Once joined to the mainland by a land bridge and now separated by infamous Bass Strait, Australia’s island state serves up a feast of bushwalking Tasmania delights, from starter strolls in primordial rainforest to main-course wilderness treks that test survival skills.
Tasmania is the pick of the country’s bushwalking destinations. It’s the place to immerse yourself in convict history, explore mountains and moors sculpted by wind and ice, and poke your nose over the Australia’s highest sea cliffs.
Settled as the English penal colony of Van Dieman’s Land and celebrated for the 1980s protests and blockade that saved the Franklin River from being dammed for hydroelectric power (and gave birth to the Australian Greens political party) Tasmania has attracted and inspired conservationists, photographers, rock climbers and hikers for decades.
Forty percent of the island is protected as national parks and reserves. About a fifth, and much of its western reaches, is designated the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, home to the state’s most challenging hikes. Here too is the six-day Overland Track. Almost immediately after embarking on this alpine journey from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair you’ll appreciate why this is Australia’s most popular long-distance hike. A day walk looping around Dove Lake gives you a taste of this ruggedly beautiful environment.
Equally spectacular is the three-day return walk with Biblical overtones to the Walls of Jerusalem.
Hobart, Tasmania’s waterfront capital, is the step-off point for walks on kunanyi/Mt Wellington, the brooding peak that overlooks the city; from pencil pine-fringed alpine lake to tarn shelf in Mt Field National Park, the city’s “backyard”; and on beautiful Bruny Island.
Alternatively – or additionally if indulging your passion for hiking – you could take a driving-walking trip up Tasmania’s east coast. Fuelled by farm-fresh oysters and berries, stop on the way to climb Bishop & Clerk, on Maria Island, overnighting in a 19th century penitentiary cell. Go with the flow on Freycinet Peninsula up to the lookout over Wineglass Bay, one of Australia’s prettiest beaches. Visit the Bay of Fires, leaving footprints on white sand between piles of granite covered in orange lichen that glows in morning and evening sun.
Accept that Tasmanian weather can change dramatically in minutes, with sun making way for snow in the alpine regions, even in summer, and you’re guaranteed hiking adventures unique in Australia.
Check out my other state-by-state itineraries which include lots of specific walks:
For a general introduction to bushwalking Down Under, please see my ‘Bushwalking in Australia: everything you need to know.’