Known for its incredible coastline and rugged wilderness, our hike in Tasmania was just shy of one month.
We packed our bags, picked up a rental car, and hit the mountains. With so many beautiful hikes and areas to explore, it was hard to narrow down the top things to do during this visit to Tasmania. Our memories of Tasmania are incredible, with some of the best remote bushwalking we’ve ever done.
Read on to learn all about the top things to do in Tasmania, including the best hikes, day walks, and overnighters, as well as other main attractions on the island!
Hike in Tasmania
After a few days of warming up our legs on the Tasman Peninsula, we left for our main objective – Southwest National Park. Our ultimate goal was to hike the Western Arthurs, a 9-mile range known for its gnarly peaks and extreme weather conditions.
Our first stop was the visitor center at Mount Field National Park. As it turns out, our ambitions were too high. We thought it would be a good idea to hike the entire Western Arthur range and continue to the Eastern Arthur range to summit Federation Peak. On a map, it looks like such a small distance. Silly rabbits. The ranger actually did this exact route – it took him 16 days. That did not include a 3-day hike just to place food halfway on the hike for a food drop. Needless to say, we scrapped our plan.
He gave us a great recommendation to hike the Mount Anne Circuit, a 3-day hike, followed by the Western Arthurs, a 7-10 day hike. It was early in the hiking season and no rangers had been out on these circuits since the winter. Just before heading out with maps and information from the ranger, he asked me a question – “can you check the level of the drop toilets to make sure none are overflowing?” Great, now I was on poop duty.
stop 1: Mount Anne
The Mount Anne Circuit is a 3-day hike of the tallest peak in the Southwest. We set off on the first day intending to get to Shelf Camp. The weather was perfect, rare for Mount Anne, so we summited on day one. The summit itself was challenging with some very dicey sections.
The second day was only 2.5 miles but took roughly 6-7 hours. We got through the “Notch” and zigzagged our way down the Lightning Ridge. The Notch was supposedly the toughest part of the hike, so we felt pretty good. The John Chapman guidebook said the third and final day had boardwalks and was an easy five hours out. We were stoked.
The high feeling didn’t last very long. After an hour into the final day, views of Mount Anne vanished and we descended down a ridge to Lake Judd. Within minutes, we were all spewing every curse word known to mankind. Overgrown shrubs and branches assaulted us. Our arms and legs tore to shreds and bleeding from countless spots.
We finally made it to flat ground and had a sigh of relief. Not for long. We navigated the next five hours through deep mud pools. It was the worst five hours of our lives. Welcome to hiking in Tasmania.
Stop 2: Western Arthur Traverse
With some insight into what a hike in Tasmania entails, we prepared mentally to take on the more serious hike. We packed our bags with food the weight of a small child and hit the trail.
The prior day on Mount Anne made us quite sluggish on the first day. Luckily for us, the hike in the Arthurs was not too bad. We caught one of the driest months in Tassie, and the hike in the Arthurs is more exposed, so a lot of the mud had dried up. Woohoo!
For the next six days, we navigated through some of the toughest hiking we have ever done. The views were spectacular as we hiked around 22 peaks, summitted 14, and zigzagged around 20 stunning alpine lakes.
Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.
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Tasmania Hiking Guide
Best Time to Visit Tasmania
The best time to go to Tassie is during the summer when the weather is great and mountain hikes are accessible. Australia’s summer months are between December and February. Average temperatures during that time range from 20-24°C (68-75°F).
Weather in Tasmania
Tasmania is known for its harsh weather conditions, especially in the mountains. A beautiful sunshine-filled day can quickly turn into hail or snowstorm, even in the dead of summer. Wind gusts and rainfall can be pretty serious. Most of the island consists of boggy land which creates torturous mud pools and very tough hiking conditions.
Tassie weather is very unpredictable, but reliably gets a lot of rain. As a result, plans often need adjustment, and you can expect to spend at least part of your time exploring Tasmania in poor weather.
Getting to Tasmania
The cheapest way to get to Tasmania is to fly from Melbourne. Flights are daily and are very reasonably priced. You can find inexpensive flights from Sydney as well if you book in advance.
The Spirit of Tasmania sails between Melbourne and Devonport every evening. And between September and April, there are additional sailings. The journey takes between 9 to 11 hours and you can bring a car onboard for an additional cost.
Getting Around Tasmania
Renting a car is the best way to get around when you visit Tasmania as getting around via public transportation is not easy. Reaching the national parks can be especially difficult. It is possible to go with shuttles but there are expensive.
Best Places to Stay in Tasmania
Hobart Budget Hotel – For a nice room at a budget price, check out the Blue Hills Motel.
Hobart High-End – For an adorable bed and breakfast, check out the Mill House Cottage.
Camping – Camping is a popular option, especially within National Parks. Some campsites are free. However, more popular parks charge fees up to $30 AUD per night.
National Park Fees in Tasmania
The best places to visit in Tasmania are within the national park system, but they have hefty entry fees. If you’re planning to visit for more than two days, it is best to get a national park pass. Passes are available from any Service Tasmania store or online. National park visitor centers located at Freycinet, Mount Field, and Cradle Mountain sell passes as well.
Hiking in Tasmania Overview
The Tasmanian wilderness is unlike anywhere else in the world. We expected conditions and hiking to be very similar to New Zealand. While there are some similarities, Tasmanian peaks are typically surrounded by button grass plains. This sort of topography is prone to flooding, causing deep mud trenches. Expect to trek through ankle-deep and at times knee-deep mud with the exception of Cradle Mountain, which has many boardwalks in place. A good attitude is really the only way to get through some of these hikes.
Hiking Guides and Apps
John Chapman guides are the best for detailed hike descriptions, routes, and maps. They are worth buying (or finding someone with one) to have knowledge of each hike. Trails often have poor maps (or none at all) and there is limited signage on any of the hikes outside of the Overland Track.
There are two excellent apps to download before heading to Australia. Campermate is a free app that provides information on campsites, things to see, petrol, and lots more.
WikiCamps Australia is paid app (a one-time cost) that has tons of information and user comments. The comments can be downloaded and are available offline. WikiCamps is great for its extensive list of campsites and comments to help provide information and suggestions.
Best Places to Visit in Tasmania
1. Tasman National Park
The Tasman Peninsula is only two hours from Hobart in the southeast corner of Tassie. It is home to a stunning coastline and Australia’s tallest ocean cliffs. The three capes called Hauy, Raoul, and Pillar can only be explored on foot.
There are several day hikes in the area, including some of our favorite in Tassie. We recommend visiting all three capes on your own, which can be done for free.
There is also the highly marketed and expensive Three Capes Track. It is a good option if you’re looking for a cush overnight hiking experience. The huts are comfortable and the track conditions cannot be beaten.
2. Freycinet National Park
Freycinet has many gorgeous beaches and coves to explore, including the most famous beach in Tassie – Wineglass Bay. The emerald water is clear and resembles that of the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean.
A 2-3 day circuit with campsites at Cooks Beach and Wineglass Bay is a popular option. Several day walks are also available, including the Wineglass Bay Overlook. Our favorite walk was Mount Amos.
3. Bay of Fires
Freycinet may be more popular, but Bay of Fires is even more stunning. This unique coastline is blanketed with orange-colored rocks and stunning white-sand beaches.
Binalong Bay is a great spot for photography, as is The Gardens with its massive orange boulders. The scenic Picnic Rocks is further north near Eddystone Point.
4. Cradle Mountain
Home to Australia’s most recognizable mountain, Cradle Mountain is a must when visiting Tassie. Lake St Clair is a pretty lake, but the best views and time is spent at the northern part of the park at Cradle Mountain.
You can do several day hikes to explore the alpine lakes and glaciated valleys, and summit the famous peak itself.
5. Maria Island
Maria Island is a natural wildlife sanctuary located off the east coast of Tasmania. The island is excellent for easy walks and cycling trips. The main highlights at Maria Island, aside from all the wildlife, are visits to the Painted Cliffs, Riedle Bay, and the Fossil Cliffs.
Access to Maria Island is by the Encounter Maria ferry from Triabunna. Accommodation is available in the old penitentiary building at Darlington as well as free campsites at French’s Farm and Encampment Cove.
6. Mount Field National Park
This small national park is home to Mount Field, a single peak that is a ski field in the winter and waterfall wonderland for the remainder of the year. Don’t miss Russell Falls and the quick detour to the picturesque Horseshoe Falls.
There are several short hikes that are easy for the entire family. The Lake Dobson circuit begins from the end of Lake Dobson road, with incredible views of Mount Field and Lake Dobson.
The Best Day Hikes in Tasmania
Cradle Mountain has several day hikes that allow you to explore the base of the mountain or summit the mountain. The dove lake circuit is an easy 1-2 hour walk with spectacular views.
The Cradle Mountain summit circuit takes a higher track around Dove Lake and an ascent up the boulders to the summit of Cradle Mountain. The entire circuit takes around six hours, including a break at the summit.
Cape Hauy is home to the Three Capes Track. This track costs over $500, which covers overnight accommodation in high-end lodges. However, this coastal track is also accessible for day hiking, which does not require a permit and is free.
Cape Hauy track begins at Fortescue Bay, where there is a large campsite. The walk is 8 km (5 miles) return and takes about four hours.
Coastal views at Cape Raoul may be the best in Tasmania with massive ocean cliffs and stunning rock formations caused by centuries of erosion.
The cape is marketed as part of the Three Capes track, but that track does not actually hike to Cape Raoul (misleading right?). Their intention is to join the track to Cape Raoul one day. The walk is free and begins in Stormlea. The hike is 14 km (8.7 miles) return and takes about five hours.
The stunning emerald bay at Freycinet National Park is best seen from the top of Mount Amos. This short 4 km (2.5 miles) hike has sections that are very steep and slippery. The rock, especially when wet, can be difficult to navigate. But the views from the top are panoramic and are definitely worth the 2-hour hike.
The Best Multi-Day Hikes in Tasmania
For decades this 3-4 day hike was a treacherous trail, with a boggy section known as the Loddon Plains. While the section was only 2 km (1.2 miles), it would take hours of navigating through waist-deep mud trenches. Thanks to massive private investment and government funding, the track has been redone with new huts and a track that avoids the Loddon Plains.
Access to this hike is from the Lyell Highway (A10), 55km (34 miles) before Queenstown. Frenchmans Cap is incredibly scenic, but vulnerable to treacherous weather conditions. While the hike can be completed in three days, four days allows for a better chance to summit the mountain. The total distance of the circuit is 46 km (28.5 miles).
This 3-day circuit is a beautiful hike that includes bush camping, summiting Mount Anne, and tricky descent down an extremely dodgy track.
The first day is up an easy track to a plain and then to the summit of Mt. Anne. However, in many instances, the summit is inaccessible due to weather. The second day is known to be the hardest section of the hike as you’ll be navigating on the Lightning Ridge. The impossible-seeming Notch can be tricky when wet and often includes pack hauling.
The descent down Mount Anne on the third day was one of the roughest hiking days we have ever experienced. The overgrown shrubs tore up our exposed skin. And the knee-deep mud was a beast to get through. But regardless, this was still one of our favorite hikes in Tasmania.
The total circuit is 26 km (16 miles). A day walk can be done to Mount Anne flats right before the summit and returning to the car park. For very fit hikers, Mount Anne can be summited in one day, but it would likely take around 10 hours.
The Overland Track
The Overland Track is the most popular track in Tassie and is great for those looking to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Cradle Mountain National Park. With exceptions to Cradle Mountain and the Pine Valley, this track is exclusive to those with a permit. Comfortable huts are included in the cost of a permit.
This 5-8 day hike originates from Cradle Mountain and finishes at Lake St Clair. Booking in advance is required. The hiking (permit) season is from October 1 through May 31. The total length of the Overland Track is 65 km (40 miles).
If you do not obtain permits, but still want to explore the best sections of this track, there are day hikes to Cradle Mountain and multi-day hikes to the Pine Valley, neither of which requires permits.
Accessed from Lake St Clair at the bottom of the Overland Track, Pine Valley is known for beautiful alpine lakes and glaciated peaks. Unique spectacles of the Acropolis and the Labyrinth are day hikes from the Pine Valley Hut. Scenic views can be found at Lake Elysia and the Pond of Memories.
Hikes can be tailored from 3-5 days and would typically include stays at either Echo Point or Narcissus Hut for a night, as well as a few nights at the Pine Valley Hut. A circuit to Pine Valley including stops at the Acropolis and the Labyrinth is a total distance of 52 km (32 miles).
Western Arthur Traverse
For the ultimate hike in Australia, head to the Western Arthurs. The range is only 15 km (9.3 miles) long but can take 10 days for the full traverse. With 22 peaks and 20 hanging alpine lakes, the Western Arthurs was the most demanding, curse-spewing, and blood-splattering hike we have ever been on. It was also one of the best.
Hikes can range from 3-10 days depending on the route. The ultimate test is the full traverse which takes 7-10 days. A half circuit departs the range at Moraine K. This is typically a 5-7 day hike.
For those who do not want to attempt the treacherous sections after Lake Oberon or are deterred by bad weather, staying two nights at Lake Cygnus with a day trip to Lake Oberon is an easy alternative to see some of the Arthurs.
The half traverse is a total distance of 46 km (28.5 miles) and the full traverse is a total distance of 72 km (45 miles). The circuit begins and ends at the Huon Campground at Scotts Peak Dam. A rope is recommended for the circuit route beyond Lake Oberon.
Suggested Itineraries for Tasmania
One Week: The Best of Tassie Short on Time
- Hobart will be the first destination. Explore the art galleries, excellent food, and nightlife while staying one night.
- The Tasman Peninsula is two hours from Hobart, come for the day and hike either the Cape Raoul Track or Cape Hauy Track (or both).
- Freycinet is a three-hour drive from the Tasman Peninsula. Exploring the tropical beaches and coves including Wineglass Bay is a must when you visit Tasmania. Mount Amos has the best views in the national park, but it is a challenging hike, albeit a short one.
- Bay of Fires is an incredibly unique thing to see, with orange-colored rocks and white sand beaches. Seeing Binalong Bay, the Gardens and any of the dozens of beautiful beaches will make you not want to leave. Bay of Fires is an excellent place for camping with lots of free campsites.
- Cradle Mountain is a highlight of Tassie and a perfect way to immerse into nature. Take up a few of the day hikes around Cradle Mountain.
Two Weeks: Tassie’s Best Sights and Hiking Adventures
- All of the one-week sights: Hobart, Tasman Peninsula, Freycinet, Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain
- Two night, three-day Maria Island trip
- Explore the waterfalls at Mount Field National Park
- Pick one or two multi-day hikes: Frenchman’s Cap, Pine Valley, or Mount Anne
Three Weeks: All of Tassie’s Gems and Epic Hiking Trips
- All of the two-week sights: Hobart, Tasman Peninsula, Freycinet, Bay of Fires, Cradle Mountain, Maria Island, and Mount Field
- West coast waterfalls: Nelson Falls, Hogarth Falls, and Montezuma Falls
- Four-day hike at Frenchman’s Cap
- Three-day hike at Mount Anne
- Test your hiking skills to Lake Oberon, or attempt the Western Arthur Traverse
That’s it – we hope you enjoy exploring Tasmania!
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