100 reasons: North West (West Coast)
See the snow, experience a range of family friendly walks and absorb breathtaking scenery. Plus much more.
This article is part of our 100 reasons to stay in Lutruwita/Tasmania this winter guide, created in partnership with Tourism Tasmania. This articles explores the 25 best reasons for the North West (West Coast).
51. Feel the wind in your hair
Commercial tourism may be booming in Tasmania these days but Henty Dunes are still providing free amusement 24/7. Just let the kids loose with their boogie boards and/or flattened cardboard boxes. For a good long beach walk, drive to Ocean Beach Lookout and go from there. This is Timkarik/country north of Macquarie Harbour including Strahan. Members can save at Strahan Village. T&Cs apply.
52. Rock the cradle
Seeing snow in Lutruwita/Tasmania is never guaranteed but your chances increase with every winter visit to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Walk to Dove Lake if conditions are stable or do some shorter forest walks outside the park behind Cradle Mountain Lodge, where you can drop in afterwards for a fireside drink. Wulinantikala/Cradle Mountain is on Big River Nation.
Members can save at Cradle Mountain Hotel. T&Cs apply.
53. Do what feels right
The water at Boat Harbour Beach is notably colder than nearby Sisters Beach and the wind can really hit that cove. Go for a brisk walk or an icy plunge if that floats your boat. Or just park your car facing the water with the windows up listening to the hits of your favourite decade. When you’re hungry, get over to Seekers Bar and Cafe. Boat Harbour is part of North West Nation.
54. You've got to be kidding
You honestly can’t make this stuff up: there are miniature goats you can cuddle and pat at Hideaway Farmlet in Penguin. The farmlet also has free-ranging chickens and Wiltshire horn sheep. Hideaway’s 90-minute Sunset Sessions during winter, when goat coats are even fluffier, also include hot chocolate, Tasmanian whisky and marshmallow toasting around the fire. Penguin is on North Nation.
55. Celebrate change
Queenstown has been reinventing itself since before Mount Lyell mine closed down, but is trying to maintain and celebrate its unique identity. We’re invited to be part of this evolution so stay a couple of nights and go mountain biking, dine at The Empire, see a show at The Paragon, take in the street art and galleries, do a RoamWild Tour and hang out in the town’s first wine bar: Moonscape.
56. Take a hike
It’s an 11.5km return hike through cool temperate rainforest to Montezuma Falls, which drop 104m down a treed cliff face. In terms of effort-to-reward ratio, you won’t be disappointed. You can hike or bike from Williamsford along a former tramway route. Although the track only has a few steep sections, it can take three hours to hike there and back. Carry wet-weather gear because you’re on the West Coast.
57. Get offshore
Ever thought of having a wintery week on King Island? Martha Lavinia has arguably some of the world’s best surfing waves and, in winter, the prevailing winds generally come from the south-west making Martha Lavinia and Colliers the best surf spots. Golfers, you’ll be teeing off on a seriously scenic course at Ocean Dunes, which stays open in the Off Season even though conditions can be hit and miss.
58. Connect with nature
The extensive Takayna/Tarkine has a coastline, eucalyptus forests, heathlands, button-grass plains, waterways and cool temperate rainforests of sassafras, leatherwood, myrtle, celery-top pine and tree ferns. These rainforests support more than 60 species of fungus and protect many rare birds, animals and even forms of lichen. Take the Tarkine Drive this Off Season between Marrawah and Trowutta.
59. Hit the wall
You don’t need to be a cross-country skier to, at the very least, poke your head into Walls of Jerusalem National Park this winter. This glorious alpine landscape, dominated by towering fluted dolerite, transforms under snow. Even just putting on your boots and starting the walk is utterly awe-inspiring, and deceivingly easy to begin with. This park, that Tulaminakali/Mersey River flows through, is on Big River Nation.
60. Embrace the journey
A road trip to Queenstown, no matter what direction you’re travelling from, is a scenic experience. When coming from Nipaluna/Hobart, stop for lunch at Derwent Bridge Wilderness Hotel for the food, fire and good atmosphere. Making your way to Queenstown from the North West, especially if you haven’t seen those bare peaks for a while, will take your breath away. Be prepared for snow and ice.
61. Get mouthy
Whether you’re road-tripping on the Tarkine Drive, staying at Corinna or campervanning the North West or West Coast, make sure you stop off at the mouth of Arthur River. This place is also known as The Edge of the World. Winter swells and heavy rains create dramatic scenes of fresh rushing water coursing into the rolling ocean. The mouth of Maytim/Arthur River is in North West Nation.
62. Horse around
Five kilometres from Queenstown, on that crest where Mount Lyell and Mount Owen’s shoulders meet before you head down towards Gormanston, find a park (it won’t be hard). On one side of the road is Iron Blow Lookout and, on the other, a 500m-long raised metal walkway leading to a lookout onto Horsetail Falls. Sometimes just a trickle in summer, water really gallops down that 50m drop during the wet West Coast winter.
63. Keep it fresh
Oyster lovers and late bloomers (aka those who are yet to be converted), drop in to Tarkine Fresh Oysters in Smithton. The cafe and store is, says owner Jon Poke, “purely for the enjoyment of meeting tourists and locals and providing you with the freshest oysters you’ve ever had”. This winter, order half a dozen or more and say “Off Season” to get them shucked at your table. Open 11am-2pm Mon-Sat. Oysters are harvested from Riya/Duck Bay in North West Nation.
64. Rock and roll
Mountain biking has well and truly made it to the West Coast. If you like a physical challenge and interesting weather then head there this winter for some gnarly routes that will take you on a journey both physical and psychological. Queenstown and Zeehan’s expanding networks offer everything from beginner trails along rocky ridge-tops to steep and highly technical black-diamond single-track of loosely compacted gravel.
65. Retreat to the bush
Tarkine Hotel and the self-contained cottages of Corinna are in a bushland setting beside the Pieman River. There are plenty of things to do around there in winter. Go fishing, walk to Whyte River and Savage River, travel on the world’s only operating Huon-pine river cruiser or go kayaking. Corinna’s twin cottage, the hotel, Pieman River Cruises and Huon Pine Walk are all wheelchair accessible. The name of the area is Kurina/Corinna.
66. Stand on the table
Take the scenic Tollymore Road to get to Table Cape, a 12-million-year-old volcano standing 180m high on the edge of Bass Strait, only a few kilometres from Wynyard. On a clear winter’s day you can see all the way to Low Head. You can drive up to both the wheelchair-accessible lookout and to the lighthouse plus there’s a walking track connecting them. At Tuynplinuk/Table Cape you’re on North West Nation.
67 . Go child-free
Gordon River begins in the central highlands and runs for 185km all the way to Paralungatik/Macquarie Harbour. As most people know, you can cruise from Strahan up into this breathtaking natural environment. This Off Season, for every adult ticket you buy to cruise Gordon River on Spirit of the Wild, one child cruises for free. See discovertasmania.com.au for details.
Members can save on Gordon River experiences through ract.clubconnect.com.au. T&Cs apply.
68. Tour by lamplight
Sarah Island, on Macquarie Harbour, is a perfect example of the British Empire’s historic knack of commandeering sublime natural locations to create environments of absolute misery. Visit Langarirruni/Sarah Island with the local, family-owned business, World Heritage Cruises, on its Heritage Morning Cruise. It takes in the sights of Macquarie Harbour, Sarah Island and the Gordon River with a 20% discount this Off Season when you book main deck seating aboard the vessel Harbour Master II.
69. Embrace the dark
Some of our best early memories have glow worms in them so take your kids and your inner child to Zeehan Spray Tunnel. This high-ceilinged, 100m-long tunnel was hand cut to allow a train to pass through to move silver-rich ore. The tunnel is straight so you’re never completely in the dark, but only use a red torch if you need one as that’s less disturbing to all the bioluminescent creatures.
70. Karst light on the situation
The English-style agriculture and colonial architecture around Mole Creek can lull you into thinking it’s a moderate landscape. But an extensive karst system, ancient sandstone and Jurassic dolerite intrusions mean there’s a lot of geological drama. For guided tours, book in with Wild Cave Tours to experience these subterranean caves coming to life in winter with waterfalls and reflection pools. This area, where Tulaminakali/Mersey River flows, is North Nation.
71. Lock it in
The Vault is a cafe by day and a bar and restaurant by night. This repurposed Wynyard bank with its cosy booths and friendly staff is fully accessible. It serves craft beers, prioritising North West makers, and premium Tassie wines. “We do pride ourselves on our extensive signature cocktail list, all created by our staff here,” says general manager Richard Cardinale. The Vault’s outdoor seating overlooks Paythinwutik/Inglis River running through North West Nation.
72. Take a sweet side-trip
Don’t miss the indistinct turnoff to Mawbanna from Bass Highway at Paytanarung/Black River. Go inland to visit one of Tassie’s oldest family-owned apiaries, Blue Hills Honey, which has a cafe serving truffle-infused toasties and mead. Further down the road is Dip Falls and Big Tree, which is more than 400 years old and 17m around. There’s a wheelchair-accessible viewing platform above the falls and access to Big Tree.
73. Drive and dine
When you embark on a Tasting Trail crawl, make sure you’re carrying these two essentials in your vehicle: an Esky and a designated driver. The majority of makers on the trail, which stretches from Launceston to Smithton, produce wine, cider, beer or spirits. The rest do chocolate, truffles, hazelnuts, gelato, berries, honey, cheese, olives, seafood, smoked meats and coffee, too, which will help to keep the driver awake.
74. Stay inn
Within the strip of colonial buildings stretching from Stanley’s beach to its port, one heritage-yellow hotel stands out like a beacon. Ship ballasts and basalt from The Nut, on whose lower slopes it stands, were used to build this sturdy structure to basically buffer Brits from Bass Strait blows. This Off Season, Ship Inn Stanley guests get a complimentary pair of warm mustard-coloured socks for further protection. The Nut is part of North West Nation.
75. Crack a tough nut
The Nut is the stump of an ancient volcano. In winter the chairlift takes a break so the only way to its 143m summit is under your own steam. The concrete pathway gets very steep in parts on the way to the top, but a flatter path circuits the plateau. Up there you’ll find a lookout to Pinmatik/Rocky Cape and some surprised wallabies. Munatrik/Circular Head, Stanley and The Nut are on North West Nation.