Exploring Tasmania’s National Parks

13 April 2021

Tasmania’s national parks are the stuff outdoor adventures are made of, covering a diversity of unspoiled habitats and ecosystems with plants and animals not found anywhere else on Earth. More than 40 percent of Tasmania's landmass is protected in reserves, World Heritage Areas, and 19 national parks. Most are within easy reach of Hobart and Launceston cities, and invite visitors to explore ancient rainforests, alpine plateaus, pristine white sand beaches and the highest sea cliffs in Australia.

Cradle Mountain in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park and the Franklin River in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park are some of the most stunning locales where visitors can immerse in nature and remote, pristine wilderness.

Cradle Mountain National Park, Photo by Jason Charles Hill

Travelers can experience Tasmania’s national parks on iconic walks including the Overland Track, considered one of the world’s greatest wilderness walks, and the Three Capes Track.

The 40-mile-long Overland Track, which starts at Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park traverses a World Heritage Area that includes Tasmania’s highest peak, 5,305-foot Mount Ossa and its deepest lake, St Clair. It is a six day hike, camping, or staying in shared or private huts, in the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Three Capes Track in Tasmania’s far south-east, is for walkers of all ages and abilities and is wide enough for two people to walk, side by side. The journey begins with walkers checking in at the Port Arthur Historic Site. A Pennicott Wilderness Journeys cruise then delivers walkers to the start of the track at Denmans Cove. Over four days and three nights, travelers walk among tall eucalypt forests, coastal heath and sea cliffs on the 30-mile trail. Along with views of a windswept wilderness skirting the soaring dolerite cliffs that prop up the Tasman peninsula, expect to see wildlife including curious Bennett’s wallabies, echidnas and wombats. The Three Capes Lodge Walk, is a luxe guided hike version, with groups overnighting at private eco-sensitive cliffside lodges and gourmet meals.

At the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, rapids crash through the heart of the 3.5 million acre Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, that is a temperate rainforest of giant ferns, sassafras, pandani and rare, slow-growing 130-foot Huon pines.

Tassie’s national parks also offer up 60 Great Short Walks throughout the state for day walks, matched to interests and ability.

Mountain biking enthusiasts have extraordinary trails to explore, close to Hobart including the Coningham Nature Recreation Area, and The Blue Derby mountain bike trails which climb into hinterland in the state’s north with more than two dozen trails to choose from. Maydena Bike Park, in the Derwent Valley has gravity-focused trails, and for all levels.

Meanwhile Maria Island National Park, where wombats roam freely, is great to explore on bike or foot and easily reached by ferry.

For rafting or kayaking enthusiasts, the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is wild and pristine, and an exhilarating way to see the area’s temperate rainforests.

Sea kayaking in the sheltered waters of Coles Bay is an ideal way to explore Freycinet National Park’s pure waters, and calm coastline with pink granite cliffs.

Freycinet National Park, Photo by Jason Charles Hill

In Tasmania’s Southwest National Park, Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour has guided tours on offer. Cradle Mountain’s Dove Lake is a great place for kayaking and canoeing with sheltered sandy beaches.

Rock climbers and abseilers can explore Ben Lomond National Park, an hour from Launceston, with tall sheer cliffs providing the best crack climbing in Tasmania. Tasman National Park has many iconic climbs, but none more so than the Totem Pole, a 65 metre dolerite sea stack off Cape Hauy. A remote climbing experience is Frenchmans Cap, tackling the towering quartzite cliffs.

Tasmania’s incredible national parks are one of the world’s last truly wild places to explore, thanks largely to the state’s isolated geography and environmentally aware, friendly and adventurous locals.

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