RACT Destinations
West Coast, TasmaniaKnown at the Western Wilds, raft untamed rivers, sail spectacular harbours, trek through rugged landscapes and hear the stories of Indigenous inhabitants, convicts, pioneers, miners, and environmental warriors.
The West Coast is the gateway to Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area, one of Australia's last true wilderness frontiers. Tasmania's west is some of the world's most beautiful and unforgettable natural wonders. With its rugged mountains, ancient rain forests and heath, the Tasmanian wilderness is a place of spectacular beauty and breathtaking scenery. Yet, despite its remoteness, visitors can still enjoy the best of Tasmania's quality accommodation and fine dining. The largest coastal town is Strahan, situated on Macquarie Harbour and close to Sarah Island - once the harshest penal colony settlements in Australia. The inland population centres of Queenstown, the largest town in Tasmania's West, and the smaller towns of Zeehan, Tullah and Rosebery are rich in mining history and all within a short distance of magnificent lakes, rivers, rainforests, massive dunes and historic sites. Although much of Tasmania's wilderness is remote and inaccessible, visitors can still experience its wonders by driving 60 km along the Lyell Highway between Derwent Bridge and Lake Burbury. Bordering the highway along this stretch of road are several stunning short walks through rainforest including Donaghys Lookout, Franklin River Nature Trail and Nelson Falls Nature Trail. With world heritage wilderness rich in convict history, temperate rainforests, stunning national parks and historic mining towns, Tasmania's West is a journey of discovery.
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Things to do
Get active at Maydena Bike Park
The Maydena Bike Park is a year-round mountain bike and adventure park, located in Tasmania's Derwent Valley. The bike park operates a commercial uplift service, with trails having a strong gravity focus. With access to over 820m vertical elevation and stunning wilderness, the park is Australia's biggest gravity-based bike park. The park offers uplift mountain biking, a free access skills park, two cafes, a bike store, a hire shop and a range of tours, including sightseeing tours.
Corinna Wilderness Experience
Set in the pristine Tarkine temperate rainforest, Corinna provides a range of accommodation options on Tasmania's West Coast. Options include eco retreats that overlook the Tarkine, renovated miners cottages, and the old pub. Experience the untouched nature of the southern Tarkine from Corinna, with majestic rivers, remote rainforest wilderness and the wild Southern Ocean. Fine hospitality, accommodation, food, and facilities provide the springboard to accessing raw nature, unlike anything else in the world. Corinna, a former mining village, is full of rich pioneering and natural history. Experience numerous walks including the Huon Pine Walk, the Savage River Walk, the Whyte River Walk or climb Mount Donaldson. Corinna is also the springboard for one of the iconic treats in Tasmanian tourism, a journey from Corinna to Pieman Heads on the river cruiser, Arcadia II. Or hire a kayak for an intimate exploration of your surroundings in your own time. Allow nearly six hours to drive from Hobart to Corinna (345 kilometres/215 miles), three hours from Devonport or one-and-a-half hours from Strahan. Corinna can be accessed by the Western Explorer Road (C249) road from Smithton, Marrawah and Arthur River or from the north via Waratah and Savage River on the B23.
Visit Queenstown
This historic West Coast town is a living history of railways, mining and determination, set in a strange lunar landscape of bare hills. Queenstown, the largest town on Tasmania's West Coast, is the home of the Mt Lyell Mining & Railway Company and is best known for its copper mines and smelters. The town was once the richest mining town in the world and today offers a living history of railways and the pioneering spirit. Evidence of the town's mining history is all around. The large copper smelters, fuelled by the surrounding forests, polluted the area and left the landscape sparse, though the vegetation is now slowing regrowing. The best vantage points to see the devastation are on the Queenstown-Hobart road as it winds down into the valley and from the popular lookout known as Spion Kop in the centre of town - follow the signs on Hunter Street. Queenstown was once home to 14 hotels; the Empire, in Orr Street, is one of the finest still standing. Completed in 1901, it has a beautiful handmade blackwood staircase. In contrast to the scarred hills, are nearby wilderness walks through the beautiful, wildlife-inhabited forest to disused tramlines and mineshafts, lookouts and waterfalls including Tasmania's highest, Montezuma Falls Queenstown is also the departure point for the West Coast Wilderness Railway, one of the world's great railway journeys. There's also excellent trout fishing in the surrounding lakes. Queenstown is a 3 hr 40-min drive (260 km) from Hobart.
Stay in Strahan
Strahan is a picturesque fishing village on beautiful Macquarie Harbour and sits on the doorstep of Tasmania's World Heritage Wilderness Area. Strahan has a unique pioneering heritage and a dark convict past that is at odds with the beauty of the surrounding forests and wilderness. The town has many stories to tell of the convicts and pioneers who tamed Tasmania's West. Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour was once the cruellest convict prison in Australia and is a reminder of the brutal treatment handed out to Tasmania's convicts. An ideal starting point for any visit to Strahan is the Strahan Visitor Centre with its excellent display recounting the story of Tasmania's West Coast. From Strahan, you can take a cruise along the Gordon River into the World Heritage Wilderness Area of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, passing through one of the last pristine temperate rainforests in the world. At the northern end of Strahan Harbour is the People's Park, a combination of natural forest and botanical gardens with picnic and camping facilities. From here, visitors can take a 60-min return walk to Hogarth Falls through the rainforest with the trees identified for those interested in botany. An essential experience in Strahan is a visit to Ocean Beach. Standing on this hard, flat beach with huge waves breaking on its shore, visitors are further south than the Cape of Good Hope and on the same latitude as the southern reaches of Patagonia. Ocean Beach, just out of town, is 40 km long and the dunes behind the beach are huge. On a fine day, the sunsets over the beach are particularly beautiful. Strahan is a 4.5-hr drive (300 km) from Hobart and a 3-hr drive (226 km) from Devonport.
Fly high above Strahan and surrounds
Strahan Helicopters specializes in Scenic Tours and transfers, from short Strahan Village flights to one and two-hour tours. Select from one of our planned tours or customise your own tour to suit your interests. Heli-Steam tours also available and operated in conjunction with the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Touch base with their friendly staff to learn more about these helicopter tours.
Check out RoamWild Tasmania
RoamWild Tasmania based in Queenstown offers great things to do on the west coast of Tasmania. The 'RoamWild Signature' - Special timbers, 1880's Gold and early 1890's underground copper/gold/silver mines amid world heritage wilderness. Advanced age Huon, King Billy pines, and other species. Visit the 1912-1914 Lake Margaret power scheme. Enter the powerhouse, see the original machinery, the wooden pipelines delivering water to turbines and the village for the video presentation with morning/afternoon tea in the village hall. Bespoke Experiences include Mountain Heights', 4x4 onto the Western range above the wilderness landscape, enjoy incredible views and photographic opportunities that must be experienced to believe. Extend the adventure with a nocturnal rainforest experience of 'Wildlife Nights' spotting wildlife and hearing stories of the Pines & Miners past. Enjoy supper and hot beverages among the prehistoric wilderness. 4x4 into the heart of Tasmania's Wilderness to Mt McCall in the Wild Rivers World Heritage area for the 'No Dams' adventure. A moving experience retracing world-changing events that saved this wilderness. Exclusive Bespoke Experiences, Pure Wilderness.
Travel aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway
Tasmania’s West Coast Wilderness Railway is a unique railway journey through the ancient rainforest that tells the story of rogues and rivals fighting for a share of untold riches. Journeys departing Strahan will commence in January 2021. When booking your rail journey, you are offered a choice of two comfortable carriage types. Heritage Carriages provide upholstered seating and snacks available for purchase along the way, whilst indulgent Wilderness Carriages offer fully inclusive catering and a welcoming glass of Tasmanian sparkling wine onboarding. As you pass breath-taking scenery, only accessible by our railway, you are invited to breathe and soak in the ancient rainforest. Our guides will share fascinating stories of the hardships of the railway’s construction and the men, women and children that called the surrounding wilderness their home. The train stops at historic stations along the route which offer activities including a rainforest walk, viewing the train being turned on a manual turntable, panning for gold, tastings of wild honey and stunning photo opportunities.
Jump aboard Gordon River Cruises
The award-winning Gordon River Cruise departs from Strahan and takes guests into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Cruising the Gordon River on the purpose-built Spirit of the Wild, you experience quiet cruising under the power of the vessel's electric motors. Cross Macquarie Harbour to Hell's Gates, the narrow entrance into the Southern Ocean. You then cruise to the Gordon River, where you give yourself the best chance of seeing the famous reflections while onboard Spirit of the Wild, the first cruise boat on the river each day. Step ashore at Heritage Landing and walk through the rainforest to see ancient Huon Pines. Step ashore again at Sarah Island, a 19th-century penal colony, hearing stories of the convicts who laboured there. Local guides enhance the tour with interpretation on the region's history. Seating is allocated to each guest. The main deck offers two seating styles - Main Deck Central and Main Deck Window. All are spacious and comfortable and include a delicious lunch that showcases Tasmanian produce. The third option is the Premier Upper Deck, including complimentary lunch, morning and afternoon tea, an open bar, and an exclusive viewing deck. Audio tours are available in German, French, Cantonese and Mandarin.
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