Cradle Mt - Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia - Global Storybook

6 National Parks in Tasmania Which You Can Hike (On a Budget)

Adam Sawford

Adam Sawford

Adam Sawford is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Australia).
Adam is also the Founder at Windfulness.
Adam Sawford

Tasmania is one of the most protected destinations in the world – with over 50 percent of the island safeguarded in some way or another.  There are 19 national parks, which account for more than 20 percent of the state.  Each of these parks is more unique than the other.  In fact, Tassie’s landscape has more variation per square mile than anywhere in mainland Australia.

In addition, the parks are home to numerous plant and animal species that can’t be found anywhere else on earth.  While it’s impossible to rank Tasmania’s national parks from the best to the “worst” – here are the six that you shouldn’t miss during your trip!

Pro tip: Some fees apply to enter all of Tasmania’s national parks.  So if you plan on spending more than two days in one park, or visiting three or more parks – you’re better off getting the holiday pass.  It costs $60 AUD (in 2017) and offers 8 weeks of unlimited park entries for a vehicle of up to 8eight people.  Camping fees generally start from $13 AUD for 2 people per night.

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake Tasmania in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, Australia - Global Storybook

Cradle Mountain and the Dove Lake located in the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park

Freycinet National Park

Possibly the most visited national park in the Tasmania, Freycinet is home to the world-famous Wineglass Bay.  Located on the East Coast, the start of the Wineglass Bay Walking Track is just under a 2,5 hour drive from Launceston.  Though it’s slightly longer from Hobart.  Upon arrival, make sure to keep an eye out for the friendly Bennetts Wallabies in the parking lot area!

Sadly, most people only walk up to the lookout point.  However, this place has a lot more to offer, including bird watching, additional short walks and even multi-day treks.  While there are a number of paid campsites available on site, many of these need to be booked in advance over summer.  There’s also a ballot system in place between the 18th of December and 10th of February.

In addition, there are several accommodation options, shops, cafes and a pub located in the nearby town of Coles Bay.  With numerous beaches and coves to discover, Freycinet is also a great place to take a dip on a hot summer’s day.  And, it doesn’t get much better than the Honeymoon Bay just before sunset!

Pro tip: If you’re travelling on a budget, check out the campsite at the Friendly Beaches, which is roughly 20 minutes away from the Coles Bay.  It’s located in the Freycinet National Park, so the park fees still apply here, but the basic campsites are free.  Spaces are limited, so try to get there earlier in the day to find a spot!

Mt Field National Park

Located just over an hour from Hobart, Mt Field National Park is one of the most accessible national parks from Tasmania’s capital city.  One of its main highlights is the 10 minute walk to the Russell Falls, from the visitor’s centre.  A perfect activity for those travelling with children.  The paid campground is also located close to the visitor’s centre.  While the official area fills up quickly, there is plenty of space around.  They also don’t seem to mind an overflow of camping along the river bank, as long as you keep things tidy.

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Additionally, this is a great place for children to do some ‘spotlighting’ at night, as there is abundant wildlife in the area, including Bennetts Wallabies, Brushtail Possums and Tasmanian Pademelons.  The Lake Dobson parking lot is another 30 minutes by car, from where you can go on both short and full day hikes.

You can also access the park’s ski fields from this area.  In fact, Mt Field is just one of two places in Tasmania where skiing is possible.  Other well-known sights in the park include the Tall Trees Walk, plus the Lady Barron Falls.   Just be aware that the weather can change rapidly here – no matter what time of the year it is.  So make sure to pack appropriate clothing with you!

Pro tip: Don’t miss the quick 30 minute circuit around the Lake Dobson.  You will find a number of beautiful plant species there, such as the Pandani (also known as the giant grass tree) and the Tasmanian Snow Gum – both endemic to the island.

Maria Island National Park

A quick boat trip from Triabunna on the East Coast, will take you to the magnificent Maria Island, which was once home to a convict settlement.  Along with fascinating historic ruins, you will find countless cliffs full of fossils, beautiful white sand beaches and, of course, plenty of walking opportunities.

While you can get quite a lot done here in just one day, it’s also possible to stay overnight.  In Darlington, you’ll find dorm rooms in an old Penitentiary plus a paid camping area.  There are also a couple of free campsites, which can be accessed on a 3 – 4 hour walk.

While you won’t find an official trail to follow, take a walk through the bushland on the hill behind Darlington to try and find some Forester Kangaroos.  These beautiful creatures were first introduced to Maria Island in the 1970s.  They were brought here to help combat the decline in the kangaroo numbers across the state.  More recently, Tasmanian Devils have also been introduced to help fight against the deadly facial tumour disease, which has decimated the species.  Since the devils are nocturnal, a chance to spot one should give you another good reason to stay overnight!

Pro tip: Head to the painted cliffs later in the day, when the sun isn’t casting any shadows on the sandstone walls.  The distinctive patterns just before sunset are an Instagrammer’s dream!

Cradle Mt – Lake St Clair National Park

Another one of the more popular national parks in Tasmania is the Lake St Clair National Park.  Numerous visitors have been flocking to this part of the state to catch a glimpse of the iconic Cradle Mountain, as well as to walk around the Dove Lake, nestled at the foot of the mountain.  Similar to Freycinet – there’s a lot more to this national park than these main tourist spots.

You can easily spend several days covering the short and medium-distance walking treks that are outlined in this pamphlet.  Cradle Mountain is also the starting point for the Overland Track, a 6 day hike which ends on the southern shore of Lake St Clair.

While there aren’t any campsites within the national park near the Cradle Mountain, there are some accommodations available near the car park, as well as the visitor’s centre.  It’s worth noting that these may not suit all budgets.

The unpowered camp sites at Discovery Parks costs $42 AUD for two people per night, while some of the more luxurious hotels can be upwards of $200 AUD per night.  At the southern end of the park, there’s the Lake St Clair Lodge.  Its prices range from $27 AUD for an unpowered camp site, and up to $500 AUD for a lakeside bungalow!

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Pro tip: The only free accommodation at the Cradle Mountain is the Scott Kilvert Hut.  It’s located behind the mountain, at the end of the park.  The route which takes you there is quite possibly the most impressive in the area – though one which many don’t get to discover at all.  I highly recommend it – especially the Twisted Lakes and the Artist’s Pool!

Mt William National Park

Mostly frequented by locals, the Mt William National Park probably isn’t on many tourists’ list of places to go in Tasmania.  It’s located in the North East corner of the state.  It’s quite a drive – 2,5 hours from Launceston and almost twice as long from Hobart.  So if you want to get away from it all – then visit this spectacular sight!

There are six campsites to choose from.  Please note: regular camping plus national park fees apply to all.  There is also a day use area, complete with gas barbeques near the campsite number four.  One of the park’s main activities is the driving or walking around the Forester Kangaroo Drive at dusk.  Along with kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons, you can also spot the Common Wombats there.

Bird enthusiasts will also love this place as there’s more than one hundred species found in the national park.  Once again, there are several walks available in the area.  The two most popular ones are the easy return trips to the top of 216m Mt William and the Cobler Rocks.

Pro tip: If you’re staying in the campsite number four – wake up early and head over to the top of the sand dunes.  You will find them at the southern tip of the Stumpys Bay.  Then watch the sun rise over the Tasman Sea – it’ll be an unforgettable experience!

Narawntapu National Park

If the wildlife viewing opportunities of Mt William National Park got you excited, just wait until you get to the Narawntapu!  Located on Tasmania’s North Coast, only an hour or so from Launceston, Narawntapu is one of the best places to spot a range of bird and animal species.  Take a walk near the Springlawn Lagoon at dusk and you will see a huge number of kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons!

Unfortunately, even though it was once a prime spot to view wombats, mange has affected the local population.   As a result, their numbers have shrunk from well over a hundred, to less than ten – making sightings quite rare these days.

There are five camping grounds within this national park, two of which are close to the visitor’s centre.  You may find though that the two located further in the park, at the entrance to the Port Sorell, are better options.  You can even throw a fishing line in the water there, to try your luck!  There are a handful of hikes available here – from the easy under two hours options, to the more challenging full day hikes.  The majority of these start from the Springlawn Lagoon.

Pro tip: There’s a shower block located near the Springlawn.  The tokens are available at the visitor’s centre.  At around $3 AUD for 4 minutes – it’s a good value for money.  Especially if you’ve been roughing it in the campsites for a while!

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