Southwest Wilderness Tasmania
Southwest National Park Tasmania
The Southwest Wilderness area of Tasmania is an intriguing place. At first, you think only of the silence and the rugged beauty of your surroundings. You then realise that it is not silence at all, but rather a lack of noise. We have learned to screen out the background noise of civilisation and other people, but here in the southwest Tasmanian Wilderness, all this clutter is missing.
Instead, you can hear the sound of the wind moving in the grass, a single footfall makes a sort of crunching sound, and voices seem to carry incredible distances. Only a true, cool temperate wilderness can affect you like this.
The only way to access the Southwest Wilderness without walking days from the end of the road at Strathgordon or Cockle Creek is to take a light aircraft flightseeing tour that includes access to the wilderness. Day, multi-day or half day trips are available.
Evidence has been found that the Southwest Wilderness area of Tasmania was inhabited by the Tasmanian Aborigines up to 25,000 years ago, while the first mapping of the coastline was by Captain James Cook in 1777, though other European explorers visited the area over the previous 200 years. The process of protecting the area for future generations started with the proclamation of the Lake Pedder National Park in 1955, with the Southwest National Park reaching its current size in 1990. The whole area has been the cause of intense debate over conservation vs. development for over 50 years
This part of Tasmania has been declared the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and includes Tasmania's largest National Park, the Southwest National Park. About a quarter of Tasmania is covered by the chain of National Parks that include the Hartz Mountains National Park, The Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. The latter three of these parks can be accessed by road further north in Tasmania.
Par Avion Wilderness Air Tours offer a range of amazing opportunities to experience the wilderness areas of Tasmania in armchair comfort by landing at Melaleuca in the far Southwest. Time on the ground varies from 2 hours to a full day, everything is included, including lunch in the wilds of Tasmania.
The Southwest Wilderness area is one of rugged mountains, deep valleys and a wide range of vegetation, from open buttongrass plains to dense rainforest. It is an environment of contrasts. This is one of the most inaccessible areas of Tasmania, Australia and the World. and visiting it is a totally unique experience.
The Endangered Orange Bellied Parrot
The Orange Bellied Parrot is a critically endangered species, with only about 50 birds still in the wild. It only breeds in the southwest of Tasmania and can often be seen from the bird hide at Melaleuca. Day trips by air from Hobart are available with a high percentage of sightings reported in season.
For many years the King family lived in total isolation at Melaleuca, and Denny King created a bird hide there which is still used today to observe the Orange Bellied Parrot int the wild.
Even if you are not an avid birdwatcher, it is a thrill to be able to observe this endangered species in its natural habitat.
The South Coast Track
One of the great bushwalks of the world is the South Coast Track. Winding its way from Cockle Creek in the far southeast of Tasmania, it covers 66 Kms of spectacular coastal scenery, fascinating stands of forest and expanses of buttongrass plain. The Great Southern Ocean roars ashore, and there is nothing between the walker and Antarctica except water.
Not for the unfit or faint-hearted, the walk can take at least 5 days from Cockle Creek to Melaleuca. A further 6 day walk northwards from Melaleuca will bring you to Strathgordon and the road out, though arrangements can be made to fly into the Southwest Wilderness area and start or end the trip at the Melaleuca airstrip.
Destinations in Tasmania