Six of the best: Classic Tasmanian hikes


If you had to choose just one Tasmanian multi-day walk to do in your lifetime, it would have to be this 65-kilometre, six-day beauty. One of Australia's most popular hikes, taking you through Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, it has its challenges – a steep section on day one, thigh-deep mud at times and optional peak-bagging en route. But the rewards are worth it: Tasmania's highest mountain (Mount Ossa, 1617 metres), pristine lakes, uninhabited splendour. Go with Cradle Mountain Huts for the added delights of hot showers, gourmet meals, private architect-designed huts and the joy of carrying just a daypack. 



Just east of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, and only three hours from Launceston, Walls of Jerusalem National Park is Tasmania's only true alpine national park and a favourite with wilderness-loving Taswegians, partly because there is no road access (the park's entrance is a two-hour uphill trek from the nearest dirt road), which makes it blissfully uncrowded even in midsummer. The six-day circuit is a full-pack adventure taking in natural glories such as dolerite fortresses, fairytale forests of pencil pines, biblical landforms (including King David's Peak and Solomon's Throne), valleys glittering with glacial tarns and exquisitely peaceful lakeside campsites.



The Tarkine, in the state's remote north-west, is Tasmania's green heart, home to the tallest hardwood trees in the world, the largest temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere and a Tolkienesque landscape of wild rivers, waterfalls and forest trails. This four-day trip takes you deep into it on guided day walks from Tiger Ridge base camp, which is designed to keep you immersed in the natural environment with its open-sided living/dining area, Japanese-style washroom with forest views, and canvas tents with real beds. Tarkine Trails also offers six-day, full-pack rainforest and coastal hikes, the Tarkine Trail and Tarkine Coastal Walk. 



Tasmania's north-eastern corner has a sunny spaciousness not readily found in the rest of the state. The coastline north of St Helens sprawls in broad stripes of silica-white sand, olive-green heath and turquoise sea under an impossibly blue sky, and walking through it on this leisurely four-day walk (which includes one non-walking day you can spend kayaking, birdwatching or beachcombing) is an almost dream-like experience – not least because you get to stay at one of Australia's first wilderness lodges (when it opened in 1999), enjoying its timber decks overlooking the ocean, its open fires, and fine Tasmanian food and wine. 



This four-day gourmet guided walk starts with a short boat ride to Maria Island National Park, just off Tasmania's east coast, where you get to wriggle your toes in squeaky white sand on a beach devoid of footprints. From there, it's forests of peppermint gums and blackwoods, convict ruins, the island's famed Painted Cliffs and wombats, sea lions, penguins, Cape Barren geese. And, at the end of each day, pre-dinner drinks with Tasmanian cheeses, candlelit outdoor dinners created by your guide chefs, and the best night's sleep of your life in a comfortable canvas tent at a private bush campsite. Don't miss the optional climb up Mount Maria (709 metres) for views to rival Wineglass Bay. 




This is arguably the most authentic way to experience Tasmania's Southern Ocean-lashed south-western limits: carry all your own food and camping gear, weighing up to 20 kilograms, for nine days, in often bleak weather. The payoff: untamed beaches, tidal rivers, mountain ranges and time to really experience this truly wild place. Trekking through the South West Wilderness Area starts with a scenic seaplane flight to Melaleuca then heads east, following ancient Aboriginal trading and migration routes, and tracks made by shipwrecked sailors looking for their way back to what you've come here to escape: civilisation. 


The writer travelled as a guest of Tasmanian Expeditions, Cradle Mountain Huts and Maria Island Walk.