Must-see attractions of Cradle Mountain
Journey through the West Coast wilderness
and explore the two World Heritage areas of Cradle Mountain and the wild rivers of the Franklin and lower Gordon, an easy drive from Hobart, and easier still from Devonport (just one hour 15 minutes away) or Launceston (two hours).
En route to the wild and rugged West Coast, discover picturesque fishing villages and towns steeped in mining history while passing through dense and pristine forest overlooking wide lakes and rivers tumbling through steep gorges.
Relax in one of the region’s luxurious resorts after a day exploring breathtaking natural beauty and savouring some of the best of Tassie’s gourmet food and wine.
Trip length from Hobart 3–4 days
Total distance 677km
Road conditions Sealed and unsealed roads
Segment distances: Hobart to Queenstown 3hrs 40mins; 260km
Queenstown to Cradle Mountain 1hr 40mins; 122km
Cradle Mountain to Hobart 4hrs 10mins; 295km
Suggested overnight stops: Queenstown and Cradle Mountain
Must-see sights along the route, include:
– Discover the wild natural beauty of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair World Heritage National Park. Relish the fresh clean air, jagged mountain peaks, ancient rainforest and alpine heathlands, lakes, waterfalls and abundant wildlife.
See stands of ancient pines mirrored in the still waters of glacial lakes and spot wallabies, wombats, brush tail possums and currawongs. Choose from several short or long walks through the pristine wilderness and later relax in a luxurious resort and sample the best of Tassie’s gourmet food and wine. Read more about Cradle Mountain and find Cradle Mountain hotels . . .
Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
– Discover a pristine wilderness area of wild ranging rivers, overhanging cliffs and ancient rainforest that is easily explored from the river or on a series of nature trails.
Cruise the calm waters of the Gordon River through ancient rainforest, admire 2000-year-old Huon pines and visit Tasmania's oldest penal settlement at Sarah Island. Or head upstream and explore some of Tasmania’s most picturesque landscapes while rafting the tumultuous Franklin River.
Mole Creek Karst National Park
– Discover more than 300 deep limestone caverns and sinkholes containing stalactites, stalagmites, glow-worms and subterranean streams. Take a guided tour of King Solomon’s Cave or join an adventure caving experience through underground passages. Don’t miss Australia’s largest glow-worm display inside the Marakoopa Cave.
– The largest settlement on Tasmania's West Coast is best known for its copper mines, smelters and deforestation by 19th century mining practices. Take the chairlift ride to get a bird's-eye view of the damaged landscape, visit the Miners Siding and the Galley Museum or venture underground on a tour that reveals Queenstown's rich mining history and takes you to the working face of a mine.
For a stark contrast, hike through nearby dense forest to disused tramlines and mineshafts, lookouts and spectacular waterfalls – don’t miss seeing Tasmania's highest waterfall, Montezuma Falls.
You can also explore the region's natural beauty on the West Coast Wilderness Railway to the port of Strahan; this is truly one of Australia's great historic train journeys.
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West Coast Wilderness Railway
– Follow the former route of trains that once carried pure copper from the rich mines in Queenstown to the port at Strahan. Ride the original steam locomotives and coaches for a unique 34km journey over high trestle bridges and steep grades through a rainforested river gorge and past stunning natural scenery.
The line has been faithfully reconstructed to echo the amazing engineering feats of the pioneers who built the railway more than 100 years ago, including the unique ABT rack-and-pinion section on the 1:16 inclines.
Stop for refreshments and sightseeing at some of the original stations of the past – Lower Landing, Dubbil Barril, Rinadeena – where local guides can introduce you to the rich heritage of the railway. In the Premier Carriage, enjoy cabin service with fine cool-climate wines, fresh local pastries and Tasmanian cheeses.
– Located on the northern edge of the vast Macquarie Harbour, Strahan evokes the spirit of independence laid down by 19th century pioneers and miners, as well as 20th century protesters who stopped the damming of the wild Franklin River. From here explore the wild and beautiful World Heritage Area, an area of 1.38 million hectares – about 20 per cent of Tasmania.
Cruise across the harbour and along the wide Gordon River, jet boat the King River, kayak the rivers, explore the forest in a four-wheel drive or board a seaplane to search for some of the remaining 1000-year-old Huon pine and myrtle trees. Browse local craft shops for elegant artefacts made from aromatic, buttery-yellow Huon timber.
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– Cruise out to tiny Sarah Island, Tasmania's first penal station (1822), located in the remote reaches of windswept Macquarie Harbour. Here, convicts laboured under the harshest conditions, felling Huon pines for boat building. Stroll around the convict ruins for a chilling insight into the cruelties of convict life.
– Discover one of Tasmania’s richest mining towns. Since 1905 the area has yielded copper, gold, lead, zinc and silver, with an estimated value of AU$8 billion. Go deep below ground for a tour of the mine or take the track to Tasmania's highest waterfall – Montezuma Falls, just 10 minutes drive from town.
– Begin the track to Tasmania’s highest waterfall at Williamsford, 2km south of Rosebery. Choose to travel in comfort on a four-wheel drive tour or take the easy three-hour return walk along a level track to the base of the 104m-high falls. Meander through pleasant park-like rainforest including leatherwood, myrtle, sassafras and giant tree ferns. Look out for native wildlife, including several species of birds.
– Overlooked by Mount Murchison and close to beautiful Lake Rosebery, this former mining town is excellent for exploring the natural beauty of the region. Hire a mountain bike, saddle up a horse or hike into the wilderness on a guided tour.
Paddle the lake or Henty River with an experienced guide or hop aboard Wee Georgie Wood for a 1.6-km small-gauge steam engine ride from the middle of town. Don’t miss the local woodcraft workshop for a unique souvenir or gift.
– Take an historic walk around Zeehan, once Tasmania’s third-largest town. Discover the town’s rich and fascinating mining heritage at the West Coast Pioneer Memorial Museum. Cast a line for trout in Lake Pieman or crayfish at Granville Harbour, visit Zeehan’s original port, Trial Harbour, or take in the views from the top of Mount Zeehan.
– Discover a scenic port town surrounded by inviting beaches, undulating hills and tracts of eucalypt forest. Wander past several historic buildings, including the sandstone St Mary’s Anglican Church (1880) and Spring Bay Hotel (1838), and browse shops, galleries and tearooms.
Check out the Triabunna’s Visitor Information Centre for wall tapestries depicting the area’s rich Aboriginal and European history and visit the adjacent Tasmanian Seafarers Memorial. Go fishing or sailing and don’t miss savouring the succulent local scallops, mussels and abalone.
Bushwalk the coastal reserves: try Pelican Walk, beginning near the marina, and look out for Triabunnas, the fast-running flightless bird found only in Tasmania. The birds can be seen foraging near streams and pastureland.
Maria Island National Park
– Take the short ferry ride from Triabunna to historic Maria Island, one of the best places in Tasmania for bird watching. The wildlife refuge is home to the threatened Cape Barren goose, Forester kangaroo and Flinders Island wombat, as well as the rare forty-spotted pardalote and the Tasmanian native hen.
Scuba-dive the rich underwater environment and, from the shore or cliff tops, look out for dolphins, whales, seals and sea eagles. Take the spectacular Fossil Cliffs walk to see shellfish fossils, almost 300 million years old and once mined for their lime deposits. Head over to the beautiful honeycomb Painted Cliffs, so called because of the iron oxide stains that probably occurred millions of years ago. Go bushwalking, cycling or scuba diving.
Hartz Mountains National Park
– Hike through forest to Hartz Peak (1255m) for panoramic views over the ocean and into the very heart of Tasmania’s south-west wilderness World Heritage Area. Along the way, try to spot the shy platypus, echidnas or perhaps a Bennetts wallaby.
– Experience a six-day hike through the heart of Tasmania's stunning Wilderness World Heritage Area. Follow the 65km Overland Track from Ronny Creek through a variety of fascinating ecosystems, past beautiful waterfalls and close to Mount Ossa, Tasmania's tallest mountain at 1,617m, before finishing at Lake St Clair, Australia's deepest lake.
The well-maintained and clearly marked trail is Tasmania’s premier long-distance track and one of the world’s great wilderness bushwalks. The walking season lasts from November to April with long sunny days and an average temperature of 16°C.