Cradle Mountain / Kelly Slater
Good to know
Here's some background on Tassie's Western Wilds to help you make the most of your time here.
Regular flights to Tasmania depart from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and fly direct to either Hobart or Launceston. Direct flights are also available from Melbourne to Wynyard (Burnie) and Devonport. Shuttle buses operate out of all Tasmanian airports.
Follow the River Derwent from Hobart and within an hour you’ll be on the fringes of the Western Wilds. From Launceston, the drive to reach the Western Wilds will take a little longer – about two hours.
Alternatively, you can cross Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania. Departing from Melbourne and arriving in Devonport, this has the added benefit of letting you bring a car.
Once you’re off the boat, head south-west and within an hour you’ll be entering the Western Wilds.
Tasmania is fortunate to have four distinct seasons. This is one of the reasons many people come to visit. They are curious to experience a true cosy winter, a spring full of blooms, a summer where the days linger, and an autumn bursting with colour.
It’s these seasonal changes that make Western Tasmania’s wilderness breathtaking at any time of year.
With good roads and scenic views wherever you look, journeys in Tasmania’s west can be simply spectacular.
Most roads in the Western Wilds are sealed. However, some adventures lie at the end of gravel roads. Before embarking, consider your vehicle’s capability and your driving experience, and always drive to the conditions.
Road closures due to natural disaster or extreme weather conditions are advised on the TasALERT website.
For more information about driving in Tasmania, visit the Road Safety Advisory Council website
Don’t be fooled by the size of our island. It’s small, but it will still take you a while to get around. This is especially true in Tasmania’s west, where the roads can be bendy. Plus we’re pretty sure you’ll want to check out what’s down that road, or stop and chat to the locals, or do that signposted wilderness short walk... In short, allow time.
Distance and drive times are here.
Tasmania is an island at the edge of the world. It is the last stop before Antarctica. Because Tassie sits beside the Southern Ocean, the world’s weather engine, the climate can vary greatly on any given day. And because Tassie’s west is the first to experience the changes that sweep in on the south-westerlies from the Southern Ocean, you should expect four seasons in one day.
Wherever you travel in Tasmania’s west, be prepared for sudden, temporary deterioration in the weather – especially if you’re adventuring outdoors. Bring a waterproof outer layer, always carry additional warm clothing and wear layers. And remember Billy Connolly’s saying: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothing’.
Tasmania’s west has a diverse range of accommodation – from wilderness lodges to cabins and caravan parks; homely bed and breakfasts to full service hotels in the major centres.
Travelling without a firm plan can be liberating. However, to avoid disappointment, we recommend booking ahead.
There are no commuter train services in Tasmania. If you don’t want to hire a car, try the bus or coach services from the cities and regional centres. Coach tours are a comfortable and relaxing way to see the island. Specialised small escorted group touring is also available which can cater to particular interests.
The Western Wilds are serviced by all of Australia’s major mobile networks. However, as parts are isolated and sparsely populated, mobile reception is not always guaranteed. Plan ahead to avoid disappointment and frustration.
There are over 170 free Wi-Fi hotspots around Tasmania to help visitors share their holiday experiences with friends and family. The service gives visitors access to 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi for each device, at each network location, each day. For the location of the free hotspots visit the Wi-Fi hotspots website. In the Western Wilds, there are Wi-Fi hotspots in New Norfolk, Queenstown, Strahan and Zeehan.
In addition, many accommodation providers offer free or low cost Wi-Fi to their guests.
And don’t forget: share your experiences with us using #discovertasmania.
Tasmania’s west is sparsely populated, which for many adds to its appeal. However, this does mean you have to plan ahead to avoid unexpected surprises. Always plan ahead with fuel. Our suggestion: as a general rule, aim to always maintain at least half a tank.
If you’re self-catering, the major towns throughout the Western Wilds each have well-stocked, independent supermarkets that are open seven days. Opening hours can be seasonal, so it’s worth checking. Similarly, if you’re wanting to eat out, plan ahead. The best way to avoid being disappointed is to make a booking.
And aim to avoid driving between dusk and dawn. The winding roads are safer during daylight hours and the prolific local wildlife will thank you (they tend to stay off the roads during the day).
In the winter months, the central highlands and alpine areas of Tasmania’s west often experience snow. The network of roads and highways that weave throughout the Western Wilds often lead you through picturesque, snow covered landscapes.
If you’re keen for some snow play, it’s most accessible at Cradle Mountain and the northern reaches of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, and Mount Mawson at Mount Field National Park in the south, where a ski tow operates during the season.
Need directions? Want help planning your itinerary? Look for the blue and yellow ‘i’ for helpful accredited Tasmanian Visitor Information Centres. Open seven days a week, services include free information on itinerary planning, maps and directions, booking services for accommodation and tours, attractions, events, retail outlets and local services. The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service also has an extensive range of visitor and field centres, with friendly and helpful local staff who know the Western Wilds better than anyone.
There are plenty of opportunities to see Tasmanian devils in one of our wildlife parks. They're not so easy to see in the wild, but you may be fortunate.
Wombats are common in the Western Wilds, and can often be seen in national parks and reserves. The buttongrass plains near Cradle Mountain in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park are a popular hangout for wombat locals. While they might seem irresistibly cute and cuddly, wombats are still wild animals, so it’s important to watch them from a distance.
If you see a Tasmanian tiger or thylacine, ask it where it’s been hiding all this time!