Tasmania’s Western Wilds road trip is more than a tour of World Heritage-listed wilderness; it’s a voyage back to the eras of pioneering spirit and the convicts who were banished to Van Diemen’s Land. It’s also stacked with big thrills for kids.
Fly to: Launceston
Best for: Families
Length of trip: Four days
Begin your four-day voyage in Queenstown, once the world’s richest mining town. Kids will get a kick out of the treasure hunt at the Galley Museum, where artefacts range from pioneers’ pickaxes to sports memorabilia, and an eerie RoamWild tour of a ghost town at Lake Margaret. Check in at the charming Mt Lyell Anchorage before a movie or live music at the Art Deco Paragon Theatre. Dinner’s sorted with crunchy beer-battered barra burgers or parmi at The Empire Hotel.
Although this country is a hiker’s treasure box, its gorges and crashing waterfalls can also be conquered in cruisier style. Traverse the World Heritage-listed rainforest by steam engine on the 35-kilometre West Coast Wilderness Railway, built in the 1890s. The more adventurous can make a half-day of it on a tour with King River Rafting, rafting seven kilometres of white water rapids then catching the tank engine back.
Complete the winding road to the fishing village of Strahan, where a Strahan Village cottage overlooking Macquarie Harbour will be home for the next two nights.
Set sail on one of Tasmania’s most majestic waterways on a six-hour tour with Gordon River Cruises. You’ll see the famed rainforest reflections in mirror-like water and, fuelled by a chef-prepared lunch, go ashore to explore forests of sassafras, myrtle and Huon pine at Heritage Landing. The convict tales you’ll hear at Sarah Island, once a dreaded penal colony, will make you shiver.
You’re back in the car, pointing south to Zeehan, which was known as “Silver City” during the 1900s mining boom. Get into the spirit at the West Coast Heritage Centre and wander the beautiful old Gaiety Theatre before venturing into Spray Tunnel, an eerie 100-metre long passageway leading to an abandoned mine. Keep your eyes peeled for glow worms!