Top outdoor adventures in northern Tasmania
The stunning beauty of northern Tasmania's natural wilderness makes it the perfect outdoor adventure playground.
- February 2020
- Updated January 2021
There's an abundance of outdoor activities to choose from in Tasmania's wild north, from paddling the Pieman River to hiking through Cataract Gorge. Prefer something more leisurely? There are Tarkine rainforest walks and wildlife watching adventures, too.
Kayak on the Pieman River
Dawn on the Pieman River is special, with the dark, rainforest-edged waters as reflective and calm as meditation. Hiring a kayak from Corinna, a former gold-mining town, you can paddle downstream to Lovers Falls, where the giant ferns seem almost as tall as the waterfall itself. As you paddle back, turn into Savage River to drift over Australia’s most inland shipwreck, the steamship Croydon, sunk in 1919. The bow of the ship still pokes above the river surface.
Explore the Tarkine wilderness
Blanketing Tasmania's north-west corner is the mighty Tarkine wilderness. Not only is it home to the world's second-largest tract of temperate rainforest, there are beaches and heathland, rivers and wetlands, and an abundance of native fauna. Follow all or part of the Tarkine Drive to reach several forest and coastal walks, lookouts, waterfalls, Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, and leafy riverside picnic spots.
Learn about Tasmania's palawa (Aboriginal) culture on this four-day guided walk along the wind-swept larapuna/Bay of Fires coastline. This tourism venture from the palawa community begins by climbing Mount William (known as wukalina) near the state’s north-east tip and then threads along the white beaches and lichen-covered granite headlands. Stay the night in an award-winning, architect-designed camp and cottages on Eddystone Point, while the rich history and palawa culture – middens, creation stories and bush tucker – are unveiled along the journey.
Fish with RiverFly 1864
Tasmanian trout has a reputation for being the craftiest and most cautious on the planet, so let the hard-earned knowledge of RiverFly 1864’s guides be your secret weapon on the rivers and lakes of northern Tasmania. The one- or three-day fly-fishing trips venture from Launceston to places like Brumby Creek, with its world-class sight fishing, to the wilderness of the Western Lakes, where accommodation is in RiverFly’s private huts at the edge of the breathtaking Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
Hike the Walls of Jerusalem
Adjoining Cradle Mountain, The Walls of Jerusalem National Park is a stunning enclosure of mountains that can be reached from Lake Rowallan, 120km south-west of Launceston. Here, you can enter the Walls through a pass named Herod’s Gate (a four-hour walk). Once inside, there are mounts to climb (try the Temple, Solomon’s Throne and Mount Jerusalem) or you can simply ponder the scenery – and life – from beside the idyllic Pool of Bethesda. It’s important to note that walks and climbs within the park are challenging, so are best suited to experienced hikers and campers.
Discover Cataract Gorge
One of Launceston’s most striking natural features is Cataract Gorge, a deep incision in the hills right at the city centre’s edge. From King’s Bridge, a trail follows the South Esk River through the gorge, past the First Basin, to the former Duck Reach hydroelectric power plant. From here you can continue on to Trevallyn Dam, or cross the river for a return walk along the opposite side of the gorge. Back at the First Basin, cool off with a dip in the gorge swimming pool, or get a bird’s-eye view from the scenic chairlift.
Walk Alum Cliffs
The town of Mole Creek, 75km west of Launceston, is best known for its limestone caves but by the town’s edge is a 1.6km walking track to the spectacular Alum Cliffs – one of Tasmania's best short walks. The track crosses a lightly forested ridge and ends at a two-tiered wooden platform. From here you can look straight down into the gorge to the Mersey River, 200 metres below, and across to the sharp-toothed Alum Cliffs.
Descend Cradle Mountain Canyons
Most people gaze upwards when visiting Cradle Mountain but one of the national park’s finest adventures actually takes place in the depths of the rock. Beneath Dove Canyon’s quartzite cliffs are a maze of caves and hollowed out formations, which you can explore with Cradle Mountain Canyons. You’ll descend through six waterfalls, leaping, sliding, walking, abseiling and floating downstream. Highlights include a six-metre jump into a churning pool from Freestyle Falls and water-sliding through a smooth rock sluice known as the Laundry Chute.
Watch native wildlife at Narawntapu National Park
It has been described as the “Serengeti of Tasmania”. Narawntapu National Park, 95km from Launceston on Tasmania’s north coast, is home to a profusion of native wildlife. Camp behind Bakers Beach, then at dawn and dusk, make your way to the clearings at Springlawn to wander among the Forester kangaroos, wallabies and wombats that nibble the grass to a golf-green-like finish.