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Take the Wild Route: Our Favourite Tassie Wilderness Areas

19th November 2015

A quick glance over a map of Tasmania reveals swathes of green, textured ever so lightly by the geographic imprint of mountains and valleys creeping their way in every which direction, the snaking rivers and wide lakes played out in blue. With around 40 per cent of the island protected in national parks and reserves, it’s no secret Tasmania is a land of impeccable natural beauty.

It’s no surprise then that the Tasmanian wilderness was a winning reason why Australia snagged a #6 ranking on Lonely Planet’s illustrious list of countries to visit in 2016. As they put it: “Now is the time to experience these astounding wilderness areas before compromises are made”. Luckily, nothing is too far in Tasmania and a journey into the most remote patches of pristine wilderness can be accomplished to the hum-drum of wheels on the tarmac in one easy, mesmerising day trip. Here are our favourites.

Cradle-Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

Easily one of Tasmania’s most well-known cradles of nature and splendid scenery, Cradle-Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park comes has a reputation that precedes it. It’s most endearing claim to fame, the illustrious Cradle Mountain, has become somewhat of a picture-perfect postcard tribute to the Tasmanian wilderness, its rugged pinnacles captured time and time again reflected in the pristine waters of Dove Lake below.

 Cradle-Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.

Beyond all this hype, it’s actually Mount Ossa that is the highest peak in the park though – and it takes out the title for all of Tasmania too. Another title-holder is the beautiful Lake St Clair, the deepest lake in the Australia and perfect place for a paddle once you pick your jaw up off the ground.
Surrounding these staggering highlights, ancient rainforest fringes glacial lakes, icy streams cascade down rugged gorges and waterfalls, sweeping grassland and native wildlife intertwine across undulating mountains.

Scene-searchers will love the two-hour walk circling Dove Lake and trailling beneath the imposing tipsy-tops of Cradle Mountain. Or embark on the renowned multi-day Overland Track – one of Australia’s best. A variety of walks and drives make this a wonderful day trip, but is also brimming with potential for an extended discovery.


Access the park via the northern entrance, which is a 1.5 hour drive from Devonport and 2.5 hours from Launceston, or enter via the south at Derwent Bridge, which is 2.5 hours west of Hobart and also the same distance from Launceston.

Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

The very heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park poses a dramatic dance of landscapes: surging mountain peaks, plummeting river valleys, dense rainforest, open alpine plains and spectacular gorges beg for attention.

Just as the name suggests, wild rivers star – many of them – but most famously the furious waters of the Franklin River, which environmental protesters saved from being damned for hydro-electricity in the early 1980s. The very nature of this park means a fabulous way to explore is from the water. Coast along the majestic Gordon River from the lovely west coast fishing village of Strahan or cruise the Picton and Huon Rivers, which can take you almost as far as Hobart.

 Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

For walkers, set foot on the Donaghys Lookout Walk for impressive panoramas over the Franklin River and mountain tops, or tackle Frenchmans Cap Track, a challenging multi-day hike offering stunning views in reward.

Better yet, you can still admire much of what’s on offer out the car window. The Lyell Highway running between the Derwent Valley and Queenstown puts on a non-stop show reel of snap-worthy scenery, with plenty of short walks and lookouts dotted along the way.


Drive two-and-a-half hours west of Hobart, via the A10 Lyell Highway. Alternatively, take the A5 a similar distance from Launceston.

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Southwest National Park

Wild, inspiring and remote. Southwest National Park is Tasmania’s largest park and truly epitomises the spirit of Tasmania’s most rugged frontiers; its windswept coastal borders endure the wrath of icy winds straight off Antarctica. Remote and peaceful, just a few roads lead their way in, making it an open book of raw discoveries.

Offering a scenic bag of jagged ranges, buttongrass plains, dense rainforests and dramatic ocean vistas, it’s a wonderful destination for adventurers but rewards those who prefer to travel by car – and in scenic flights – too.

 Southwest National Park.

Drive to the very end of Australia’s most southerly road, which ends at Cockle Creek in the deep south, and wind along the lovely shores of Lake Pedder with towering peaks soaring in the midst. Alternatively, soar over 608,000 hectares of untouched panoramas, including swamp gum – the world’s tallest flowering plant – Gondwanan rainforest and Huon pine, which miraculously lives for 3000 years.

On two feet, just a day trek can lead you to the ice-carved Lake Judd, take to the short Creepy Crawly Nature Trail in search of the local wildlife or wander along the Gordon Dam wall. Multi-day ventures offer a more challenging journey, along the Port Davey and South Coast Tracks to remote Melaleuca, from where you’ll need to be collected by plane. For something different, you can also kayak to Recherche Bay to discover an 18th century French garden at the meeting of lush forest and white beach.


Enjoy a scenic three-hour drive west from Hobart.

Other Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Areas:

• Walls of Jerusalem National Park
• Hartz Mountains National Park
• Mole Creek Karst National Park
• Liffey Falls State Reserve
• Maatsuyker Island

 Hartz Mountains National Park.

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