The South Arthur Forest Drive is a safe and easy way to have a taste of the Tarkine region of Tasmania���s north west with a minimum of fuss and without having to do the whole 4-wheel drive thing. The drive begins at Smithton and is an easy 130 km round trip. A mix of sealed and gravel roads give access to a number forest reserves on the way. To begin, take the turnoff which indicates South Arthur Forest Drive from the road between Stanley to Smithton.
Milkshakes Hills Forest Reserve
Milkshakes Hills Forest Reserve (45 km south) features a mix of of button grass (which turns the creeks a tea colour) and virgin temperate rainforest. There are two walks, a basic 10 minute nature walk through the forest which is relatively flat, or you can climb to the top of one of the Milkshake Hills (45 minutes return).
Sumac Lookout has expansive views over the Arthur River and forests. Like Milkshakes Hills, Julius River Forest Reserve is a popular camping spot, with a toilet, picnic shelter and wood barbeque. A half hour return walk winds through the cool temperate rainforest. Interpretive signs provide an insight into the nature of this forest.
A hidden gem, Lake Chisholm is a flooded limestone sinkhole, one of the many sinkholes in the area, but one of only two filled with water. A gentle half hour return walk meanders through a majestic old myrtle forest to the tranquil waters of the lake. This can be a fantastic photo opportunity, especially in the early morning, so remember to bring your camera.
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Allendale Gardens (10 km south of Smithton), located on the road to Edith Creek, are an interesting mixture of rainforest, botanic gardens and pleasant walkways. There are 2.5 hectares of landscaped gardens set in 26 hectares of rainforest. Paths weave through lovely tree fern glades, eucalyptus and blackwood trees. In the gardens, 16th and 17th century roses are featured.
The somewhat inappropriately named��Dismal Swamp��(32 km south west) is a natural blackwood forest sinkhole, believed to be the only one in the world. Formed over thousands of years by dissolving dolomite, the 40 metre deep sinkhole is a unique forest habitat supporting a range of plant and animal species. From the visitors centre, guests are able to stroll down the 40m to the floor, take a gentle buggy ride or take a 110m slide to discover the delights of swamp fertility. Two kilometres of meandering pathways lead to a maze. Decaying logs provide a nursery for baby blackwood trees and tiny burrowing crayfish are evident in their important role in the survival of the area.
Kannunah Bridge Picnic Area and Tayatea Bridge Picnic Area (38 km south of Smithton) are also located on the Forest Drive. They provide a great opportunity to fish, picnic or even launch a raft or kayak and paddle down medium rapids to Kanunnah bridge.