The scenic and historic Western Wilderness spans from entry points at Smithton in the north, Waratah in the east and Queenstown in the south. This area boasts the magnificent Franklin - Gordon Wild Rivers National Park in the South and in the North, the Tarkine, home to rich aboriginal history and Australia's oldest trees. The scattered towns offer friendly accommodation, fantastic tours and cultural dining experiences. This region is home to our wildest weather and picturesque Tasmanian landscapes.
Smithton is the commercial centre of the North West Coast and the last stop before Arthur River – and the beginning of the Tarkine wilderness. Surrounded by lush green fields fed by the rains of the Roaring Forties, Smithton has plenty of in-town and nearby attractions. Get an overview of the North West Coast on a scenic flight or take a tour of the Tarkine and surrounds.
Bring your board to this favourite destination for surfing – experience the Rip Curl West Coast Classic each year on the March long weekend. Overlooking the Southern Ocean, the small community of Marrawah is a great place to rest before the most interesting and remote section of any North West tour – the Western Explorer Highway south to Corinna, Zeehan and Strahan. Apart from the surf, enjoy cray fishing, abalone diving, cruising on the Arthur River and night tours to see Tasmanian devils on King’s Run wildlife reserve.
Corinna is a remote historic mining town, now an eco-tourism haven set in pristine rainforest surrounded by stunning wilderness and great nature experiences. It sits at the southern end of the Tarkine Wilderness Area, and among rainforest on the banks of the majestic Pieman River. Here, nature is the star and the old-growth rainforest is a living link with the ancient supercontinent Gondwana. There are some iconic walks, from the accessible Huon Pine Walk to the more challenging Savage River, Whyte River and Mount Donaldson walks. These offer magnificent wilderness views.
Surrounded by dense rainforest and named after the wild river that runs from the mountains to the sea, Arthur River is a great base for exploring the Tarkine wilderness, Tasmania’s largest tract of temperate rainforest. The tiny coastal township of Arthur River is the northern entry to the Western Explorer (roadway) that leads from the coast to the beautiful Tarkine wilderness area.
Strahan is a harbour-side village with a dark and fascinating convict past set on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Nestled on the shores of massive Macquarie Harbour, Strahan is the gateway to the World Heritage listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Boat cruises provide an unforgettable journey through World Heritage Wilderness into the pristine temperate rainforests of the Gordon River.
Macquarie Harbour and Sarah Island
Macquarie Harbour is a large, shallow inlet next to Strahan. The inlet is navigable by shallow draft vessels. The main channel is kept clear by the presence of a rock wall on the outside of the channels curve. In Macquarie Harbour is Sarah Island, once a notorious convict prison and a powerful reminder of the brutal treatment of Tasmania’s convicts. These can be visited with World Heritage Cruises and Gordon River Cruises.
West Coast Wilderness Railway
Step back in history as you board a majestic steam train and journey deep into the heritage of the Tasmanian wilderness and hear tales of resilience and triumph over rugged terrain, hardship and adversity. The West Coast Wilderness Railway is not just a steam train, it's a heritage to explore. Departure points are Queenstown and Strahan. From Strahan, you can take a return half-day journey into the wilderness or a full-day journey from Strahan to Queenstown and back.
Tullah is a peaceful former mining town, surrounded by a beautiful landscape of lakes, rivers and mountain ranges. Located on the edge of Lake Rosebery, Tullah was originally a small mining town that was later extended in the 1970s to accommodate workers on the Hydro-Electric Power Scheme. Today, this town with two histories is a relaxed lakeside village in a scenic and remote setting among the forested slopes of Mount Farrell and Mount Murchison. Be sure to visit the Wee Georgie Wood Steam Railway.
Queenstown is the gateway to the West Coast with a rich and rugged mining history and loads of wild west appeal. It’s also close to the edge of Tasmania’s World Heritage Wilderness Area and surrounded by great fishing lakes. Queenstown is surrounded by dramatic hills and mountains and was once the world’s richest mining town.
Rosebery and Montezuma Falls
Rosebery is a zinc and gold mining town situated in a beautiful natural setting. Nestled deep within a secret valley, Rosebery is surrounded by a striking landscape of dense forest and the volcanic mountains of the West Coast Range. Rosebery is also close to Montezuma Falls – one of Tasmania’s tallest waterfalls. The waterfall can be reached on an interesting walk along an old mining tram line or by four-wheel-drive.
Waratah and Philosopher Falls
Waratah is a small, scenic town on the edge of the Tarkine wilderness with a rich mining past, a magnificent town-side waterfall and a unique lakeside setting. The town sits on the edge of Lake Waratah and the Tarkine Reserve and was once home to the richest tin mine in the southern hemisphere. Nearby, is another iconic short walk and waterfall that attracts visitors; Philosopher's Falls.
The Tarkine is a huge area of temperate rainforest, sand dunes and coastal heathland with strong links to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The area contains a wildly diverse landscape – including Australia’s largest patch of temperate rainforest – and a world of natural treasures including mountain ranges, wild river and cave systems, button grass moorlands, and a rugged coastline with long sandy beaches, grassy woodland and coastal heath.