through rolling hills, offering glimpses of the Tasman Sea.

Morning: Hobart to Bicheno Departing from Hobart, we make our way to the Tasman Peninsula. En route, we pause at the Freycinet National Park, a marvel shaped by nature's artistic hand. After absorbing the coastal vibes, we continue toward Bicheno.

Aerial drone photo of Bicheno in Tasmania on a sunny and winldess morning.
Credit: Tourism Australia

Afternoon: Arriving in Bicheno, nestled along Tasmania's east coast, Bicheno beckons with a unique spectacle that unfolds as the sun dips below the horizon. The town's penguin viewing experience is a nocturnal marvel, where Little Penguins, the world's smallest of their kind, make their triumphant return from the sea to their nests. Guided tours provide an immersive journey into the heart of the penguin rookery, offering visitors a front-row seat to witness the endearing waddle of these seabirds as they navigate the coastal rocks and sandy shores. The town's commitment to responsible wildlife tourism ensures that the magic of the nightly parade is enjoyed with minimal impact on the penguins, creating an ethereal atmosphere that captivates all who venture to this coastal haven.

Low Head Penguin Tours at night in Tasmania, penguin family feeding
Credit: Flow Mountain Bike

As darkness descends, Bicheno transforms into a haven for nature enthusiasts, with dimly lit viewing areas carefully positioned to afford visitors an intimate encounter with the penguins. The air is filled with anticipation as the penguins, adorned in their sleek plumage, emerge from the sea in a mesmerizing display of nature's precision. This seasonal dance, occurring from September to February during the breeding season, provides a poignant connection to the cycles of life in the wild. Bicheno's penguin viewing not only showcases the remarkable resilience of these seabirds but also highlights the town's dedication to preserving their natural habitat, creating an unforgettable experience that lingers in the hearts of those fortunate enough to witness it.

Day 2: Bicheno to Low Head - Coastal Delights

Morning: Sunrise and Farewell to Bicheno Start the day with a spectacular sunrise over Bicheno's coastline, bidding adieu to the charming town. The van rolls northward along the Great Eastern Drive, treating us to stunning vistas of cliffs and azure waters.

Afternoon: Low Head Lighthouse Arriving at Low Head, we immerse ourselves in maritime history at the iconic Low Head Lighthouse. Explore the rugged coastline and witness seabirds soaring above. As the evening approaches, we prepare for another round of penguin admiration, this time in the historical setting of Low Head.

Low Head Penguin Tours at twilight with a group near the lighthouse
Credit: Flow Mountain Bike

The Low Head Penguin Colony, situated along the picturesque shores of northern Tasmania, offers a captivating rendezvous with nature's tuxedo-clad inhabitants. The best time to witness this enchanting spectacle is during the evening hours, typically from dusk onwards. As the sun sets over the Bass Strait, the penguins embark on their nightly journey from the sea to their nests, creating a heartwarming parade along the rocky coastline. From September to February, during the breeding season, is an ideal period to visit, as it coincides with the time when the penguins are most active, engaging in courtship rituals and caring for their chicks. Guided tours are available to enhance the experience, providing both education and a respectful approach to observing these endearing seabirds. The cool coastal breeze and the rhythmic sounds of the waves serve as the backdrop to this magical encounter, making Low Head a must-visit destination for those seeking a delightful immersion into the world of penguins in their natural habitat.

Day 3: Low Head to Devonport - Coastal Majesty

Morning: Coastal Scenic Drive The road hugs the coastline as we venture toward Devonport. The van windows frame postcard-worthy views of Bass Strait, offering glimpses of distant islands and rugged headlands.

Little penguins (Eudyptula minor) at night time going out for fishing
Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Chris Bell

Afternoon: Devonport Delights Devonport beckons with its maritime charm. Explore the Mersey Bluff and the nearby Coastal Reserve, where the van becomes our base for coastal picnics and birdwatching. As the evening sets, we make our way to the Lillico Penguin Reserve near Lillico Beach. Nestled along the north coast, approximately 20 kilometers west of Devonport, the reserve provides a carefully curated experience for wildlife enthusiasts. The dedicated penguin viewing platform offers a front-row seat to the natural drama of Little Penguins returning to their nests after a day at sea. Immerse yourself in the coastal beauty as the sun sets over the Bass Strait, casting a gentle glow on these charming seabirds. With a commitment to conservation, the reserve not only provides a glimpse into the fascinating world of penguins but also educates visitors on the importance of safeguarding their habitats. For an unforgettable blend of nature, education, and wildlife preservation, Lillico Penguin Reserve stands as a must-visit destination along Tasmania's captivating coastline.

Day 4: Devonport to Penguin Town - A Quaint Finale

Little Penguin road sign in Stanley
Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Adrian Cook

Morning: Coastal Tranquility Bid farewell to Devonport, setting the van's course for Penguin, aptly named for its feathery residents. The short journey takes us through picturesque landscapes, with opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. If you've got spare time during the day, head to Fern Glade Platypus Reserve and get a chance to spot the elusive Australian icon in its natural habitat.

Afternoon: Penguin Parade Arriving in Penguin Town, the afternoon is dedicated to the town's namesake inhabitants. Founded in 1861, Penguin, a charming town on Tasmania's north-west coast, boasts a history steeped in timber and agriculture. Originally established for its timber industry, the town flourished as sawmills and exports took center stage in its early development.

The town's name itself, "Penguin," pays homage to the delightful little penguins that call the area home. Over the years, Penguin evolved into a coastal gem, its development marked by the construction of crucial infrastructure and the preservation of heritage buildings, reflecting the enduring character of its past. The town's economy diversified, embracing tourism and fostering a seaside charm that attracts both locals and visitors alike.

Today, Penguin stands as a testament to the resilience of small communities, with its scenic coastline, cultural events, and a giant penguin statue becoming iconic symbols of the town. The embrace of tourism has not only highlighted the beauty of its beach and esplanade but has also solidified Penguin's identity as a welcoming destination with a rich history.

Roaming Tasmania in Comfort: The Ideal Campervan for a Coastal Odyssey

For the ultimate Tasmanian adventure, the ideal van has to be a versatile and well-equipped that seamlessly blends comfort with functionality. Opting for a model with ample space for all passengers and luggage ensures a comfortable journey, especially considering the diverse landscapes encountered on the road from Hobart to Penguin.

"Our favorite campervan to encounter for this trip is lutruwita"

Features such as a rinse off or comfortable sleeping quarters allow for a cozy night's rest under Tasmania's starry skies. A kitchenette or cooking facilities within the van add an element of convenience, allowing for spontaneous roadside picnics or beachside meals. It also turns out to be more economical and often healthier to be able to cook your own meals while travelling around.

Additionally, a reliable and fuel-efficient engine is essential for navigating Tasmania's varying terrains. With the freedom to pull over and revel in the scenic beauty at every turn, the ideal campervan transforms the journey into an immersive experience, making each day on the road as memorable as the destinations themselves.

In conclusion, our van odyssey through Tasmania, from the bustling streets of Hobart to the tranquil shores of Penguin, has been a journey of connection—to nature, to history, and to the vibrant spirit of these coastal communities. Each day held a new chapter, narrated by the landscapes and wildlife that define this island state. As we bid farewell to the charming penguins of Penguin Town, our hearts are filled with the echoes of their nightly procession, a cherished memory from the pages of our Tasmanian adventure.

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