There’s more to Tasmania’s West Coast than Cradle Mountain, let me tell you. If you’re the camping/surfing/swimming/bushwalking type, this remote part of the state will leave you wondering why you don’t just pack up your stuff and move here forever.
1. Mount Owen
Mount Owen is at the top of the list because it was one of the most spectacular sights I’ve seen in Australia. Located in Queenstown, the top of this mountain boasts a 360-degree view of dams and mountains and towns and, ah, I’ll just show photos. Words won’t do it justice.
It’s a pretty crazy 4-hour return hike which starts at the saddle between Gormanston and Mt. Owen and up a primarily gravel 4WD track. Unfortunately, you can’t access the 4WD road to the peak unless you have a key, which RoamWild, a local tour company, has in their hot little hands. It can get pretty windy up there, because the mountain face is so exposed, but if you can get these guys to take you up there it’s absolutely worth it.
2. Montezuma Falls
Located near Rosebery, Montezuma Falls is more than just Tasmania’s highest waterfall. While it boasts a height of 104m, the most exhilarating aspect was the swinging bridge across the ravine. This one’s enough to get the blood pumping, especially when you make the mistake of walking across with a mate who is hell bent on rocking the bridge until, well, until what?
It’s a 3-hour return walk and follows the historic route of the North-East Dundas tramway right to the base of the falls where you can strip down and let the pressure of the falls give your back a mighty good massage.
3. Camp at Lake Rosebery
Back your car down to the lake, set up a tent, light a fire, crack open a bevvy and let the sweet sound of music fill your heart with peace. Make sure you wake early, because the fog that blankets this lake is insane, and there’s nothing better than having a chilly morning wash in a fog-covered, freshwater lake in the middle of Tassie.
4. Surf At Green Point Beach, Marrawah
Green Point Beach is one of several great surf spots in the town of Marrawah. The beach break is perfect for beginners and you shouldn’t have to fight for a wave. It’s pretty consistent year-round, but you’ll find the largest surf and best conditions in the winter months. Load the whole quiver onto the roof, just in case.
Green Point is one of the beaches used for the O’Neill Cold Water Classic competition, which takes place around the end of March each year.
5. Camp In A Pine Forest
Run through a pine forest, dodge the trunks that shoot up like Jack’s beanstalk, find yourself an open space for a tent and a fire. Come home to the wilderness.
Pine forests are perfect for camping because of the soft bed of pine beneath. Don’t even bother rolling out your mat, this will do! You’ll never be at a loss for fuel for your fire either; pine cones and fallen branches abound.
Make sure if you’re having a fire you make a clearing so the sticks nearby don’t catch alight!
6. Visit Queenstown
Tasmania’s Queenstown is quite a quirky little country town and is home to less than 2000 residents. The late 1800s saw this place bustling with miners and more than 5000 residents, which has now left the town littered with abandoned, decrepit houses. There are also hundreds of empty mines, all of which can be explored. With its gravel football pitch – which is still played on quite seriously – and its incredible, recently restored Paragon Theatre, there’s a lot more to this town than meets the eye.
If you’ve taken your 4WD over and are into your politics, there’s a UNESCO site just out of Queenstown where mass protests, political movements and blockades occurred by environmentalists protesting against the damming of the Franklin River. Their slogan was ‘NO DAMS’ in a painted yellow triangle, which is from where The Greens’ green triangle logo took its inspiration.
The United Tasmania Group (UTG) was the first Greens party in the world, and they fought hard for environmental causes like this one. In the case of the Franklin River, they won, and the River was not dammed. The ‘NO DAMS’ triangle is painted on a concrete carpark-like spot in the UNESCO site, which you’ll need to request access to. RoamWild tours have keys if you haven’t sought permission and you don’t have a 4WD.
7. Stay In Stanley
I fell in love with Stanley, I have to say. Renowned for The Nut (an old volcanic plug you can grab a chairlift up), this quaint fishing port is perfect if you want to treat yourself to a bed, some breakfast and maybe a hot bath. You might find it looks strangely familiar if you’ve seen the film The Light Between Oceans.
8. Swim In Lake Burbury
Listen, we just want a map with all the spots we can swim in, right?
This one was a real favourite because the weather was cold and the wind was choppy and little waves formed on the roof of the lake. Run down the boat ramp and dive on in! If you have a fishing rod with you, I hear this is a great spot for it too.
9. Struggle Up The Henty Sand Dunes
There are some crazy 4WD tracks around here, but if you are doing the trip without one, best to have a stretch and make your way up on foot. They reach heights of up to 30m, and for those who have ever attempted a boot camp session on soft sand, you’ll know that a 30m climb isn’t for the faint hearted.
The dunes were formed by the Roaring Forties, a strong wind which blows from South America, uninterrupted across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, gaining speed all the way to Tasmania.
10. Do The Tarkine Drive
This 60km loop cannot be missed. There is so much to do on this drive – waterfalls, bushwalks, surf beaches, free camping, it just keeps on giving. This part of Tasmania is so rich in history and so unspoiled, you will be shocked at just how diverse this landscape can be.
We came over on the Spirit, ensuring our car was stuffed-to-the-guts with adventure equipment (toys).
11. Kayak In Corinna
Kayak on the Pieman river in Corinna in the early morning, right before the sun has lifted. The water is like glass and the gorges are full of fog and you can hear nothing but the paddle cutting through the water, the birds waking from their sleep and the trees rustling in the morning breeze.
12. Camp And Swim Everywhere
I want to reiterate the fact that free camping is possible almost everywhere in this part of Tasmania. If us as tourists ensure that we maintain respect of the land, clean up after ourselves and leave nothing but footprints, the freedom will remain. Camp on the beach or in a forest or by a lake. Camp in peace.
Finally, make sure you keep your swimmers handy in the car. There’s nothing better than driving around a bend and finding yourself at a bridge over the most magnificent gorge and yelling to your mates “STOP THE CAR GET OUT JUMP OFF THE BRIDGE LET’S GO SWIMMING!”.
Be prepared for those moments and embrace them.