Tasmania

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Overview

The island state of Tasmania is well known to walkers. Many excellent walking areas are located within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which represents about 1/5 of the state’s area. Tasmania has some of the longest and most challenging walks in the country. Glaciated features dominate much of the landscape.

Lake Rhona, Tasmania
Lake Rhona, Tasmania

Some tracks require additional permits to be booked in advance. A single park pass is required for entry to all national parks in the state.

There are also many good short walks all around the state.

Climate and weather

Tasmania generally enjoys a mild temperate climate, with four distinct seasons with variable weather conditions from coastal areas to the central highlands. Tasmania has changeable weather conditions that can include heavy rain, strong winds, and snow during summer months.

Alpine regions are often snow covered during winter and much of spring. Snowshoes or skis are the best mode of travel in these regions during this period.

Alpine regions are usually several degrees cooler than lower regions during summer.

Coastal regions have a generally milder climate and are suitable for bushwalking during all seasons.

Notable bushwalks

Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park. A glaciated landscape with lakes, cliffs, peaks and plains providing grand scenery. The major feature is the famous Overland Track which is a five-day walk on constructed tracks. There are also many good one-day walks and overnight walks on lesser-used tracks. Summer is the best period to visit and experienced walkers can be found here all year round. In winter, ski touring is often possible at Cradle Mountain and Mt Rufus.

Overland Track. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, plays host to this world renowned, 5-day, 65 km north to south walk. The track passes through a variety of landscapes including glacially-carved valleys, buttongrass moorlands, alpine meadows, eucalypt and rainforests. Various side-trips lead to waterfalls and mountain peaks, including Mt Ossa the state’s highest. Lake St Clair at the end of the walk is also Australia’s deepest natural lake. Most walkers finish at Narcissus Hut and take the privately run ferry down the lake to the visitor centre at Cynthia Bay while others add an additional day and walk alongside the lake to the end. The most popular time to walk is during the booking season (1 October to 31 May). If planning to walk during winter and early spring (1 June and 30 September), there are no booking or Overland Track fees payable, just the standard park entry fee and the track can be walked in either direction. 

Central Plateau. The area to the east of Cradle Mountain is an elevated, nearly flat plateau covered with low vegetation. The Walls of Jerusalem is the most popular feature and has good tracks for day and overnight walks. The remainder of the plateau is an essentially trackless region where it is possible to walk in most directions and is a good area for overnight or longer walks. Summer is the main walking period. In winter ski touring is sometimes reasonable after recent heavy snowfalls.

South West National Park. Rugged, glaciated scenery surrounded by flat plains and dense scrub. Most of the area is a huge wilderness park. The South Coast, Port Davey and Arthur Plains Tracks form a horseshoe-shaped walking track. This is the only track in the area. Walking any part of these tracks is fairly easy in good weather, but can be very challenging in severe weather which can occur here in any season. Off the track, the walks become harder and popular destinations are Federation Peak, Mt Anne, the Western Arthurs, South West Cape and Precipitous Bluff. Summer is the best period for a visit, but even then storms and snow falls are common on the peaks. Winter snow cover is spasmodic and it is not a suitable ski touring area.

South Coast Track. The track runs along the southern coastline within the Southwest National Park. The 85 km traverse, between Melaleuca and Cockle Creek, is known as one of the worlds great wilderness walks. Walkers must either fly, sail or walk in and out of Melaleuca which has the only walkers’ hut on the track. There are no other services apart from some toilets at the major campsites. Most people take 5 to 9 days to complete the walk, depending upon time spent enjoying the beaches. The track surface may be rough and mud can be expected for extended sections. The warmer months from December to March offer the best weather, but walkers must be prepared for cold winds and heavy rain at any time of year.

Creek crossing, South Coast Track, Tasmania
South Coast Track, Tasmania

Wild Rivers National Park. Another huge wilderness park located between the South West and Cradle Mountain parks and with similar scenery and the well known Franklin and Gordon Rivers. There is only one marked track, of 3-5 days return, to Frenchmans Cap. The Denison Range, the King William Range and the Prince of Wales Range are all tougher off-track trips, varying in duration from several days to several weeks.

Frenchmans Cap. This half-dome peak, the most prominent in the Wild Rivers National Park, requires a minimum of three days for a return walk to the summit. The track is about 23 km each way and is often rough and muddy. There are a few steep places including a steep scramble to the summit which is best left for a good weather window as views from the top are a trip highlight. The track passes buttongrass plains, rainforest and glacial valleys to Lake Tahune, perched under the huge quartzite cliff face of the Cap which is some of Australia’s oldest exposed rock. The longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures from December to April make it a good time to visit. However, rapidly changing weather conditions can occur at any time.

Mt Field National Park. This elevated plateau near the centre of Tasmania has a good track system providing many good one-day walks and some easy overnight walking. The park contains one of Tasmania’s best known attractions, the scenic Russell Falls, but there are other walks leading to beautiful glacial lakes and boulder strewn mountain tops. Summer is the best walking season. Snow covers the range in winter and ski touring is often possible.

Hobart. Mt Wellington towers over the city. The mountain and the plateau behind provide many one-day walks and some good overnight walks. Suitable for walking for most of the year except winter. Good snow cover is rare in winter and it is not a reliable ski touring area.

Tasman Peninsula: There are spectacular coastal cliffs near Port Arthur. A track system exists to most features and some day walks are possible. The Three Capes Track is a 4-day, hut-based walk that was developed along existing tracks which were significantly upgraded, rerouted in places and link all the main features on the peninsula. Camping is still allowed as one site and most of the features can be visited without using the huts. Suitable for year-round walking.

Three Capes Track. Starting at the World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site, the 48 km, 4-day walk begins with a boat ride across the bay. Walking is in one direction and bookings are essential. The cabins have bunk platforms with mattresses, shared kitchen/dining areas are equipped with heating, basic cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting, and toilets are a short walk away. Timber boardwalks, gravel and stone steps lead through eucalypt forests, heathlands and moorlands. Views of impressive sea cliffs abound and from The Blade at Cape Pillar there are good views of Tasman Island. The last day is over Mt Fortescue, before walking out to the tip of Cape Hauy and returning by bus to Port Arthur from Fortescue Bay.

Ben Lomond National Park: A high plateau in the north east with a rocky landscape has day walks along two cross country ski routes in summer. These are rough trails, but marked by snow poles. Legges Tor, a summit on the plateau, is the second highest point in Tasmania.  In winter, there is good ski touring on the plateau when there is sufficient snow cover. There are also opportunities for downhill skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing.

East Coast: Maria Island, Freycinet Peninsula and Douglas-Apsley are the three major national parks. They all have marked track systems and provide good one to three day walks. The area is suitable for year-round walking as the climate is much drier than the rest of the state.

North Coast: Mt William, Narawntapu National Park and Rocky Cape are three smaller national parks with some lovely day walks. Good for year-round walking.

Safety considerations

Snakes are common in Tasmania and most of them are poisonous although snakebites are rare. Take care to avoid stepping on them when they are warming up in the morning sun.  Carry a pressure bandage.  See Management of snake bite for more information.

Ticks are present in coastal scrub and bush in the east of the state.   See Tick bite prevention  (Federal Department of Health)  for more information .

Planning a bushwalk in Tasmania

PLBs can be hired from Service Tasmania shops (Mon-Fri only) in Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Devonport. Phone 1300 135 513 for further information.

PLBs are also available from the Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair visitor centres, though numbers are limited and cannot be reserved.

​​There are also independent hire companies including ​EPIRBHire and The Bushwalking Blog.​

Statewide emergency services information

Dial 000 and ask for Police to report a bushwalking emergency.

Tasmania Police  are responsible for land search and rescue, assisted by organisations including:

Ambulance Tasmania can provide medical evacuations by land or air.  Ensure you have appropriate ambulance insurance .

Interstate visitors should check reciprocal arrangements with their state or territory ambulance organisation.

International visitors should confirm they have travel insurance that covers rescue operations.

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