Located just outside of Bicheno on Tasmania’s East Coast, Douglas-Apsley National Park is quite unlike any other in the state. For one thing, it enjoys very sunny weather for most of the year. Furthermore, the park is home to one of Tasmania’s few uncleared dry forests and hosts an incredible array of wildlife, many of which are endangered species.
To get to the park from Hobart, you simply need to take the A3, also known as the Tasman Highway, for about 180 km to Bicheno. About 3 km north of Bicheno, the Rosedale Road leads into the park. From Launceston, you have two options: to approach the park from the south, you need to take the Midland Highway, also known as National Highway 1, to Campbell Town and then continue along the Lake Leake Highway, the B34. This highway joins the Tasman Highway just north of Swansea and from there you can continue on to Bicheno and the park’s southern entrance. Another option is to take the Midland Highway and then, just after Conara, turn onto the A4, also known as the Esk Highway. This route will take you to St Marys in the northeast. From here, you can continue on until the Esk Highway meets the Tasman Highway and then drive south again. However, a shorter route from St Marys is to take Elephant Pass Road, which is also marked as the A4, southeast to Chain of Lagoons, where the road meets the Tasman Highway. From here you can approach the park from the north and enter via the E Road but it’s wise to check with the park authorities, since driving conditions on this gravel road can be unsafe at times.
In the late 1840s, coal was discovered in the area that became the Douglas-Apsley National Park. Coal mining continued for the next century and you’ll still find mining tracks throughout the park. Farming and trapping activities also took place here. The park was only declared a National Park in 1989.
Much of the park is covered in dry eucalypt forests but you’ll also see plenty of wildflowers, especially in the marshlands in the northern areas. The variety of plant life is also home to many different animals, among them over 65 species of bird.
The scenery is spectacular, with deep gorges such as the Apsley Gorge, as well as streams like the Apsley and Douglas Rivers and the Denison Rivulet. In the Douglas River you’ll find the stunning Heritage and Leeaberra Falls close to each other in a tree-covered gorge. There’s a small bushcamp nearby, from where you can climb up to the top of Lookout Hill for breathtaking views of the coastline. There’s another bushcamp further south at the Tevelein Falls, also in the Douglas River.
Another great place to set up camp is at the Apsley Waterhole. Camping facilities are very basic and from October to April you may only use stoves for cooking, since the eucalypts burn fast and hot, making runaway fires very difficult to contain.
There are several walking tracks in the park, from short and easy ones, to the two-and-a-half-day Leeaberra Track. The cool river water will offer respite from the heat, so remember to bring your swimming togs.
To access the park, you need a valid Parks Pass. You can pick one up on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry or buy one online. Alternatively, buy your pass at a National Park Visitor Centre such as the one in Bicheno, at a Tasmanian Travel Information Centre like the ones in Bicheno and Swansea or at a Service Tasmania shop like the ones in Triabunna or Campbell Town.