From gentle strolls to epic adventures, the best way to experience Tasmania's wilderness is on foot.
By Jennifer Ennion
Slow it down, put one foot in front of the other and breathe in some of the freshest air on the planet. Tasmanian walking tracks traverse the epic, ancient and transforming wilderness of our southernmost state, and their quality attracts walkers from all over the world. Almost half of Tasmania is protected within national parks and reserves and 20 per cent is World Heritage-listed. The 19 national parks are crisscrossed with trails to suit every level. Long and short, gentle and giant, there are some wonderful Tasmanian walks to take you away from it all.
HOW TO GET THERE
Tasmania's capital city, Hobart, has an airport with links to the mainland via Sydney and Melbourne. The regional centres of Launceston, Devonport and Burnie also have airports with mainland links. If you would like to bring a car, bike or campervan, the Spirit of Tasmania ferry sails into Devonport from Melbourne daily.
- Tackle the new and exciting Three Capes Track
- Enjoy a barefoot beach dinner in Wineglass Bay
- Sleep in a luxury camp in Mount William National Park
Walking in Tasmania highlights
TOP HIKING TRAILS IN TASMANIA
Three Capes Track
Tasmania's newest hiking experience is the Three Capes Track, an easy to moderate, four day, 46 kilometre (29 mile) trip on the Tasman Peninsula, in the state's south-east. Created by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, the journey starts at Port Arthur Historic Site, from where you'll be whisked to the trail head aboard a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys boat. You then spend four days walking from Denmans Cove to Fortescue Bay, along timber boardwalks, up and down gravel and stone steps, through tall eucalypt forest, and over colourful coastal heath. The Tasman Sea will be your constant companion, so keep an eye out for dolphins, fur seals and migrating whales. Spend the nights in environmentally sensitive cabins with shared dining hubs and supplied cooking utensils and equipment. You'll have to carry your own basic camping supplies, including meals, a sleeping bag and a first aid kit. You can hire gear from Mountain Creek Outdoors and Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences. Daily walker numbers are capped at 48, so be sure to grab a permit from the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service before setting out.
Cradle Mountain Huts Walk
If you haven't already, put the guided Cradle Mountain Huts Walk on your wish list. Spend six days walking the most renowned route in the state, the Overland Track, in World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Spend your days beneath the jagged dolerite peaks of Cradle Mountain, alongside glacial lakes, and surrounded by untouched wilderness. On the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk you'll stay in the only private accommodation on the trail. You can forget about freeze-dried and instant meals, too, as you'll be dining on fine food and Tasmanian wine. Experienced hikers can tackle the Overland Track independently, as well as some smaller trails, such as the six kilometre (3.7 mile) Dove Lake Circuit. After your hike, unwind at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, boutique wilderness accommodation with luxurious suites, fine dining and a day spa.
Bruny Island by foot
Bruny Island, home to stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife and artisan food producers, is a 15 minute ferry ride from Kettering, about half an hour south of Hobart. For amazing views of Bruny Island Neck – an isthmus of land connecting North and South Bruny Island – follow the timber stairway to Truganini Lookout. It's an easy stroll with 360-degree ocean views. The Neck is an important habitat for native wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for short-tailed shearwaters and little penguins returning to their burrows at dusk. The best time to see the birds is from September to February. For a more challenging trail, check out the five hour, 14 kilometre (8.9 mile) Labillardiere Peninsula Walk in South Bruny National Park. The self-guided walk is graded moderate and will lead you through dry sclerophyll forests. If you prefer a guided walking tour, book the Bruny Island Long Weekend, which will take you across beaches, over rocky headlands and through rainforest. At night you'll camp at a private retreat, surrounded by towering eucalypts, on the edge of South Bruny National Park. The camp is off the grid and features king size beds and a hot outdoor shower. Guests also get to try plenty of local seafood, native game and Tasmanian wine.
Wineglass Bay and Freycinet
For a walk with a difference, sign up for the luxurious Wineglass Bay Sail Walk and explore the spectacular beaches, peninsulas and national park trails along Tasmania's east coast. You'll travel between Maria Island, Freycinet Peninsula, Schouten Island and the Tasman Peninsula aboard a 23 metre (75 foot) luxury ketch, stepping ashore for nature walks and three-course barefoot beach dinners. You can opt for a four or six day itinerary, both departing by bus from Hobart. Also on the east coast is Freycinet National Park and the award-winning Freycinet Experience Walk. Starting in the capital, Hobart, this four day trip includes walks between two and eight hours long, with opportunities to snorkel, swim, fish and learn about native plants and geology. At the end of each day, retire to the Friendly Beaches Lodge, on a private sanctuary, not far from the beach.
The Maria Island Walk
Amble along sparkling beaches, swim in the clear waters of a marine reserve and follow in the footsteps of convicts and explorers on the Maria Island Walk, off the east coast of Tasmania. The island is famous for its rare and endangered wildlife: you may come across the swift parrot, Cape Barren goose or Tasmanian devil during the gentle four day walk. At Fossil Cliffs you'll see fascinating shellfish fossil beds. Nights are spent in a mix of environmentally friendly wilderness camps in the forest, and a restored heritage-listed house dating back to 1880. All meals are provided on the tour, which departs from Hobart.
Bay of Fires Lodge walk
The Bay of Fires, in the state's north-east, has to be one of Tasmania's prettiest locations, with white sand beaches, secret coves and boulders carpeted with orange lichen. You can get to know the area on the four day Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, during which you'll stay in luxury at Forester Beach Camp and the award-winning Bay of Fires Lodge. The camp has rooms hidden among dunes, while the stylish eco lodge sits atop a hill, with magnificent views of the ocean and wilderness. Walkers meet their guide in Launceston, before heading into Mount William National Park and hitting the trail at Boulder Point. When time allows, you can rest your boots and enjoy kayaking the Ansons River, fishing, snorkelling or indulging in a spa treatment.
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