The 65-sq-km Hartz Mountains alpine wilderness, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, is only 84km from Hobart – easy striking distance for day trippers and weekend walkers. The park is renowned for its jagged peaks, glacial tarns, gorges and alpine moorlands, where fragile cushion-plant communities hunker down in the cold, misty airs. Rapid weather changes bluster through – even day-walkers should bring waterproofs and warm clothing.
A century ago, the Hartz plateau was a logging hotspot, and stocks of small varnished gums were harvested for eucalyptus oil, which was distilled in Hobart for medicinal applications. Eventually the area was declared a national park, and in 1989 became part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
There are some great hikes and isolated, sit-and-ponder-your-existence viewpoints in the park. Waratah Lookout, 24km from Geeveston, is an easy five-minute shuffle from the road. Other well-surfaced short walks include Arve Falls (20 minutes return) and Lake Osborne (40 minutes return). The steeper Lake Esperance walk (1½ hours return) takes you through beautiful high country. You’ll need to be fairly fit and experienced to tackle the steep, rougher track that leads to Hartz Peak (1254m; four hours return), which is poorly marked beyond Hartz Pass (two hours return).
There’s no camping within the park – just basic day facilities, including toilets, shelters, picnic tables and barbecues. Access is via the Arve Road from Geeveston: the last 10.5km is unsealed (fine in a regular car) and is sometimes snowed under.