Five of Tassie’s most dramatic short walks
Tasmania has long been Australia’s go-to state for epic bushwalks, but if you don’t fancy days – or even a full day – in boots, there are plenty of short walking opportunities across the state. In 120 minutes or less, these five strolls will take you to some of the state’s finest natural scenes.
Cataract Gorge and Duck Reach
Like a razor cut through the heart of Launceston, Cataract Gorge is as impressive a natural feature as you’ll find in any city in the world. Trails abound inside the gorge, including a walk to Duck Reach, where a hydroelectricity station that powered Launceston through the early 20th century still sits on the banks of the South Esk River. Along the way, there’s a lookout that peers through the neck of the gorge, and an airy suspension bridge crossing to the power station.
Located just a short 30 minute drive from Hobart and tucked away amongst the Snug Tiers, these 25m high falls are an easy one hour return walk and one of the area’s best kept secrets. Framed by the forest’s greenery the picturesque falls are a paradisiac place for a picnic. The perfect pit stop en-route to either Bruny Island or Huon Valley, the falls are pet and child friendly and are only a 2km walk from the carpark.
Park up at Triabunna and take the short ferry ride to Maria Island for this immersive walk through human and natural history. From the island’s jetty, wander among the intact buildings of World Heritage-listed Darlington, a convict settlement that pre-dates Port Arthur, and then head south through marsupial-nibbled lawns to Hopground Beach, where you’ll almost certainly spot wombats on the lawns. The beach ends at the Painted Cliffs, where the sandstone swirls with trippy natural patterns. Triabunna is on the east coast, just over an hour’s drive north of Hobart.
Setting out from the white sands of Fortescue Bay, a favourite camping spot for Tasmanians, it takes just an hour of easy walking to round a rocky headland into adjoining Canoe Bay. From Canoe Bay there are views out to the dramatic cliffs and sea stacks around Cape Hauy, while just a couple of metres from the shore is the wreck of the William Pitt, a barge that was scuttled here to form a breakwater for small boats. Its rusted frame rises above the waters, creating a crowded perch for seabirds. Fortescue Bay is near Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula, 100 kilometres from Hobart.
In recent years this rainbow-like rock arch, rising from the sands of Bruny Island, has become something of an Instagram darling. The Cape Queen Elizabeth walking track departs from beside the island airstrip, rounding a lagoon and then heading along the beautiful white sands of Moorina Bay. Be sure to come at low tide as the walk squeezes through a couple of slots and caves in the cliffs – moments as wonderful as the arch itself – that are impassable at high tide. The car ferry to Bruny Island departs from Kettering, 30 minutes’ drive south of Hobart.