The Southwest National Park is a mammoth – in sheer size and in its ancient, lost world feel. Rugged and remote, the state’s largest national park sprawls over an impressive 600,000 hectares, comprising wild rivers, jagged mountain ranges, button grass plains and ancient rainforest, including strands of rare Huon pine. It’s an important part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and is home to a myriad of plant and animal species. Here are four ways to go deep and experience the grandeur of the southwest wilderness.
On four wheels
The roads in to the park offer some spectacular scenery, accessible to all who are able to drive (or backseat drive). If you go via Maydena, allow 2.5 to 3 hours from Hobart and be sure to fill up the tank at Westerway. The Gordon River and Scotts Peak roads wind through forest, scrub and moorland, occasionally opening out to stunning views of impressive mountain ranges. On the east coast, a two hour drive south from Hobart through the rolling hills and seaside towns of the Southern Trove will get you to Cockle Creek – the very end of the most southernly road in Australia and access point to the Southwest National Park.
Get the blood pumping and the spirit singing with an on-foot adventure. There’s something for everyone, from short walks, such as the family friendly Creepy Crawly Nature Trail (20 mins return), to multi-day treks. If you have a full day, tackle Eliza Plateau (5-6hrs return) for spectacular views over nearby ranges and lakes or Lake Judd (8hrs return), a deep, ice-carved lake surrounded by precipitous mountains. If you’re an experienced hiker after a challenge, check out the Port Davey Track and the South Coast Track. The South Coast Track is a seven day walk that stretches 85km between Melaleuca and Cockle Creek, winding along some of the wildest coastline in the country. Something special at Melaleuca is the Needwonnee Walk – a 1.2km boardwalk that’s a living, changing experience, with sculptural installations interpreting some of the story of the Needwonnee people.
From the air
Melaleuca, in the far southwest, is so remote that it’s only accessible by light plane or boat. Par Avion Wilderness Tours offer a range of breathtaking experiences, with a day trip including scenic flights to and from Melaleuca (you may feel as though you’re in Jurassic Park), a ground tour, lunch and refreshments, and a boat trip to Port Davey. If you’re after something extra special, book a three day stay at their luxury private camp in the forest, located on the shores of the stunning Bathurst Harbour.
Hobart Yachts offer a dream experience with their charters to spectacular Port Davey. They usually run for seven days/six nights (but can be customised), beginning in Hobart and stopping over at Recherche Bay, before sailing around the Southern tip of Tasmania, past the Maatsuyker Island group to the vast pristine waterways of Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour. This is one unique experience you will never forget! Tasmanian Boat Charters offer adventure cruises in Port Davey, Bathurst Harbour, with a touch of luxury. Treat yourself to accommodation onboard their boutique floating hotel – they even have gourmet fare prepared by guest chefs! Explore the pristine wilderness on daily excursions with guides who know the area like the back of their hand. If you’re into kayaking, Roaring 40s Kayaking offer an awesome seven day wilderness expedition. Paddle out to where the Breaksea Islands guard the entrance to Bathurst Harbour and into the open waters of Port Davey. Glide across perfect reflections and gaze up in awe at mountains that rise from the shore. You’ll also have some down time relaxing at remote beaches!
Four Gems of the Southern Trove
Get Outside: Five Places to Go Camping in Southern Tasmania
Cider & Wine in the Huon: Four Places to Stop for a Tipple
The End of the Road: Four Activities at Cockle Creek
Four Ways to Get Back to Nature at Maydena
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