Tasmania’s Island Heritage

Timeless and ageless, Tasmania’s Island Heritage is a disarmingly beautiful yet magically wild landscape. Tasmania was separated from the Australian mainland during the last Ice Age and the 10,000 years since of isolation has created a living museum housing some of the world’s oldest plant and animal species.

The 1.3 million hectares that make up the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area are part of a group of five national parks and other reserves, which together fill one-fifth of Tasmania’s land mass. The Southwest National Park is bigger than many small countries. More than 40 per cent of Tasmania remains protected from commercial development, providing plenty of opportunities for extraordinary wilderness adventures.

The island supports an abundant variety of wildlife including platypus, rare birds, spotted quolls and the Tasmanian (Tassie) devil. Even the extinct Tasmanian tiger is believed by some to still live somewhere in its impenetrable depths. Tasmania also has a rich Indigenous history. Around 35,000 years ago the only people living there were Aboriginal tribes. It is thought they lived through the Ice Age and were the most southerly inhabitants on Earth.

King Solomon Caves TasmaniaTasmania’s capital city of Hobart, set against the backdrop of Mount Wellington and the historic waterfront at Sullivan’s Cove, is steeped in Australian history. Salamanca Place has a terrace of warehouses dating back to the whaling days of the 1800s. Many fine museums showcase Australia’s convict and maritime history. Travel to the top of Mount Wellington for spectacular views over the city, the D’Entrecastreaux Channel and the Tasman Peninsula.

Southwest National Park is Tasmania’s largest national park covering an astonishing area of more than 600,000 hectares. Learn about Australia’s early logging, mining and convict history at Strahan, gateway to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Strahan is also the birthplace of the conservation movement in Australia. In the 1980s it was the site of a fierce battle between conservationists and the government to prevent a dam being built on the Franklin River which made news headlines around the world.

The Tarkine in the north west, named after the Tarkiner Aborigines who once lived here, contains the largest temperate rainforest in Australia along with a high concentration of Aboriginal sites.

Cradle Mountains TasmaniaThe World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is accessible from the north and south of the State, and is home to Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake. The Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair is one of Australia’s best multi-day bushwalks, but there are many in the area ranging from challenging to short day walks. Mole Creek Karst National Park protects some of the finest limestone caves in Tasmania, home to intriguing species including spectacular glow worms.

Launceston, the centre of northern Tasmania and the second largest city, blends history with adventure. It is a short walk from the city’s historic buildings to the rapids of Cataract Gorge. Tasmania’s Bay of Fires in the northeast includes some 30 kilometres of coastline. The four-day Bay of Fires Walk is another of the finest available in the Tasmania’s Island Heritage Landscape.

Rugged pink granite mountains, white sand beaches and sapphire blue waters are the colours that define the Freycinet Peninsula on the east coast. Formed over 400 million years, this region has a rich Indigenous heritage with Aboriginal people recorded in the area for at least 35,000 years.

Enjoy a walk to Wineglass Bay which is renowned as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. The uncrowded beaches and pink granite outcrops of Coles Bay bordering the Freycinet National Park are ideal for swimming, sailing, fishing, bushwalking and bird-watching, with around 130 bird species recorded on the peninsula alone. Watch for migrating whales in season from the Cape Tourville lighthouse, try the Freycinet Experience Walk, a four-day guided walk covering the length of the Freycinet Peninsula or take a cruise of Wineglass Bay and Schouten Island being escorted by playful dolphins along the way.

Maria Island is off the east coast and the entire island is a national park, where visitors can take the guided four-day Maria Island Walk or explore at leisure.

Port Arthur TasmaniaThe World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site is the best-preserved convict settlement in Australia and among the most significant convict-era sites in the world. Located on the Tasman Peninsula southeast of Hobart, the site includes more than 30 historic buildings and ruins where visitors can learn about Australia’s intriguing convict history.

There are also remote islands off Tasmania including Bruny, King and Flinders which offer rich wilderness and cultural experiences each in their own unique way. With all its rugged and untamed beauty, Tasmania’s Island Heritage is wildly accessible.

Things to see and do

  • Learn about Australia’s early convict and settlement history in Hobart and Port Arthur.
  • Follow the riverbank walk from Launceston to Cataract Gorge.
  • Ride the West Coast Wilderness Railway for a glimpse of Australia’s mining history.
  • Walk through ancient rainforest in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
  • Meet a Tassie devil.
  • Take a breath of the officially declared cleanest air in the world.
  • Try the spectacular Bay of Fires Walk.
  • Take a ferry to wild and untamed Bruny Island.

Suggested itinerary

  • Tasmania is less than 100 kilometres from the Australian mainland. Flights depart from most Australian capital cities to Hobart or Launceston.
  • The Spirit of Tasmania sails regularly from Melbourne to Devonport.
  • Tasmania’s Island Heritage is an easy self-drive destination with a series of touring routes including the Convict Trail, Heritage Highway and Huon Trail that connect specific points of interest.
  • A scenic flight will allow you to fully appreciate the vastness and beauty of this World Heritage-listed wilderness.