Only 10? Tasmania’s north-west region, is diverse and captivating. There’s the largest cool temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere, button grass plains and rugged coastal shores. It’s an area steeped in history, with great food and gardens, lookouts, walking trails and for those that enjoy a little adventure there’s kayaking, fishing, 4WD tracks, helicopter flights and beaches bragging some of the wildest surf in Australia. It includes a section known as “The Tarkine”, once only accessible to the more adventurous traveller. Today fully sealed roads lead to locations within the 455, 000-hectare expanse of wilderness replacing the dirt logging tracks and making the area an easy reach for all travellers. Here’s our list of 10 things to do in north west Tasmania.
1-Rock Art and Petroglyphs
Tasmania has a rich indigenous history dating back over 40,000 years and the north-west boasts some of the earliest rock art examples in the state.
While erosion by the sea and wind over thousands of years is slowly wearing the art works they’re still clearly visible.
There are also giant shell middens over 100m long, hut sites and rock hides apparently used by the Aboriginal people to surprise seals.
The sites, culturally significant, are best visited with a guide such as on a Tall Timbers 4WD Adventure Tour. The name Tarkine comes from the Aboriginal community, who call it tar-keen-nee.
2-Edge of the World
Gardiner Point is where you officially stand at The Edge of World and view the longest uninterrupted span of ocean on Earth.
The nearest land is Argentina, a mere 20,000km and a long, long, way away.
It’s where the Arthur River meets the sea, spewing rainforest timbers onto the beach. It’s also where you are encouraged to toss a pebble into the ocean and make a wish.
A boardwalk leads to the plaque and a viewing platform with information signage. There are picnic tables, toilets and parking available.
This is a great picnic location with stunning views and that chance for your wish to come true. It’s truly a memorable place, no matter the weather.
There are small areas of quick sand to be aware of along with rainforest timbers to be dodged and the occasional whale carcass to be avoided.
This is a beautiful desolated beach facing true west and close to The Edge of the World, where the Arthur River flows into the ocean.
It makes for a perfect location for a break in your exploring. Tall Timbers offer a 4WD tour that includes this beach drive.
Visit the Nut, an unusual landform made from lava millions of years ago. The chairlift is fabulous to appreciate the views of the area and across the strait.
There’s also the Highfield Historical Site, Heritage Walk, Joe Lyons Cottage and the Cow ‘n’ Calf Art Gallery to visit and a Stanley Seal Cruises to meet the local protected seals of northern Tasmania. A day or two in this friendly coastal port can be quickly filled.
Stanley is the main fishing port for several of the North West’s cray fishing boats and their crews. You are assured some of the freshest in the state.
The pan-seared Stanley Scallops – variations of this local recipe are served at many restaurants – are some of the best.
With the sea to the north and Tasmania’s rich farming soil surrounding the town to the south, you are guaranteed great gourmet delights.
This region is inspiring chefs and food lovers across the globe and it’s easy to see why.
The fertile volcanic soil raises prime beef and dairy cattle, vegetables, and vibrantly coloured flowers such as tulips and poppies.
This extraordinary garden is open to the public. Covering 2.5 hectares (6 acres) of landscaped gardens and 26 hectares (16 acres) of rainforest it is located only 10km south of Smithton.
No matter what time of the year or season you visit you will encounter something blooming.
Colours continually change, flowers bud, leaves turn and Mother Nature continues her ways.
Pathways lead from short 10-minute walks to around the half an hour.
Along the forest walk you’ll see a rare and endangered fern known as Hypolepus distans while the newish rose garden featuring roses from the 16th and 17th centuries commemorates the gardens 25 anniversary.
6-Tasmania’s First Wind Farm
The far north-west’s most northern western tip is home to Tasmania’s first wind farm.
Some 72 turbines standing 60m high provide power for 500 homes in Tasmania, Australia’s totally green powered state.
The information centre, situated with the rugged coast on one side, and to the other the continually whirring turbines set on rolling emerald hills, gives detailed explanations on the engineering, indigenous and area.
From the viewing platform you see out to the ocean and to Cape Grim and the Basleine Air Pollution Station where the cleanest air on the planet is recorded.
The wind farm is only visible with a Woolnorth Tour. Tours can be prearranged to include a visit to Cape Grim and their Devils and Dinner at the Woolnorth historic Directors Residence.
Acquire an eagle-eyes view of the Arthur River and without leaving the ground.
Considered one of Tasmania’s true wild rivers, the vista from Sumac Lookout gives one an appreciation of the thick forest that fringes the Arthur River and many of its tributaries.
The differing colours of forest are due to the eucalypt versus rainforest timbers. Look closely and in the river and you may see splashes from trout or platypus.
Signboards give information on the habitat. The Gunns tree orchid can be seen clinging onto trees close to the track to the lookout.
Their dainty white flowers sprayed with purple strips hang from the main host plant and flowers are generally seen from late spring to early summer.
Narawntapu National Park is another location to spot these Tasmanian beautiful floral specimens.
There are no facilities at the lookout except for a parking bay and the sign boards.
8-Cruise the Arthur River
Take a cruise on the M.V. “George Robinson” and you’ll leisurely discover more of the secrets of the Tarkine’s major river.
Kingfishers, parrots, robins and various water-birds are some of the many species of birds you may see.
White-breasted sea eagles are known to swoop close to the boat. There’s also wallabies, pademelons and if you’re lucky and have a quick eye, a spotted quoll may be seen.
The Arthur River, one of Tasmania’s seven main rivers, is quoted as Tasmania’s only completely wild river. The river has never been logged or dammed.
Records state a hot fire has not been recorded for 650 years, which means the region is almost untouched.
While the river stretches 175km, the cruise takes you approximately 14km up river.
The waters change becoming increasingly tannin stained by rotting rainforest timbers as does the forest landscape along the banks.
9-Balfour Ghost Town
Balfour, once an opulent mining town is today a ghost town. Located deep in the Tarkine fortunes were won and lost.
The site was a hive of activity when copper was discovered from 1901.
The region was recorded as being one of the best for tin, however the demand for the commodity fell sharply and a rapid decline came 1912.
There are no miners’ huts or miners to be seen.
Today a glimpse at the once vibrant and affluent population that once lived here is through the isolated graves, lonely tracks and some signage that gives a hint into this areas past and those that lived here.
10-Tall Timbers Bistro
Just off the main highway in Smithton, Tall Timbers offers an outstanding bistro which specialises in locally acquired foods and Tasmanian wines. It’s the perfect way to finish off your day exploring.
Open to the public and house guests the menu specialises in Tasmanian products with Cape Grim Beef, scallops and handmade luscious deserts making a few of the many dishes on offer.
Tall Timbers provides a variety of accommodation and tours. Room service is available. A brilliant stopover when visiting the region.
Then there’s Lake Chisholm, Julius Creek and Wes Beckett Reserves, Nelson’s Bay, Dempster’s Lookout – did we say there were another 10?
Danielle Lancaster was a guest of Tourism Tasmania