I recently visited Tasmania, the southernmost island state of Australia, for the first time in many years. And unfortunately, I early on made the decision to leave my dog, Schnitzel, behind. It was only a quick trip and many of the key places we wanted to visit didn’t allow dogs (such as national parks).
However, while continuing to plan and during our time in Tasmania, I was surprised to find more dog friendly options than I had been expecting. So, should you take your dog along on your trip to Tasmania?
Is Quarantine Required for Dogs Travelling to Tasmania?
When dogs travel to Australia, they require multiple tests and a stay in quarantine, as thanks to being an island we’ve kept out many diseases that affect dogs elsewhere in the world. So, what about the island state of Tasmania?
Due to being an island, Tasmania is free of the hydatid tapeworm, and technically dogs travelling to Tasmania are subject to “quarantine entry conditions”. However, the step required for dogs to be allowed entry is quite simple: just a single treatment for hydatid tapeworm within 14 days of entry to Tasmania.
This treatment doesn’t even need to be done at a vet, with the option to self-administer. Satisfactory forms of evidence are either an official statement from your vet, a statutory declaration or simply a pill packet and receipt. For more information, see this factsheet.
It’s definitely not a reason to leave your dog behind! You’ll likely be reminded on this step when booking flights or a passage on the Spirit of Tasmania for your dog. Note that cats don’t require this treatment.
Flying to Tasmania with Your Dog
The quickest way to get to Tasmania with your dog is by flying on a domestic flight from elsewhere in Australia. Both Qantas and Virgin Australia fly to Tasmania and allow pets on board, flying cargo in the hold.
Virgin Australia flies directly between Melbourne and both Hobart and Launceston, Sydney and both Hobart and Launceston, and Brisbane and Hobart.
Qantas offers direct flights between Melbourne and Hobart, Launceston and Devonport, plus Sydney and Hobart. (Note that the flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Launceston are Jetstar flights, with pets not accepted.)
For more information, check out my guide to flying with your dog in Australia. Also, if you’re heading to Tasmania over the summer, don’t miss out on my tips for flying during the summer months. While Tasmania is cooler than the rest of Australia, heatwaves are still possible.
Once your arrive in Tasmania, you’ll probably want to hire a rental vehicle. Check out my guide to which rental car companies in Australia allow dogs. Alternatively, we hired a camper van for our trip. More camper van companies in Australia do not allow pets, but I recently found out Apollo allow dogs, for an additional cleaning fee. They are only located at Hobart Airport.
Taking the Spirit of Tasmania with Your Dog
The other option for travelling to Tasmania with your dog is to take the Spirit of Tasmania ferry service in between Melbourne and Devonport. The journey takes about 10 hours.
This option is probably more popular for people holidaying with their dogs. Not to mention taking the ferry means you can also travel in your own car, or even camper van or caravan. However, there has been some controversy in recent years, following the death of a dog and some ponies, with this response from the company.
The rules stipulate that pets need to stay in a kennel on the vehicle deck, with a charge of $22 per kennel per journey. (No animals except for assistance animals are allowed in cabins.) The typical size of each kennel is 70cm wide by 80cm high by 90cm deep. It is advised that smaller pets (such as rabbits and birds) are placed in their own cage inside the kennel. Bedding is not supplied.
There is no access provided to the vehicle deck during the journey, except if you supply a veterinary certificate in advance and have approval from the Master of the Vessel. It is stated though that crew members regular check on animals and supply fresh water during the sailing.
Some people transporting their pets to Tasmania on the Spirit of Tasmania have preferred to leave their pets in their own vehicle or caravan, so that their pet is in familiar surroundings. However, it is stated that this is not recommended and you will need to sign an Indemnity and Release form.
New ships for the ferry route are currently under construction, and I would hope that the conditions for pets on board are improved. While I feel it is very unlikely pet-friendly cabins would be included, it would be great if the kennel facilities would be improved. For instance, on this Stena Line ferry from the UK to Netherlands, the pet kennels are enclosed in two air-conditioned rooms, accessible throughout the journey with a key code and viewable on a special TV channel.
Dog-Friendly Things to Do in Tasmania
Tasmania is home to some stunning national parks, from Cradle Mountain – Lake St Claire National Park to Freciynet National Park. But if you’re visiting Tasmania with your dog, you’ll have to leave these off your itinerary. However, there are still plenty of wonderful dog-friendly places to visit in Tasmania.
1. Visit the Port Arthur Historic Site
I was very surprised to learn that Port Arthur Historic Site allows you to visit with your dog. This World Heritage listed site is one of the best places to experience Australia’s convict heritage. It’s possible to visit on a day trip from Hobart, but I recommend staying locally so that you can spend a full day exploring the grounds (with tickets valid for two consecutive days).
Dogs aren’t allowed inside the visitor centre, so the website recommends purchasing your tickets first then asking for a staff member to guide you to a special entrance to use with your dog. Dogs are also not allowed in the house museums and out on the harbour cruise.
The majority of the buildings though, including the barracks and church, are in ruins and you can explore them with your dog. I’m not sure about admittance to the Solitary Prison, which I found particularly fascinating after the recent restoration; if possible take turns visiting with another member of your party.
Naturally, dogs need to remain on a leash and you should pick up after your dog. I saw a couple of dogs the day I visited in the car park, but didn’t seen them once inside the grounds. Double check the latest information on the website (scroll down to Amenities and Accessibility).
While you’re in the area, there’s another World Heritage site nearby, the Coal Mines Historic Site, about a 30 minute drive away. This site is far less visited, but contains some atmospheric ruins and multiple walking trails. Make sure you keep your dog on a leash and away from any mine shafts.
2. Taste Tasmanian Wine
Tasmania produces some of the best cool-climate wines in the world, and it’s easy to drop into one of its many wineries scattered all over the island.
One of my favourite stops was Devil’s Corner Winery, in eastern Tasmania. As well as free wine tasting, the cellar door also has a cafe with wood-fired pizzas, an excellent seafood cafe (don’t miss the local oysters!), and can sell you wine by the glass, as well as beers and coffees. It’s perfect for a lunch stop.
Dogs are allowed onsite, but it’s best skipped during inclement weather. A sign requests that dogs are kept on the grass, rather than enter the sheltered courtyard or the buildings. There’s only limited under-shelter tables, none of which permit dogs. On the day we visited, a border collie puppy unfortunately had to stay with his family at a rather wind-swept table next to the grass.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to visit Wobbly Boot Winery, a 40 minute drive north of Hobart. According to Pupsy, this winery is the most dog-friendly winery in Tasmania. Dogs are allowed inside, plus there’s three off-leash areas and complimentary treats provided.
3. Stroll Through Fields of Lavender
Tasmania is home to the largest lavender farm in the Southern Hemisphere, Bridestowe Lavender Estate, about 45-minutes drive north-east of Launceston.
During peak flowering season, between December and early February, it’s magical to stroll through the purple fields. During this period there is an admission charge (currently $10). Unfortunately, we were a bit late in visiting, during mid-February, but there’s still a great menu of lavender-infused products year round, including lavender ice-cream.
According to their Facebook page, well-behaved dogs are allowed to visit, naturally on a leash. However, I would double check by messaging or emailing the farm before you visit, in case this changes in their future. (Meanwhile, be considerate, so that this privilege remains!)
4. Walk on the Tessellated Pavement
On the way to Port Arthur, you’ll find a sign pointing to the Tessellated Pavement. This rock platform of fragmented rock is an interesting sight to see, both from up above at a look-out and right down upon the platform. It’s located only a few hundred metres off the highway, accessed on a five-minute walk from the carpark.
Dogs are permitted, with the rule that they need to remain on a leash. However, also check the signage for the location of the nearby off-leash exercise area.
Nearby there are some other natural sites to see, including the Blow Hole, Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen. These areas are inside the Tasman National Park, so dogs are not technically allowed. However, I did spot a dog being walked in the area, and there weren’t any no dog signs, except for at the start of an adjacent walking track. There’s no entry fee charged and the viewing platforms are right next to the carparks.
5. View the Murals in Sheffield
Sheffield is a small country town located in the north of Tasmania, just over one-hour west of Launceston. The town is famous for its murals painted on many buildings. The first mural was painted in 1986, and there are now over 200 murals in the town and surrounding area.
Naturally it’s fine to wander around the streets along with your dog, spotting the various murals. There’s a handy map of all the murals here, or else visit the local visitor centre to hire a 45-minute audio tour.
6. Explore Battery Point
Hobart is the second oldest city in Australia, and the historic precinct of Battery Point is home to many old buildings and houses dating back to the city’s early days.
It’s a delightful area to stroll through along with your pup. One of the most picturesque spots is Arthurs Circus, with many historic houses lining the outside of the circle. (Although note that dogs aren’t allowed on the grass in its centre.) I recommend stopping by the nearby Jackman & McRoss Bakery for one of their famous scallop pies, available for take-away.
Note that while it’s possible to stroll along Salamanca Place most days of the week with your dog, and I spotted many dogs in the area, during the famous Salamanca Markets on Saturday mornings dogs are not allowed. Inside, it’s possible to leave your dog for puppy parking at the RSPCA Tasmania tent. Dogs can be left for up to 2 hours in return for a donation.
I give a big thumbs-up to Tasmania for being dog-friendly and permitting dogs in many places, at least outside national parks. If you’re visiting and happy to skip going inside national parks (or happy to find a dog sitter while you make day visits), I recommend taking your dog to Tasmania.
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