Distance from: Hobart - 8 km, Launceston - 208 km, Devonport - km
The Mount Nelson Lookout was discovered back in 1811 when a signal station was built to send messages to Port Arthur. On a clear day, a simple message could be sent through the signal stations in under 15 minutes. This made escaping Port Arthur for convicts even more difficult as they were up against quick communication and a dog line at Eaglehawk Neck. The signal stations were retired in 1880 with the arrival of the telegraph.
Now the area around the retired signal station is a lookout with facilities and a restaurant offering up light lunches. You'll get panoramic views of Hobart which sits just 5 kilometres away as well as great views of Bruny Island in the distance. And it's incredibly safe high upon Mount Nelson as you'll enjoy the views from a boardwalk and viewing platform featuring sturdy rails and uninterrupted views.
Find the A6 Highway in Hobart and ride south to take a left onto C643. The entire drive from Hobart CBD is a little more than 8 kilometres and takes no more than 20 minutes. The Mount Nelson Lookout is a great way to get a bird's eye view of the city, River Derwent and Bruny Island beyond. It might be the first thing you want to do when you finally get in your rental car after touching down in Hobart. It's a great way to get the lay of the land.
The drive from Launceston takes 2.5 hours over 208 kilometres. Devonport is even farther sitting 290 kilometres to the north. That drive should take you about 3.5 hours.
Once at the lookout, you'll be above the stunningly beautiful Truganini Reserve. A 90-minute return walk through the reserve starts at the signal station and is well signposted. The walk follows Cartwright Creek through a variety of vegetation to the Channel Highway in the town of Taroona. You'll meander through much of Tasmania's flora and find yourself in a rainforest gully at the end of the trail. Be on the lookout for the endangered and endemic Swift Parrot and the trail is crowned with wildflowers in the summer months.
You'll be welcomed by a brasserie at the lookout which is open from 10 AM on weekdays and 9 AM on weekends. It closes around 4 PM every day. The brasserie is built into a house that was originally intended for the signal station's head signalman. The brasserie serves up a separate breakfast and lunch menu with an all-day selection of muffins, scones and antipasto. You'll also find toilet and picnic facilities at this popular lookout.
It's rather safe on the lookout but weather can change quickly in Tasmania and it changes quickest at elevation. Always pack something warm that is resistant to unexpected precipitation.