There are few extensive areas of true wilderness left in the temperate zones of Earth; Tasmania is one of them. The island has a global significance, for its western regions harbour one of the last great territories where only little has changed since the Prehistoric Ages.
The finest part lies south of Strathgordon and Scotts Peak – a place where the road has no exit, and Mother Nature`s keeps its best secrets. For instance, Prion Beach, Ironbound Range, Surprise Bay, Lake Rhona, Mount Anne, Lost World Plateau and Bathurst Harbour are places where not many travellers pay a visit, and one can truly reconnect with nature.
VISITING THE LAST FRONTIER
The Aborigines – the native people, once knew this world like no others ever could. Today, adventure seekers, passionate mountaineers, sailors and fishermen make the majority of guests.
Visiting Western Tasmania is an ultimate off-the-beaten-path experience, a challenge not for a beginner. To explore the area, every traveller needs to be well-equipped and fit. There is only one way you can admire some parts of this secret world without having to make efforts – boat or wings.
The Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area offers magnificent natural beauty as well as the important Macquarie Harbour Historic Site and Sarah Island – an old penal station established in 1822 by the British government. These attractions can be best explored by boat.
There is wild scenery, a pioneering spirit, an invigorating climate and superb rivers that offer cruises down the iconic Gordon River, running from the charming Port of Strahan.
The nearby Henty Dunes, stretching along Tasmanian longest ‘Ocean Beach’, are famous giant sand formations perfect for sand tobogganing.
The township of Strathgordon is a breathtaking place for its setting right between the Gordon and Pedder Lakes. It is one of the very few places in the area that are accessible by a vehicle.
While the lakes are ideal for recreation the engineering marvel Gordon Dam Wall is well-known for being the highest abseiling spot in the world, attracting adventurers from every corner of the world.
The landscapes around Strathgordon truly are jaw-dropping: expanses of water, rain-forested islands, immaculate lakes fringed by leatherwood trees and distant snowy peaks in the horizon. Nature here frames almost a magical atmosphere.
For splendid scenery right at the heart of the western wilderness and a secret history to share, Strathgordon makes the most attractive tourist destination in the region.
FRANKLIN GORDON WILD RIVERS NATIONAL PARK
Tasmania World Heritage Area leads to one more wilderness destination – Franklin River and the majestic Frenchmans Cap (1446 m). The quartzite peak and its towering neighbours are the tourist highlights. The mountain can be seen from Macquarie Harbour, and its summit conquered in as many as four days.
The national park is so remote that there are just three ways to reach the wilderness – on foot, via boat or a plane. Franklin and Gordon River Cruise is the easiest and so is the most popular way, and for those who like to spend some more money a scenic flight over the reserve is a perfect option.
Walking requires a good level of fitness, and it is not for everyone. Passionate hikers and nature lovers get the opportunity to get closer to the natural treasures of the area. The best walks are Franklin River Nature Trail, Surprise River Walkway, Nelson Falls Nature Trail and Donaghy`s Lookout.
Besides, the Franklin Gordon Wild Rivers National Park provides good conditions for water activities such as canoeing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, and swimming.
SOUTHWEST NATIONAL PARK
One the most impressive series of mountains in Australia is the Western Arthur Range, and it is easy to see why; along its serrated length are dozens of peaks and precipices and numerous alpine lakes. However, this is a challenging hiking zone. Wet and windy climate, combined with the difficulty of access and egress make it a dangerous environment only suitable for experienced mountaineers.
BOAT TOURS AND CRUISES
Visitors who like to travel in comfort can easily arrange a cruise to the fabulous Bathurst Harbour, where tin-miners still operate their small leases at Melaleuca. There are various scenic flights and boat tour packages, ranging from 1-day tours to multiple-day expeditions to the Southwest National Park that can be booked in Hobart.
The cruises usually include the utterly man-untouched areas like Davey River, Old River, Celery Top Islands, Breaksea Islands and Stephens Bay, and where the main features are blowholes, caves, rock arches, secluded bays, pristine beaches and coastal waters teeming with marine life.
CAMPING AND HIKING
Camping in the Southwest Conservation Area is only permitted in designated areas. The most popular ones are the end of Scotts Peak Road and the Huon Camp Ground where you can find a wide variety of short and multi-day long walking tracks.
BEST HIKING TRACKS IN THE SOUTHWEST NATIONAL PARK
Most of the trails are only open in summer (Nov-Mar).
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN WESTERN TASMANIA (BRIEF SUMMARY)
You will need to purchase a pass to enter some of the national parks of Tasmania (whether driving or hiking). More information about the passes are to get at any local information centre/visitors centre in Tasmania or online at https://passes.parks.tas.gov.au/
The best way to explore Western Tasmania is to have a base in Strahan or Strathgordon (there is a good variety of accommodation, ranging from luxurious hotels to basic campgrounds) and undertake day trips to the surrounding points of interest.
Par Avion is Tasmanian largest scenic flight operator that offers a wide range of tours and a scenic flight across the island. Especially, Western Tasmania is highly recommended to see from a bird`s eye view. Also, the company runs the luxurious Southwest Wilderness Camp near the Bathurst Harbour where you can stay if your budget allows (package tours can be booked online at https://paravion.com.au/ or in Hobart. The highlight is the Southern Lights that can be spotted
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Generally, the best time to visit Tasmania is summer when the temperatures tend to be more pleasant (Dec-Feb). However, this is a very busy time due to school holidays and peak season, and accommodation often gets fully booked.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Hobart (directly or via Melbourne)
Hire a vehicle (4WD recommended) and self-drive. The most popular way to travel around Tasmania is to rent a campervan (that saves you money for accommodation and allows more flexibility). There are wonderful campgrounds and holiday parks with good facilities all over the island.
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