Top 10 half-day walks in Tasmania
Tasmania has hundreds, even thousands, of kilometres of maintained walking tracks. It is a paradise for hikers. With so much choice any attempt to identify the top ten half-day walks must necessarily be highly subjective. These are my favourites, in part because they are manageable three- to five-hour walks over terrain that is not overly challenging, in part because these are within easy reach, for a day outing, from Hobart, and in large part because they cover a beautiful variety of landscape, on mountainsides, through forests and over sandy beaches. Before setting out get maps, guidebooks and updated weather and track information from the National Parks offices.
Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach
This is a four- to five-hour circuit from the parking area to the Wineglass Bay lookout, in the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson, down to the much-photographed beach, across the isthmus, along part of Hazards Beach and then following the coast overlooking Great Oyster Bay. The climb to the lookout is fairly steep but with many cut steps and places to rest. The view is sensational, and worth the effort expended. The beach at Wineglass Bay is a dream. Hazards Beach is ordinary and the track, to complete the circuit home looks, from maps, as if it should be level and easy. In fact, you are up and down slopes regularly and by the time you return and get to have a drink at Freycinet Lodge you feel you got your daily exercise, along with uplifting scenery and the freshest of air.
Waterfall Bay, Tasman Peninsula
From Devils Kitchen to Waterfall Bluff
This is a three-hour hike with views of spectacular sea cliffs, starting from the carpark and lookouts for Tasmans Arch and Devils Kitchen, taking in views of the waterfall across Waterfall Bay, traversing around the bay to the lookout at Waterfall Bluff, which is decidedly worth the effort to get there, and returning by the same path. Another sight along the easy trail from Devils Kitchen to the Waterfall Bay lookout is a view down to the sea cave at Patersons Arch. If you have time and energy to spare you can climb to Clemes Peak or even higher to the top of Tatnells Hill. Allow another hour and a half.
Cape Huay, Tasman Peninsula
From Fortesque Bay to Cape Huay
This is a four-hour walk from Fortesque Beach and camping area to Cape Huay and back. At Cape Huay you get to look over the edge for a view of the Candlestick and the Totem Pole. If you are lucky you will also get to see the occasional echidna along the path.
Cape Raoul, Tasman Peninsula
Tasman National Park
This is a five-hour walk to the two lookout points at Cape Raoul and return on the same track. There are also several breathtaking vantage points all the clifftop track, with views of Raoul Bay and Shipstern Bluff.
Russell Falls and Lady Barron Falls
This is a three-hour stroll, on a circuit from the National Parks centre to the magnificent tiered drops of Russell Falls, and on through the tall trees forest to Lady Barron Falls. This is an easy walk best saved for a hot day, when you will appreciate the shade and the cafeteria back at the visitor centre.
Lake Osborne, Lake Esperance and Ladies Tarn
There is a visitor centre at the parking area, but no cafe. First take the one-hour walk to Lake Osborne and back, then a two and a half hour hike up to Lake Esperance and Ladies Tarn and back. You are above the tree-line, high in the Hartz Mountain range, so the panoramic views on a clear day are memorable. Check the weather forecasts and take suitable clothing. Conditions can change suddenly, even in summer.
South Cape Bay
From Cockle Creek to South Cape Bay
This is a five-hour level walk across swampy areas, traversed on a boardwalk thoughtfully provided and maintained by the dedicated folk at National Parks, to see the wild expanse of South Cape Bay with waves rolling in from the cold reaches of the Great Southern Ocean.
This is a four-hour walk from Whalebone Point, in the south of Bruny Island, for three kilometres along Cloudy Bay beach, then on a four-wheel drive track to East Cloudy Head, returning the same way. As much as the pleasant and untaxing beach walk, you will enjoy the ferry ride from Kettering and the drive down the length of beautiful Bruny Island.
From Neika to Wellington Falls
This is a four-hour walk, mostly along the Pipeline Track which is, in fact, a dirt access road for the Water Authorities service vehicles. It allows you to walk without watching where you are placing your feet at every step and is a gentle traverse of the slopes of Mt Wellington in the shade of the gumtree forest. Near the end of the Pipeline Track you take a path up to the lookout over Wellington Falls. Return the same way.
The Springs and Organ Pipes Track
This is a four-hour hike from The Springs along the Lenah Valley Track to Junction Cabin, the easy part, then a clamber over boulders up the Hunter Track to The Chalet on the Pinnacle Road, and completing the circuit and descent back to The Springs along the Organ Pipes Track. There are great views of Hobart from Sphinx Rock and at other points, not to mention looking up at the flutes of the Organ Pipes below the summit of Mt Wellington.