Tasmania's Great Outdoors

Original open uri20160816 3469 l30ic5?1471307188?ixlib=rails 0.3
Tasmania's Great Outdoors
Over 40 percent of Tasmania is protected in reserves, World Heritage areas, and 19 national parks. At least 60 short walks and nearly half the Great Walks of Australia are here, and more than 3,000 miles of coastline offer adventures soft to extreme.
By Serena Renner, AFAR Contributor
Photo courtesy of Chris McLennan/Tourism Tasmania
  • 1 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 l30ic5?1471307188?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Tasmania’s National Parks
    Six of Tasmania’s 19 national parks are situated within the 4-million-acre Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The scenery changes from jagged Cradle Mountain to the rushing Franklin River to the remote reaches of the Southwest and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks. Four parks are found on islands; three of them—South Bruny, Tasman, and Maria Island—accessible from the southeast. Freycinet National Park offers spectacular Wineglass Bay; Ben Lomond has a ski resort; and Mole Creek Karst National Park is home to Marakoopa Cave, which glitters with glowworms.
    Photo courtesy of Chris McLennan/Tourism Tasmania
  • 2 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 jxzsud?1471307193?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Epic Drives of Tasmania
    Once you get over the strange feeling of driving on the left side of the road, you’ll discover the freedom and beauty of car travel in Tasmania. Roughly 250 miles from north to south and east to west, the island is easy to get around, but you’ll want to take it slow. The most classic drive starts in Hobart and hugs the east coast up to the Bay of Fires. For wilderness roads, you can’t beat the Lyell Highway between Cradle Mountain and Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park or the Western Explorer Road to Corinna, part of which is unsealed and bright white, built from tailings from the nearby silica mine. Shorter scenic trips can be enjoyed in the Huon Valley, Derwent Valley, Tamar Valley, and around Bruny Island.
    Photo courtesy of Rob Burnett/Tourism Tasmania
  • 3 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 1uusg7u?1471307198?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Hiking and Trekking
    The 60 Great Short Walks along with dozens of magnificent multi-day treks make Tasmania hiker heaven. Start with Mount Wellington, just outside Hobart, and continue to Mount Field or Hartz Mountains National Parks. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, you can’t ignore the 40-mile Overland Track, Tasmania’s most famous trail, which offers basic hut accommodation along the way as well as luxury options at either end. Intrepid adventurers keen to camp should consider Southwest National Park, starring the epic 52-mile South Coast Track, and the Tarkine wilderness, home to the second-largest intact swath of temperate rain forest in the world.
    Photo courtesy of Gene Goldberg/Tourism Tasmania
  • 4 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 1rhndoz?1471307204?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Guided Walking Holidays
    Like its neighbor New Zealand, Australia is a master of guided walking treks, which help visitors experience unique natural environments without having to forgo such creature comforts as a cushy bed or well-prepared meal. With seven tours dubbed Great Walks of Tasmania, four of which are classified as Great Walks of Australia, Tasmania must have taught the master class. The Maria Island Walk combines amazing scenery, history, and food and wine with unfazed Forester kangaroos, Bennett's wallabies, wombats, and, if you’re lucky, Tasmanian devils. The South Coast Track is the most challenging (and does require camping). Or there’s the Bay of Fires walk, which ends at a beautiful wood-hewn ecolodge. Your body will be thankful for the spa.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania
  • 5 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 12yzp1o?1471307208?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Paddling and Rafting
    With more than 3,000 miles of coastline plus wild rivers and calm inlets, Tasmania is a magnet for water people. Kayakers find respite in glassy Cole’s Bay, which reflects orange lichen-covered rocks and the zigzagging Hazard Mountains. For a real expedition, Roaring 40s Kayaking arranges trips that fly to the remote airstrip at Melaleuca and paddle for seven days through Bathurst Harbor and Port Davey. Experienced rafters needn’t look farther than the Franklin River, a legendary waterway whose conservation established the Green Party and which Outside named one of the world’s best whitewater trips. And sailing fans can cruise overnight with Hobart Yachts on a vessel that has topped the charts in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania
  • 6 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 xia7y?1471307213?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Wetsuits Required
    Surfers flock to consistent waves near the funky east coast town of Bicheno, and to the heavier swells that angle in to Shipstern Bluff off the Tasman Peninsula; it’s also known as Devil’s Point for its giant waves, shark encounters, and 200-foot cliffs. Despite cold currents from the Southern Ocean, Tasmania is well-regarded for snorkeling and diving, too, especially off the east coast, which features Paradise Reef, Golden Bommies, and the glorious gullies of Magic Garden in the Governor Island Marine Reserve. Maria Island is a haven for both snorkeling and diving, as is Tinderbox Marine Reserve closer to Hobart. Maritime history buffs should explore the shipwreck sites around Flinders and King Islands in the Bass Strait.
    Photo courtesy of O'Neill Coldwater Classic/Tourism Tasmania
  • 7 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 c05ish?1471307218?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Road and Mountain Biking
    Tasmania’s diverse landscapes invite cyclists of all speeds. Roll past apple, pear, and cherry orchards in the slow-paced Huon Valley, less than an hour from Hobart, or between riverside vineyards in the Tamar Valley north of Launceston. For rough-and-tumble types, mountain trails abound within a short drive (or ride) of both cities. The North South Mountain Bike Track on Mount Wellington winds through thick rain forest and rocky outcrops on the way to hard-packed single-track. Many riders start or end at the Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park. Launceston is fast becoming a mountain biking must-ride—check out the Hollybank Forest Reserve and the Blue Tier tracks. Bike touring excursions are also offered throughout the island.
    Photo courtesy of Will Brown/Tourism Tasmania
  • 8 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 kxa4xw?1471307224?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Rocks, Caves, and Canyons
    If they’re not hiking, mountain biking, or gawking at the views, visitors to Mount Wellington are probably clinging to rock faces or navigating their way around challenging boulders. Totem Pole and the Candlestick, two dolerite stacks in Tasman National Park, offer even more challenges. For as many peaks as there are above ground, there are caves below. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area features caverns that were inhabited by Aboriginals during the Ice Age, and the area around Mole Creek Karst National Park contains more than 300 caves and sinkholes. Canyoning and rappelling are newer adventure sports in Tasmania; Cradle Mountain Canyon Tours offers experiences for all levels, while Gordon Dam is known for the highest abseil.
    Photo courtesy of Robert McMahon/Tourism Tasmania
  • 9 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 qtjus?1471307230?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Luxury in the Wilderness
    There’s nothing like savoring incredible views from the comfort of your feather bed, in front of a wood-burning stove, or in a terrace hot tub. Tasmania takes advantage of its inspiring settings by offering a number of luxury wilderness retreats where the main order of business is to soak up the scenery. A remote mining settlement turned ecotourism hub, the Corinna Wilderness Experience transformed old prospector huts into modern cabins that run on solar power and rainwater, and created interpretive trails that access impressive sights like ancient Huon pines. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge is the most high-end option near Tasmania’s favorite mountain, and Saffire Freycinet is one of the most exclusive resorts in Australia.
    Photo courtesy of Kathryn Leahy/Tourism Tasmania
  • 10 / 10
    Original open uri20160816 3469 1d7wzj5?1471307235?ixlib=rails 0.3
    World of Wildlife
    For some people, it’s not wildlife unless you see it in the wild. Luckily, Tasmania has natural environments that breed many endemic species. Narawntapu and Maria Island National Parks are two of the best places to see Forester kangaroos, Bennett's wallabies, and common wombats. Maria Island is breeding Tasmanian devils, which are at risk of extinction due to a contagious facial tumor disease. The Tarkine wilderness in the northwest is a stronghold for rare species including black cockatoos, wedge-tailed eagles, and spotted-tailed quolls, while Southwest National Park is one of the few places to see the endangered orange-bellied parrot. Tasmania is also home to penguins, platypus, echidna, and myriad marine and bird life.
    Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania