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Three kayaks on wilderness lake Kayaking on Bathurst Harbour

Kayaking Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey


The deep south-western wilderness of Tasmania is so far from civilisation that getting there is an adventure in itself. Flying aboard a light aircraft, sailing or hiking for nine days are the only ways to reach this remote wilderness, yet these obstacles are far outweighed by your reward on arrival.

The Southwest National Park is 618,000 hectares of classified World Heritage Wilderness - a title not given lightly and one that guarantees visitors "superlative natural phenomena and exceptional natural beauty". Golden-green mountainous ridges rise steeply from sandy-white quartzite coves. Small islands appear to float on the dark and reflective water. Unmarked by civilisation it feels surreal, like stepping into a scene from the movie Jurassic Park.

And while you won't see any dinosaurs, all is not as it seems. Within this visible wilderness lies the Port Davey Marine Reserve, hiding an underwater environment unique on earth. Here, tannin-stained freshwater floats above heavier tidal salt water. These two opposing layers have created a diverse underwater environment that quite literally does not exist anywhere else in the world. The tannin limits sunlight penetration, restricting plant growth but allowing colourful, delicate marine invertebrates to thrive. Snorkelers and scuba divers will delight in an experience never to be forgotten.

If keeping your head above water is more your style, then sea kayaking is without doubt the best way to experience this watery wilderness. Four major rivers and numerous creeks weave their way through gorges and along open plains before ultimately merging with the salty southern ocean.

Serenely paddling on a guided kayaking tour, the wild moors, deep valleys, mountain lakes and rugged peaks of this glacial landscape will take your breath away. But a kayaking experience here doesn't have to remain serene and tranquil. If it's an adrenaline hit you crave, then your guide can paddle with you out of Port Davey and into the excitement of the swelling Southern Ocean. Summer visitors may even be lucky enough to spot the highly endangered Orange-Bellied Parrot during its breeding season.

This special region truly is the wild heart of Tasmania.