Five-day nature lover road trip

You love natural wonders, you don’t just see the sights, you devour them. The earthy smell of the forest, the sand between your toes and close encounters with wildlife. You seek sunrises, vistas, flora and fauna for the most spectacular sights. There's 5,000 kilometres of coastline, plus wild rivers and glacial lakes. Flora and fauna unique to the state, including Tasmanian Devils and Huon pines in Australia's largest temperate rainforest. Take a deep breath of that fresh air and dive into this ancient island's natural wonders for five exhilarating days.

Be a spirited traveller and follow this five-day itinerary, perfect for every nature lover. Discover why the best road trips start at sea.

Day 1: Devonport to Stanley

It’s straight from Spirit of Tasmania and into Mother Nature’s arms as you drive about 40 minutes south-west on Highway 1 to Gunns Plains Caves. Discovered in 1906 when a hunter’s dog fell in, the caves are now open for guided tours that reveal extraordinary limestone formations and crystals. Watch for glow-worms inside, as well as crayfish, eels and even platypus where the river running through the cave system emerges above ground.

From here it’s two hours’ drive to Stanley, but take your time and enjoy some pleasures along the way, perhaps including a picnic lunch at gorgeous Guide Falls. Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden’s 11 hectares are beautiful year-round, but breathtaking during the peak spring flowering season. In late September through October, don’t miss the chance to wander among Table Cape Tulip Farm’s countless colourful blooms. Little Rocky Cape National Park is well worth visiting year-round for a ramble among rock pools, sea caves, flowering natives such as banksia, and Bass Strait’s fresh air.

In the seaside town of Stanley, make a beeline for the mighty volcanic plug called the Nut. There are panoramic views from its flat top, so either take the chairlift or get your heart pumping with the steep walk up – it’s one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks. Another top option for nature lovers is Stanley Seal Cruises. Since this eco-cruise began in 1999, fur seals have been spotted every time. You’ll also see the Nut’s sheer cliffs, and maybe whales and mutton birds too.

Day 2: Stanley to Corinna

Today is for exploring the Tarkine: 477,000 hectares of wilderness encompassing the world’s second-largest area of temperate rainforest. The Tarkine Drive tourist route opens up walks among towering trees and ferns, geological wonders, wild rivers and coast, plus lookouts and spots for picnics and barbecues.

It’s about 40 minutes from Stanley via the Bass Highway to the drive’s nearest point of interest: an otherworldly rock formation called Trowutta Arch. Continue on to other highlights like Julius River and Sumac Lookout, then either turn off toward Corinna (70 kilometres south via C249) or continue on the Tarkine Drive up the west coast. Maybe take an Arthur River cruise into the wild Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, or visit a place called The Edge of the World. There’s no land west of this coastal lookout until Argentina, making it the planet’s longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean.

Tonight you’re in Corinna, which was a remote mining town before being transformed into an eco-tourism resort that uses solar power and pure rainwater. The mix of new and historic accommodation nestled in the Tarkine’s south makes it a convenient, cosy base for rainforest exploration.

Day 3: Corinna

Rise and shine for a great day in the great outdoors. Will you hire a kayak and explore the waterways, or fish for trout (weighing up to 12 kilos!)? Will you cruise along the Pieman River aboard a boat built with Huon pine in 1939, or head into the wilderness on foot? There are numerous trails in the area, including the Huon Pine Walk. Just 20 minutes return from Corinna, it’s one of Tasmania’s easiest Great Short Walks. Other options on your doorstep include the Savage River walk, which is four-hours return or can be done in conjunction with kayak hire. Or take a quick drive to nearby trails including Philosopher Falls and Mount Donaldson, which has ocean views.

Wherever you go and however you travel, temperate rainforest flora and fauna abound. Celery-top and Huon pines are among the tree species, while ferns, moss, fungi and lichen thrive alongside mammals such as wombats and quolls – you might even spot a Tasmanian Devil. Birds include black currawongs and azure kingfishers. As the sun sets over this peaceful wilderness, relax at Corinna’s rustic restaurant-bar and relive the day over some Tassie wine or beer. Cheers!

Day 4: Corinna to Cradle Mountain

It’s less than two hours east via Waratah Road to Cradle Mountain, whose jagged twin peaks form one of Tasmania’s natural icons. Stretch your legs on the 20-minute Enchanted Walk before lunch close by at Cradle Mountain Lodge, or go straight for the 2-3 hour Dove Lake circuit with sweeping views of the mountain. Either way you’ll tick off yet another Great Short Walk.

Be sure to return in time for the Devils@Cradle after-dark feeding tour. It starts with information about how these little creatures are actively being saved from extinction, followed by a feast of wallaby shanks – for the Devils of course! Book ahead for the area’s lodges, huts or campsites; you can even stay within Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in the Waldheim cabins, surrounded by alpine walks, wildlife and plants.

Day 5: Cradle Mountain to Devonport

It’s about 75 minutes via route C132 to Devonport, so there’s plenty of time to tackle more trails around Cradle Mountain. Perhaps the easy 10-minute Pencil Pine Falls and Rainforest circuit, or the two-hour Crater Lake circuit, which passes by several lovely alpine lakes. Or do you just want to unwind while taking in the views at Waldheim Alpine Spa? Whether hiking or soaking, you’ll be daydreaming about your next great escape into Tasmania’s wilderness. Return along the coast to Devonport to board Spirit of Tasmania for your journey home.