South West Tasmania

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This is the guide book for all the major walks in the South West and Franklin - Gordon Wild Rivers National Parks in Tasmania. These two parks are a core component of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, one of the largest temperate wilderness areas in the world.

Changes from the 5th edition, design changes are minimal, all notes and maps are updated, main new addition are notes for the sidetrip to Daverns Cavern at Frenchmans Cap. Overall the guide describes almost 200 days of walking.

Previously published in 1976 (note form on A4 paper), 1978, 1983, 1990, 1998 and 2008. Covers all the main tracks and routes in South West and Wild Rivers National Parks in Tasmania. This covers the southern half of the Western Tasmania World Heritage Area. Track notes for the northern half are in another guide, Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. Contains comprehensive track notes, brief background notes on history, botany and geology, comprehensive planning and preparation notes and access details.

Walks described are South Coast Track, South West Cape, Port Davey Track, Huon & McKays Tracks,  Southern Ranges (in earlier editions named as Precipitious Bluff), Picton Range, Federation Peak and approaches (Eastern Arthurs and Farmhouse Creek), Western Arthur Range, Mt Anne and Frenchmans Cap. Included as brief planning notes are the West Coast (Strahan to Port Davey), the Frankland Range, the Denison, Spires and King William Ranges and also a section of Other Routes which includes Mt Hopetoun, Old River to Federation Peak, White Monolith Range, Vanishing Falls, Mt Norold and the Prince of Wales Range. Here is the Contents Page

If you are intending to walk here then I recommend you read the literature provided by National Parks. Travel has changed and Tassielink no longer run scheduled buses - the only way to get to Scotts Peak is either a charter or hire a small car and leave it at Scotts Peak (surprisingly often cheaper than a bus or taxi charter)

For first time visitors to the region, be careful how you use the suggested walking times. The times given are the normal range for fit experienced walkers who are used to the conditions (experience elsewhere often means little in Tasmania as you will find out). The times are only walking times and most groups should add an extra 1 to 2 hours to each section to account for rest and photographic stops. Walkers not used to tasmanian mud and scrambling with packs often find they take much longer than the suggested times and this is normal. Some writers have stated the times in the guide are fanciful but they are not, as I have beaten every time in the book, but also have taken longer myself at the start of a trip when I am less fit and am loaded with 14 days food. Once you have done 1 or 2 days, you will know how your times compare to the given times and will be able to adjust your estimates accordingly.

As an example, for Lake Oberon to High Moor, I have reports for times ranging from 4 to 11 hours. Would it be useful to put 4 to 11 hours in the guide!, not very helpful and I am sure most would assume they could do it in 4 or 5 hours. The majority of walkers experienced with tasmanian off-traack conditions take about 5 to 7 hours (plus an hour for lunch and stops makes it 6 to 8 hours)  so that is the range given. Of course the alternative is to do what many guide books do, give no times. As Lake Oberon to High Moor is only 4.3km, some would assume they could walk that in an hour or two!!! I hope readers understand why I have given the average range taken by fit experienced walkers. Its impossible to estimate how long a group inexperienced with south-west conditions take, all I can say is that some groups do take a LOT longer than they should. We have met groups standing at an obstacle spending time pondering which way to go such as at a creek crossing, big mud hole or a steep gully. We make a quick decision and pass them, most of time we get through OK, its rare to need to backtrack. We then find the group we passed arrives 3 hours after we get to camp. They tell us the times are unrealistic but the reality is they spent a lot of time doing not a lot, the times we give are walking times ONLY, not stops for rests, decision making, helping others over obstacles etc.

NOTE - we have found that National Park Staff have put up some signs warning walkers that some groups take much longer than the times in the guide book. If you read the note above and the note on Page 41 in the guide you will realise that I have known that for many years. It is not something that is new. What has changed in recent years is that there has been a lot less work done on south-west tracks, it seems that most of the recent track work went to the Three Capes Track. The result is that most  tracks in the south-west have recently recieved less work so expect tracks to be overgrowing with more mud etc. In other words conditions are currently poorer than they were 4 years ago when the current edition went to print. So many groups will currently take longer than the suggested times.