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South-west Tasmania — Wonder down under

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tasmania is one of the earth's most remote places. It is crammed with national parks, rare beauty and spectacular landscapes. Being on the World Heritage List is almost commonplace in Tasmania, but one place stands alone. The South-West National Park.

It is 600,000 hectares of amazing bush walks, mountain climbs, wild rivers, jagged mountain ranges, rolling grass plains, silent and green rainforests, gathering to epitomise the grandeur and spirit of wilderness in its purest sense.

Lovers of flora will be delighted by the abundance of eucalypts, native sassafras, myrtle, acacia and leatherwood. Low-growing ferns are thick and climbing heath, bauera, mosses and lichen are everywhere. In sheltered wet patches, there are stands of old temperate rainforest — ancient Huon pines which grow slowly but live for thousands of years and are one of the earth's most durable timbers.

The area can be toured by car, but only up to a point. Cockle Creek is the end of the road for Australia's most southern drive. If you wish to go further, you will have to walk, sail or fly.

Par Avion has one-, two- or multi-day scenic tours, taking in some of Tasmania's most significant natural features. A day flight takes you over Federation Peak, Precipitous Bluff, The Western Arthur Range and the rugged southern coastline.

At Melaleuca you board Southern Aurora and tour the pristine waterways and wilderness of Bathurst Harbour. You visit the untouched Celery Tops Islands where there is a chance you will spot the rare and endangered orange bellied parrots.

A two-hour walk to Mt Beety is recommended and easier walks can be tailored to individual needs.

Another choice is a trip with Roaring 40s Kayaking. Ideal for families and young people, they start early in the day to take advantage of morning calms. You will cover around 10 kilometres in sheltered areas, popping into Bathurst Harbour to explore Celery Top Islands at the foothills of Mt Rugby.

Strahan, on a quiet bay of Macquarie Harbour, is a holiday town with loads of character and plenty of stories of pioneering days. Bonnet Island, at the entrance of Macquarie Harbour, is home to colonies of penguins and shearwaters.

People went to the area for its precious Huon pine and it was the railway port for a rich copper mine. South of Strahan, a notorious convict settlement was established on Sarah Island. Further south, the Gordon River flows through ancient rainforests.

Cape Sorell's windswept landscapes look west to the vast Southern Ocean. Its remote beaches are criss-crossed with tracks of seabirds and foraging animals.

If and when you've had sufficient adventure in the wilderness, Wheelhouse Apartments in Strahan maintain the beauty of being close to nature on the edge of the oldest living rainforest on earth. The exterior is clad in open-sky blue which blends perfectly with the environment.

The two self-contained apartments have wonderful views of the west coast, and its clever design assures the clifftop vistas aren't just seen, but experienced as the centrepiece of the building itself.

Living rooms are cantilevered towards the clifftop on elevated steel girders. Huge glass windows lean outward at the top and give the sense of being able to step up to the cliff edge above the waterway. Floors are of rich, polished timber.

Ensuite bedrooms upstairs have spas with the most wonderful views and a second bedroom downstairs make the unit ideal for sharing. Kitchen windows open onto sun decks and barbecues are provided.

Air conditioning, off street parking, wheelchair access and continental breakfast are provided.

Stonework walls, rich in colour and fossils, anchor the grand illusion to solid ground and green grass.

Local timbers, including myrtle, celery top and Huon pine, are featured and the designer/builder has included his favourite light fittings and tables.

While you're there …

Why not venture to Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Part of the Wilderness World Heritage Area. The beautiful jagged contours of Cradle Mountain with icy streams, still waters of glacial lakes, ancient rainforest, deciduous beech and alpine heathlands offer plenty to explore. Cradle is the starting point for the world-famous Overland Track, a magnificent six-day walk that will take you through the heart of some of the world's finest mountain terrain.


Tasmania's south-west wilderness.


Par Avion Wilderness Tours day trips are $275 per person.

Roaring 40s Ocean Kayaking two-day tours start at $995 per person. Flights, gear and meals are included.

Virgin Blue has one-way flights to Hobart. They are on sale from 8.30pm, August 3, 2006 until midnight, August 4, 2006, for travel between November 1 and 30, 2006.

One-way fares from;
  • Melbourne, $59
  • Sydney, $69
  • Adelaide, $79
  • Brisbane, $99
  • Perth, $199

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are Internet-only and one-way. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at August 3, 2006, and are subject to change.

Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

For further information

Par Avion Wilderness Tours
PO Box 324
Rosny Park Tas 7018
Ph: (03) 6248 5390 1800 144 460

Roaring 40s Ocean Kayaking
Oyster Cove Marina
Ferry Road
Kettering Tas 7155
Ph: 1800 653 712
Fax: (03) 6267 5004

Wheelhouse Apartments
13 Frazer Street
Strahan Tas 7468
Ph: (03) 6471 7777

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