An 11-day walking tour visiting many of Tasmania’s Northern and Eastern wilderness national parks and reserves and featuring a variety of walking landscapes (alpine, sub-alpine or coastal) grades (challenging or moderate) and gradients (steep or level/undulating). Several destinations offer a variety of walks to suit a range of fitness levels and routes can be varied to suit. The tour commences with an unforgettable cruise on Macquarie Harbour to contrast and vary the style and pace of the subsequent walking activities and concludes with an exciting seaplane flight from the Tasman Peninsula*. The tour is fully catereded and accommodation is provided in twin-share facilities.
*minimum numbers apply
Hobart is Australia’s second oldest capital city. Settled in 1804 on the banks of the Hobart Rivulet at Sullivan’s Cove to provide a solution for Britain’s burgeoning convict population, it is now a modern, lively city with a very active arts and crafts culture, coupled with superb locally-sourced natural produce.
Its cultural credentials are nowhere better demonstrated than at the refurbished Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), the superbly restored Theatre Royal, or the extravagant Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) at Berriedale. These attractions are contrasted with the relics of its convict heritage at the Port Arthur Penal Settlement and many other convict sites and towns around the State.
On arrival at Hobart, this day is yours to explore and familiarise or reacquaint yourself with Hobart’s delights, prior to meeting at the Hobart Mid-City Hotel, corner Elizabeth and Bathurst Streets, Hobart, at 4:00pm, which is our accommodation for this evening and where we’ll enjoy a group dinner and tour briefing.
A series of short walks to interesting sites en route from Hobart to Queenstown
Our first stop is the Franklin River nature trail – a short circuit walk in the rainforest alongside the fabled Franklin River (the inspiration for the environmental conservation movement culminating in the salvation of the river and the formation of the Greens Party). This short walk exemplifies the diverse and rich nature of the rainforest in this region of Tasmania in a very high rainfall area (2.5m – 3m/annum).
Our next stop is at Donaghys Hill walk – another short walk to a viewpoint high above the Franklin and Collingwood Rivers with a fine view to the quartzite peak of Frenchmans Cap in the near distance. We walk through a variety of plant communities, including a close encounter with button grass before reaching our viewing platform.
Our last short walk is at Nelson Falls – a pretty waterfall tumbling off the nearby ancient sandstone escarpment.
From here we continue to Queenstown passing through the ghost towns of Linda and Gormanston (dormitory towns for the Queenstown smelter and mine workers early last century) and stop for a brief visit to the Iron Blow – the site of the original copper find at Queenstown.
If time permits, we may take a brief walk up Spion Kop in Queenstown to view the surrounding township and countryside.
Our evening’s accommodation is at the West Coaster Motel in Queenstown, and if you’re up to it, take in a film at the restored art-deco cinema, the Paragon, it’s a great night out!
An easy day cruising Macquarie Harbour
We’ll leave Queenstown early to catch our cruise vessel operated by World Heritage Cruises and departing from the picturesque Strahan wharf. The cruise includes an exciting passage through Hell’s Gates (the narrow and potentially dangerous entrance to Macquarie Harbour), a guided tour of the ruins of the notorious convict station on Sarah Island and a cruise up the tannin-stained waters of the Gordon River to the Heritage Landing Walk where you can view centuries-old Huon Pines. The cruise also features a full buffet lunch.
From Strahan, we’ll journey to the mining town of Zeehan where we'll overnight at the Heemskirk Motor Hotel.
A challenging climb in the remote West Coast Range
We’ll leave Rosebery early for our short drive to the Mt Murchison trailhead for our walk. Mt Murchison (1278m) is a formidable and challenging scramble, with a short climb through a rainforest after the start of our ascent, followed by a further scramble above the glacial cirque - a stark reminder of Tasmania's recent glaciation - and a traverse of a narrow ridge to the summit. We skirt several small tarns on the ascent, flanked by Tasmania’s only deciduous tree, the myrtle beech or fagus (Northofagus gunii) which may be desplaying its vivid autumn colours.
From the summit we can view the Southern Ocean to the west, almost all the Overland Track peaks to the east – a stunning vista – before we pick our way carefully back to our starting point.
We then drive to Cradle Valley, where we’ll spend the next two days exploring this region. We’ll be staying at the Discovery Holiday Park whilst at Cradle Valley , and dining at Pepper's Cradle Mountain Lodge at their Tavern Bar & Bistro.
On arrival if time permits, there is a pleasant one kilometre stroll that takes us along the banks of Pencil Pine River featuring ancient pencil pines growing for the last millennia, or we can explore historic Waldheim’s forest at the Waldheim Chalet site. Also possible is an evening tour to Ronny Creek to observe the abundant nocturnal native wildlife (optional extra cost) or a visit to Devils at Cradle, a conservation park specialising in the conservation effort to save the Tasmanian Devil (again an optional extra cost).
Montezuma Falls at 104m are one of the highest falls in Tasmania, and are deep in the rainforest near Rosebery. The area is rich in early mining history however little remains now except the bed of an old tramway track built to provide access to the Mts Dundas and Read mining fields, remnant rotting rail sleepers, a fine old suspension bridge, and a mine adit adjacent to the falls.
The 10km walk is predominantly through dense rainforest with a canopy of myrtle, sassafras and leatherwood, an understory of giant tree ferns and laurel, and culminates in a clearing where we can enjoy our lunch before returning by the same route.
Cradle Mountain National Park is Tasmania’s premier national park featuring the iconic Cradle Mountain and a variety of superb walking trails in the region
Today is a chance to do a full day of walking around Cradle Mountain. There are many options to choose from, ranging from easy strolls to challenging climbs. A visit to Waldheim Chalet gives us an insight into the lives of Gustav and Kate Weindorfer, who pioneered tourism in the area. The two-hour circuit walk around Dove Lake is probably the most popular short walk in the area. It follows the perimeter of this alpine lake under the shadows of the magnificent jagged Cradle Mountain itself, and includes the sombre and tranquil Ballroom Forest.
Those seeking more challenging routes can test themselves with a climb to the summit of Cradle Mountain (1545 m, T2 11km) or the nearby Barn Bluff (1559m, T2 22km), or walk the Dove Lake circuit climbing Hansons Peak, then traversing the high face track above the lake to join the Overland Track at Kitchen Hut and on to Marions Lookout (T1 8km).
A climb to the summit of the dominant mountain on the central north coast
Mt Roland (1233m), along with Mts Claude and Vandyke, forms the dominating range on the north coast just south of Sheffield. Our trailhead starts from O’Neills Road near the Hydro Village of Gowrie Park and ascends an old 4WD track in a charming eucalypt forest before arriving at O’Neills Creek. From here the track becomes narrower and rougher before emerging from the enclosing forest (now predominantly of myrtles (Northofagus cunninghamii) on the saddle between Mt Claude and Mt Roland. Now in an open sub-alpine landscape, we complete our climb to the summit of conglomerate rock with views north to Bass Strait, west to Table Cape at Wynyard, east to Mt Barrow near Launceston, and south to the Overland Track peaks.
We then continue to the delightful town of Deloraine with the Great Western Tiers as a backdrop for our evening’s meal and accommodation at the Mountain View Country Inn.
Bicheno: “the jewel of the East Coast. A picturesque town famous for its sandy beaches, mild climate and sunny weather.” Little Penguins, a nature park, a blowhole, the Apsley River and the Whalers Lookout in a picture post-card setting.
On our mid-afternoon arrival from Deloraine we have several options – we can visit East Coast Natureworld*, explore the Lookout Track Circuit at Douglas-Apsley NP, or walk to either the Bicheno Blowhole orto the top of Whalers Lookout, a granite knoll near the town centre. For our dinner tonight we’ll dine at Sea Life Centre, and we have a further option of joining a tour to the Penguin Rookery* in the evening before settling down at the Silver Sands Motel for the night.
* entry fees apply
Stunningly scenic and iconic destination featuring memorable ocean and bay views, with pristine beaches and crystal clear waters.
The Freycinet Peninsula, on Tasmania’s east coast, is the location of the exquisite and renowned Wineglass Bay and the photogenic red granite peaks of The Hazards. It enjoys a mild year-round climate: warm and dry in summer, cool and temperate in winter. It also boasts some of the east coast’s most secluded and pristine beaches, with breathtaking views of Wineglass Bay from either the summit of Mt Amos (454m) or the saddle on the track to Wineglass Bay.
We have several options for our walk today: either a scramble to the summit of Mt Amos (454m, T2 4km 394m) for the views (with lunch at the summit), or a walk around Fleurieu Point to Hazards Beach (named after the wreck of Captain Albert (Black) Hazard’s whaling vessel, the Promise) and then over the isthmus to Wineglass Bay (for lunch) with a return via the saddle and the lookout between Mt Mayson and Mt Amos (T1 9km 220m). Other walk choices could include a visit to Honeymoon Bay, the Friendly Beaches, Cape Tourville or Sleepy Bay.
We then continue to the quaint fishing village of Triabunna for our evening’s meal and accommodation at the quirky and historic (from 1838) Spring Bay Hotel on the waterfront, before our early start the following morning to catch the ferry across the Mercury Passage to the Darlington Settlement on Maria Island National Park.
Convict history set in a stunning natural location
Maria Island National Park is an exquisite jewel on Tasmania’s east coast, comprising two small islands joined by a narrow sand isthmus. Discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642, National Park status was conferred on the island in 1972 following a short period as a Wildlife Reserve for the conservation of endangered Tasmanian mammals. This status brought to an end a chequered and varied history of human endeavour on the island that included a succession of abandoned penal settlements and failed agricultural, tourism and industrial pursuits - all set in an isolated landscape of great beauty.
We have many options while on the island: we can explore the forlorn settlement, which features a fascinating mix of former penal activities (dating from two periods: 1825-32 and 1842-50), to later failed tourist endeavours (1884-96) and the visually jarring remains of the failed cement works (1920-28) set amidst the idyllic backdrop of exquisite coastal and mountain vistas; or walk to the remarkable iron-stained Painted Cliffs nearby; or stroll to the convict built reservoir (built over 140 years ago); or visit and explore the Fossil Cliffs high above Fossil Bay (with marine fossils dating back to between 250-290 million years ago); we can scramble up Mt Bishop and Clerk (599m, T2 12km) – high above the Fossil Cliffs - with brilliant views from the remarkable “tabletops” of the sheer dolerite columns); or we can just continue our exploration of the Darlington settlement and be entertained by the antics of the Cape Barren Geese, native hens, wallabies, wombats and kangaroos.
At the end of the day we return to Triabunna on the island’s catamaran for the 45-minute crossing of Mercury Passage before joining our bus for the trip to Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula where we’ll stay at the Lufra Hotel.
A dramatic assemblage of dolerite columns and sea stacks thrusting from the Tasman Sea
The Tasman Peninsula, just one hour from Hobart, features some of Australia’s tallest sea cliffs, and this walk provides an opportunity to view these firsthand as well as enjoy some spectacular coastal scenery.
To access the walk, we leave our night’s lodging at the Lufra Hotel to cross the infamous narrow isthmus of Eaglehawk Neck (the site of the notorious “dog line” from penal times) to the quiet beauty of Fortescue Bay from where we start our walk to Cape Hauy (pronounced “Hoy”).
Starting with a gentle climb up and along the lightly timbered cliff tops of Fortescue Bay until we reach the track turnoff to our destination, the track then descends steeply before we glimpse the 300m vertical sea cliffs of the Cape, and the remarkable detached sea stacks nearby - the Lantern and the Candlestick.
The track near the Cape passes very close to some dangerous and vertiginous cliffs, so we need to take care and keep back from the edge here. Once at the Cape we can enjoy the stunning coastal views south to Cape Pillar across the Munro Bight, or seaward to Mitre Rock and the more distant Hippolyte Rocks. We may catch the bellows from a nearby seal colony, or just wonder at the forces that both created and then transformed the Cape in the first place before lunching and returning to our bus at Fortescue Bay.
At the conclusion of this, our final walk of the tour, we’ll take an exciting seaplane flight* to Hobart from Stewarts Bay on the Tasman Peninsula with Tasmanian Air Adventures. Our evening’s accommodation is again at the Hobart Mid-City Hotel, and for our last night together we’ll enjoy a final group dinner at the Wrest Point Casino to conclude the tour.
*minimum numbers apply
Day 11: Hobart
This day is yours to enjoy as you will – visit the Salamanca Market, the Port Arthur Settlement, the Tahune Airwalk at Geeveston (although you might have had enough of rainforests by now), catch an arthouse film at the superb and intimate State Theatre in North Hobart, or catch Rob Pennicott’s jaw-dropping Bruny Island Cruise before you make your way back to themainland.
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