From gentle strolls to epic adventures, the best way to experience Tasmania’s wilderness is on foot.
Put one foot in front of the other for long enough and you might just forget where you came from. Of course, it helps if you’re headed through the epic, ancient and transforming wilderness that has made Tasmania a haven for walkers across the world. Almost half of this small and scenic state is protected within national parks and reserves and 20 per cent is World Heritage-listed. The 17 national parks are crisscrossed with thousands of kilometres of trails ranging from daredevil to dreamy. Long and short, gentle and giant, here are just some of the wonderful Tasmanian walks that can take you away from it all.
From Hobart, its 20 minutes to rugged Mount Wellington, where the three to four hour Organ Pipes Walk takes you over the towering, dolerite cliffs of the same name. To Hobart’s east, on nearby Bruny Island, you can walk the coastal track to Penguin Island from Adventure Bay or climb the timber stairs to Neck Lookout for dizzying ocean views. You’ll soon see why director Baz Lurhmann recommended this place. Further along the east coast is Tasman National Park, where you can spend days exploring the fluted sea-cliffs and giant rocks. If you only have a day, spend an hour on the cliff walk to Waterfall Bay or take three to four trekking to scenic and remote Bivouac or Fortescue Bay. To Hobart’s west lies the wild, vast expanse of South West National Park. Do a day walk to deep, ice-carved Lake Judd or test your mettle on the 70km Port Davey Track and 85 km South Coast Track to remote Melaleuca. From here you’ll need to be collected by boat or plane, or do the whole distance all over again!
Along the East Coast
The best way to soak up the invigorating beauty of Tasmania’s east coast is on foot. Head east from Hobart to Triabunna, where you can take a ferry to Maria Island. With no cars or shops it’s a tranquil bushwalking haven. Do a gentle walk to Fossil Cliffs or a challenging four hour hike along the clifftops. Back on the mainland, head north to Coles Bay. From here you can take the short trek across the Hazards in Freycinet National Park. It’s steep, but you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Wineglass Bay. Spend five minutes or five hours walking the Friendly Beaches or travel around the Hazard Mountains to Hazards Beach on the 30-kilometre Freycinet Peninsula Circuit. Further along in Douglas-Apsley National Park, walks of all lengths weave you amongst the rivers, waterfalls, rainforest, eucalypts and pines. From St Marys, you can climb to the top of St Patrick’s Head or the more accessible summit of South Sister Peak. Next fit-stop is St Helens, at the entrance to the Bay of Fires. From here you can do a two-day trek past deserted beaches, Aboriginal middens and lichen-covered boulders. Camp overnight in the sand dunes and visit the Eddystone Lighhouse before arriving at a remote eco-lodge with ocean views. You will have earned the rest, having walked almost as far as Launceston.
From Launceston and the North West
From Launceston, the walking wonderland of Cradle-Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is just a few boot laces away. Follow the 20 minute Enchanted Walk past magical old-growth rainforest or take an hour or two to wander around Dove Lake to Cradle Mountain. Trek to the top of Cradle Mountain on an eight-hour return hike or pitch yourself on the six-day Overland Track. You’ll travel through dolerite mountains and waterfalls all the way south to Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest natural lake. Further south in Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park it’s a short return trip to Donaghys Lookout or a rewarding multi-day trek to Lake Tahune, under the peak of Frenchmans Cap. From nearby Queenstown you’ll find the remnants of the town of Pillinger amidst a lush fern forest at the end of an old railway line.
Itching to walk into the wilderness and leave it all behind? Tasmania – in all its rugged, natural splendour - awaits.