Tasmania’s Wild West
The spectacular coastline of Tasmania’s West Coast is a hotspot for fishers, surfers and campers alike, and it's home to Australia’s Lobster Men.
One of the best places to experience Tasmania’s wild credentials is along the West Coast, in an area known as the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area.
(Image: You need a recreational driver pass for Arthur's Beach Track.)
The Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area consists of more than 100,000 hectares of coastal hinterland comprising wild pristine beaches, heathlands and the world’s cleanest air. The coastline is particularly notable for its profusion of Indigenous sites of significance.
(Image: Slow down and save a life... as well as your own.)
The Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area is accessible from several points along Tasmania’s north to south transit route. We chose to join the coast at the western-most point of Tasmania — a place aptly known as ‘West Point’. From here, the next landfall west is 40,000km away in Argentina, which reputedly makes this the longest uninterrupted expanse of ocean on earth! It’s also a great place to see some of Tasmania’s endangered species of flora and fauna.
These include the orange-bellied parrot, red-bellied robin and better-known species such as the Tasmanian Devil.
(Image: Nelson Bay is a readily accessible site, you can walk or drive there.)
NELSON BAY CULTURAL HERITAGE
Nelson Bay is a readily accessible site, 14km south of Arthur River, with two significant Aboriginal sites. These are a midden feature that rises around ten metres from the ground with a width of 40m and length of 60m.
From the midden, it’s a short walk — or drive (4WD recommended) — to Sundown Point where a group of Indigenous rock markings can be found along a stretch of rocks adjoining the estuary at the head of Sundown Creek.
To ensure you don’t miss the sites, drop into the Parks Office at Arthur River to pick up the relevant leaflets.
(Image: Unhitch and go exploring.)
While the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area has gained a well-earned reputation for its cultural significance, it offers highlights for the amateur anthropologist through to the surfing fraternity alike. Indeed, the region is known for some of the best bodyboarding in Australia. Fishing and diving are also popular, and the area is well known for its lobsters.
(Image: The Balfour Track is not for the inexperienced.)
The 4WD opportunities are ripe for drivers of all abilities from the easy South Arthur Forest Drive at Nelson Bay to the ‘hard’ Balfour Track, with its 70m canal-like stretch of water along one section. As the sign says, ensure you’re snorkel and winch equipped, and remember to check the Parks Office at Arthur River to confirm local conditions.
(Image: Take a break, refuel, stock up and relax.)
TAKE A REST
After a week of touring you’ll need to take a break, refuel, stock up and take a hot shower. The obvious stop when travelling south is Strahan. Here the adventure continues with a must-see wilderness cruise of the Gordon River through the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area with ancient rainforests, mysterious history and colourful characters. And if you think Port Arthur is a Tassie Gem, wait unit you visit Sarah Island. It makes convict imprisonment in Port Arthur look like a 4-star resort.
You can also find wood artisans making exquisitely carved goods from Huon Pine and Tassie Blackwood reclaimed from the bottom of flooded valleys and dams. Purchase a slab while you’re here and take it home to make your own masterpiece, or maybe a cutting board for the camper to help remind you of your trip to this truly special part of the world.