Leaving Queenstown, some of Tasmania’s nicest hikes and most beautiful scenery can be enjoyed as one drives towards the east coast, across the Lyell Highway – it’s an area that is home to Lake St Clair, the legendary Franklin River, and, supplying much of Tassie’s power – the Lake Gordon/Lake Pedder hydroelectric project. We’d anticipated exploring this part of Tassie since we landed and we were not disappointed.

Recent travels…….

Between Nelson Falls and Derwent Bridge it seemed we were in an out of the vehicle constantly – the combination of some sights close to the road and other attractions that involved short ( but at times strenuous) hikes. Fortunately the fickle weather gods smiled on us this particular day and allowed us to soak it all in, coddled in wonderful 25 degree sunshine ( which had been rare ). 

Moss covered tree in the rainforest.

In an environmental sense the Franklin River has an almost mystical appeal to most Australians – it’s not just a pristine Tasmanian wilderness but is considered one of the world’s great wilderness areas, much of it World Heritage listed.  Any Australian old enough to remember the national debate that raged in the early ‘80’s about the proposal to “Dam the Franklin” can now rest easy knowing it is safely protected. The ( admittedly ) small part of it that we explored was certainly stunningly beautiful. Those keen to go much deeper ( literally ) can sign up for rafting trips covering much of its length and lasting up to 11 days.

The Franklin River.

View from Donaghys Hill, hike near the Franklin River.
No prizes for guessing which route we took !
Lake St Clair is the southern end of one of Tassie’s most famous hikes, The Overland Track.

Just before the Franklin dam saga, a gigantic dam that did get built was the Gordon dam, backing up waters from Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder to create a huge hydro electric power system critical to Tasmania’s power grid. Definitely off the well-beaten track, but It’s a beautiful drive in to the dam and a very impressive engineering feat-  Lake Pedder also offered up some great camping.

Camped by the beach, Lake Pedder.
The Gordon Dam, near Lake Pedder.

Following the Gordon Dam diversion, Cockle Creek was our next stop, taking us – not just as far south as you can go in Tassie ( by road ) – but ( Tassie being the southernmost state ) as far south as you can drive in Australia. While certainly scenic, apart from a rather famous trek, there’s not much that would take you to Cockle Creek other than its “extremity” claim. Unlike Australia’s northern extremity, Cape York, Cockle Creek is barely 2 hours south of Hobart, so it does not involve any kind of arduous travel. Anyone that makes it to Hobart can easily  tack on a detour down to Cockle Creek, whereas Cape York ( almost 1,000kms from Cairns ) is an adventure all of its own…! 

Traditional Tassie home, near Cockle Creek.
End of the road marker – Cockle Creek is the most southerly point ( by road ) in Australia. Having reached the northern extremity ( Cape York ) it only made sense to “bookend” the experience !

Prior to spending a few days in Tassie’s laid back capital ( Hobart ), there was one other southern charm that Tassie offered up to travellers – Bruny Island. A place we were told ( by many ) not to miss, “Bruny” definitely matched expectations. A rustic, charming, spread out, beach-ringed “foodie“ haven, Bruny didn’t disappoint. It’s an easy 20minute ferry from Kettering, itself only 40 minutes from Hobart, and provides excellent  camping, wineries, breweries, distilleries, and wildlife opportunities among other attractions. A historic lighthouse, rugged coastal scenery and possibly the island’s prettiest beach rewards those who make the trek to Bruny’s southern reaches. Well worthwhile in every respect!

A “paddymelon” – a small, somewhat kangaroo-like animal common on Bruny Island.
Bruny Island lighthouse.
Jetty Beach, Bruny.
“The Neck”, viewpoint on Bruny Island.
The “Bread Store”, Bruny. The fridges are filled with piping hot loaves each day and sold via the “honour” system.
View from our hike, Adventure Bay, Bruny Island.
Selfie, Adventure Bay.
A popular “foodie” spot – the cheese was spectacular, the craft beer, not so much.
On Bruny we met our 3rd international overlander. Stefan and Ute had brought their Sprinter 4×4 to Australia from Germany ( via South Africa ).

 Hobart (and more of the east coast) beckon as we’ll turn generally north after Bruny.

Till next week…..