3 days, 640km, 10hrs driving
Take a three day detour via the beautiful west coast between Tasmania’s two largest cities.
There are three main routes to get between Launceston and Hobart; direct north-south, via the east coast, and via the west coast. The east coast features pristine white sandy beaches, and the iconic Wineglass Bay, whilst the west coast features Cradle Mountain, and some of the most remote wilderness in the world through Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. This trip focuses on the west coast, with a day trip to the beautiful fishing village of Strahan.
Click on thumbnails for enlarged image:
Aim to leave Launceston 9am or earlier if possible, and consider bringing a bag of snacks and sandwiches. It doesn’t take long to get out of the city, and you will soon be enjoying lush countryside and rolling hills along National Highway 1. There are large amounts of roadkill along the way, so be wary of that as you drive along, as well as wildlife in general. Make your way past Deloraine and take Mole Creek Rd (B12). The first main stop of the day is past Mole Creek at the Marapooka Caves . Here you can get a fascinating tour of some incredible geological history, as well as seeing some glow worms! Tours run every half hour, run for 90 minutes and cost around $20 AUD pp. After the tour, head back to B12 and continue west as it continues as C138. The road quickly becomes windy as you start a pretty steep climb. On a clear day ,there are some great views all along the way until you turn onto C136 and then C132. The drive then gets somewhat more flat as you drive along the plains of Middlesex. There is some extremely barren landscape as you approach Cradle Mountain Road. I would advise parking at the visitor centre at Cradle Mountain rather than driving further on yourself, the road is extremely narrow and frequented by the shuttle busses that I recommend using. The shuttle busses run between the visitor centre and the south shore of Dove Lake. You will need to purchase a Parks Pass from the office before jumping on the bus.
There are a huge amount of trails that you can do once you arrive at Dove Lake. The most popular one is Dove Lake Circuit, and can be completed in 1.5-2 hrs. It is a wonderful track with great views and variations in surroundings as you go. All other trails are worth doing, but limiting the walking to 3-4 hrs is advised due to the length of driving still to go. Catch the shuttle bus back to the visitor centre once you have finished, make your way back to C132 and head west. Enjoy some more beautiful open roads and turn left onto A10. The road becomes noticeably more quiet as you continue south to Queenstown. There are a number of options from here, I recommend turning off the A10 briefly and taking B28. This section of road is extremely nice, and so quiet that you forget about everything else. Enjoy the drive all the way into Queenstown and settle in for the night after a long day!
Today is a planned day trip to Strahan, a gorgeous fishing village on the shores of Macquarie Harbour. Drive down B24 early on from Queenstown in the morning, it is a very windy road but great fun to drive along as you go through beautiful temperate rainforest. There are a number of options for the day in Strahan. I recommend going on a cruise down the Gordon River (http://www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/en/gordon-river-cruise.html) This tour I recommend takes around 6 hrs total, but you disembark twice for a nature trail, and a stop at the historic Sarah Island. The cruise is a great experience and highly recommended. If the cruise is undesired, you can do a wilderness railway journey (http://www.wcwr.com.au/) from Strahan. The River & Rainforest tour gives you a 4 hr return journey from Strahan and goes through some of the most beautiful rainforest whilst learning about an extraordinary piece of engineering. I recommend booking these tours online in advance to avoid missing out. You can always try the Information Centre if you are on a last minute trip. On the road around Strahan, there is the Hogarth Falls walk , and a great lookout of Strahan at the end of Tamar Street . For those into working with wood, there is a great little store called Wilderness Woodworks that you can smell a cut of the famous Huon pine. There are a few great dining options in Strahan, notably Risby Cove, where you can enjoy some beautiful fresh seafood. Enjoy a nice dinner before heading back to Queenstown for the night to get a nice headstart on the drive to Hobart.
The last day is the drive to Hobart. If you did the Gordon River cruise yesterday, it is an option to do a wilderness railway journey from Queenstown. The Rack & Gorge tour is roughly 4 hrs and leaves at 9am. If it is the summer, there will still be plenty of daylight left to drive to Hobart whilst doing a few nature walks along the way. Head out of Queenstown south along the Lyell Highway (A10), it is quite a steep climb and descent as you make your way out of town, but the road opens up nicely as you cross Lake Burbury. On a clear day you can see the vast wilderness that awaits you with mountain ranges and forest as far as the eye can see. The road will get a bit windy as you enter Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The first stop is Nelson Falls for an easy short 15-20min return walk. The next stop is Donaghys Lookout walk, it is a bit more tough and will take approx. 1 hr to complete, but the 360 degree view including Frenchmans Cap makes it worthwhile. Further along the road is the Franklin River Nature Trail , this was a personal favourite as it took you to the junction of the Franklin and Surprise River. The next and final walk of the day is at Lake St Clair. This lake may just look like your average lake, but at 160m it is the deepest in Australia. The walk I recommend is the Platypus Bay Track . At the right time of day, seeing platypus is apparently possible, although none were found when I was there. Regardless, it is a very nice, quiet walk. Depending on how late in the day it is, you do have the option of an early dinner at the Lake St Clair Lodge or Derwent Bridge. Continue the long 2 hr trek through sweeping hills and countryside towards Hobart. If you still have plenty of daylight left, you may still be able to squeeze in a tour at Cascade Brewery , or visit the summit of Mt Wellington which has a very impressive overlook of Hobart and the River Derwent system. Hobart is a great city and is worthy of spending a few days. There are multiple road trips that can be done from Hobart that will be published soon including Port Arthur!