Tasmania | The Western Wilderness and Cradle Mountain | Australia
For travellers eager to get lost on Tasmania’s West Coast, you’re in for a treat with this World Heritage Area which is considered one of Australia’s last true wilderness frontiers. Boasting stunning national parks filled with rugged mountains and lush rainforests, historic mining towns and a past rich with convict heritage. As you traverse the North-West, you’ll find yourself breathing some of the world’s cleanest, freshest air as you take on the great outdoors and explore the breathtaking scenery. After an overnight stay in Launceston and continuing along the Tasting Trail – catch up on my East Coast adventures and road trip guide here – we continued up to the very North-Western tip of Tasmania on the advice of friends from the hostels.
Stop off at this tiny village to witness the adoration of the local residents with penguin displays at every turn. If you happen to be in town on a Sunday, check out Tasmania’s largest undercover market with over 200 stalls of food, wine, second-hand and craft goods. Then each night between September and March, head up the road to Penguin Point to watch the town’s feathered friends make their way up the beach to nest.
This colonial town takes visitors on a step back in time with cute cafes and B&Bs standing in the shadow of an amazing natural structure – The Nut. This 143m immense flat topped, volcanic plug rises straight up from the water’s edge, towering over the Bass Strait. For those who want to walk to the top, there is a level three challenge walk up the steep path or you can take the chairlift to the top and stroll around to take in the views. Be sure to follow the path all the way around the outside of The Nut as many amazing views await from every angle.
We would have missed Arthur River if it weren’t for the recommendation of a random new friend – but don’t skip it – it ended up being one of my absolute favourite places in Tasmania. Arthur River is a perfect place to spot platypus in the wild – I saw three in the wild within a few minutes at one section of river! Being on the very edge of the Tarkine Wilderness it is also a great place to find white-bellied sea eagles, parrots and Tasmanian Devils – sadly I never saw a wild one! But best of all – and don’t skip it because it’s far out of the way – head to The Edge of the World. Along the coast and just beyond the mouth of the river is a last land point, it feels like it really could be the edge of the world and at sunset you’ll feel the vast forces of nature at play as the setting sun sets the churning waves aglow. The powerful winds, rugged coastline and the ancient logs deposited by the waves have a real raw beauty about them unlike the perfection of the East Coast.
Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park
One of Tasmania’s most visited natural attractions, the national park makes up part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area and is home to many of Australia’s unique species of animals including Tasmanian devils, quolls, platypus, echidna and several bird species. While there is no village or town here, there are accommodation options in the form of cabins/chalets and campgrounds. My advice, instead of paying for the campgrounds which are expensive, use WikiCamps app to find free campsites nearby – we found some great ones and had them all to ourselves.
Cradle Mountain Summit
You HAVE to do this walk while you are visiting the park. Many choose to do the Overland track, a 65km hike that takes six days and traverses the heart of the national park – but if you don’t have the time or the dedication, try the summit instead. A six to eight hour walk of level 5 difficulty – it includes a 600m climb and climbing across rocks, not to be taken lightly. It is hard but so, so worth it when you reach the top. Climbing Cradle Mountain was an incredible experience, it was scary at points and I was glad I had my road trip buddies to cheer me on, but an amazing feeling when we reached the top and breathed in the incredible clear air. One of my absolute favourite experiences of Tasmania. Be sure to pack lots of food and water, sunscreen and warm/waterproof layers – it snowed when we were at the top!
Dove Lake and Crater Lake Circuits
Throughout the few days we spent in the park, we also managed to organise our hikes to take in as many different routes as possible. Two of my favourite ones were the Crater Lake Circuit which we did on the first day, and the Dove Lake Circuit which we completed on our way down from the summit. Both were extremely beautiful and offer incredible views of Cradle Mountain set against the clearest lakes and endless forest. They are both challenging in their own way and see you passing by waterfalls, gullies, rainforest, alpine terrain and more. Both of these routes take around two hours so can be perfect for a shorter walk on the day you arrive or leave, or you can add them on to your longer summit walk if you set off early.
Need any advice or tips for planning a Western excursion? Leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help!