Douglas-Apsley National Park
Situated between the Douglas and Apsley rivers, this national park spans rugged hills of superb dry sclerophyll forest. Its tranquil waterholes and river gorges are sheltered and inviting, and quiet pockets of diverse bushland are lovely places to spend a relaxing day. Although the region is not pristine, it is the last remaining area of dry forest in Tasmania that has not been logged, miraculously withstanding some 150 years of coalmining, fur trapping, cattle grazing and some cutting of saw logs. In the face of plans to clear-fell the area in 1987, it was saved when the Labor party and the Greens jointly assumed government in 1989; the creation of the park was one of the special conditions of their Accord.
The two main rivers rise in the marshlands to the west and cut through gorges in the rugged eastern section, creating beautiful cascades, waterfalls and secluded pools. The highest point is Lookout Hill (640 metres), which, with the neighbouring dolerite spire of Nichols Needle, dominates the park’s forested terrain. There are no less than 14 different plant species in the forests, with ﬁve of these native to the state. White peppermint, Tasmanian blue gum and gum-topped stringybark are common but there is also the rare Barbers gum and the Tasmanian ironbark. Scattered throughout the park there are also endemic South Esk and Oyster Bay pines.
Bushwalking is a major activity, while the less energetic can picnic beside Apsley River waterhole (covered picnic table and toilet facilities), which is a short walk downhill but swimmers are warned that the water is very cool. The river is Bicheno’s water supply and the habitat of the native southern grayling, so visitors should not use soaps, shampoos or sunscreens in the water. The Apsley Gorge walk (5 km, 3 hours return) heads up to a ridge before descending into the gorge with its tranquil pools. If the river is low you can rock-hop back along the riverbed, but be prepared for some scrambling around river pools on the way. In the west, Apsley Myrtle Forest walk is a 45-minute loop through some very pretty forest, starting from ‘MG’ forestry road off the Tasman Hwy. The north of the park, although lacking facilities, has worthwhile walks, but detailed maps are essential. Access is via the rough forestry ‘E’ road to Thompsons Marshes. The Heritage and Leeaberra Falls walk (7 hours return) leads to lovely waterfalls, and Rainforest Shelf can be added to the itinerary to make an overnight trip. The Leeaberra Track (28 km, 2–3 days) treks through the middle of the park from Thompsons Marshes to the Apsley waterhole, passing the rugged Nichols Needle and Lookout Hill with excellent views to the east coast. This is a great walk for those with experience, but requires a good map and compass. Apsley Lookout (15 minutes return) has lovely views over the river, and along the access track there are signs illustrating the plant species in the forest. Fires are not permitted at the campsite by the Apsley River; the whole park is a fuel stove only area between October 1 and April 30.
Apsley River; bush camping on Leeaberra Track on Douglas River (Heritage Falls and Tevelein Falls)
Location and access
200 km north-east of Hobart via Tasman Hwy to Bicheno then Rosedale Rd; 14 km north-west of Bicheno
- PWS 1300 135 513
- PWS Freycinet (03) 6256 7000
16 090 ha
Bicheno (03) 6375 1500