The Arthur River lies in the far northwest of Tasmania, a small settlement surrounded by pristine rugged wilderness. The Western Explorer road which takes visitors from the far northwest, deep into the west coast and Tarkine Wilderness region finds its beginning at Arthur River which is the most western point of the island of Tasmania.
The small township of Arthur River is located 292 kilometres from Launceston along the Bass Highway. It is a 2-hour drive from the town of Burnie through the ever-changing green landscape of the northwest Coast. The long drive from major population centers means that the Arthur River area is unspoiled by tourists and gives visitors a great insight into another side of Tasmania. Image thanks to: Supplied Courtesy of Port Arthur Historic Site (Arthur river)
Arthur River is a quiet fishing town that has a small number of permanent residents. The population swells during the summer months when shack users return to take advantage of the beautiful weather. A real favorite with bushwalkers, fishing enthusiasts and four-wheel drivers, the area offers the opportunity to get off the beaten track and into the wild.
To really appreciate Tasmania, you need to experience some of the rough western region of the State. Arthur River is a great little town that has lots of adventure in the surrounding areas as well as fantastic access to both spectacular coastline and pristine ancient rainforest. Not just for the adventurous, a road trip to this far northwest town will give you the option to gently glide along the river into forests with trees that have stood the test of time or to take on the wilderness and explore the wind whipped coastline.
Arthur River is a real gem in an area that is bordered by temperate rainforest and wild ocean. For those who are nature lovers, history lovers and adventure enthusiasts, you’ll enjoy Arthur River and its surrounds. As the area is remote you’ll get the chance to see fantastic native Tasmanian wildlife including Tasmanian Devils, Orange-Bellied Parrots, Sea Eagles and platypus that all live in the area.
The best way to explore the Arthur River and its surrounds is by car. The area is remote and public transport doesn’t stretch this far west, making it an area limited to those hiring a vehicle or booking a tour.
There are a small range of accommodation options in Arthur River. A popular spot for camping in the summer months, Arthur River has three Parks and Wildlife Service run campgrounds, as well as private shack and cabin options.
The Arthur River connects with the Indian Ocean that borders the west of Tasmania at Gardiner Point. The point features a plaque that dubs this piece of coastline The Edge of the World. Most visitors would not disagree with this viewpoint, as it is here that Tasmanian wildness comes alive. At the mouth of the river, the two currents clash where river meets surf, and anything that has been guided down the river (large logs included) is thrown onto the shore in the chaos. The Roaring Forties, (Tasmania’s band of strong winds at 40 degrees south) are a constant reminder of how remote this coastline is.
The township of Arthur River is right on the doorstep of the Tarkine Wilderness Area and the best way to explore the depths of the area is through a cruise along the Arthur River into the Arthur Pieman Conservation area. There are a couple of cruise providers within the small township and if you prefer to adventure into the area by yourself it is well known as a kayaking or boating area. Other tour options in this area are bushwalks, guided beach tours and four-wheel drive adventures.
This region is rich in indigenous history and if you would like to know more about significant areas it is a great idea to stop into the office of the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. The staff are able to provide information on areas of interest, access to areas and point you in the right direction.
Sundown Point/Laraturunawn is a significant site located approximately 8 kilometres south of Arthur River which has 40 separate Aboriginal carvings, a rare occurrence in Tasmania. Visitors can walk along the beach to the site, however advice is best sought from the Parks Office before embarking on the walk as permission may be required.
One of the most important sites of Aboriginal history and art in Tasmania is located at Mount Cameron West/Preminghana. A protected area since 1999, the site features large slabs of rock which have been engraved with Tasmanian Aboriginal art. The carvings are thought to be over 2,000 years old and were discovered in 1933. Access to the site is restricted, with information on the site available through the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife office. Image thanks to: Tourism Tasmania & Peter Aitchison and Tourism Tasmania & Southern Cross Television (Cruise) and (Sundown point)
There are limited options for dining in the area of Arthur River but for those self-catering there is basic grocery items available as well as hot takeaway food. If you don’t mind driving, there is a pub serving meals in the nearby town of Marrawah approximately 15 minutes to the north.
The Arthur River was named after Lieutenant Governor Arthur, by Henry Hellyer (a surveyor for the Van Diemen Land Company), in 1827. During the 1800's, the Peerapper Aboriginal language group (who had lived in the region) were forcibly removed to make way for European settlement.
The environment in this area is full of contrasts. At the coast it is rough and rugged, and along the river you’ll find it tranquil, lush and simply stunning. The area and its surrounds really remind you what a wild island Tasmania is. This part of the northwest Coast is definitely worth seeing in your lifetime. Image thanks to: Paul Fleming (Arthur River)
If you come across any Aboriginal sites during your adventures in the area please be respectful and take only photographs and memories. Aboriginal landmarks are protected under Tasmanian Law.
Arthur River is close to the northwest communities of Marrawah, Smithton and Stanley. It is also a fantastic place to delve deeper into the Tarkine Wilderness area and the west coast.