TASMANIA: West Coast
"Wild Adventures for the Not so Faint Hearted"
Tasmania's Wild West is all Wild Beautiful Country
The drive through Western Tasmania starts right at the north-western suburbs of Hobart itself. Before long the winding Lyell Highway follows the Derwent River into the foothills of the Lake St.Clair National Park. On the western coast the stark barren hillsides of Mount Lyell are reminders that this was once the copper trove that initially boosted Tasmania's coffers but once Strahan is found nestled on the coast a new industry is found in the wild waters of the Great Southern Ocean and its bounty of fresh seafood.
This is a holiday destination with a real difference, a step back into pioneering days and ways where the rugged mountains rise all around and the river streams are fresh and scenic.
Cradle Mountain in the Lake St.Clair National Park is just one of many destinations in the Tasmanian wilderness region that has some of Australia's most spectacular scenery and unique native wildlife. The Lake St.Clair, Mount Franklin and Southwest National Parks in fact make up around a third of the island state yet there are many others as well. Although the summer is the best time to come for those outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing the Autumn and Spring months - March to May and September to November - best reflects the sheer beauty of the wilderness flora amongst the rugged terrain and the tranquility of the lakes.
The National Parks are made up of a wide range of habitats that are home to a diversity of animals. These species live in a reasonably undisturbed environment and include a number of Tasmanian endemic mammals, birds and invertebrates. The area is home to an assemblage of the world's largest carnivorous marsupials including the Tasmanian Devil, the Spotted-tailed Quoll and the Eastern Quoll. Two of the world's only three surviving monotremes - the most primitive group of mammals in the world - are also found in the area, the Platypus and Echidna.
Within a scenic two to three hour drive from Hobart the western highlands provide one of the most picturesque backdrops for a days outing. From the north, Launceston and Davenport, and the west from Queenstown, there are the options to arrive at Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake. And on arrival the views in all directions are spectacular, colourful and exciting; and a bushwalkers delight.
Cradle Mountain is a jagged, dolerite peak which dominates the area. Its name, supposedly, is derived from the mountain's resemblance to a miner's cradle. And the from Lake St Clair National Park the view across Dove Lake to Cradle Mountain, one of Tasmania's natural highlights.
The Walls of Jerusalem National Park near the northern tip of Lake St.Clair National Park is a newly opened up area for bushwalkers only. It is very exposed to some of the islands most extreme weather and in either summer or winter, or any time in between, it is essential to be an experienced bushwalker and preferably in the company of one of the local tour guides that the trip into the park be made.
When driving through the highlands during winter it is best to prepare for the cold days and the icy road conditions while in the summer care must be taken in respect to fire dangers and carry plenty of water.
But the highlands offer a range of activities seldom seen elsewhere, with kayaking in the rapids, hang gliding and flying fox, jet boats, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking and cave exploration just a few of the things to keep an enthusiast busy while on the island.