Rugged and wild, the northwest of Tasmania has a hauntingly lovely quality, which never fails to enchant visitors and inhabitants alike.
While it’s the jagged peaks of Cradle Mountain that draw many here, it’s not long before they discover the region’s other delights. Remote rainforest wilderness, coastal towns with colonial pasts, and farms with air tinged with sea breezes are all begging to be explored.
Choose your own adventure with one of the epic Cradle Mountain hikes, and take in the glacial stillness of Dove Lake. Switch hazy fields of lavender for bright splashes of tulips up at Table Cape. Ascend an ancient volcanic plug for an expansive view like no other, and hear your heartbeat in the calm of the Tarkine Forest Reserve.
Got time to expand the trip? Then tee up on one of the world’s best golf courses across the Bass Strait on King Island, and dive into its dramatic history of shipwrecks and rescues.
If you’re arriving by ferry, your first stop will be the port town of Devonport, the gateway to North West Tasmania. Up the Cradle Coast, the town of Burnie was once an industrial port city, but today hosts a thriving artistic community. At Stanley, ‘the Nut’ volcanic plug dominates the landscape, with a colonial town nestled on its slopes.
Inland, is where you’ll find one of Australia’s most iconic sites – Cradle Mountain.
King Island lies 120 kilometres offshore in the middle of the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. Its famous wares include cheese, beef and seafood, as well as its beaches and incredible golf courses.
See Cradle Mountain from every angle in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Ramble on the Dove Lake Circuit, hike the summit walk or even embark on the 65-kilometre Overland Track. Don’t forget to stop on the way out at the spectacular Bridal Veil, No Name and Champagne waterfalls.
Out west is the remote historical gold mining town of Corinna, right at the edge of the Tarkine wilderness area, near Australia’s largest area of temperate rainforest at the Tarkine Forest Reserve.
On the west coast, take a day out on an eco-cruise with Arthur River Cruises over spring, summer or autumn. Once on board, keep your eyes peeled for platypus, white-bellied sea eagles and native quoll over the six-hour trip.
For some of Australia’s best breaks, fly to King Island. On dry land, the cliffs of Seal Rocks State Reserve and the 7,000-year-old Calcified Forest there make for captivating walks.
Live your bushranger fantasies on a horse riding tour with Cradle Country Adventures. Running in summer only, the tour is run by guides who will lead you and your four-legged friend through button grass plains, myrtle and alpine eucalyptus forest, overlooking jaw-dropping views of the mountain.
The well-preserved colonial buildings at Stanley date back to when the Van Diemen’s Land Company was based in the shadow of the ‘Nut’. Equally enthralling are abandoned miner’s towns like Balfour, which make for an eerie trip back in time.
The once industrial town of Burnie has recreated itself as a creative centre, and the quirky rural town of Sheffield has been splashing murals onto its walls since the eighties (it now has over 200).
Northern Tasmania is home to a long list of great food and drink producers. The Van Diemen’s Land Creamery was established by a dairy farming family and has over 50 flavours to pick from. For a natural sugar high, pick your own offerings at Turners Beach Berry Patch.
Ashgrove Cheese near Deloraine has a pasture to plate breakfast and lunch menu, with dishes like truffle fondue, and fresh-as local cheeses to purchase. After a cheeky tipple? The Ghost Rock Cellar Door & Eatery is a family-friendly winery, while Spreyton Cider Co has gorgeous orchards to see.
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While there is no free camping in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park Cradle Mountain Wilderness Village offers cabins while Cradle Mountain Discovery Park has spots for tents or caravans. Alternatively, there are free sites nearby, like those at Lake Gairdner.
You can book one of the eight Waldheim Cabins while doing the hikes of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. While you need to bring your bedding (or book it ahead), basic amenities like an electric stove are welcome treats after a cold day walking.
If you’re going to the Arthur River area for a spot of salmon or trout fishing, the Manuka, Prickly Wattle and Peppermint campgrounds in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area are low-cost places for a tent or caravan.
On the coast, you can caravan-hop between parks like the Ulverstone BIG4, the Stanley Cabin & Tourist Park, the Devonport Discovery Parks, and Mersey Bluff Caravan Park at Patrol Beach.
For a touch of pampering after tramping around the slopes, the four-star Peppers Cradle Mountain has cosy alpine cabins, roaring log fires and an onsite spa. Alternatively, Pumphouse Point is an adults-only wilderness retreat, located tantalisingly in the centre of the lake.
The rustic eco-retreat Corinna Wilderness Experience is a unique way to experience the lush rainforest of Tarkine, with cottages that include a refurbished old pub, as well as camping spots.
On King Island, the exclusive Kittawa Lodge has secluded boutique lodge accommodation that is luxurious from its coastal views to panoramic (read: enormous) bathtubs.
Set in what was once an 1890s Wesleyan Methodist Church, The Chapel at Burnie is an eclectic and scrumptious local establishment to visit. Over at Miandetta outside Devonport, Brown Bear Eatery dishes up hearty brunch items like chicken wings, french toast and breakfast burgers.
Idyllic and great for kids, the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe doesn’t just serve up the goods when it comes to dessert (raspberry sundaes and much more, since you asked). You can also relax by its indoor fire, stroll by its lake or set the little ones loose at its playground.
For seafood so fresh you’ll think it’s about to leap off the platter, go to Pedro’s Seafood Bar & Grill at Ulverstone. Take a seat at its wharf-restaurant on the Leven River and proceed to demolish plates of crayfish, scallops and seafood chowder. Alternatively, the cafe at Tarkine Fresh Oysters takes an inventive approach to its signature fare, with molluscs arriving topped with frozen granita, crème fraîche and smoked salmon, raspberry vinegar and more besides.
If you’re craving a pub meal, The Bridge Hotel Forth on the banks of a river has had almost 150 years to get its menu right. Dig into baked camembert at this charming establishment, and stay on for some sets at this fun music venue.
Overlooking King Island’s Grassy Harbour, Wild Harvest Restaurant sources its food locally and was voted one of Australia’s best fine-dining experiences in Tripadvisor’s 2021 Travellers’ Choice Awards.
Travellers can fly to Hobart or Launceston. From Launceston, it is an hour drive to Devonport, and from Hobart, it takes just over three.
Those coming from Melbourne can fly directly to Wynyard (Burnie), King Island or Devonport, or even take the famous Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Geelong. The latter has the advantage of being able to take your car – meaning you’re road trip ready as soon as you arrive.
Summertime is the peak season, with warm, dry days. Alternatively, spring and autumn are less crowded, without the heavier winter rain or snowfalls.
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