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Our Guide to Exploring kunanyi / Mt Wellington

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Growing up in Hobart under the guardianship of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, it’s strange to think that there are people in other parts of Australia who have never seen snow. Heading up the mountain to play in winter is pure magic, and the views of Hobart and surrounds from the summit are spectacular!

Visiting kunanyi/Mt Wellington is one of the best things to do in Hobart, no matter what time of year. We’ve put together some tips on exploring the mountain to keep visitors informed and safe.

Getting there

The logistics.

When can I go up the mountain?

Access to Wellington Park is free and the park is almost always open, except when emergency closures are necessary (usually due to extreme weather). The observation shelter and toilets at the summit are open from 7am to 10pm from September to April, but close earlier at 5.30pm during the cooler months of May to August.

The open air lookouts are always open. Sunrise, sunset, and golden hour are particularly spectacular times to visit (when the weather cooperates). Sometimes a blanket of cloud covers the view of Hobart, but this is magical in its own way.

How do I get there?

Catch the kunanyi/Mt Wellington Explorer Bus, drive, walk, or ride your bike up Pinnacle Road to the summit (take care around all the bends). The drive from Hobart to the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington is around 21 km, and takes around half an hour (map directions here). Take your time and enjoy the journey, as you pass through temperate rainforest to sub-alpine flora and glacial rock formations.

Can I visit kunanyi/Mt Wellington if it’s snowing?

Sometimes, if the weather is getting a bit wild, the road to the summit closes for safety reasons. The good news is, you can still get to the snow in comfort by catching the kunanyi/Mt Wellington Explorer Bus. The bus is snow safe and the drivers have all been specially trained. Book the City to Snow 2.5 hour return tour from Hobart’s waterfront up into the snow, there’s time at the top to play in the snow and admire the snow-covered landscape.

Exploring the mountain

Discover a wealth of wilderness, right on Hobart’s doorstep.

What are some good walks?

There are lots of great walking tracks throughout Wellington Park. The shorter walks in the eastern foothills are good for families, while the exposed tracks beyond the summit better suit experienced hikers. One adventure option is to book a one-way pass on the City to Summit Shuttle tour, then walk back down to Hobart. Alternatively, go for the Explorer Pass (valid all day) and hop-on and hop-off at five Wellington Park bus stops to explore a range of short walks.

Some of our favourite walks include the Zig Zag Track Lookout Loop, The Springs to Sphinx Rock LoopThe Springs to the Pinnacle, and the Organ Pipes Walk. Always rug up and be well prepared. If you’d prefer to be shown around by a knowledgeable guide, Walk on kunanyi can help you out.

Can I ride my bike in Wellington Park?

Bike riding is permitted on formed roads and fire trails. There are also some selected shared use walking tracks where you can ride your bike, including the Pipeline, Radfords and Pillinger Drive Tracks, and the upper section of Middle Track. You might also like to check out the Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park, behind Tolosa Park, which offers a range of levels and styles of riding.

For a memorable adventure, take your bike up on the one-way City to Summit Shuttle tour, then ride back down to Hobart (bike freight is an extra $10 per bike). For more of a challenge, ride up to the summit then catch the bus back down to Hobart.

Did I really see people climbing the Organ Pipes?

Looks pretty scary, doesn’t it?! The Organ Pipes are a bucket list climb for experienced and well equipped rock climbers, with often complex route finding, sustained, steep climbing, alpine exposure and occasional loose rock. Lower down the mountain, there are some shorter, sandstone crags offering hard, steep or overhanging climbs. There are also extensive opportunities for bouldering on kunanyi/Mt Wellington. For more info, check out the online guide compiled by local climbers.

About the mountain

Go on, learn a bit more about kunanyi/Mt Wellington.

Is it really that cold?

Yes! It can often be around 10 degrees colder on top of the mountain than it is in town. Best rug up with puffer jacket, beanie, scarf, and gloves and be prepared for rapid changes in weather, with sleet, snow and cold southerly winds all common occurrences. It’s a good idea to check the kunanyi/Mt Wellington weather forecast. You can also have a stickybeak at the mountain webcams and see what’s happening on the summit in real time (images are updated every five minutes).

Why the dual name?

Wellington Park has a rich and significant history, after at least 35,000 years of Aboriginal occupation and 200 years of European settlement. In 2014, the name of the mountain was officially changed to kunanyi/Mt Wellington as part of the Tasmanian Government’s Aboriginal and Dual Naming Policy. The policy allows geographical features and places to be given both an introduced and Aboriginal language name, acknowledging both Aboriginal and European connections to the landscape.

Is Wellington Park a National Park?

Wellington Park is protected as a reserve (so no need for a Parks Pass). Beautiful kunanyi/Mt Wellington is the highest peak in the park, at 1,271 metres in altitude. Many micro-climates exist, allowing diverse plant and animal life to flourish. Geological highlights include the sheer dolerite columns of the Organ Pipes, hidden caverns of the Lost World, Collins Cap and Collins Bonnet (aka Sleeping Beauty), the band of sandstone beneath the Wellington Range, and mudstone waterfalls in the foothills.

Is there wildlife on kunanyi/Mt Wellington?

Wellington Park is home to lots of native animals, including many significant communities and threatened species. Wildlife includes: potoroos, pademelons, bettongs, bandicoots, possums, quolls, bats, echidnas, the elusive platypus, frogs, reptiles, an alpine adapted lizard, and the endemic long-tailed mouse. There are at least 67 bird species, including many of Tasmania’s 12 endemic birds and three threatened species (wedge tailed eagles, swift parrots and grey goshawks). Peregrine falcons use the sandstone cliffs as breeding sites.

What can we do to minimise our impact?

There are a few simple things we can do to protect the environment when visiting Wellington Park. It’s important to leave no trace by taking all rubbish back out with you, sticking to walkways when possible, ensuring your equipment is clean upon entering the park, using only designated fire places, and using toilets when available. Take only photos, leaving only footprints.

We love it when you share your adventures with us! Share your snaps by tagging @hobartandbeyond and using #HobartandBeyond on Instagram and Facebook – we’ll share our favourite pics on social media and in the blog.

Related posts:
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Project X: Major Public Artworks Launching in the Huon
Beyond Hobart: Our Guide for Exploring Southern Tasmania
Top 10 Things to Do in Hobart
6 Winter Walks in Southern Tasmania

Header image:

Isabel Galloway

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