Hiking Highlights of Western Tasmania


Walk Summary

Hiking Western TasmaniaA 9-day walking tour visiting many of Tasmania’s Southwestern and Western 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). Several destinations offer a variety of walks to suit a range of fitness levels and routes can be varied to suit. As a contrast, the tour also includes a lazy mid-tour cruise on Macquarie Harbour to vary the style and pace of the walking activities and concludes with an exciting seaplane flight from Macquarie Harbour*. The tour is fully catered and accommodation is provided in twin-share facilities.

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Itinerary and Tour Description

HobartDay 1: Hobart

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.

Day 2: Mt Field National Park
T2 15km

An exciting walk in a uniquely beautiful and diverse environment

Mount Field National Park is one of Tasmania’s oldest national parks, established in 1916 along with Freycinet NP, and is one of its most popular. This is partly because of its proximity to Hobart (94 km) but also because of its wide variety of flora, dramatic glaciated landforms and ready accessibility to most areas of the park.

This walk features examples of all the park’s attractions including sub-alpine forests, stands of ancient pencil pines, the remarkable cushion plants, glacial moraines and block streams, alpine moorlands, exquisite small tarns and lakes, monolithic dolerite boulder fields, dramatic cliffs and peaks, and stunning views. It provides a wonderful introduction to Tasmania’s alpine regions and its flora and topography.

The walk is also characterised by the park’s multiple personalities starting in a sub-alpine forest along moraine-dammed lakes, and finishing with an exhilarating high altitude ridge-top traverse of the Rodway Range among the ice-shattered monolithic dolerite boulders of the ‘Lions Den’ before descending the botanic ‘riot’ of the Urquart Track to our finish.

Our accommodation this (and the following) evening is at the Giants Table Cabins in Maydena.

Day 3: Mt Wedge, Southwest National Park
T2 7km

A striking mountain, deep in Tasmania’s southwest, with magnificent views of Lake Pedder, Lake Gordon and the surrounding southwest wilderness

Mt Wedge (1147m), just over two hours from Hobart, is reached after travelling first through the scenic Derwent Valley and then the bleak and forbidding southwest landscape beyond the timber community of Maydena.

We reach the peak after ascending beneath the canopy of a magnificent, pristine rain forest, then a sub-alpine belt of pandanis, scoparia and heaths, and finally scramble up a dolerite boulder-strewn gully and several ‘false’ summits to gain access to the small summit plateau. The views from the top are sensational – the whole panorama of the southwest is before you, from the lakes below to Frenchmans Cap, the ‘ice-chewed’ Arthur Range and Mt Anne, and even glimpses of the Southern Ocean beyond.

We return to the Giants Table Cabins for our evening dinner.

Day 3 Alternative Destination: Mt Eliza Plateau, Mt Anne Massif, Southwest National Park

A challenging climb for a superb view of Lake Pedder

Mt Anne (1425m) is the highest mountain in Tasmania’s southwest. From Condominium Creek we climb the steep spur from the button grass plain through mountain forest and past High Camp Hut, taking in the spectacular views of Lakes Pedder and Gordon, before negotiating an incredible boulder field leading to Mt Eliza’s alpine plateau.

Day 4: Lake St Clair National Park
T1 15km

A walk in an ancient temperate rainforest

Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake at 220m, is the source of the Derwent River. It was gouged out by a glacier during Tasmania’s most recent glacial period (18,000 – 12,000 years ago) and dammed by a terminal moraine at Pump House Point. The button grass plains approaching Derwent Bridge are the outwash plains created by the glacial melt water discharge.

To start our walk today we first take the ferry from Cynthia Bay to Narcissus Hut (usually the final hut on the Overland Track) up the Lake to the Narcissus River. From here we return to Cynthia Bay by the Overland Track walking among stands of ancient myrtles, sassafras, leatherwoods and swamp gums with a thick understory of native laurels. The track contours around the lake and we can catch glimpses of it through the dense understory of this ancient temperate rainforest.

Approaching Cynthia Bay we arrive at the junction of several streams at Watersmeet separated by glacial moraines, and then proceed to our evening’s meal and accommodation is at Lake St Clair Lodge, where we will stay for two nights.

Day 5: Lake St Clair National Park
T2 17km

An interesting circuit walk through a range of Tasmania’s emblematic flora and culminating in stunning 360?’views from a mountain summit with a very different topographical ‘feel’

Today we walk to Mt Rufus (1416m), climbing steadily through the sub-alpine vegetation to breach an encircling escarpment of Triassic sandstone cliffs before ascending to the summit cairn (an impressive structure built by the early colonial surveyor, James Sprent). The views from the summit over Mts Arrowsmith and Hugel, and the Cheyne Range (all composed of dolerite rock) and Lake St Clair are sensational. We complete the circuit walk by descending to the track through Richea Valley with its pandani plants before joining the Shadow Lake/Mt Hugel track along an ancient lateral moraine to return to our starting point and the Lake St Clair Lodge for the evening.

Day 6: Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

A series of short walks to interesting sites en route from Cynthia Bay 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!

Day 7: Macquarie Harbour Cruise

Macquarie HarbourAn 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.

At the conclusion of this, the final activity of the tour, we’ll return to the West Coaster Motel in Queenstown before we return to Hobart the following day.

Day 8: Queenstown to Hobart

From Queenstown we’ll return to Strahan to visit the Ocean Beach and then back to the waterfront where we’ll take an exciting seaplane flight* to Hobart 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.

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Day 9: 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 the mainland.

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  • We reserve the right to modify the walks or select alternative destinations as deemed appropriate by our Guide(s) taking into account prevailing/forecast weather conditions and client safety.
  • We reserve the right to book alternative accommodation if necessary subject to capacity and bookings.
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For further information about National Parks in Tasmania, click here to visit the Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania website.

We hope you will enjoy your experience in Tasmania and that its wilderness will work its magic upon you.

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