07 August, 2023

Road trip around Tasmania’s wild, wild west!

Point your compass toward adventure with this week-long west coast self-drive itinerary.

This Tasmanian road trip is seven days you’ll never forget along the apple isle's west coast. From windswept ocean beaches to some of the planet’s most remote wilderness along the Road to Nowhere. This self-drive road trip itinerary is like nowhere else on Earth. 

Day 1: Devonport > Stanley

It takes just 90 minutes to drive from Spirit of Tasmania's Devonport terminal and into Stanley on the rugged north-west coast, so why not pause along the way. Perhaps for coffee and a stroll along Boat Harbour’s picturesque beach, or some exploring among Rocky Cape National Park’s sea caves and rock pools. Foodies will want to head straight to Stanley though: a Provenance Kitchen cooking class is a wonderful way to start your great escape, from harvesting ingredients to sitting down to enjoy the four-course fruits of your labour with fine Tasmanian wines.

Boat Harbour Beach
Boat Harbour Beach

Whenever you arrive in this historic fishing town, you literally can’t miss The Nut. An ancient volcanic plug jutting out to sea, this 143-metre-high rock has a large flat top that can be reached by a scenic chairlift or one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks. Either way there’s a thrilling 360-degree view and as much pure Bass Strait air as you can handle. Get a good look at The Nut’s sheer cliffs with Stanley Seal Cruises – and at plenty of fur seals too of course! Since this eco-tour began in 1999, they’ve been spotted every time. Or step through history with the self-guided Stanley Heritage Walk, which takes in sites such as a Van Dieman’s Land Company storehouse and Prime Minister Joe Lyons’ birthplace.

Stanley and The Nut (Image: Hayden Griffith)
Stanley and The Nut (Image: Hayden Griffith)

Day 2: Stanley > Arthur River

It’s only an hour to the remote little town of Arthur River, where the Tarkine, the world’s second largest area of temperate rainforest, is on one side and there’s nothing but ocean on the other. Stop in Marrawah along the way to see if not surf its famously wild waves, or take your time on The Tarkine Drive, exploring some highlights in this vast wilderness such as flooded sinkholes and the natural Trowutta Arch.

From Arthur River, walk along windswept, driftwood-strewn beaches where sea eagles soar overhead. Or head into the Tarkine, up the river that gives the town its name, by canoe, kayak or the easy way – with Arthur River Cruises or A R Reflections River Cruises. Don’t miss sunset back in town at Gardiner Point, where a plaque declares that you’ve reached The Edge of the World. There’s no land west of here until Argentina, making it the planet’s longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean.

Walk to Trowutta Arch (Image: Off the Path)

Day 3: Arthur River > Corinna

Corinna is about 100 kilometres south, at first along the coast, where you can  pause at Sundown Point to see ancient Aboriginal petroglyphs carved into the rocks. Most of the journey is inland though, through the Tarkine’s towering trees along route C249, also known as the Western Explorer Road or the ‘Road to Nowhere’.

Corinna Pub (Image: Corinna)

If you like being in the middle of nowhere blissing out in nature, then Corinna is your kind of place. Once a remote mining town, it’s been transformed into an eco-tourism resort with solar power, pure rainwater and a mix of new and historic accommodation. The Tarkine is literally on your doorstep. Head out on a walking trail, hire a kayak, take a Pieman River cruise or fish for trout among Celery-top and Huon pines, tree ferns, fungi, moss and lichen, with fauna such as wombats, quolls and black currawongs for company. Kick back at Corinna’s old pub and raise a glass to another wild and wonderful day as wallabies gather on the lawn at dusk.

Pieman River (Image: Henry Brydon)
Pieman River (Image: Henry Brydon)

Day 4: Corinna > Strahan

Explore some more around Corinna, then continue to Strahan. It’s about two hours’ drive south, or take your time with a coastal detour or three to the tiny wild west towns of Trial Harbour and Granville Harbour, and the 30-metre-high Henty Dunes.

Say g’day to Strahan the indulgent way, with a helicopter joyride that reveals its remote location on massive Macquarie Harbour. See the narrow entrance to the Southern Ocean – named Hell’s Gates by 19th century convicts – to the west, and dense, seemingly endless rainforest to the east.

Henty Dunes (Image: Paul Fleming)
Henty Dunes (Image: Paul Fleming)

Days 5-6: Strahan

There’s heaps more adventure to be had here, including the West Coast Wilderness Railway. Its 35-kilometre route was carved out in the 1890s to take Queenstown’s gold and copper to the former port of Strahan. The journey is now all about pleasure: heritage steam-train nostalgia and comfort with on-board food and wine plus stunning scenery you can’t see any other way.

West Coast wilderness Railway (Image: West Coast Wilderness Railway)
West Coast wilderness Railway (Image: West Coast Wilderness Railway)

Another joyride from Strahan not to be missed is a cruise along the Gordon River into the vast Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area. Choose from World Heritage Cruises or Gordon River Cruises, whose quiet electric-powered Spirit of the Wild is the first boat on the river each day, so you’ll see glorious reflections without interruption. Some cruises stop at Sarah Island, so you can also explore the ruins of a brutal early 19th century penal colony.

Gordon River Cruises (Image: Gordon River Cruises)
Gordon River Cruises (Image: Gordon River Cruises)

A more upbeat take on the region’s convict past is The Ship That Never Was, a play that’s been presented in Strahan for more than 25 years. Other ways to while away an hour or two include walking or just watching the sunset on Ocean Beach, taking in the view from Water Tower Hill lookout, and another of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks, from Peoples Park to Hogarth Falls. Or hit Henty Dunes and Ocean Beach at speed with Strahan ATV Adventures.

The Ship that Never Was - The Round Earth Company (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett)

Day 7: Strahan > Devonport

Devonport is only three hours away, so there’s time for a detour to see Cradle Mountain’s majestic twin peaks or Mole Creek Caves’ subterranean wonders, including stalactites, stalagmites and glow worms. Or spend your last few hours on the island relaxing in Spirit of Tasmania’s southern port – perhaps wining and dining on Tassie’s finest with Bass Strait views at restaurant-bar Mrs Jones. Cheers!


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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