Van Diemen's Land Tour Starting point: Launceston; Approx 1000 km in 5 days

Fossil Bluff

This is a driving tour of the North West Coast and Northeast of Tasmania

Understand edit

The Van Diemen’s land tour is simply to put it, a scenic itinerary in the Northern Wildernesses of Tasmania. From Launceston, Tasmania’s second city, heading out west and back again, most things that one would want to experience of Tasmania’s wilderness is not really missed here.

Parts of this route can be a four lane freeway to just a small rural road with barely any vehicles on it. Regardless, most of this route has something worth the way.

Van Diemen's Land was the European name of Tasmania from 1642 to 1856.

Prepare edit

You won't need much on this route apart from a good vehicle. There are several passages unsuitable for campervans and the like.

Get in edit

There's numerous roads getting into this route, from either way you go from, given that there's few roads in this region in the first place but for the most used roads, it's the NH1 in Launceston or the A2 in Burnie.

Go edit

Day 1: Launceston - Gowrie Park edit

Sights: King Solomon Cave, Devil's Gullet Follow A1 direction Devonport/Deloraine, turn off onto C513 to Liffey Falls; This gravel road is not suitable for campervans etc. The road leads you through the Western Tiers with the typical rain forest to A5. This leads you to Deloraine where you turn off towards Cradle Mountain/Mole Creek (B12). The Caves are a couple of km past Mole Creek and worth a visit. Around the caves is a short walk through the forest, a nice way to stretch your legs and pass the time until the next tour. A bit further down the road follow the sign to Devil's gullet on the left. It's private but open to the public at own risk. This gravel road is again not suitable for campervans. On some sort of a plateau a footpath leads to a platform at the top of the cliffs. From there it's about a 50-m drop and you have an absolutely stunning view of the Western Tiers and Cradle Mountains. Back in the valley follow C138 towards Sheffield, you passed the turnoff on your way to Devil's gullet. Gowrie Park is in the middle of nowhere at the foot of Mt Roland. On the right hand side there's a campsite which also offers cheap hostel type accommodation and a communal kitchen. Further down the road there's also a free campsite.

Day 2 Gowrie Park - Wynyard edit

Sights: Murals in Sheffield; Fossil Bluff & Table Cape in Wynyard

Hedge maze at Tasmazia, with the Village of Lower Crackpot in the background

Head back into the direction you came from, then turn off onto C140 to Staverton; You pass Tasmazia on the way, which is well worth an extended visit of at least a couple of hours. It's fun for children as well as for adults who are willing to lose themselves in the Alice in Wonderland-esque whimsy of it all. Inside this now well established hedge maze complex you will find a full scale replica of Hampton Court Maze, the Confusion Maze, which is reputed to be harder to find your way out of than into, and many other mazes. The Great Maze, visible from the roadside was the largest hedge maze in the world when it was planted in 1985 and has now grown up to a magnificent size. It conceals many interesting and whimsical things such as the 1/5th-scale Village of Lower Crackpot, Cubby Town and Spook House. You might also come across resident wallabies as you wander around. The maze complex has a gift store, pancake parlor and picnic tables where the public is encouraged to stop and rest on the way to Cradle Mountain. Right beside it, a small road leads you down to Lake Barrington, site of a Rowing World Cup in 2013 or 2014. The C140 brings you to Sheffield, where most buildings are nicely painted with historical scenes. From there the B14 brings to the coast. Follow the A2 to Wynyard. Fossil Bluff can only be visited at low tide, so check the times. The ladies at the tourist information are exceptionally helpful and friendly. Decent accommodation is offered by the Beach Retreat Tourist Park with campsites and motel type cabins. Leisure Ville Holiday Centre is another option which offers caravan and camping facilities along with a range of self contained cabins and apartment style villas.

Day 3 Hike through Rocky Cape National Park edit

Allow 6-8 hours, you should be in a reasonable shape as some climbs are quite steep. Leave the car at Sisters Beach, the track starts off opposite the boat ramp. Officially you should register with the Park office which may be hard to find. Good hiking boots and a jacket are mandatory, it's very windy on top of the hills and the track is overgrown at times. Discover Mountain dragons and watch the eagles on the inland path to Rocky Cape. Rocky Cape has road access, if you don't feel like walking back. The track along the beach is fun, but hard at times as you have to climb over rocks. The pink ribbons show you the way. Check the tides ahead of your hike.

Day 4 Wynyard - Arthur River edit

Sights: Stanley: the Nut, Highfield Heritage Site; Surfers in Marrawah; Sunset at Arthur River

Stanley and the Nut

The Nut in Stanley is some sort of a monolith and the main attraction of the town. A chairlift brings you to the top and an easy stroll offers good views of the coast. If you're interested in local history visit the Highfield Heritage Site located in the former headquarters of the Van Diemen's Company. The A2 then brings you to Smithton and further towards the west coast. Be sure to have enough petrol as the next petrol station is in Marrawah. This is also the last petrol station for miles if you plan on taking the Wilderness Highway. On weekends the beach at Marrawah can be very busy because the constant waves attract a lot of surfers. If you don't get a place at the local free campsite travel on to Arthur River. The local campsite offers cheap, basic sites. Take a stroll along the beach in Arthur River, sometimes called the Edge of the World (it's 17,000 km to the next landmass).

Day 5 Arthur River - Launceston edit

Sights: South Arthur Forest Drive Go back the way you came. From Smithton the B22 and C218 take you into the Tarkine Wilderness and onto the Forest Drive. Take stops at Kannunan Bridge, Julius River (also a free campsite) and Lake Chisholm. Unfortunately Tayetea Bridge got flushed away with the last flood, so you have to take the same way back to Smithton. From there stay on the main highways (A2, National Highway 1).

Stay safe edit

Tasmanian Devils, although portrayed as fierce, are not a threat at all.

Go next edit

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