Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
Cradle Mountain – that perfect new-moon curve of rock that photographers love to capture reflected in mirror-still waters – has become something of a symbol of Tasmania. It’s perhaps the best-known feature of the island and is regarded as the crowning glory of the 1262-sq-km Cradle Mountain–Lake St Clair National Park.
Most of Western Tasmania is green. Queenstown is orange or red. The winding descent into Queenstown from the Lyell Hwy is unforgettable for its moonscape of bare, dusty hills and eroded gullies, where once there was rainforest. The area is the clearest testimony anywhere to the scarification of the west coast’s environment by mining.
Tasmania’s southwest corner is about as wild as it’s possible to get in this plenty-wild state. It’s an edge-of-the-world domain made up of primordial forests, rugged mountains and endless heathland, all fringed by untamed beaches and turbulent seas. This is among the last great wildernesses on Earth: a place for absorption in nature, adventure and isolation.
Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
The lifeblood of this awesome park are the wild, pristine rivers that twist their way through the infinitely rugged landscapes and give the national park its name. The park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and encompasses the catchments of the Franklin, Olga and Gordon Rivers.
For Zeehan, as for much of the west coast, the big thing in town has always been mining. In 1882 Frank Long discovered silver and lead on the banks of Pea Soup Creek. In no time Zeehan became known as Silver City, with a population of 10,000 people, 27 pubs, the famous Gaiety Grand theatre (seating 1000 people) and even its own stock exchange. How times have changed.
The Overland Track
This is Tasmania’s iconic alpine journey: a 65km, six- to eight-day odyssey with backpack through incredible World Heritage–listed mountainscapes from Ronny Creek, near Cradle Mountain, to Lake St Clair. The track ends on the northern shore of Lake St Clair – from here you can catch the ferry, or walk the 15km Lakeside Track back to civilisation.
A quiet place offering visitors accommodation, excellent trout fishing and some challenging mountain walks, the little town of Tullah has been long isolated in the rainforests of the West Coast Range, and is wrapped by deep, tannin-brown rivers. Indeed, the name Tullah comes from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘meeting of two rivers’ and the town is almost an island.
Built to house HEC employees during construction of the Gordon Dam, Strathgordon is still the base for those who operate the power station today. About 2km past the ex-Hydro settlement is Lake Pedder Lookout, with good views over the lake. A further 10km west is the Gordon Dam itself.