Welcome to the wild west coast of Tasmania. Home to ancient rainforests, towering mountains and raging rivers, its natural expanse is broken up only by outpost towns (and the coastal town of Strahan), dotted around in a testament to the area’s mining and logging past.
Feel the thrum of life around you as you cruise up the Gordon River to walk among thousand-year Huon pines. Inland on the serene Lake Rosebery, kayak across still waters. Return only when your stomach begins growling in anticipation of freshly-barbecued trout back at camp.
Feel your heart race on a rafting expedition in the tumbling waters of the Franklin River, gaze up at the state’s tallest waterfall, and skim down towering dunes of bone-dry coastal sand.
The mighty Frenchmans Cap track is not for the faint-hearted, but it’s definitely rewarding. Winding its way through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, we promise an unforgettable sight at the top.
Start at the old mining centre of Queenstown. Demarcated by devastating, brightly-coloured scars on the land, this mining hub at the edge of the World Heritage Wilderness Area has a captivating frontier history.
The coastal town of Strahan is another remote destination. Surrounded by national parks, a must-do here is a cruise up the Gordon River and a stop at sinister Sarah Island – one of the most severe of Australia’s former penal colonies.
There are plenty of other mining towns to explore. Check out Zeehan’s abandoned Spray Tunnel, go boating on Lake Rosebery at Tullah and take a day trip to Montezuma Falls – Tasmania’s highest waterfall – from Rosebery.
Head up to the Iron Blow Lookout near Queenstown to see the stark work of an open-cut mine. Have a chaser shot of pure green at Donaghy’s lookout, an easy walk overlooking Frenchmans Cap and the Franklin River valley. If you’re after something trickier, take on the three to five day Frenchmans Cap walk in the Gordon-Franklin Wild Rivers National Park.
Tasmania’s westernmost settlement of Marrawah is where surfers will catch the best waves. Comprising the beaches of Ann Bay, Mawson Bay, and Green Point, expect big surf.
Cruise through the dense temperate rainforest on the Gordon River from Strahan with Gordon River Cruises. On their Spirit of the Wild craft, you’ll delve deep into the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, up through the Franklin – Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. You’ll exit through the ominously-named Hell’s Gates and cruise onto the eerie Sarah Island penal colony, before walking among ancient Huon pines at Heritage Landing. The boat operates in ‘whisper mode’, taking you quietly upriver for walking tours in a natural paradise.
Want to literally gear up? There are mountain bike trails galore here, including the challenging Stirling Valley track near Rosebery or the beginner-friendly Montezuma Falls track. Another exhilarating ride down raging rapids awaits with King River Rafting at Queenstown.
Formed by the Roaring Forties winds, the giant Henty Sand Dunes north of Strahan are a sight to behold. But we promise they’re even more impressive when you’re tobogganing down one that’s up to 30m tall!
At Queenstown, book a blast from the past at the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Travelling through rainforest accessible only by steam train, you can hear stories about its construction on your way to Strahan.
At the art-deco Paragon Theatre in town, you’ll discover retro tales of a different era: those of the talkies in the golden era of cinema.
Just a short walk from the old mining town, the pet and family-friendly Queenstown Cabin and Tourist Park overlooking Mount Owen is a fabulous choice for travellers on a budget.
There is also the low-cost (around $6) Lake Burbury Camping area around a 15-minute drive from town or the Thureau Hills Campground, which has free camping, but limited facilities.
Out Strahan way, the Macquarie Heads Camping Ground has unpowered bush camping sites for around $15 a day, with areas for tents, caravans and motorhomes. The Strahan Beach Tourist Park has economical cabins, powered and unpowered sites, a playground and a games room.
For a spot of glamping in the warmer months, head to Zeehan Bush Camp for their ready-set up tents. In colder seasons, you can book their cabins.
Sleep next to the waters of Lake Rosebery at Tullah Lakeside Lodge. Close to kayaking, hiking and Montezuma Falls, this charming three-star hotel has a variety of rooms and powered camping sites.
A National Trust mansion that dates back to 1898, the Penghana Bed and Breakfast, overlooks Queenstown and was originally built for the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company.
Originally built for the Harbour Master at the end of the 19th century, Franklin Manor in Strahan is today a boutique property with plenty of old-world elegant touches.
Follow up a chilly day exploring mining history with an art-deco stay in the toasty Peppermint Cottage, in the centre of Queenstown. Bookable on Airbnb, this self-contained house is mega-cosy, with a wood fireplace to boot.
Before you hop on the West Coast Wilderness Railway, fortify yourself with a coffee and a stack of lemon curd pancakes or a vegan superfood bowl at the Tracks Cafe, situated within the Queenstown Railway Station.
At Strahan, the View 42º Restaurant & Bar overlooks Macquarie Harbour from the hilltop. Help yourself to the extensive seafood buffet, or opt for the à la carte menu. For relaxed pub fare, Hamer’s Bar and Grill has casual bistro meals like pizza, pasta and steaks.
A few minutes from the centre of town, the Risby Cove Restaurant dishes up local produce on the site of an old Huon pine sawmill. At this hotel restaurant you can dine on mouthwatering wallaby skewers, baked Tasmanian scallops in tomato sugo, and kingfish sashimi with pickled ginger … all while overlooking the private marina and Macquarie Harbour below.
The west coast can be reached by road trip, and is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Hobart and just over three hours from Launceston.
Interstate visitors can reach here by flying to Hobart or Launceston or taking the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Melbourne to the coastal town of Devonport.
Summertime is the most popular time of year to visit Tasmania, with warm, dry days. Want to avoid crowds? Spring and autumn are less busy times for a Tasmania road trip, and you may catch some snow when winter comes.
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Enter the exclusive reader’s promotion code ‘AMAZINGJOURNEYS’ when booking direct with Abode Hotels, to receive 15% off.
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