Australia & NZ
Explore the Tasmanian Wilderness
The wilderness of Tasmania is incomparable and a nonpareil UNESCO World Heritage Site. Approximately 14,000 km2 of Australia’s foremost island is under strict protection and conservation status. With innumerable enclaves in Tasmania to explore, read on for a run-down of some of the best.
Image by Anyaka
The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is one of four in Australia that falls under both natural and cultural UNESCO criteria – Kakadu National Park, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Willandra Lakes Region are the others. Archaeological evidence on the island infers human occupation as far back as 35,000 years ago, though by the early 20th century, the indigenous population was wiped out as a result of disease, conflict and relocation.
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There are a number of fine gateways to the Tasmanian Wilderness UNESCO World Heritate Area proper, from Geeveston to Derwent Bridge, Launceston to Devonport. Hotels in Hobart however, the lively capital city of Tasmania, offer the most variety and decent enough proximity to the island’s national parks.
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The Tasmanian Wilderness spans nine national parks and conservation areas. These include: Central Plateau Conservation and Protected Areas, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Devils Gullet State Reserve, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Hartz Mountains National Park, Mole Creek Karst National Park, South East Mutton Bird Islet, Southwest National Park and Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
If you love to trek, Hartz Mountains National Park is a must. The park is a short 84 km drive southwest of Hobart and unfurls spectacular wildlife like padmelons, bushtail possums, echidnas and platypi. For the ultimate challenge, make your way to Hartz peak (1255 m) and enjoy a brilliant view of South West Tasmania. Adequate protective gear is necessary for long treks and while there are no campgrounds available, visitors can set up tent at least 500 m from any road.
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At over 600,000 hectares, Southwest National Park is the largest swath of the Tasmanian Wilderness. While both Gordon River and Scotts Peak roads offer brief glimpses of the national park for drivers, the most memorable way to enjoy Southwest is to get in and explore. Wild rivers, green centenary rainforests, wide plains and rugged mountain ranges – they can all be seen here. The Port Davey Track and South Coast Track are popular routes for intrepid tourists and take 4-5 and 6-8 days, respectively, to complete. The South Coast is a scenic wonder and unfolds pristine coastal pockets between Melaleuca and Cockle Creek. This is a remote and wild track however and not suitable for those without experience or proper equipment. For a list of suitable gear, consult the national parks of Tasmania website.
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If you plan to go north from Hartz Mountains National Park, make sure to see Cradle Mountain. Ancient forests, alpineÂ heartlands and icy cascades form some of the main features of the most popular area in the Tasmanian Wilderness. Unlike other national parks on the island, picnic shelters and electronicÂ grills are available here, near the VisitorÂ Centre. The latter provides a wealth of excellent information for adventurous tourists who want to make the most of the Tasmania experience and embark on the awesome Overland Track. The Waldheim Chalet and Waldheim Cabins offer comfortable shelter but do book up fast in high season.
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Endemic fauna plays a major role in Tasmania’s singular charm. TheÂ TasmanianÂ Devil, of course, is the inimitable icon of the island. Sadly, the distinctive carnivorous marsupial is in the throes of an epic battle for survival against a formidable foe: devil facial tumour disease. As a result, future generations may not have a chance to witness this incredible animal in the wild. Other special creatures to look out for in Tasmania include the Native-hen, Wedge-tailed Eagle, quolls, bandicoots and wallabies.
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