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Western Wilds

Explore the lake district of Tasmania’s Central Highlands, home to lakeside lodges, alpine wilderness and hydro history.

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4 days in the Central West

Highland fling

Explore the "lake district" of Tasmania’s Central Highlands, home to lakeside lodges, alpine wilderness and hydro history.

Day 1 - Hamilton to Tarraleah

A young woman wearing a woolen hat stands in the foreground and looks down a valley where hydro pipes stretch towards a hydoelectricity damn.

Tarraleah Power Station / Stu Gibson

  • The village of Hamilton is surrounded by historic estates and farm stays, such as Curringa Farm and Rathmore, where it's easy to experience rural life, Tassie style. Wander the village to admire the colonial-era buildings, including the Old Schoolhouse, built by convict stonemasons.
  • Visit Lake Meadowbank for a picnic or barbecue on the lake’s shores, and cast for brown or rainbow trout.
  • Whisky lovers can stop for cellar-door tastings at Lawrenny Estate Distillery in Ouse, en route to the old hydro town of Tarraleah, built in the 1930s by the Hydro Electric Commission. Migrants came from across the world to work on Tasmania’s hydro system, and the scale of this work is visible in the massive steel water pipes running down the mountainside.
  • Overnight at Tarraleah Lodge or Tarraleah Estate and be sure to walk the 50-minute return track through ferny glades to nearby Tarraleah Falls.

Day 2 - Tarraleah to Lake St Clair

A man and a woman stand at the edge of a lake and look into the distance at a power station at the end of a long pier.

Pumphouse Point, Lake St Clair / Adam Gibson

  • Visit the ambitious art installation Wall in the Wilderness at Derwent Bridge, where 100 metres of carved Huon-pine panels depict the pioneering stories that helped shape the Central Highlands.
  • Lake St Clair is Australia's deepest freshwater lake and marks the southern end of Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and the end of the multi-day Overland Track. Choose wilderness walks ranging from a leisurely 45 minutes to overnight trips, exploring the lake’s shores and dense forests of ancient pines with dramatic mountain backdrops, and spotting wildlife including wombats, echidnas and platypus.
  • Further immerse in nature with an overnight stay at Lake St Clair’s wilderness retreat Pumphouse Point or Lake St Clair Lodge.

Day 3 - Lake St Clair to Central Highlands

A wooden building with long sloping roof lines stands in low lying scrublands on a sunny, clear day.

Thousand Lakes Lodge / Alice Hansen

  • Spend the morning on Lake St Clair – take out a rowboat or cross it on the little ferry.
  • Travel to Lake Augusta for a peaceful day and night at Thousand Lakes Lodge, a perfect way to unplug and recharge.
  • Outdoors, prepare for fly fishing, walking or e-biking. Or curl up inside with a book.
  • If geology is your thing, nearby are geomorphological features known as lunettes – beach-like, low-lying dunes formed from fine dolerite rock. They're the only alpine lunettes in Australia, formed around the region's lakes after the last glacial period.

Day 4 - Central Highlands to Waddamana

A fisherman holding a net pulls a trout from the water in the warm late afternoon light.

Fly fishing at Penstock Lagoon / Samuel Shelley

  • Skirt the Central Plateau Conservation Area, known as the “land of a thousand lakes”, with its impressive glacial and alpine landscape much loved by anglers and bushwalkers. Visit Great Lake, Australia’s second largest freshwater lake, on the way to Miena.
  • Break up the drive with a short bushwalk along the lake’s shores - be sure to check the weather and layer up, as this region experiences snow and ice.
  • The self-guided Highlands Power Trail is a unique insight into the hydro history of the Western Wilds, with interpretive signage at designated stops along the route. Stop at Shannon, Waddamana Canal and Penstock Lagoon, before visiting historic Waddamana Power Station , once the centrepiece of the hydro power scheme. Allow at least an hour to explore this heritage site and pack lunch – it's a great spot for a picnic.

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