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The Southwest National Park is the largest national park in Tasmania and a UNESCO World Heritage-listed wilderness area. It’s renowned for its remote and wild character, making it a must-visit destination for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Tasmania’s Southwest National Park is a place of unparalleled beauty and ecological significance. It beckons those with a sense of adventure and a love for the outdoors. So, come and discover the magic of this wilderness wonderland, where every step is a journey into the heart of nature itself.
We’ve put together some tips on different ways to experience the Southwest National Park, as well as highlights to appreciate during your visit. Remember that a Parks Pass is required for entry into all of the national parks in Tasmania.
Disclaimer: This blog focuses on access via the Southern Edge, rather than through the Western Wilds.
Located in the southwestern corner of Tasmania, this remote wilderness is accessible from several points, including Hobart. From the capital city, drive south along the Huon Highway, passing through the picturesque Huon Valley, and you’ll soon find yourself on the doorstep of this pristine wilderness. Keep in mind that some areas within the park may require permits, so be sure to check in advance.
For hikers, the main southeast entry point is Cockle Creek, the paradise at the end of Australia’s southernmost road (just a 2-hour drive south from Hobart). The South Cape Bay track (15.4 km / 4 hours return) is a great introduction to the park, with incredible views of the rugged southern coastline. Keen surfers sometimes carry their boards in on foot to catch the big swells at South Cape Bay. Take your lunch and make a day of it.
The walk is also the eastern end of the epic South Coast Track to Port Davey, a seven-day walk along some of the wildest coastline in Australia. This one is for very experienced, well-prepared hikers only, with challenging inclines (rewarding with stunning views) and all kinds of weather on the cards.
There are some alternate entry points in Tasmania’s Far South, with walks including the challenging hike to Adamsons Peak (15 km / 7–10 hours return) near Dover; the Mystery Creek Cave Track (4 km / 2 hours return) near Ida By; and the three-day Moonlight Ridge to Mt La Perouse track from Lune River. In the Huon Valley, the track to Lake Skinner (6.5 km / 4–5 hours return) is accessible via Judbury.
Port Davey is a Marine Reserve and forms part of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area. Discover pristine coastal wilderness, extensive waterways and quartzite peaks. Chartering a boat is a great way to explore the area while enjoying a touch of luxury (keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, birdlife, and migrating whales around the coastline). Our tips include:
Alternatively, fly into Melaleuca to join Roaring 40s Kayaking for an unforgettable seven-day expedition exploring the wild waterways of Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey by sea kayak (there is also time for optional short walks or relaxing on the beach)
Take in the breathtaking scenery from the air with Par Avion Wilderness Tours. Treat yourself to their Southwest Wilderness Experience, which includes return scenic flights from Hobart to Melaleuca, lunch, wine, refreshments (Tasmanian produce), a scenic cruise, and a guided ground tour.
You can also fly into Melaleuca one way if you are planning to walk the South Coast Track back out to Cockle Creek.
The Southwest National Park is home to an array of unique and often elusive wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the iconic Tasmanian devil, as well as wallabies, wombats, and a variety of bird species. The pristine waterways are inhabited by platypuses and the famous Huon pine, a slow-growing and endemic tree species that can live for over 2,000 years.
The Southwest National Park is home to some of the finest wilderness in Australia.
Discover jagged mountain ranges, wild rivers, button grass plains, and towering rainforests.
Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour are spectacular, with glass-like reflections and dramatic peaks.
The park is home to a myriad of plant and animal species, including strands of rare Huon pine and some of the last remaining temperate wilderness areas on Earth. Keep an eye out for a range of Tasmanian wildlife, including wombats, pademelons, and quolls.
The area around Melaleuca is the sole breeding ground of the highly endangered orange-bellied parrot.
During the summer months, take the short path from the airstrip to the Deny King Memorial Hide for your chance to see these rare birds in the wild.
The hide offers plenty of information about the orange-bellied parrot as well as other birds in the area.
Whether you’re an experienced bushwalker or a casual hiker, Southwest National Park offers a range of trails to suit all levels of fitness and adventure.
From short, easy walks to multi-day expeditions, there’s something for everyone. Popular trails include the South Coast Track and the Western Arthur Range.
The Southwest National Park has a rich history and important cultural value. Discover a living, changing Aboriginal interpretive experience on the Needwonnee Walk at Melaleuca.
Sculptural installations along the walk interpret some of the stories of the Needwonnee people. The 1.2 km boardwalk weaves through the moorland, forest and edge of the lagoon.
As you walk, ponder the long history and rich culture of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, including their connection to the land.