Quality air time
When the world was grounded by the pandemic last year, Tasmania still took flight. New direct air services from Hobart to King Island and Flinders Island started, and a host of ‘flightseeing’ experiences kept the skies beckoning. The ways to see the state from the air are now multifarious and multi-flavoured, with vast views often only part of an aerial adventure. Wine tastings, picnics on deserted beaches, private pieces of wilderness – these are the treats a bit of Tassie air time delivers.
Osborne Heli Tours
Capes are meant for flying, right? So it’s appropriate that the best views of the Tasman Peninsula’s famous capes come from the air.
The scale of Australia’s highest sea cliffs, and one of the state’s most dramatic stretches of coast, are put in perspective on a 30-minute flight with Osborne Heli Tours.
Flights depart from Osborne’s helipad opposite Port Arthur Lavender, and quickly rise above the Port Arthur Historic Site to skim past the 300-metre-high cliffs at Cape Pillar and their spectacular finale at the Blade, the pièce de résistance for the Three Capes Track.
After circling over Tasman Island and its lonely lighthouse, it’s a quick trip across to neighbouring Cape Raoul with its dolerite stacks tapering into the sea. Ship Stern Bluff brings the chance to spot surfers riding its legendary waves before the flight returns for a second peek at Port Arthur.
- The 30-minute Two Capes and Tasman flight is priced from $285 per person.
One moment city, the next its wilderness. This is the happy paradox of Tasmania that is never more pronounced than on Par Avion’s Southwest Wilderness Experience day trip. After taking off from Cambridge, the scene below is soon beaches and breakers, as the Southern Ocean charges ashore onto empty south-coast sands.
From the remote airstrip at Melaleuca and a visit to its orange-bellied parrot observatory, the trip takes to the water, boating out through the dark seas of Bathurst Harbour and the Bathurst Narrows to Port Davey and the well-named Breaksea Islands, strung across the mouth of the narrows like a barrier against the Southern Ocean.
The return flight is a brush with Tasmanian mountain royalty, lifting off from Melaleuca to pass over the rugged Western Arthurs and the mighty summit of Federation Peak – perhaps Tasmania’s wildest sight to end a day in the wilderness.
- The Southwest Wilderness Experience is $599 per person.
- Save 10% with member rewards.
Above & Beyond
Get the upstairs view of Hobart on a seaplane flight with Above & Beyond. The 30-minute City Scenic flights, departing from Franklin Wharf, bring twin thrills: the views of Hobart, kunanyi/Mount Wellington and far beyond; and the landing and take-off on the waters of the River Derwent.
After lifting off the river, the amphibious de Havilland Beaver climbs above the city and follows the river to North West Bay, with the likes of Wrest Point Casino, the Shot Tower and the Alum Cliffs shrinking to scale models below.
Turning back, the flight crosses the beach-lined northern tip of Bruny Island and heads upstream, with the Tasman Bridge stretched out like a finish gate ahead. It’s this water city’s best view, with a finish on the water still to come.
- The City Scenic tour is $229 per person.
- Quote your member number for 5% off.
Tasmanian Air Tours
Foodies get a side serve of history on Tasmanian Air Tours’ Private Beach Picnic flights. Taking off from Barilla Bay Oysters in Cambridge, the helicopter passes over Hobart’s southern beaches and Storm Bay, providing ocean views, before landing for a wine-tasting at the Bangor Vineyard Shed outside of Dunalley.
From here, it’s a short heli-hop across the property to the empty white sands of Two Mile Beach, where a picnic hamper of fresh local goodies is suddenly at hand.
The picnic is food for thought, because it was on this very beach that first contact was made between Tasmanian Aboriginals and European explorers in 1772, while Abel Tasman made his only landing on the island in the adjoining bay to the north some 130 years earlier.
- The Private Beach Picnic is $499 per person.
- For member prices on flights to Friendly Beaches visit our Activities & Experiences page.
In 2020, Bridport-based Unique Charters teamed with Clover Hill Wines to add some literal sparkle to its range of helicopter flights. Tours now depart from the Lebrina winery, preceded by the likes of wine-tasting and cheese selection.
Prime among the offerings is the Vineyard Trifecta, a cellardoor crawl by chopper through the Tamar Valley. The trip begins with a tasting class of six sparkling wines at Clover Hill before flying through the valley to two more vineyards. From the air, the view is down on perfect lines of vines and the rolling, rounded landscape of the Tamar. There are five wineries to select from – stay close at Pipers Brook or Apogee, the small vineyard from pioneering Tamar winemaker Andrew Pirie; or fly out as far as Josef Chromy in Relbia and Tamar Ridge on the River Tamar’s west bank.
- The Vineyard Trifecta starts at $750 per person.