Words and images by Nina Hamilton Photography
Tasmania has become a sought-after destination for people looking to elope. An elopement is commitment expressed in its most simple form, all while being kinder to the planet. Tasmanian photographer Nina Hamilton shares some of the best places in Tasmania to elope.
At the bottom of the world, there is a tiny island off a bigger island that has remained largely untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic; the surrounding oceans have (thankfully) acted as a natural quarantine barrier. This island, with its wild and ancient landscapes, is a place renowned for its immense and unique beauty. It has also gained global recognition for an exciting arts and food scene. The physical isolation, unique landscapes, four distinct seasons and that incredible Tasmanian light (yes, it’s a thing) all underpin a strong cultural identity. The island’s position at the geographical and cultural edge provides rich stimuli for local artists, designers, architects and photographers.
It’s easy, then, to see why lutruwita/Tasmania has become a sought-after destination for people looking to get hitched. The last 18 months have been pretty shitty: the wedding industry has been forced to close in most parts of Australia for extended periods and plans have been thrown into chaos everywhere. As a result, eloping has been embraced by many who might not have otherwise considered it.
There’s no right or wrong way to get married – it’s about you doing you. An elopement, though, is a quiet acknowledgement of your love and what you already have together. There’s no stress, no managing others’ expectations, no unnecessary clutter and no awkward traditions. You are choosing to get married on your own terms, in a relaxed and thoughtful way that wholeheartedly reflects your life, your values and your relationship. At its core, an elopement is love and commitment expressed in its most simple form, all while being kinder to the planet (you can check your wedding’s carbon footprint HERE).
Unlike a bigger wedding, you will have an intimate and intentional experience that is not a complete blur, and you will find yourself completely present for every moment. Elopements are about real moments, intimacy and spending the day wrapped up in each other; all without having to think about or please anyone else. AND you avoid the pressure and ‘performance’ of a wedding – perfect if you’re an introvert or socially awkward.
There are myriad well-known destination wedding locations around the world – Iceland, New Zealand, Bali, Fiji, the Greek Isles… But there’s another small island, closer to home and not restricted by international travel: Tasmania.
Tasmania is the bomb. Yes, I know that Tasmania is the butt of many jokes from mainlanders. But those of us who live here know just how glorious this little island is. Honestly, it’s the bomb. One fabulous perk of eloping in Tasmania is that you can combine it with your honeymoon; so less air travel (and a smaller carbon footprint!) and more time for exploring and eating; and drinking some of the world’s best gin and whisky, and cool-climate wines. Perfect.
One of the biggest advantages of eloping – especially in these times of COVID-restrictions – is that you can rock up at a deserted beach, head into an ancient rainforest or brave crazy winds on a mountain summit. Some locations do require a little planning, though. Here are some of my favourite places in Tasmania to elope.
kunanyi/Mt Wellington watches over Hobart and is revered by locals for its wildness, beauty and close proximity to the city. Like all alpine areas in Tasmania, The Mountain is in a constant state of flux, so you never quite know what weather you might get. But that’s part of its magic – it will always be an adventure. There are many spots on and around kunanyi that are perfect for secretly eloping, too. After getting hitched, you can quickly nip back to Hobart for a fancy bite to eat.
nipaluna/HOBART – MACq01
MACq01 is right on nipaluna/Hobart’s waterfront and the top rooms have magnificent views across the city towards kunanyi/Mt Wellington. You can have the nuptials on the balcony of a rooftop room, then pop downstairs for a cocktail at Evolve. There are also loads of great places to eat and bar hop within walking distance. Perfect if you’re after an urban vibe.
ROCK UP AT A BEACH
This is perfect if you’re keen to keep things super simple. There’s no shortage of stunning beaches and coastal gems around the edge of the island. One of the best things about beach nuptials is that you can bring your dog/s. If you’re brave, jump in.
turrakana/THE TASMAN PENINSULA
I grew up on the Peninsula, so I know a perfect spot or two for a quiet or adventurous elopement. The area has some of the most spectacular coastline in the country. There are some sweet Airbnbs down that way, too; and if you’re quite partial to excellent coffee, Mel + Sim at Cubed Espresso will look after you (Mel makes the BEST banana bread).
A REALLY COOL AIRBNB
Tasmania is recognised internationally for its innovative and place-based architecture. There’s no shortage of award-winning, architect-designed or beautifully renovated/restored Airbnbs in Tassie, so you’ll be able to find one that tickles your fancy. You will need to run the idea by the host, as some do not allow elopements.
Thalia Haven is a stunning, off-grid retreat that sits on the threshold of land and ocean on Tassie’s east coast. It has possibly the best outdoor bath in the country, which looks out to the Southern Ocean. Oh, you can ask to bring your dog to stay.
NATIONAL PARKS + STATE RESERVES
Those wild, unique and ancient landscapes I mentioned earlier – you’ll find plenty of them in Tasmania’s National Parks, along with some incredible endemic flora and fauna with links back to Gondwana. A grant of authority is required for weddings in National Parks, so you can’t just rock up. It’s an easy process though (head here for more info). Costs vary, depending on the location and features of your wedding; you’ll also need a Parks Pass. There is a cap on the number of people at some locations, too. Some of my favourite National Parks include Mt Field (south east), Freycinet (east coast) and Lake St Clair (central).
Please be mindful that fresh/cut flowers are not permitted in National Parks, due to the spread of introduced diseases and seeds.
MT FIELD NATIONAL PARK
Mt Field is my favourite National Park, thanks to exploring it as a child with my grandfather. From a young age, he spent a lot of time skiing and walking the mountains in the range; he even built the little ski hut on the edge of Eagle Tarn with some friends after the war.
If you’re only keen for an easy stroll to a ceremony spot, the Gondwanan rainforests at the base of the mountain are delicious. A little further up, and still accessible by vehicle, there are several beautiful alpine lakes. For the more adventurous, a hike up to the Tarn Shelf is totally worth it. Just remember to pack warm clothing, as the weather can change without notice.
FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
This is one of the most iconic National Parks on the island. There are numerous spots to do the legal thing, with an ever-changing backdrop of the Hazards Mountains, wild coastline and those quintessential orange rocks – some areas are more public, while others are off the beaten track and require some planning (ie: Mt Amos). Please keep to the tracks, as there are many areas of cultural significance.
You can find your own little Airbnb, or Freycinet Lodge has elopement packages, including a couple of nights in one of the stunning architecturally designed coastal pavilions – complete with an outdoor bath. Look, can I just point out that the use of pavilion number 69 for eloping couples is not lost on me.
PUMPHOUSE POINT (leawuleena/LAKE ST CLAIR)
Pumphouse Point is located at the edge of the southern hemisphere’s deepest lake, leawuleena/Lake St Clair, and has the perfect balance of award-winning architecture and dramatic natural environment. The wilderness retreat includes two converted heritage-listed Art Deco buildings – the pump house and shore house – as well as the addition of the newly-built ‘The Retreat’, where you’ll find an outdoor bath (see a trend here?). If you’re lucky, it might snow.
THOUSAND LAKES LODGE – CENTRAL PLATEAU
Thousand Lakes Lodge is literally in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Tasmania, in the heart of the Central Plateau World Heritage Area. The building is a former Antarctic training facility, which was derelict and subsequently refurbished in 2017 in consultation with local architects Cumulus Studio. The design of the Lodge is focused on minimal site impact, in keeping with best environmental practices. The area is dotted with numerous lakes and streams, which you can walk and ride to (you can hire off-road electric bikes).
A wedding can take many formats. Try to let go of societal expectations and commence your married life creating a path that excites and honours your relationship. Begin your planning by considering your values, and get to the core of what you want out of the day. Every wedding story is different; you’re unique and your relationship is as well. In Tasmania, you’ll be able to find a place to elope that is as unique as you are.
There’s a beautiful Aboriginal proverb, touch the earth lightly. Eloping in Tasmania is the perfect way to not only celebrate your love, but to also tread lightly and be kinder to the planet.