A guide to hiking in Tasmania
AUSTRALIA,  TASMANIA

A GUIDE TO HIKING IN TASMANIA

Tasmania has the best hikes in Australia, and you can’t change my mind. If you’re looking for some rugged multi-day adventures that will test your physical fitness, and navigation skills, this is the right place for you. Just be mindful that hiking in Tasmania is a bit of a different experience. The weather is subject to sudden changes, snowfall can occur even in summer, and tracks are likely to be unmarked. Don’t get yourself caught underprepared in a remote alpine area, and read my guide to hiking in Tasmania before you go.

WHAT ARE THE GRADES OF WALKING IN TASMANIA?

Walking tracks in Tasmania are graded on a scale of 1 to 5 like in other Australian states. The system isn’t perfect though. Most of the multi-day hikes in Tasmania get a 5, but the difficulty between them varies significantly. Let’s compare the Frenchman’s Cap, and Mount Anne Circuit. They are both grade 5 walking tracks, but call for a different set of skills. The Frenchman’s Cap is a challenging trail with rough terrain, and many steep sections, whereas the Mount Anne Circuit requires basic rock climbing skills, and pack hauling. What’s the takeaway of this story? Don’t relay solely on grading, and read more about a hike before you go.

ARE WALKING TRACKS IN TASMANIA WELL-MARKED?

As a general rule, day walks in Tasmania are well-marked. Easy to moderate multi-day hikes such as the Walls of Jerusalem, and the Overland Track, are also pretty decently marked. More advanced multi-day hikes, especially those in Southwest National Park, are likely to be poorly marked or largely unmarked. With that being said, you can expect literally anything. That includes zero signs, a standard sign every now and then, and some man-made markers such as cairns, ribbons, and arrows. Navigation can be very tricky sometimes, so do not underestimate the importance of having a map with you. Tips how to navigate below.

A guide to hiking in Tasmania
Mount Anne Circuit

HOW TO NAVIGATE IN THE TASMANIAN WILDERNESS?

I never go on a multi-day hike in the Tasmanian Wilderness without a paper map, and you shouldn’t go either. A 1:50 000 topographic map of a mountain range will suffice. In addition to that, I recommend using AllTrails app. I find it very handy for navigation all over Australia. Just make sure to download the map before commencing the hike, save it on your device, and subscribe for offline access. This feature is not free, but absolutely worth purchasing. You won’t get any Internet while hiking in remote areas, so it does make a difference. AllTrails app helped me a lot on the Western Arthurs Traverse, and Federation Peak too.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHILE HIKING IN TASMANIA?

As mentioned in the previous section, chances to get Internet connection while hiking in Tasmania are very low. The same with phone coverage. So in case of an emergency you won’t be able to dial 000 and ask for help. For that reason, carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is crucial. Good news is that you don’t have to buy it. If you’re coming to Tasmania for a short period of time, you can rent it, for example in Geographica, a map shop in Hobart. Newer devices (e.g. Garmin inReach) have some extra features. They combine the functions of a GPS, and a PLB, so that you can send messages, and check for weather updates.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter
Westpac Rescue Helicopter

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ACTIVATE A PLB IN TASMANIA?

If you activate a PLB in Tasmania, emergency crews will locate you based on the registered signal, and in most cases, they will send the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to help you out. Rescue actions in Tasmania are funded by the state government, but only for the residents of this state. If you are a tourist or if you reside in a different state, secure a private health insurance that covers helicopter rescue costs. In addition, please note that a PLB should be treated as a last resort. Activate the device only in life-threatening situations, such as serious personal injuries or snake bites, and when no other form of communication is possible.

WHY HIKING IN TASMANIA IS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE?

There are two things I would like to highlight in this section that may not be obvious to some hikers. Firstly, some trails in Tasmania are subject to be extremely muddy. This includes, among others, the Frenchman’s Cap, and the Western & Eastern Arthurs Traverses. That’s not the worst part yet. The mud comes with leeches. No one likes to deal with them, so be sure to wear a pair of gaiters when heading to those infamous areas. Secondly, do not expect to find chains, ladders or handrails on walking tracks in Tasmania. There are no aids on exposed sections, so you will have to use your hands and legs to go over obstacles.

A guide to hiking in Tasmania
Western Arthurs Traverse

WHAT TO PACK FOR A MULTI-DAY HIKE IN TASMANIA?

The weather in remote alpine areas can change drastically within an hour, and that’s a fact about Tasmania. Hikers must be self-sufficient, well-equipped, and prepared for all kinds of weather conditions. Strong winds, heavy rainfalls, and snow events are not a rare thing, even in summer. I experienced that myself on the Overland Track back in October 2021. I woke up on day six quite surprised to see that a storm was coming. A few moments later, I found myself walking not in rain, but in a blizzard. If you want to learn more about my gear preferences, go to a separate blog post with my Western Arthurs Traverse gear list.

CAN YOU CAMP ANYWHERE IN THE TASMANIAN WILDERNESS?

Hikers are allowed to stay overnight in designated huts, and set up tents at formal campsites. Wild-camping should be limited to emergency only (walkers caught out by dark, unexpected weather changes). Popular walking tracks have campsites with good facilities, such as rainwater tanks and composting toilets. Lesser known hikes (e.g. Western & Eastern Arthurs Traverse) have no rainwater tanks, so walkers need to take water from tarns. Some remote areas (e.g. the track from Farmhouse Creek to Federation Peak) are also lacking toilets. If this is the case, make sure to leave no trace. Pack a shovel, and bury all your faecal waste.

Pine Valley Campground in Tasmania
Pine Valley Campground

DO YOU NEED TO PAY FOR HIKING IN TASMANIA?

A valid park pass is required to enter Tasmania’s national parks, and you can buy it online. Make sure to print it though, and keep it displayed on the dashboard. In addition, some multi-day hikes need to be booked in advance. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a payment is required. Registration system helps to manage the number of daily departures, so that the tracks are not overcrowded, and Tasmania’s sensitive vegetation is protected. Check if your walk needs to be registered here. When it comes to payments, fees apply for two multi-day hikes in Tasmania, the Overland Track (summer season), and the Three Capes Walk.

CAN YOU GET AROUND TASMANIA WITHOUT A CAR?

I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but for sure it’s very hard to get around Tasmania without a car. Public transport is definitely not an option to get you to trailheads. Private transport may be an alternative as there are companies providing such service for hikers. If this is still too expensive for you, try Facebook groups that gather hiking enthusiasts. Ask people if someone is heading in the same direction or willing to give you a ride. This is exactly how I met Mike. A guy who drove me back from Lake St Clair to Cradle Mountain after finishing the Overland Track. It turned out to be the most affordable way to pick up my car.

A guide to hiking in Tasmania
Edgar Dam Campground

I hope you enjoyed reading my guide to hiking in Tasmania. What multi-day hike would you like to do first? Let me know by leaving a comment below!


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