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Hiking in West Coast

The route basically follows the west coast from Bathurst Harbour (Port Davey area) to Macquarie Harbour (Strahan). This is the southern half of the west coast of the state. This is wilderness walking par excellence. There are no ranger stations, no habitation and no marked walking tracks. The only signs of civilisation are the flotsam and jetsam washed up on the shore, some shipwrecks, a small lighthouse half way and some old overgrown vehicle tracks to the light (they now service the light by boat).

While there is no track, the route is basically easy, keep the ocean to your left and the scrub to your right. The coastline itself is extremely varied ranging from sandy bays, stony shores, rugged rocky headlands and sections of sea caves, which provide considerable difficulty in passing.

About 80% of the walk is on the coast itself. The remainder crosses buttongrass plains or through the coastal scrub above the coastline. On the very difficult section near High Rocky Point, the route spends many hours in thick coastal scrub (to avoid impassable sea caves) and experience at navigating and pushing through thick scrub is essential. I have walked the difficult section twice (once in each direction) and there are some difficult long days to do.

It is possible to visit the northern section of the coast from Cape Sorrell (Strahan) to Hibbs Lagoon as an easier 5 day walk. Most groups that do this allow 7 days and spend the extra time visiting Point Hibbs. Seaplanes can land on Hibbs Lagoon (the only place on the coast they can land) and provide a lift in or out from there to Strahan.

This is very isolated walk. While it is difficult to determine exact numbers of walkers, from the seaplane records it appears that about one party walks the entire coastline about every second year. At least 2 to 3 groups walk the shorter easy section from Cape Sorrell to Hibbs Lagoon each summer. Help cannot be expected on this remote coastline - while fishing boats are often in the area, they often stay well out to sea and are difficult to contact.

Location

The route follows the wild southern half of the western coastline of Tasmania. Following the coastline means there are many minor streams and small rivers to cross and they can be problems when flooded. The streams have short catchments so they do drop quickly when it stops raining.