Five Must See Tasmanian National Parks
Tasmania’s national parks are among the most pristine and spectacular in the world. Andrew Bain nominates his favourite five.
Of the many things Tasmania does well, national parks are arguably atop the list. The island state has 19 national parks, covering almost one-quarter of its area and protecting a diverse range of landscapes, from the most dramatic mountains in Australia to some of its most vivid and inviting coastline. Here are five must-do Tasmanian wilderness escapes.
Dangling off Tasmania’s east coast, Freycinet is the state’s oldest national park, with the main body of the park connected to the mainland by the beautiful long stripe of Richardsons Beach. For years a favourite camping area for locals, this kilometre-long beach provides views across so much of what makes Freycinet one of Tasmania’s most popular parks. Rising from the southern end of the beach are the bare flanks of the Hazards, a small line of mountains with a curious pinky-orange tinge, while the crystal-clear waters of protected Coles Bay flop ashore on the beach.
Wrapping around the shores of the Tasman Peninsula, Tasman National Park protects the likes of the highest sea cliffs in Australia, caves gouged out by the relentless Southern Ocean and the high, wind-brushed sand dunes of Crescent Bay. Sitting beside the national park is the cultural treasure of Port Arthur, the state’s most famous convict settlement, where the penitentiary, homes and convict-built church still testify to the heart-wrenching beauty of this isolated 19th-century prison.
3. Mount Field
Just an hour from Hobart, this century-old national park is Tasmanian nature as its pure best. Hidden from the peaks above, a series of waterfalls, including the emblematic Russell Falls, pour through stunning rainforest. An easy 20-minute walking trail sets out from beside the newly redeveloped visitor centre to reach a viewing platform at the base of the falls. Along the way, you’ll pass a glow-worm grotto where, in darkness, these tiny creatures (which are actually the larvae of a gnat, not worms) light up like a forest constellation. In autumn, the native fagus trees along the Tarn Shelf turn on a brilliant display of colour, turning the national park into something of a pilgrimage site.
4. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair
Tasmania’s star mountains rise inside its star national park. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair is home to seven of Tasmania’s 10 highest peaks, including that most shapely mountain of all, Cradle Mountain. The centrepiece at the park’s southern end is Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake, where quiet contemplation on its shores may even earn you a platypus sighting.
5. Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers
This is where Tasmania really gets wild. Cut by the almost mythical Franklin River, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is also home to the likes of Frenchmans Cap, a hulking white quartzite peak that’s visible from the Lyell Highway. Adventurous rafters bounce down the rapids of the Franklin River, but the national park reveals itself in more serene fashion with a cruise on the Gordon River. Cruises cross Macquarie Harbour before being engulfed by rainforest along the Gordon, where the river reflections can be so perfect it becomes difficult to know which way is up.
Need to Know
From the beauty of Freycinet National Park and Cradle Mountain, to the harbour-side town of Hobart, you’ll love every day you spend in Tasmania. On Travelmarvel’s 10 Day Grand Tasman tour.
Visit – Bridestowe Lavender Estate and try an array of lavender-infused foods and beauty products.
Explore – Australia’s best preserved convict penal settlement at Port Arthur Historic Site.
Stay – at the charming Tall Timbers Hotel in Smithton and enjoy a three course dinner of seasonal fare.
Extend Your Stay – while in Hobart, enhance your journey with a short eco-cruise to Bruny Island, with its abundant wildlife, stunning cliff top views and delicious local produce. Secure your place as there is limited availability aboard the cruise. Arrange at time of booking your 10 Day Grand Tasman tour.
Images in the article are courtesy of Shane Pedersen, Kathryn Diehm, Artie Photography (Artie Ng)