Hartz Mountains National Park is a window into the south-west wilderness, offering views of remote mountain ranges as far as the southern coast. As well as spectacular views of a landscape which has been shaped by glaciers during past ice ages, the park offers a variety of unique features. Waterfalls tumble off the dolerite range that runs through the centre of the park and small glacial lakes dot the plateau. The park contains a wide variety of vegetation from wet eucalypt forest and rainforest through to alpine heath on the exposed mountain tops.
The park was included in Tasmania���s Wilderness World Heritage Area in 1989, in recognition of its spectacular natural and cultural values.
Take your time and enjoy short strolls out to the glacial lakes in the area, or try the more challenging walks up to the range top. Its highest point, Hartz Peak (1255 m), provides panoramic views into the heart of the southwest.
Most animals in the park are nocturnal, however echidnas and platypus are sometimes observed during the day. In the evening Bennetts wallabies, Tasmanian pademelons and brushtail possums are often seen.
Day visitor facilities
The park facilities are basic, with a toilet, water and picnic shelter available near the entrance to the Waratah Lookout track. The shelter has an open fireplace, free gas barbecue, and tables. Firewood is supplied and a recycling station is provided for rubbish collection.
The Hartz Mountains experience typical south-west weather conditions. This can be a wild, inhospitable and isolated place. Rain falls on more than 220 days of the year so it is necessary to carry waterproofs and warm clothing with you at all times. In all seasons there can be snow, high rainfall, extremes of temperature, strong winds and sudden weather changes, which can provide a dramatic contrast to conditions in the forested lowlands you have just passed through. The current weather forecast should be checked before heading to the park.
It is important to register your walk, even the shortest one, at the registration booth next to the carpark. Don���t forget to sign out at the end of your walk. But remember that this book is usually not checked by rangers until a group is reported overdue. The raised boardwalk on many tracks can become difficult when covered in ice or snow.
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How to get there
Hartz Mountains is 84 km south-west of Hobart. From Hobart, drive south on the A6 (Southern Outlet), following the signs to Huonville and Geeveston. In Geeveston turn right on the Arve Road (C632), which is clearly signposted for Hartz Mountains National Park. Much of the C632 is a winding, steep, but good quality sealed road. A sign marks the turn-off to the park. The last section of the road continues for 10.5 km and is unsealed and can sometimes be closed by snow. Check the local road conditions by phoning (03) 6264 8460 if in doubt.
Drivers should note that beyond Geeveston the road to Hartz Mountains is unsealed and severe weather conditions may exist. Your vehicle could become stuck in snow, and there is the risk of death from exposure to cold. If the road is snow covered, you should not proceed.
For the adventurous walker, there are numerous walking trails on which you may encounter steep terrain and sections of track which are wet, muddy or rough underfoot. You will need good footwear, preferably walking boots. A warm hat and gloves, as well as gaiters and overpants, should be worn or carried in addition to your usual walking gear.
Lake Esperance (2 hrs return)
A fascinating walk through woodland and snowgums, up to the high country where cushion plants and ancient King Billy pines encircle the lake. You may hear the haunting call of the mountain currawong as you wander along the plateau. A short distance along the track you will pass a memorial to Sydney and Arthur Geeves, who perished near here in 1897 in the harsh blizzard conditions that can occur here at any time.
Hartz Pass (3.5 hours return)
This is an ideal place to get a view into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, but is a steep uphill climb. You will need to be a reasonably fit walker.
Hartz Peak (5 hours return)
Hartz Peak is the highest point of the Hartz Mountains, and in fine weather the summit offers one of the best views of the south-west. The jagged outline of Federation Peak can be seen on the horizon. This is a relatively easy walk compared to some in the area, and perhaps the best to experience the mountains, glacial lakes and alpine moors of Tasmania���s World Heritage Listed South West Wildnerness region without having to embark on a multi-day cross country hike. Credited with having the highest view/effort ratio of any walk in Southern Tasmania, you will see Federation Peak, Precipitous Bluff, Eastern Arthurs, Mt Weld, Snowy South, and Frenchmans Cap on a clear day. All walking paths are wintin Hartz Mts National Park. Access to the mountains is via Geeveston.
Short Nature Walks
There is an array of walks to do in this park to help you experience its special features. You won���t need special footwear for the short walks, though comfortable and solid walking shoes are a good idea.
Waratah Lookout (5 minute return walk)
This walk is a great introduction to this park, giving you a look out over the forests you have just driven through. Starting near the Waratah Picnic Shelter, a very easy gravel track leads to a viewing platform overlooking the Huon Valley. Old myrtle forest grows immediately below the lookout, with views of forest across the Huon Valley to the Wellington Range. But don���t forget to stop to look at the interesting plants beside the track. On visits in December and January you will be treated to a blaze of red from the Tasmanian waratah in flower.
Arve Falls (20 minute return walk)
A leisurely walk follows the path of the Arve River through alpine herbfield and snowgum woodland to the edge of the plateau where the Arve Falls tumble into the valley below. Signs along the way tell you about the landscape and its special plants. This walk starts from a small car park about 1 km past the Waratah Picnic Shelter.
Lake Osborne (40 minutes return)
If you want to experience the many varieties of forest and moorland then this walk is an ideal start. A gentle uphill climb through forest takes you across the Hartz Plateau to this picturesque glacial lake. You will pass through a grove of young rainforest, containing myrtles, sassafras and pandani. Beyond the forest look out for the Devils Marbles, large boulders dumped onto the plateau by glaciers. A section of woodland and open moorland then leads you to the lake which is fringed with ancient King Billy pines. You can also learn, from signs along the trail, the story of how fire and ice have shaped this landscape and its vegetation.