Western Tasmania is the western part of Tasmania, encompassing both northwest and the West Coasts of Tasmania.
- 1 Burnie
- 2 Devonport
- 3 Latrobe
- 4 Mole Creek
- 5 Ouse
- 6 Penguin
- 7 Queenstown
- 8 Rosebery
- 9 Somerset
- 10 Smithton
- 11 Stanley
- 12 Strahan
- 13 Ulverstone
- 14 Wynyard
- 15 Zeehan
One of the joys of west and north Tasmania is to take the time to drive the secondary roads of the region and appreciate the natural beauty you will find. Take a map! The road system has evolved from the tracks of the earliest European settlers and is correspondingly haphazard. This region of the state contains rich red-brown soil which the locals claim will grow babies if you plant them in it. As a result, the roadsides abound with crops, pasture, dairy and beef cattle, sheep, and small family farms. The region also contains significant holdings of state and private forest. The road system is such that excursions can be planned in loops which don't necessarily involve re-tracing one's wheel tracks at the end of the day.
- 1 Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
- 2 Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
- 3 Walls of Jerusalem National Park most renowned for its walls; looking exactly like Jerusalem
- 4 Mole Creek Karst National Park
- 5 Narawntapu National Park
- 6 Rocky Cape National Park
- Savage River National Park is also in this region. However, it is entirely inaccessible
West Coast Tasmania is often associated with the Southwest, as the term 'Tasmanian Wilderness' is used in promoting areas in the west coast, as much as where the term was first coined - for the South West, when it became recognised as a World Heritage region.
West Coast Tasmania is a very attractive tourist region as it has historic mine sites, historic mining towns, and railways (rebuilt), as well as places to stay. It wasn't so easy to get into as recently as the 1950s when it was easier to travel in by ship or railway, than by the roads that now exist. The isolated nature of the region, being cut off from the southern and northern parts of Tasmania by mountains and wild country, has perpetuated a range of myths about the tough west coasters (The Queenstown Football Oval is a prime example - it is not grassed, but is gravel surfaced) and the wild former convict locations like Sarah Island and Macquarie Harbour. The mouth or entry of Macquarie Harbour is aptly named 'Hells Gates', and the west coast coastline is liberally supplied with wrecks, record waves, and other elements of what long uninhabited coasts have.
The main towns of Queenstown, its former main port - Strahan, Zeehan, and Rosebery are the main historic towns that have colourful histories, as well as modern tourist facilities. They are connected by twisty, dangerous roads (various reasons for different roads) and are not close to each other, so that the communities in the past have had separate communities with rivalries and differences, either sporting or otherwise. Also the region has ghost towns, and vanished towns, lost to the fates of former mining towns or companies no longer operating.
Strahan, formerly just a link in the railway system of fifty years ago, is now a hub - places to stay, a variety of places to drink and eat in the tourist season, and a place to take trips on a rebuilt railway, and boat trips across Macquarie Harbour, and more than one road out to other places to visit.
Zeehan, almost but not a ghost town, is an excellent example of a one main street town that hasn't lost all of its old civic buildings to ruin or fire. The museum and remnants of the past are well presented and well worth visiting.
The HEC or Hydro, as it was known, the dam builder that was planning the Franklin Dam, is much downsized these days, but its legacy is a fine set of roads into parts of the west coast that were formerly hard to get into. The short cut road off the Zeehan Highway that goes along the west side of the West Coast Range up to Tullah, thereby bypassing Zeehan and Renison, is a road with very picturesque scenery and mountains to view. The highway south of Queenstown, up and around the northern side of Mount Jukes to near the former ghost town of Crotty, offers great views over Lake Burbery and towards Frenchmans Cap. There are also good Hydro roads west of Tullah and Rosebery that go towards the mouth of Pieman River on the coast.
The only way to reach the West Coast is by road.
- From the north west, travel south on the Ridgley Highway from Burnie, the Murchison Highway from Somerset, or on one of the smaller roads from Smithton.
- From the north, you can cut through the Central Highlands, and join the Lyell Highway at some point and enter from the east.
- From the south, the Lyell Highway begins on the south side of the Bridgewater Bridge and runs all the way to Queenstown and ending in Strahan.
If you are fortunate enough to travel by sea-worthy boat (very rare), you can travel into the west and find Strahan, or Regatta Point in Macquarie Harbour as a good port of call. You would have travelled around from Hobart, or somewhere on the northern coast, and survived the west coast the way the original explorers would have encountered.
The tonnage of the boat, and its draught have to be taken into account the conditions of Macquarie heads, otherwise known as Hells Gates, and any local knowledge would be of benefit when encountering the entrance into the harbour. Almost all the rest of the west coast is unsuitable for dropping anchor.
Rex Airlines flies four times a day in and out of Wynyard (Burnie Airport), usually for around $160 per person, each way. Qantas also flies five times a day in and out of Devonport for around $160 per person, each way.
The Spirit of Tasmania is the ferry service that operates from Devonport. It sails daily from Devonport and Melbourne in the evening and in the morning on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Vehicles and other cargo such as trailers are able to be taken aboard (although it can be very expensive). Fares are typically around $100 per person each way and around $400 for a vehicle each way.
The best way to see this region is by car. There's a maze of side roads off the main highway so be sure to take a good map with you.
The main population centres are serviced by local bus networks provided by:
- Metro Tasmania provides bus services for between Wynyard and Ulverstone.
- Mersey Link provides services between Devonport and Latrobe.
Two major companies which provide services around the state are:
The main highlight in the southern parts of the west is visiting the several national parks that are a part of the Tasmanian Wilderness, a world heritage area that comprises most of the region. Each park is known for something different. Parks like Walls of Jerusalem National Park is mostly known for its rocks looking like the Walls of Jerusalem in Israel while others like Mole Creek Karst National Park are known for its caves. Tasmania's most well known park; Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park is also in the region which is a must for those visiting the region.
Apart from the national parks, the west coast is also known for its human history too. The old mining towns, and the recent hydro town of Tullah are the have become main focus points of the internal regions of the west coast.
Tasmania – the state of fishing, often has lots of fishing spots. Meanwhile, due to the large amount of lakes in the region, lake fishing is one of the primary industries here, and a popular activity tourists do as well.
On top of these, there are also plenty of walks available in all of the region's national parks. There are many walks available unlisted here and if you wish to undertake any of these you should seek the appropriate guidebooks and maps. Tasmania's weather can be unforgiving so you must be prepared for all types of weather. It is possible to join walks by the North West Walking Club.
- Devils Gullet - Near Mole Creek. A stunning lookout platform overhanging sheer cliff face, with views to Cradle Mountain across the huge chasm of Fisher River Valley.
- Dial Range - Views along the coast and looking down on Penguin.
- Great Western Tiers - A collection of mountain bluffs in the northern part of the Central Highlands. Lots of day walks.
- Hellyer Gorge - A number of walking tracks along the banks of the Hellyer River.
- Leven Canyon - Enjoy spectacular sweeping views from Cruickshanks Lookout 275 m above the Leven River.
- Mount Roland - Spectacular 360-degree views.
- The Nut - A walking track climbs to the summit, or you can take the chairlift. Spectacular views across Bass Strait beaches and over the Stanley.
- Overland Track - The most famous bushwalk in Australia, ranking with some of the worlds best walks.
- Penguin Cradle Trail - A 5- to 7-day walk from Penguin to the Cradle Valley.
- Sisters Beach - Walk to Anniversary Bay, or follow Postmans Track to Rocky Cape. Or just stroll along the beach.
- South Arthur Forests - Julius River, Lake Chisholm, Milkshakes Hills, and Sumac Lookout.
- St Valentines Peak - Views stretching from the coast to the north and Cradle Mountain to the south. (4h30m)
The region also hosts many events as well. Some of them include:
- AGFEST - A renowned annual agricultural field day held in Tasmania. It was first held in 1983 and is run by the Rural Youth Organisation of Tasmania with profits assisting Tasmania Rural Counselling. It has grown to the state's largest single event and attracts up to 70,000 visitors during three days in May each year at the 200-acre (80 ha) site in rural Carrick.
- Bloomin Tulips Festival (Wynyard) - An annual celebration of everything that is colourful, beautiful and charming about not only the tulips that adorn Table Cape, but also our the Waratah-Wynyard municipality.
- Burnie Shines - A month long festival held every October. See website for details.
- Chocolate Winterfest  (Latrobe) - Latrobe's wickedly delicious festival celebrating all things chocolate.
- Devonport Jazz - Annual music festival featuring artists from interstate as well as Tasmania's leading jazz musicians, Devonport Jazz is a celebration of all jazz genres - both old and new. Devonport Jazz breaks the mould by incorporating elements of education, food, visual art, dance and film into the traditional jazz festival program.
- Festival in the Park (Ulverstone) - A major celebration of lifestyle, food, wine and entertainment of Tasmania's North West Coast. It is held in Anzac Park on the banks of the beautiful Leven River.
- Forth Valley Blues Festival - The festival has showcased some of the very best in Australian Blues & Roots music talent, with both home grown Tassie acts and great mainland names.
- Mural Fest (Sheffield) - The International Mural Fest is a truly unique art competition that is held annually in Sheffield - the 'Town of Murals', in Tasmania, Australia, commencing Easter Sunday every year.
- Taste of the North West (Sheffield) - A showcase of Tasmania’s North West region’s finest food and beverages, held in the picturesque King George V Park with majestic Mount Roland as a backdrop. End of April.
- Taste The Harvest (Devonport) - The aim of the festival is to celebrate the diversity of fantastic produce that is available on the North West Coast.
The region has many beaches, particularly in the northwest (as the west's coasts are unforgiving). These are the most visited:
- Boat Harbour Beach - A beautiful little beach in a small bay with turquoise waters. Approximately 20 minutes from Wynyard.
- Godfreys Beach - At Stanley. A beautiful beach with stunning views of The Nut.
- Greens Beach - At Marrawah, 1 hr 45 min west of Burnie. Known as a good location for surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.
- Sisters Beach - Approximately 30 minutes from Wynyard.
- Somerset Beach - Located between Wynyard and Burnie, this is a nice swimming beach. The town centre is a few minutes walk from the beach.
Due to the fishing activities in Tasmania, seafood is the most common food that you'll get here in Tassie, including Western Tasmania. This includes raw oysters as well, so don't go ordering a 100 oysters for a group of four, thinking it'll be like your ordinary oyster.
Most towns have at least a pub or two selling the Aussie classics. Unlike in New South Wales, often pubs here don't have non-alcoholic drinks due to the lack of demand here. They're also a tad more expensive here, as supplies have to come from the mainland.
Some of the roads, particularly in the west coast are narrow and in the right seasons frequently slippery from rain, ice and fallen scree from hillsides. Take extra care when driving, especially if you're used to driving on the right side of the road.