Tall trees, (mostly) dry terrain, coastal views, clean clear waters and best of all; no crowds.
Sounds great right?
Douglas- Apsley National Park has all these desirable traits and you can sample them along the sometimes visited Leeabeera Track, over on the East Coast of Tasmania.
While the insta-facepage-addicted-hoards descend cheek by jowl on the flogged out yet very pretty Freycinet National Park, this wilder and more rugged chunk of rock and woods sees comparatively fewer hikers meaning more chance of solitude and less sightings of twenty somethings lining up to pose for 'must have' selfies at Wineglass Bay.
|Posing for a 'must have' selfie at Thompson's Marshes 😜|
I couldn't drum up any information on the meaning of 'Leeaberra' which is a shame.
|Map sourced from www.ontheworldmap.com|
- The 'E' road or East Road, is 22.3km North of Bicheno, just past Seymour. It is an unsigned gravel track with 2 black posts at the Highway end that look like they previously held a Parks sign or something. I toddled down the path in my 2WD van for less than a kilometre and parked it on the right hand side before the creek ditch.
- If you have a high clearance AWD or 4WD then skipping through the washout and the next one will save you 5 or 6 kilometres slogging it up the top of the wiggly track.
- I quite liked the road walk up to the start, however a few other blogs and trip reports rag on this hike due to the access and logistics that require a car shuttle or pickup/ drop off from either end.
- For what it's worth, I just turned the whole thing into a loop and walked from the Southern end point at Apsley Waterhole back up the Tasman Highway to my vehicle on day 3, notching up another 25 or 30 odd kilometres or whatever it was.
|Map sourced from www.aurorabeachcottages.com.au|
- Parks Tasmania has a page dedicated to the trail here
- Parks Tasmania asks all walkers to hike North to South in order to prevent the further spread of Phytophthora, a root rot disease. In addition; you can keep your kit clean.
- Follow the orange markers. There are a few groovy side trips along this path leading to waterfalls and lookouts. I have visited them all in the past and just craved a linear A to B journey this time.
- I walked the Leeaberra Track mid July 2020.
|I used this crusty old map I have had for at least a dozen years. It is easily procured from outdoor equipment retailers and online.|
Day 1: "E" Road entrance near the Tasman Highway to Heritage Falls Campsite.
5.5km road walk plus 5.5km Northern Terminus to campsite.
Originally I was planning on a 2 day/ 1 night plod around the Rainforest Circuit and back out the same way to my car. After arriving at the Heritage Falls campsite (no falls, they are another 40 minutes further down a side track), I was getting the happy brain juices flowing so I decided to bash on through the next day and finish up at Apsley.
I encountered no leeches, no other people, mild weather and blue skies slap bang in the middle of a Tasmanian Winter. This is why the East Coast is my go to region for non snow-bound hikes when the rest of the island is locked up in a wet and cold fug.
The dry eucalypt forests and dolerite boulders scattered about remind me strongly of walking in New South Wales or Western Victoria. The track is easy to follow and there was absolutely none of the disgusting toilet paper and human faeces commonly encountered steaming on the trail elsewhere on more popular hikes. Just myself, the wallabies and the abundant birdlife. Blissful.
Day 2: Heritage Falls Campsite to Apsley Gorge Campsite.
The trail undulates and rolls through a variety of terrain including pockets of wetter rainforest, views of the nearby coastline and ocean and a very steep drop down to the Douglas River for lunch.
I crossed over and spread my quilt out to dry as the night before had brought with it a fair bit of condensation in the forested camp.
It is a lovely spot and I found I was reluctant to leave the sunshine and calm, hypnotic gurgle of the river. Anyway, the track leads straight up, up, up and then along an old foresty track that has been reclaimed by the bush. I didn't get my feet wet zip zagging through the Denison Marshes due to some very recent track maintenance work. Thank you to whoever put in the effort.
|One of many cheeky campsite possums keen to check out what I'm scoffing down for dinner.|
There's a final climb before heading down to the Apsley River, then grazing farmland can be sighted. I crossed the river before last light, collected water and trundled up the crushed rock path to the walk in campsite and cooked up dinner and threw up the tent.
Day 3: Apsley River Campsite to 'E' Road. 30km (??) along the Tasman Highway.
Road walking. I really don't hate it like many other hikers do.
I woke super early and chugged a coffee and packed up quick. A near full moon illuminated Rosedale Road and the odd farm dog bark, bark barked at me as I marched under clear skies to the A3 Highway. Turning North I encountered little traffic until the bridge over the Douglas River then it was constant dual cab utes and busy people in a hurry blowing past until meeting the E Road again.
Wasn't too bad though and a deviation to mooch up Denison Beach for an hour and watch the sunrise capped off a pleasurable couple of days. I was at the van by 11 and in St Helen's for lunch soon after.
Douglas Apsley is a surprisingly wild National Park near the East Coast population centres with plenty of scope for side missions along the rough forestry roads and accessible peaks and gorges.
Years ago I lived in Bicheno (a nearby town) and walked the Leeaberra Track as a day-long hike a few times.
You'll need to utilise a friend with a vehicle for pick up and drop off or plant an old bicycle at the Southern Terminus to pull this off.