I was stoked for Eva when I heard her Dutch family were visiting us in Australia from France and planning a trip to Tasmania. They must have been running from something, not only wanting to go to the other side of the world, but also the fact they were heading to the isolated Tasmanian west coast.
I overheard Eva planning a four day hiking and camping tour to Cradle Mountain and some remote areas further west before they were going to head over to the east coast for a camper van and a slower pace in the more touristic part of Tasmania.
I had heard enough in the first part of the plan – I was coming along for the safari.
Day One: Tassie – I’m coming!
We started by flying to Launceston from Melbourne on Thursday the 2nd of January. First things first – a beer and steak sandwich at Alchemy Pub then we were in for a real treat!
The bar tender suggested that we check out a gorge on the other side of town (15 min. walk). Eva also had this place on her visit list, so with two thumbs up and a shopping mall around the corner, the afternoons itinerary was set.
We wanted to get some hiking gear, with about 10 hiking stores in Launceston, this was easily achieved.
Aspire on York Street was was a solid option! Make sure you pop into this place when you’re in the area so that you can get tips on the best places to go hiking and camping in Tasmania – the store owner really knows his stuff!
After picking up some new gear, we were off to the gorge.
Cataract Walk – Launceston Gorge
The walk along the side of the gorge was incredible. It’s suspended at times and apparently it’s so high because the entire gorge can flood at the flick of a switch.
We entered the gorge via the “Zig Zag Walk”, going up-and-down, back-and-fourth for about half-an-hour before mellowing out. It felt like we were somewhere pretty remote, then all of a sudden there was a huge pool, swimming lake and a chair lift from one side of the gorge to the other. This place was an oasis paradise! On the other side of the gorge from where we entered, there was an old style cafe surrounded by a small rain forest with tree ferns, myrtles and even some well aged Sequoias.
From the cafe, we then walked back to town along the other side of the gorge on the Cataract Walk. The trail was along small cliffs ranging from about 5-15 metres above the water in the gorge. At times, the walking path was completely hanging over the edge of the gorge above flowing water – it’s a world-class walk right next to the heart of Launceston – what a beauty it was coming to this small city!
This place was incredible and I would have liked to have spent a lot more time here. At least for Eva and her family, once I fly back home post camping tour, they’re coming back here for the day.
I don’t actually have any pictures of the pool, but it’s to the left of the lake below and Eva will send me some soon so that I can update this post.
Day Two: Guided into the Wild West
First thing in the morning with just enough time to grab a coffee, we were picked up by Aran and Alvin from Tasmanian Safaris.
We surely found the best guides in the territory. Delivering a flawless camping experience topped with some of the best day hikes any of us have been on, alongside plenty of bad jokes and good cooking. Aaran was able to tell us in detail all about the native plant life and trees and he explained the region to us with passion and as though it was his backyard.
To get in touch and book a tour anywhere in Tasmania, contact Aran via [email protected].
Tasmanian Safari: Start
We drove west and made our first stop at a place where we could take a short walk and get a decent vantage point looking at he Tasmanian plains with Cradle Mountain in the background.
The smoke haze from the bush fires wasn’t too bad here at the time, although the wind was meant to be bringing in a lot more smoke with it, so we decided to drive right over to the west coast instead of staying near Cradle Mountain for the night.
On the isolated west Tasmania coastline getting smashed by the rough Southern Ocean is the totally off-grid settlement of Trial Harbour.
The town lay abandoned for a long time after the closing of a tin mine about 30 minutes away in Zeehan, but in more recent years it’s become a holiday hide-away tucked away on the remote coastline.
We stripped to our shorts and bare feet, then walked several kilometers along the beach. Even being the middle of summer, it wasn’t quite hot enough to swim in the cold Tassie waters, although exploring and admiring the harsh coastline was all that was on the agenda.
After Trial Harbour, we headed into the Tarkine area where the terrain changed from being covered in Eucalyptus trees to a dense rain forest.
After a twisting, turning drive, we reached a ferry that carried us across to Corinna Eco Park.
Corinna Eco Park
Right in the middle of the Tarkine rain forest sits Corinna Eco Park. Once a small town thriving in the gold rush era, then abandon for a long time until it was revived and turned into a holiday park. This is an incredible place to camping or just visit for the day.
The forest is thick here and tucked away is this beautiful village. There are refurbished timber cabins, a campground, full facilities – even a general store and restaurant that’s ran by the park operators. The whole place is sitting right on the Pieman river where you can go on a river cruise, rent kayaks or even launch your own vessel via the boat ramp.
Here’s a whole heap more images and information about staying in a cabin or camping at Corinna.
After setting up our beds, taking a quick hot shower and eating dinner by the camp fire, we called it a night and got some rest before a big day of walking.
Day Three: Exploring by Foot
It was time to get the hiking boots on and hit some trails. We started the day by heading deep into forest by foot.
Savage River Walk
We headed west from the Corina Eco Park. Starting the Huon Pine Walk, we wandered along a board walk and admired huge native trees and ancient conifers that are thousands of years old.
I was born in a rain forest and take people on tours through them on the mainland, but this had to be the most amazing rain forest walk I’ve ever been on. The untouched, thriving and dense forest walk along the river was incredible.
It takes about 3kms along Pieman River to get to the intersection of Savage River. From there we met our guide and continued for about 2kms to where he had parked his car.
Take a look here at loads more info and images on the Savage River Walk.
After our rain forest walk, we headed back to the camp site for lunch before heading on our next day hike.
Mount Donaldson Summit Walk
We drove back to the Savage River car park and continued walking with a day hike to the Mount Donaldson summit.
The first 45 minutes or so of the walk is through a forest, similar to end of the Savage River Walk. Once we popped out of the forest, the terrain completely changes with just small shrubs. This gave us an amazing (smoke filtered) view of the Tarkine rain forest and the Pieman River that we had planned to kayak along the next day.
It took about one hour and 45 minutes to reach the summit, then it was an easy one hour or so stroll back to the car park.
You can see more images and read further about our day hike to the Mount Donaldson summit here.
Upon returning to our campsite at Corinna, our guides Aran and Alvin cooked us an beautiful and well earned lamb dinner on the barbeque while we sat by the camp fire and sunk a few beers.
Day Four: Cradle Mountain National Park
Heading to the highlight of the safari, we traveled east back towards Launceston and entered the Cradle Mountain National Park.
Our plans were to take it a bit easier today and have a short stroll through some parts of the national park, see some wild life and prepare for the hike on the following day.
It took a couple of hours of driving back through the winding roads, then were met with pure beauty, this place was incredible and looked like it was straight out of a fantasy movie.
After a little walk and a bit of exploring, we had lunch in a timber hut near by. Eva’s parents and brother were keen to go observe some Tasmanian Devils – our guide took them to Devils Cradle, which is a sanctuary next to the park entrance. Eva and I were wrecked, so we were escorted to a cafe and were lucky enough to come across some Wombats. We just pretended that they were bigger, rounder Tasmanian Devils.
From here, our guide took us to his own private campsite near the national park. Nestled among the tree were our tents that were already set-up, so again, while the guides cooked, we sat down by the fire and drank some more beers.
This was our last night on the safari and it was a cold one. Due to camping about 900 metres higher in altitude than last night, it was about 9 degrees colder at night.
Aran talked us through some different hiking trial options for the next day and planned a tough one. On the first night, we all chipped in and bought a heap of beer. I had finished my share, but due to this being the last night, how cold it was and the hike we had planned for the next day, I was able to sneak a few tinnies from the in-laws and no-one noticed a thing.
Final Day: Hiking the face of Cradle Mountain
Hundreds of millions of years magma pushed towards the Earth’s surface but cooled down before breaking through the crust. During an ice-age, glaciers tore away rock and left these giant Dolerite rock slabs exposed and towering into the sky.
Our guide created a hike that would challenge us, but not too much and give us the best views of Cradle Mountain and surrounding lakes. We wanted to see some native fauna while also enjoying the walk to ourselves. He did well, spotting out loads of really cool plants and trees, some of which are only found in Tasmania and saw just two other hikers until we got close to the base of Cradle Mountain.
Almost all people hike straight to the base of Cradle Mountain and venture to the summit, then return the same way or take a similar track back to the car park.
Instead of taking the popular route, we headed left instead of right, around Dove Lake.
The hike around the base of Dove Lake is 6kms, so we estimate what we did was about 12-15kms.
The walk took about 5 hours. It was a challenge, but incredible and we’ll remember this one for a while!
Here’s a bunch more photos and information about our Cradle Mountain day hike.
After this incredible hike and four days adventuring through west Tasmania it was time for the tour to come to an end. Aran drove us all back to Launceston after giving us a decent post hike feed. He detoured past the airport and dropped me off.
Eva and the rest of her family stayed in Launceston for a couple of extra days and have since been touring the east coast of Tasmania in a camper van. Once she’s back, we’ll put together this guide to traveling Tasmania and Eva will post another blog on the rest of her trip.
In the meantime, take a look at some of our other blog posts.