Trekking behind a waterfall on the South Coast Track | John Dalton
Sweeping across the South coast of Tasmania, the South Coast Track is one of Australia's toughest treks. Not for the feint-hearted, the route crosses remote, untouched beaches, rugged mountain ranges, pristine rivers, and towering rainforests – this is wilderness at its best.
If you like your walks challenging, then look no further. Carrying a full pack along the unspoiled wilderness of Australia's southernmost shores, this nine-day, 85-kilometre walk offers a spectrum of Tasmanian scenes, from empty beaches to towering rainforests and the alpine heights of the Ironbound Range.
To celebrate this incredible trek, here are some of the highlights of the South Coast track to look forward to.
1. Traversing the impressive Ironbound Range
The biggest day on the South Coast Track also happens to be one of the biggest highlights: crossing the Ironbound Ranges.
This demanding day includes an ascent of almost a thousand metres from where you start and finish the day. And despite the undeniable challenge of the day, it’s also one of the most memorable days of the trip. With spectacular views of Tasmania’s rolling ranges, including glimpses of the Eastern and Western Arthur Ranges including Federation Peak, through to Mount Anne and all the way to the formidable South West Cape and Maatsuyker Island, the summit shows off Tasmania’s coastlines, where you’ve come from, and where you are headed. Hear what our staff have to say about the mighty Ironbounds:
Vincent Aaltink (guide) - I love the challenge of the Ironbounds... both the ascent and descent . The sprawling valley behind you as you climb, and the overgrown rainforest as you go down the other side. There is one spot on the South Cape Range, where the forest has grown so tight that very little light gets through. The moss is green and thick, with a tangle of branches that close in over the track... That’s my favourite spot!
Ben Andrews (guide) - Descending the Ironbounds is incredible. You pass though the most amazing rainforest I've walked in. Moss and lichens everywhere, with branches twisting left and right; it is so dense and so special.
Phil Wyndham (staff) - This incredible chunk of Mother Earth looms from day 1 off in the distance and the challenging ascent and descent often proves to be a remarkable day. Yes it’s a big climb to the summit, yes the views are incredible, and yes your legs will burn. However the descent down a perfectly south-facing mountain face means that the trail is a broken mix of washed out debris, ducking under fallen trees, climbing down eroded track. Get inspiration from the fact you are soon to be one of the few people who have familiarised themselves with one of Tasmania’s iconic ranges.
2. An immeasurable sense of achievement
The very best treks aren’t just about putting one foot in front of another—they’re about challenging you physically and engaging you mentally, leaving you with an indelible impression of the richness of our planet. Ask anyone who has completed the South Coast Track and they’ll attest to the mark that the trek leaves on you for years to come. Part of experiencing Tasmania’s most remote corner in complete solitude is traversing the challenging landscape with nothing but your pack on your back, your small group of trekkers by your side, and the sheer determination to scale obstacles like the Ironbound Ranges, river crossings and exposed beaches. And as one of the most challenging long-distance treks in Australia, the sense of achievement that comes along with overcoming these obstacles provides a euphoric feeling that stays with you long after you’ve returned home.
3. True Wilderness
You’ll be crossing a landscape with no roads, no lights, no engine noise, and very (very!) few other trekkers. With only a little signage and boardwalk, there’s not much around to give you any idea someone has been there before you, which makes your overall experience so much more unique and unforgettable.
4. The wildlife
With little human influence in the region, the area has diverse plant and animal species, occupied by an abundance of wildlife including wombats, pademelons and quolls. Walking along the remote beaches, you can often spot aquatic bids such as the oystercatcher, gulls and albatross, as well as elephant seals- the largest of all seals, reaching 4-5m in length, and weighing up to 2,200 kg! Keep a keen eye out for forest birds such as cockatoo’s, fairy wrens, and the rare Orange-bellied Parrots as well!
5. Scenic flight to Melaleuca
All good adventures start with a small plane ride, and the flight to Melaleuca is no exception! This birds-eye-view of the impossibly steep mountains, vast remote landscape and lakes glittering in the sun will fill you both with excitement for the week ahead, and a little bit of apprehension of the challenges to come. As you fly over the rolling ranges, your pilot will point out landmarks as you pass, from mountains like Federation Peak, areas with ancient rain-forest, Australia’s tallest cliffs, and glimpses of the trail you’re about to walk along, weaving its way through the rugged terrain.
6. The History
There's something special about walking a route that has existed for over 100 years. Originally an escape route for shipwrecked sailors, the South Coast Track was first marked by explorers William Tyler and William Harper in 1906 and cut in 1915. The trip begins with a scenic flight over patch-worked farmlands to a small landing strip in Melaleuca built by resident Charles Denison “Deny” King AM, a tin miner and ornithologist.
Deny played a significant role in contributing to the development of the track and allowing easier access for bushwalkers, as well as saving the environment of the critically-endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. Amidst this truly wild area you will discover a land with a history of early pioneers and indigenous Australians.
Experience it yourself
South Coast Track over nine days on our guided tour. Find out more