West Coast Tasmania

Highlights | Accommodation | Road Trip Essentials

Tasmania’s own heart of darkness – brooding and utterly unforgiving – Tasmania’s West Coast is a place like no other, teetering on the edge of the known world. 

Include the Western Wilds in your self-drive road trip itinerary and uncover its secrets!

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On the West Coast of Tasmania the indigenous palawa established an easy balance over tens of thousands of years. 

But in the eyes of early colonists it was a brutal, inhospitable wilderness suited only to the Empire’s most hardened criminals.

And yet beneath that beautifully harsh exterior they found a land of riches. Tin and timber proving an irresistible lure despite the grim lifestyle – fostering a resilient, fiercely independent community whose ‘West Coaster‘ legacy lives on today.

Lap of Tasmania road trip
Strahan at Sunset | 📷: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett

Mining and logging once fueled the West Coast, but its natural wonders are now the star attraction.

Untouched rainforests of Huon pine and sassafras, serpentine rivers with tannin-stained banks of gold and burnt caramel, and some of the world’s best seafood, plucked from the icy, surging waters of the Indian Ocean.

This is Tasmania at its most raw, bringing a sense of adventure and exhilaration to every road trip.

Highlights of West Coast Tasmania

The '99 Bends'

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The '99 Bends' to Queenstown | 📷: Pete Harmsen
Every Tasmanian road trip should include a morning spent cruising down (or up) the ’99 Bends’ between Derwent Bridge and Queenstown. Its sweeping curves and magnificent views are acclaimed as being some of the best in Australia. With such a smooth tarmac surface its inclusion as one of the most thrilling stages in the annual Targa road race is also no surprise.

Read More: 12 Must-Pack Items for Your Tasmania Holiday

Queenstown

You’ll never forget the lunar landscape greeting your eyes as your road trip descends into Queenstown. Bare hills slashed with pink, red, and gold – the unfortunate yet highly photogenic results of its mining heritage.

Regeneration is important to this resilient town. Not only is the landscape recovering, but the community is reinventing its image through its unique heritage and unusual arts scene.

See the lovingly restored Paragon Theatre in Queenstown on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Paragon Theatre in Queenstown

After years of neglect the iconic art deco Paragon Theatre has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Whether it’s dinner and a classic movie, or just a taste of their homemade choc-tops, it’s a surprising gem in the heart of Queenstown that is always hosting new and exciting events. Check their calendar to see what is coming up!

🤔 Did you know…?

The Queenstown football field is the most intimidating in Australia – covered with gravel instead of grass!

That’s ‘West Coaster’ tough 💪

It has been very exciting to see Queenstown embrace the arts in recent years, evidence of which can be seen in the many murals dotted about town and tiny galleries like the Soggy Brolly shared art space, and the artist-run Landscape Art Research Queenstown (LARQ). 

Missing Tiger bookshop is also worth a stop on your walk around town. This fantastic little bookshop specialises in books all about Tasmania and the fascinating history of the West Coast region. Why not pick up something quintessentially Tasmanian to read on your travels?

West Coast Wilderness Railway

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Rugged beauty on the West Coast Wilderness Railway | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne

To ride one of the majestic steam trains on the West Coast Wilderness Railway is to take a journey back in time – to the days of tenacious fettlers and tough-as-nails prospectors.

The terrain is stunning, and with tours departing departing from both Queenstown and Strahan you’ll be amazed and inspired by the ingenuity of the early West Coasters.

Strahan and Macquarie Harbour

Perched on the shores of Macquarie Harbour, Strahan is a picture-perfect seaside village full of history.

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Macquarie Harbour World Heritage Cruises | Photo: World Heritage Cruises

A Macquarie Harbour Cruise is a must, crossing the mirror-like waters to the fury of Hell’s Gates, before gliding up the Gordon River to stillness and serenity. Ancient temperate rainforests line the banks, silent witness to one of Tasmania’s most merciless penal settlements – Sarah Island.

⚓ Special Offer!

Use my LAPOFTAS code and receive 10% OFF all tours with World Heritage Cruises!

Choose ‘the red boat’ and support this fantastic, locally owned company for the best day out on the Gordon River.

Check Tours

Once back ashore, settle in at the Richard Davey Amphitheatre to watch Australia’s longest running play – The Ship That Never Was. A rollicking adventure of canny convicts, hijack hijinks, and their quest for freedom!

🤔 Did you know…?

Macquarie Harbour is 6x larger than Sydney Harbour, and its cold waters are like a layer-cake, with fresh water from the Gordon River sitting above a layer of salty sea water.

It doesn’t taste as good though 🤣

West Coast Adventure Activities

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Tobogganing at Henty Dunes | 📷: Jason Futrill

With its rugged coastline, soaring sand dunes, and deep chasms, the West Coast Wilds are irresistible for adrenaline junkies!

White water rafting is a blast on both the Franklin and King rivers. Surrounded by World Heritage forests and with pure Tasmanian waters rushing beneath your feet – this adventure is sure to float your boat!

Closer to Strahan are the soaring, toboggan-friendly Henty Dunes and the endless expanses and crashing waves of Ocean Beach.

Looking for fun on two-wheels? Mountain biking is the West Coast’s newest and most exciting escape for thrill-seekers. The trails of Mt Owen (Queenstown) are now open and feature a range of trails with stunning views for experienced and beginner riders alike, with additional trails set to open soon near Zeehan and beyond.

To learn more about the West Coast region, including its timber pioneers and hydro heritage, have a look at the many tours provided by RoamWild in Queenstown. Their comfortable 4WD vehicles will transport you to some of the West Coast’s most beautiful hidden secrets.

West Coast Tasmania Waterfalls and Rainforest Nature Trails

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Nelson Falls | 📷: Jess Bonde

Can you believe that some towns on Tasmania’s West Coast receive nearly 3,000 mm of rain every year?!

The rainforests are sublime, full of primordial lichens, mosses and fast-flowing streams. And many are accessible by short walks taking no more than 30 minutes.

The Franklin River Nature Trail, and trails to Nelson Falls and Hogarth Falls are all suited to any age or level of ability. While Tasmania’s highest waterfall – Montezuma Falls – is also worth a visit. Close to Queenstown is the short and rewarding walk to views of Horsetail Falls.

 Pencil in your favourite West Coast walk today!

Read More: Best Short Walks in Tasmania

Where to Eat on the West Coast

For thousands of years the West Coast of Tasmania provided an abundance of food for the palawa – and it continues to do so today. The cold, clear waters of the Indian Ocean surging against the rugged coastline produce Tasmania’s finest crayfish, abalone and scallops – and the inland freshwater fishing is second to none.

Fishing at Lake Burbury on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Fishing at Lake Burbury | 📷: Samuel Shelley

Strahan

Tracks on Point has all your traditional breakfast favourites from 9am, but if it was me I’d be tucking into a plate of their fluffy buttermilk pancakes with lemon curd and mixed berry compote! If you’re up early for the Gordon River cruise then duck into The Coffee Shack Strahan from 6am for quality coffee and light meals. 

Looking for lunch? For hearty pub fare with friendly ‘West Coaster’ service and some of the best views in Tasmania, drop by the Regatta Point Tavern.

Hamer’s Bar and Bistro is a solid dinner option that will leave you satisfied, but for me, I really like the meals – and views – on offer at Risby Cove.

Queenstown

In Queenstown you’ll find Tracks Cafe is the perfect place for coffee and a light meal or lunch. 

The Empire Hotel is a solid option for hearty pub tucker, and in nearby Gormanston are the baked delights of the new Linda Cafe, nestled beneath the imposing concrete walls of the historic Royal Hotel – you can’t miss it on your drive in to Queenie!

For dinner, why not drop by Rusty Iron Thai Restaurant? The food is delicious, and you won’t forget its eclectic corrugated tin walls any time soon 🤣

🤔 Did you know…?

In the ’70s Queenstown’s Memorial Hall was a popular destination for Aussie bands such as AC/DC, Sherbet, and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs.

Rock on! 🤘

West Coast Events

Unconformity Festival

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Unconformity Festival | 📷: We are Explorers

A contemporary arts festival exploring what it means to be a West Coaster, and what the future folds for this evolving region. It’s a little bit quirky and a whole lot of fun!

Rosebery Festival

Enjoy the Rosebery Festival on your Lap of Tasmania road trip
Rosebery Festival

For a fun weekend with the whole family, book in the Rosebery Festival. Held across 4 days every February, this celebration of West Coast life is full of music and arts for the oldies, while the kids will enjoy the billy cart races, teddy bear picnics, and colour run!

Ten Days on the Island

A truly epic arts festival, with performances and exhibitions held across Tasmania over three weekends. Opera, dance, theatre, performance art…it’s got the lot!

West Coast Tasmania Accommodation

On the West Coast Tasmania accommodation options are plentiful. The weather is unpredictably exhilarating and those old-timers really knew how to use the local timber in crafting some wonderfully cosy cottages and sprawling manors!

Penghana B&B - Entrance
Penghana B&B - Queenstown

Queenstown

In Queenstown I thoroughly recommend staying at Penghana B&BNot only is this unique National trust heritage property simply stunning, but it is steeped in local history. 

Your hosts, Karen and Stephen, put their heart and soul into the most delicious cooked breakfasts and they love sharing their extensive knowledge of the local area with their guests.

🥂 Special Offer!

Mention the Lap of Tasmania when booking your relaxing getaway at the gorgeous Penghana Bed and Breakfast and receive your choice of either:

  • a FREE silver service Devonshire tea served between 3-4 pm. (min. 48hrs notice required); or
  • a FREE bottle of Penghana house wine 🍷

Valid for direct bookings only, and not available in combination with other offers.

Strahan

The harbour town of Strahan is a huge favourite with visitors to Tassie’s wild west coast.

A few nights is ideal for indulging in a comfortable B&B from yesteryear, or a little luxury by the water!

Harrison House B&B - Strahan
Harrison House B&B - Strahan

My favourite B&B in Strahan would have to be Harrison House B&B

Perfectly positioned in the hills overlooking Strahan, your friendly hosts Ken and Jo-Ann have put their heart and soul into restoring this heritage property to its former glory, and everyone I speak to who has had the pleasure of a night or two at Harrison House B&B can’t help but rave about the scrumptious, home cooked breakfasts that greet you every morning!

🥂 Special Offer!

Book the ‘Bed, Breakfast & Boat’ package with Harrison House B&B, and when you mention the Lap of Tasmania you will also receive your choice of either:

  • FREE bottle of 9th Island Pinot Noir 🍷 – OR –
  • FREE glass of sparkling wine 🥂 and a ‘Button Grass Brewery’ craft beer 🍺

Valid for direct bookings only.

For other options in town, you can escape the West Coast chill in your own private spa at Wheelhouse Apartments, and families will love Castaway Holiday Apartments. 

Another really popular option is Strahan Village and its pretty views through the treetops and across the harbour.

Zeehan and Tullah

The Heemskirk Motor Hotel is the best option in Zeehan, and at Tullah TimeOut you’ll be torn between exploring the shores of Lake Rosebery and curling up with a book in front of your roaring log fire!

West Coast Weather

On the West Coast of Tasmania you can expect Mother Nature to throw everything at you but the kitchen sink!

Read More: The Best Time to Visit Tasmania

Summer temperatures average between 11°C and 21°C, while in winter it isn’t as cold as you might think, with averages between 5°C and 12°C. The West Coast gets a lot of rainfall. In summer there’s a 40% chance of daily rain, while in winter that rises to 60% – and when it rains it buckets down, so don’t forget your waterproofs! Snow is rare at sea level on the West Coast, and more common in the higher altitudes of Derwent Bridge, Zeehan or Tullah during winter.

West Coast Road Trip Essentials

Next destination?

If you’re travelling clockwise, your next destination is Devonport and the Cradle Coast. Can you hear Cradle Mountain calling?

Travelling anti-clockwise, your next destination is the Derwent Valley – Tasmania’s ‘Valley of Love’.

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