If you are looking for the ultimate road trip into the wilderness, then you need to head west. The Western Explorer Highway is a unique beast that is isn’t the fastest way to get around the coast but it is the most interesting. Known variously as the C249, the Western Explorer Road or the road to nowhere, this deliciously remote route through dense forest and buttongrass plains crosses the Tarkine Wilderness and has the feel of a true adventure, albeit a pretty safe one that connects the Arthur River with Corinna.
Built in the 1990s, the road rewards those who drive carefully – wildlife is abundant and this was the last known habitat of the Tassie tiger; take care lest it emerges from the bush.
A 4WD is recommended, although 2WD vehicles regularly make the two- to three-hour passage. At the north lies fishing settlements like Couta Rocks and Temma – where the sea can rage and fishermen winch their boats from the water on slips. To the south lies the spectacular Tarkine wilderness rainforest, and the settlement of Corinna.
What was once a thriving gold mining town, Corinna is now an oasis for nature lovers wanting a genuine wilderness experience. This tiny ‘settlement’ sits at the southern end of the Tarkine wilderness area and is set amongst rainforest on the banks of the majestic Pieman River.
Using Corinna as your base, this is your chance to embrace and really explore the wilderness of the west coast on foot with some iconic walks that range from accessible to challenging. From Corinna, the next stops are Zeehan and Strahan and both are worth your time.
But in order to get there, you have to cross the Pieman River on the ‘Fatman Barge’. The barge only operates in winter from 9am to 5pm so make sure you plan your crossing! Zeehan, like other West Coast mining towns, has seen many booms and busts, making it a living museum full of character and fascinating stories.
Today, Zeehan’s Main Street is lined with grand old buildings like the Gaiety Theatre, supposedly visited by Dame Nellie Melba, beautifully restored and still entertaining locals and visitors. And for something different, at the end of the street, you’ll find the Spray Tunnel, a 100-metre abandoned railway tunnel that you can walk, ride or drive through.
Nature lovers can enjoy the views from the top of Mount Zeehan, explore the wild West Coast at Trial Harbour and Granville Harbour, climb the massive Henty Dunes behind Australia’s longest beach and explore the nearby wilderness.
The dunes form a vast expanse of sand that reaches several kilometres inland and extends 15 km along the coast, reaching heights of around 30m, a desert amid the rainforests of the west coast.
The journey west is an experience so don’t rush it, allow plenty of time to get there and always travel with care. And don’t forget to embrace the west for all the experiences on offer, including the weather; pack a beanie, a raincoat and several layers.
Tread your own path and discover Rosebery
Nestled deep within a secret valley, Rosebery is dominated by mining and surrounded by a striking landscape of dense forest and the volcanic mountains of the West Coast Range.
It’s a town of contrasts, famous for its beautiful natural setting and the mining history that brought the town to fruition when gold was discovered in its hills in 1893. There are some great walking tracks in the area, so if you are planning a visit, pack your hiking boots and add these to your itinerary.
The walk to Montezuma Falls has a distinguishing feature that sets it apart from other wilderness walks. Set among the lush rainforest, Montezuma is reached along a long track once used as a tramway by long-abandoned mining companies.
This easy, three-hour return walk along a level track takes you to the base of the 104 metre falls through the pleasant park-like rainforest of leatherwood, myrtle, sassafras and giant tree ferns.
Located in the heart of Rosebery, this short 5-minute return walk is well worth it to find this hidden gem. Starting from Park Road, a 30-meter walk will take you to a purpose-built lookout where you can witness Stitt Falls flowing from above.
Mount Read offers superb views over Rosebery and, on a very clear day, it’s possible to see as far as Macquarie Harbour in the south. The walking route starts from Telecom road which is about 1km south of Rosebery.