An easy drive from Hobart, Mount Field National Park offers a diverse journey through the high mountains.
Across its base, waterfalls pour through cool-temperate rainforest, while high above are dramatic peaks dotted with glacial lakes and classically Tasmanian alpine plants such as pandani, scoparia, pineapple grass and cushion plants.
The park is, with Freycinet, the state's oldest national park and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. In winter it transforms into one of Tasmania’s two ski fields. In autumn the alpine areas glow with the changing colours of the fagus (deciduous beech), one of only a handful of native deciduous trees in Australia.
A trio of waterfalls line the lower slopes of Mount Field, including three-tiered Russell Falls, Tasmania’s most photographed waterfall.
Turning of the fagus
Spotting the blazing colours of Nothofagus gunnii on the Tarn Shelf is an annual autumn pilgrimage for many locals.
Mountain lakes are rarely so organised as this perfect string of small tarns along a bench of alpine land on the Rodway Range.
King of the rainforest at Mount Field is the swamp gum (Eucalyptus regnans, aka the mountain ash). It’s the tallest tree species in Australia, growing up to 100m in height, and the second tallest flowering plant in the world.
Tasmania’s favourite waterfall is an easy walk (25min return, 1.4km) through cool-temperate rainforest. The track is wheelchair accessible, and recesses on the approach to the falls at night are lit with glow-worms. One of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
Wander among greatness – some of the tallest flowering plants on Earth – on this forest circuit (30min, 1km). For perspective, the biggest of these trees are taller than Hobart’s Wrest Point Casino. One of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
A short lap around Lake Dobson, at the highest point of the road, takes you into the fairytale forest of the Pandani Grove. This walk (30min, 1.5km) skirts groves of the shaggy, endemic pandani, the world’s tallest heath plant. One of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.
Tarn Shelf Circuit
This loop walk (5-7hr, 12km) rises into Mount Field’s alpine areas and follows a chain of beautiful lakes across the Tarn Shelf. The scene is brilliant in autumn when the deciduous fagus is glowing gold, orange and red.
Need to know
The Mount Field Visitor Centre is located beside the Russell Falls trailhead and features the Waterfalls Cafe and Gallery, and a Curiosity Room, filled with beautifully crafted objects inspired by the wonders of Mount Field.
The national park has a campground a short walk from the visitor centre.
The basic Government Huts, near the top of the park road, 1000m above sea level, provide a great base for exploring the alpine regions. Book the huts in advance. Other accommodation is available in the nearby towns of Westerway, Ellendale and New Norfolk.
Conditions in the alpine areas are very changeable, so be prepared and dress carefully. Even fine weather at Russell Falls is no guarantee of the same higher up the slopes.
A parks pass is required for entry to Tasmania’s national parks.
Mount Field National Park is a 70min drive (73km) north-west of Hobart. From the visitor centre, a narrow unsealed road climbs for 15km to Lake Dobson and the start of the walking trails into the alpine areas.