An Australian road trip on the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour
Why a driving experience Down Under should be on your bucket list
Five Porsche cars in a line reflected in water
A tour of Australia’s island state finds beautiful, wild landscapes, great food and wine and some of the best – and quietest – roads you’ll find anywhere
The people of Tasmania, the island Australian state off the south-western tip of the mainland, like to think of themselves as unique. Not least because the scenery and climate in ‘Tassie’ – as the locals call it – is quite different to the rest of the country. It’s cooler and greener for starters, with some 20 per cent of it is designated as is a World Heritage Area, made up of national parks, marine and forestry reserves. It’s also the setting to one of the best car rallies anywhere, the Targa Tasmania. Named after Sicily’s famed Targa Florio, since 1992 it has attracted thousands to the island looking for a road trip with a difference.The success of the Targa Tasmania was the catalyst a dozen years ago for Porsche to propose a rally of their own – its Targa models are, after all, named after the Targa Florio. And that’s how the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour came into being.“We approached the organiser of the rally and wanted to take part ourselves, but without having to race against the clock,” explains John Murray from Porsche Cars Australia, who has been on the tour every year from the outset. “We wanted a challenging drive for our customers, but without the pressure of competition – rather a tour to enjoy.”
Information sign for stage timing on Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour
Tasmania has some of Australia's most exciting roads, offering a unique opportunity to experience the potential of your Porsche
What is the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour?Held on the same challenging stages as the Targa Tasmania road rally, the tour itself begins back on the mainland, with participants getting to know each other at a welcome dinner in Port Melbourne before boarding the Spirit of Tasmania with their Porsche sportscars to travel the 448km by sea across to Devonport on Tasmania’s northern coast. It’s what makes this a road trip with a difference. There’s no jumping straight into a car and off you go. Instead, over the course of the voyage you get the chance to meet like-minded Porsche enthusiasts from all over Australia. By the time we dock in Devonport early the next morning, everyone has got to know each other. You can feel the energy and desire of everyone to get driving.
Group of men and women stand arm-in-arm by Porsche cars
The Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour lasts for six days but friendships built during it endure far beyond that
What is the scenery like on a Tasmania road trip?Not long after disembarking, the rally participants on the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour jump in their Porsche sportscars – around 40 take part on the tour each year – forming a line in the morning sunshine. Ahead of them are 36 exciting stages on closed roads over six days. The route itself passes through beautiful Tasmanian villages and towns and stunning island scenery. Thanks to its exceptional location between two very different continents – the warm Australia landmass and cold Antarctica – Tasmania boasts a unique topography. Head out on a road trip here and you’ll encounter a varied range of scenery – white sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, jungle, coniferous forests and steep sea cliffs.It’s something that could easily pre-occupy the co-drivers on the Targa Tasmania itself but their role is hugely important to the drivers, providing valuable navigational to help each team complete the rally successfully. On a 10km stage, for example, there are about 20 instructions – i.e., one instruction for every half a kilometre. Thankfully, it’s much easier for the participants on the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour – they’re kept on the right route at all times by the Porsche instructors who accompany the group. It leaves them free to enjoy the rally action and the beautiful landscape in a relaxed manner.What activities are there on the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour?Between the individual stages participants relax in some of the best hotels on the island, where they can switch off and recuperate for the next day or head out on the daily social programme that the organisers arrange. Strahan, on Tasmania’s west coast, is perfect for a post-drive stroll or to take an evening boat tour around Macquarie Harbour. “We’ve created a programme for our customers that combine driving pleasure with socialising and great cuisine,” says John, explaining the overall concept of the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour. “Participants only need to bring their car and form a team of two. We take care of the rest.”
Porsche vehicles lined up at the side of the road
Participants are divided into small groups on the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour, each one accompanied throughout the tour by Porsche instructors
What are the roads like in Tasmania?One of the big attractions of a road trip around Tasmania is being able to drive your Porsche in a way many can only dream of these days. It’s not a place known for traffic jams and you’ll often get to use the full width of the road. For many drivers, the tour is a great opportunity to explore the capabilities of their sports car to the fullest and drive it on some of the most exciting and challenging roads you’ll find anywhere.After six days touring the island, the group spends its final evening in the luxurious MACq 01 hotel in the state capital of Hobart, with a farewell dinner at the Frogmore Creek Winery. By now, everyone has stories to tell – of the sections of road they loved best, of views that they will remember – which they share with each other. And many are already sure that they will see each other again next year on the Porsche Targa Tasmania Tour.
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