Camping in Tasmania – 4 National Parks

Camping in Tasmania – 4 National Parks

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national parks tasmania
Cave camping on the Franklin River, Franklin River Rafting. Photo: Graham Freeman

Whether it’s in a tent, campervan, motorhome, caravan or a cave, Tasmania is a top spot for those who love the outdoors. For nature lovers, sleeping in a protected wilderness among breathtaking scenery and wildlife is a dream come true.

Here are four National Parks to go camping in Tasmania.

1-Strzelecki National Park

Flinders Island is home to Strzelecki National Park, a remote park off the north-east coast of mainland Tasmania.

Flinders is one of 78 islands in the Furneaux Group in the Bass Strait. The island has good facilities, including accommodation, hotel, shop, fuel and a post office.

The park protects fragile and varied landscapes of entwining ecosystems. It’s an area where mainland Australia and Tasmanian floras overlap.

Named after Polish scientist and explorer Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki, a keen hiker of the peaks in 1842, it became a national park in 1967.

Flinders Island can only be reached by plane or boat. There’s no public transport on the island, however vehicles and bicycles are available for rent at Whitemark.

The island’s striking headlands, bays and beaches allow for some great camping opportunities. It’s also a top place for divers and snorkelers.

Humpback whales migrate to the north from May to July and return to the south between September and November.

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Aerial view of Trousers Point Beach. Photo: Stu Gibson

A walking track leads to Strzelecki Peak, which at 756m is the highest mountain on Flinders Island. If the weather is fine, the view across the southern end of Flinders Island and the outer islands is simply stunning.

Within Strzelecki National Park there is a designated camping ground at the southern end of Trousers Point. Facilities at the camp ground include a composting toilet, fireplaces, rubbish bins, picnic tables, rainwater (untreated) but bring a fuel stove as wood collection within the national park is strongly discouraged.

camping in tasmania
View from Mt Strzelecki. photo: Stu Gibson

2-The Franklin – Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

This World Heritage-listed park, almost in the centre of Tasmania, is connected to Hobart by the Lyell Highway. As its name suggests it’s an area with wild rivers and dramatic scenery.

The Franklin River was the subject of a conservation battle. It was saved from a proposed hydro-electric power scheme. Today it’s a treasure for those who visit.

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Photo: Tourism Tasmania and Veronica Youd

Allow 2.5 hours to drive from Hobart or Launceston. Along the highway, that winds for 56km through the park, there are facilities such as picnic tables and toilets. The Franklin River Nature Trail is a great stop for a break.

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Nelson Falls, Franklin River Nature Trail. Photo: Geoffrey Lea

There are a number of walks, ranging from short walks to challenging hikes of over four days. From the highway, accessible walks include the boardwalk to Nelsons Falls.

This is an easy 20-minute return walk through rainforest to the falls, with interpretive signage about the forest and wildlife.

Rafting, canoeing and kayaking are the other major attractions drawing visitors to the region.

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Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada

Camping is available at Collingwood River, the starting point for rafting and canoeing trips on the Franklin River. Campfires are not allowed so don’t forget your fuel stove. Campers should be self-sufficient. The sites are basic beside the river and fees apply.

3-Southwest National Park

The largest of Tasmania’s national parks, South West National Park forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and covers over 600,000ha.

The Gordon River winds through the park and as the road meanders, drivers are greeted with stunning views.

camping tasmania
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Francois Fourie

Cockle Creek, in the southeast of the park, is the most southerly point of Australia reachable by road. Walking tracks – some up to seven days long – provide access to wild coastlines, flowering heathlands and rugged ranges. Access to the park by road is via Cockle Creek or Maydena. Allow up to three hours’ driving time from Hobart.

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Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Francois Fourie

The park is a great spot for day visitors as well as those who want to explore longer. There are numerous facilities and campers can choose from Cockle Creek, two walkers’ huts along the trails and camps along the Gordon River and Scotts Peak Road.

Camping Tasmania National Parks
Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada

The Needwonnee Walk at Melaleuca is an easy 1.2km boardwalk and allows visitors an insight into the historical importance of the area to the Needwonnee people.

The Port Davey Track, from Huon Campground (allow about two hours) winds through scrub, rainforest and moorlands. There are longer overnight hikes.

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Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada
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Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada

The park is a trout fishing heaven. Trout fishing with lures is allowed in Gordon Lake and Pedder Lake all year round but you need a current Inland Fisheries Commission angling licence. No fishing is permitted in any other river or stream. A popular beach fishing site is Teds Beach, 4km from Strathgordon. The beach is also a boat launching area.

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Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Sarajayne Lada

4-Maria Island National Park

Maria Island is a wildlife sanctuary off Tasmania’s north east coast accessible by a short ferry service (4km from Triabunna) or by plane. Allow 90 minutes’ driving time from Hobart to Triabunna.

This island is a getaway with more than a dash of history. The main camping ground has level sites and is close to the ruins of Darlington, one of Tasmania’s well-known 19th century convict settlements. It’s also the start to one of the world’s great walks.

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Commissariat Store, Darlington Probation Station. Photo: Joe Shemesh

There are no shops on the island so bring all your supplies. Day visits are conducted by various operators but a longer stay will allow time to truly appreciate the island’s beauty and history. 150m from the jetty is the stone Commissariat Store, the islands oldest building and visitor information centre.

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Painted Cliffs. Photo: George Apostolidis

Maria Island is popular for mountain bike riders, walkers, naturalists and those who love an unspoilt getaway. Walks range from easy one-hour strolls to longer more strenuous hikes. The Painted Cliffs and Fossil Cliffs (allow two hours return for each walk) are worth the effort.

Wildlife flourishes on this protected island. You might see native pademelons and the endangered forty spotted pardalote (a bird). In 2012 Tasmanian devils were introduced to the island due to the decline in mainland numbers.

The majority of the waters around the island are protected by the Marine Nature Reserve. No fishing is allowed around most of the island but wading, snorkelling and scuba diving is.

The waters are frequently visited by seals and whales. The island is also home to giant granite sea caves and passengers can choose to kayak or snorkel with the seals.

Bookings are not required for camping but there are camping fees. Walk-in camping is also permitted at French’s Farm and Encampment Cove (allow around four hours walking time).

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Photo: East Coast Cruises

Discover Tasmania

For more ideas on what to do in Tasmania see Best of Tasmania and Discover Tasmania.