Three full days exploring the wild west – from underground tunnels to sand dunes that flow out to the ocean quirky nooks few peer into.
DAY 1 – Devonport – Strahan
The drive out west is half the fun. Perhaps you’re rolling off the Spirit and directing your compass west. Get on the road early and drop into The Chapel in Burnie if you need an early bite before hitting the wilderness. Don’t be surprised when you lose radio contact with the outside world – this is part of the appeal. Switch off and connect with the region’s rugged persona. At Tullah, stretch your legs and soak in the views across Lake Rosebery and Mackintosh. If walking is high on your list, take the nearby three hour mission into Montezuma Falls, claiming the dizzying title of Tasmania’s highest waterfall.
Venture on to Zeehan where the West Coast Heritage Centre may keep you occupied for hours – it has a world class mineral collection, includes access to the circa. 1898 Gaiety Theatre and has a special area dedicated to the hardy pioneering women of the west. There’s a Spray Tunnel about ten minutes out of town well worth a peek and lunching options in town.
From Zeehan, continue down the coast to Strahan. Drop in for an hour of thrills at Henty Dunes with Strahan ATV adventures. Four wheels, mountains of sand and a born and bred Tasmanian at the helm equals serious fun. Ian also has sunset tours.
Tonight, catch the sunset over dinner up on the hill top or head out to Ocean Beach and watch the sun sink behind the ocean. Overnight in Strahan. Captains Rest is a quaint new offering right by the water’s edge.
DAY 2 – Strahan – Queenstown
Hop aboard the West Coast Wilderness Railway, departing from its original station at 8.30am. There’s little need for brekkie before boarding, because you’re well fueled throughout the day, beginning with a glass of Tasmanian sparkling on arrival. At 27 tonnes, this old loco tackles the steepest steam climb in the southern hemisphere with its famed rack and pinion system. All that’s required from you is to sit back, with a blanket over your knees and enjoy the passing ancient Huon pines.
Between rainforest wanders, Leatherwood honey tasting and hearing stories of 1890s rail workers, the train winds its way into Queenstown for lunch. Get your fill in the recently refurbished Tracks Café and head up the main street of this mining town on a guided walking tour – a place where 14 pubs once buzzed and 10,000 folk called the outpost home.
The return route includes a dash of gold panning, more stories of triumphs in the thick rainforest and delivery back around 5.30pm. If you’re wanting to stretch your legs, take a 45 minute walk to Hogarth Falls then drive onto Queenstown. Tonight, step back in time with a visit to the 1930’s art deco Paragon Theatre. The newly re-opened gem offers classic movies served up with dinner and stellar desserts. Overnight in Queenstown.
DAY 3 – Queenstown – Cradle Mountain (2hrs)
This morning, hand yourself over to Anthony of RoamWild for a Lost Mines and Ancient Pines tour. The three hour adventure takes you into a mining tunnel on the side of a mountain that few know about. Follow his steps into the rainforest and he’ll take you to where Huon pines have stood for centuries. His passion is palpable. Don’t be surprised if he diverts to something off the beaten track in his wild backyard. From gravel footy ovals to glow worms on his night tours, unexpected turns are his signature.
Grab a bite to eat in Queenstown then continue on to Cradle Mountain via Lake Plimsoll and the Cradle Mountain Link Road. Step out for some cracker shots along the way including the Vale of Belvoir, where you’ll see Cradle’s distinct peak standing proud ahead. If time permits, venture into Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park before making your way back to Devonport, let’s hope with a golden nugget in your pocket.
Words: Alice Hansen
Pictures: Alice Hansen, Tourism Tasmania