The magnificent Southwest National Park encompasses over six hundred thousand hectares of wild, inspiring country and forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The park, the largest in Tasmania, epitomises the granduer and spirit of wilderness in its truest sense. Much of the park is remote and far removed from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. For many, just the fact that such a place still exists brings solace. For others, the region offers the challenge to explore areas that retain the same wildness that once characterised new frontiers. For yet others, the area offers the chance to view magnificent scenery from the comfort of their car.
In the southeast, the park is accessible from Cockle Creek - the most southerly point able to be reached by road in Australia. From Cockle Creek, the magnificent south coast is able to be reached along a walking track. From the coast, the South Coast Track continues to Melaleuca, a 7 day walk along some of the wildest coastline in Australia. Melaleuca itself is accessible by air or boat only. Here, in the far southwest of Tasmania, lies the spectacular Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour.
The drive into the National Park along the Gordon River Road to Strathgordon is nothing short of spectacular. The greatest asset of this national park is the sheer scale of its wilderness regions. On a fine day, a drive along this road will be a memorable experience. It begins at Mt Field National Park, beyond New Norfolk in the Upper Derwent Valley.
Some of the best fishing in Australia can be found in the Southwest National Park, while bushwalkers will find some of Australia's premier wilderness walks, including the South Coast and Port Davey Tracks. There is also a range of less demanding walks, including the popular Creep Crawly Trail.
The Bathurst Harbour - Port Davey region is an excellent example of a drowned river valley. Beneath the waters of Bathurst Channel lives a range of fascinating marine species, such as sea pens. These animals are usually found in much deeper water. In the Channel, the dark, tannin-stained water allows the sea pens to thrive in very shallow water.
How to get there: The Southwest National Park encompasses much of the southwest wilderness region of Tasmania. It can be accessed by road in two ways:
via Maydena Allow 2 1/2 to 3 hours from Hobart to reach the northern boundary of the Southwest National Park. From the Lyell Highway (A10) at New Norfolk take route B62 past Mt Field National Park to Maydena. The Gordon River Road (B61) continues to Strathgordon and the Gordon Dam. At Frodsham Pass on the Gordon River Road, a winding gravel road turns off to Scotts Peak and the Huon Campground. Fuel is not available past Maydena, and at Maydena opening hours and supplies are limited it would be wise to get petrol at Westerway.
via Cockle Creek Cockle Creek is about 2 hours drive south from Hobart. It is reached via the Huon Highway (A6) through Geeveston. Take the C635 past the Hastings Caves turn off then follow the C636 gravel road through Lune River to Cockle Creek. The last stages of the road are fairly rough but can be negotiated by 2 wheel drive vehicles.
If driving between dusk and dawn, please be aware that you are sharing the road with wildlife.
Fligthts to Melaleuca: Located the far southwest, Melaleuca is accessible only by light plane, or boat. The airstrip is close to walkers huts, and is the usual starting point for walkers on the South Coast Track. Par Avion operates flights to Melaleuca.
South Coast Track
This rugged cross country trail passes through the Southwest National Park in Tasmania. The Park is an unforgettable, enormous area of World Heritage wilderness that is remote, ancient, and epic in its proportions. The Roaring Forties lash the park for much of the year, adding to the drama. This walk is recognised as one of the world's great wilderness walks and its reputation is justified. The track takes walkers through the heart of over 600,000 hectares of wild, untouched and challenging country into which, unlike the famous Overland Track, there are no roads. Most people take approximately 6 - 8 days to complete the South Coast Track. Website
South Cape Walks South East Cape Bay Walk: This one-day walk takes in part of the famous South Coast Track, beginning at the small town of Cockle Creek on Recherche Bay. Visitors observe native plants and birds as they cross coastal heathland, enjoy ocean views and gaze out over the expanse of the Southern Ocean imagining the distance between themselves and the nearest landmass of Antarctica. A highlight of the walk is South East Cape, which is the southernmost point of the main island of Tasmania, and the most southerly point in Australia to which you can walk - next stop Antarctica! Islands of the Maatsuyker and Pedra Branca island groups, as well as the subantarctic Macquarie Island, lie further south than South East Cape and are also part of the state of Tasmania. South East Cape is one of the Five Southernmost Capes that can be rounded by Southern Ocean sailors. The return walk is about 15kms and despite what the signs say it takes a good 5 hours but it is worth it.
South West Cape Walk: South West Cape lies about 64 km west and 8 km north of South East Cape. It lies on the south-western corner of the Southwest National Park approximately 140 km south of Hobart in Tasmania, and about 65 km west and a little north of South East Cape. It is south of Low Rocky Point and Point Hibbs. Wrecks and foundering of boats up to 500 km away in distance, are usually referred to this cape as an identification point, and mapping of the area usually uses the cape as a boundary between sections of the coast.