Trekking Tasmania: where to go bushwalking

Helen Alexander

Senior Contributor

With 19 national parks, Australia’s compact island state is crisscrossed with trails and footpaths that lead to areas of outstanding natural beauty. Just a short flight or ferry ride away from Melbourne, here’s where to lace up your hiking boots and get acquainted with Tasmania’s great outdoors.

Animal lover: Maria Island

Located just off Tasmania’s east coast and accessible by ferry, Maria Island was once a convict settlement but today serves as a stunning sanctuary to an array of indigenous wildlife. Follow the Reservoir Circuit through a towering eucalypt forest that’s home to the endangered pardalote – one of Australia’s smallest birds – or embark on the Bishop and Clerk track that takes in the island’s rocky peaks and sea cliffs. Train your binoculars on the ocean for the chance to spot seals and whales, before heading back inland and keeping your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies and the elusive Tasmanian Devil. 

Gourmet hiker: Freycinet Peninsula

Possibly one of the most photographed stretches of sand in the world, Wineglass Bay is situated in the sprawling Freycinet National Park. It’s easy to spend the whole morning gazing out at the turquoise water that laps the shores of this pristine stretch of shoreline, but remember to make time to explore the rest of the rugged landscape. A well-signposted 11km circular walk leads to Hazards Beach, while it will take around three hours to scramble up and down the rocky Mount Amos. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the delicious cafes or restaurants in the area that make great use of the ocean’s bounty. Freycinet Marine Farm is renowned for its casual atmosphere, and it’s here that freshly shucked oysters, juicy scallops and steamed mussels are best washed down with a glass of Tasmanian wine. At the end of the day, enjoy a drop at Devil’s Corner cellar door, which combines award-winning pinot noir with panoramas of the national park.

Head for heights: Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park might be home to the endurance test that is the six-day Overland Track, but there are also plenty of opportunities to come face-to-face with its natural beauty by day and soak up luxury accommodation by night. Set off on the 6km Dove Lake Circuit and detour up to Marion’s Lookout for a sense of the sheer scale of this designated UNESCO World Heritage Area, before tackling Cradle Mountain the following day. There are a number of trails that lead to the summit, but whichever route you choose, be prepared for a vertigo-inducing climb at the very end. That said, the views from this imposing summit and the surrounding peaks are well worth it, but remember that the weather can change very quickly so make sure you have the right kit with you (and have packed your sense of adventure). If you have time for a final hike, you might want to ensure it’s one that’s easy on tired legs – like the Cradle Valley Boardwalk that winds for 6km through grasslands towards lush rainforest and the pretty Pencil Pine Falls. 

Barefoot luxury: Bay of Fires

Nestled in the north-east corner of Tasmania, the Bay of Fire’s is renowned for its bush trails and luxury lodges. Even before you get out of the car and start hiking, the Bay of Fires region – from Eddystone Point in the north to Binalong Bay and Beerbarrel Beach in the south – is home to a stunning coastal drive. Guided walks last three to four days and are an awe-inspiring introduction to this conservation reserve with its magnificent landscape of white-sand beaches, bright-orange boulders and emerald seas. However, there are plenty of short walks that can be completed in a day from your beachside accommodation. When you are not walking, there’s the opportunity to soak up your surrounds from one of the Bay of Fires’ boutique spas that promote indigenous healing practices and treatments featuring locally sourced ingredients such as kelp, pepperberry and quandong.

Wild adventurer: Tarkine Rainforest

This ancient rainforest in the north-west of the island is an untouched paradise for visitors who really want to walk on the wild side. Wander through 400,000 hectares of virgin wilderness by following one of 24 trails – like the Kazoos Track that leads to the Huskisson River walk or the Mt Murchison track that ascends one of Tasmania’s highest peaks via rocky amphitheatres and clear lakes. Along the way, you will be dwarfed by enormous stringybark gums and overwhelmed by the sound of local birds calling to one another in the thick tree canopies above – all in all it makes for a humbling experience. Walk with a guide and you’ll have the opportunity to encounter and learn more about some of the ancient Aboriginal art sites that dot the area.

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