1 FEBRUARY 2020
NARAWNTAPU - TASMANIA'S BEST KEPT SECRET
-Narawntapu National Park -
Words & photography by: Kylie Bell
Due to the current situation with Coronavirus and travel restrictions for all within Tasmania and globally, this article is intended to inspire future travel once it is safe to do so and permitted.
Having visited a number of national parks across the island state of Tasmania, nothing prepared me for the magic of Narawntapu National Park. On arrival and on a continuous loop throughout one of the best day trips we had, the thoughts, ‘how have I not heard of this place before?’ and ‘this is one of Tasmania’s best-kept secrets’ kept rolling through my mind. Nestled against the northern coastline and stretching far out of sight, this was an adventure travellers paradise. Despite it’s quiet, untapped location, there was a new visitor centre, gift shop and all the amenities to make this match Cradle Mountain or Wineglass Bay. Entering the park we immediately spotted Forester Kangaroos sunning themselves on Springlawn plain, one of the largest, untouched grassland and lagoon paradises I had seen. Throughout the day, aside from these massive grey natives, we encountered potoroos', echidnas and birdlife galore. In addition to this, making the park significantly important and unique is that the park was once home to the Aboriginal Punnilderpanner Clan. Fossils and other archaeological evidence can still be found throughout the park, dating back as far as four thousand years.
As a nature lover and always looking for a new wilderness adventure, I also can not deny my thirst and historical inquisitiveness. Narawntapu National Park is full of Aboriginal cultural history and stands as though the British had never arrived; like a ‘time capsule’, a place frozen in time. The beachscape, coastal habitat and grassland plains intact, full of Tasmanian wildlife, as if Europeans had never settled on this beautiful and rugged island.
Hitching our light day bags on our shoulders, and barely giving ourselves time to finish chucking in a few snacks and items for our day's adventure, we eagerly walked into the dunes and vegetation behind the carpark. We stood in wonder looking out against the Bass Strait, waves lapping along one of the biggest and whitest beaches on the North Coast. Olive green and yellow coastal vegetation danced along the sand dune bank, the beach stretching away east and west towards Badger Heads, where the rolling coastal wilderness ran down to the sea.
Aside from the stunning landscape, Tasmanian native wildlife and vistas, the best part about this Tasmanian travel destination is the diversity and range of things to do. Swimming, fishing, camping, lookouts, short and full-day walks for every traveller was here. It’s geography and fauna and flora makes Narawntapu National Park stand out on its own to its sibling parks and reserves. Having spent many trips to Cradle Mountain, only 90-minutes drive from Narawntapu, this is an experience standing out all on its own; entirely unique and now decidedly one of my top recommended travel destinations in Tasmania. What is more, it is one of the most accessible national parks available and just waiting for travellers. Twenty-five minutes drive from the port city of Devonport and the Spirit of Tasmania, and only a one hour and thirty-minute drive to Launceston, this makes an incredible day trip adventure.
At Narawntapu, two must-do’s is the walk to the Bird Hide Lookout and Archers Knob, easily achieved in less than half a day and on the same track. Starting at the visitor centre, the walk is a leisurely stroll across the Forester Kangaroo plains before ducking into the native coastal vegetation and habitat of the echidnas and potoroos. Fifteen minutes later, we found ourselves entirely absorbed by the stillness of the lagoon, watching patiently for Forester Kangaroos to hop down to the shoreline to reluctantly drink during the day, before returning to sunbake on the lawns; one of the most untouched landscapes and native habit on the North Coast, and home to a diverse range of ducks, birds, and other birdlife.
Pulling ourselves away from our meditative spot, we continued west on the coastal track, ducking out here and there to explore the dunes and the white sandy beach and spying the headlands further on. A sense of true adventure today filled our souls and minds as we chatted away about the magic and surprise to find this place so unknown and just perfect as Tasmania’s next travel destination. Reaching the last section of our walk, the track gently took us upwards onto the crown of Archers Knob, the native grasses half as tall as us. On top, the views went in kilometres in every direction. This was an affirmation of our thoughts; the cherry on top. Sitting and eating our lunch, we pointed out Sheffield, Mount Roland, rugged coastline, beaches and wilderness views in a three hundred and sixty-degree panorama. We ended up spending some time soaking it in, nibbling our lunch and vowing this would not be the last adventure here. So much to see and further to explore. As we looked west towards Badger Heads, there was no doubt in either of our minds we would be back to trek further. As a lover of history and stories of generations who once walked these lands, this time capsule landscape was like a nineteenth-century painting; the only thing missing, a small, bobbing sailing ship rounding Bager Heads. Aboard would have been eager sea adventurers, not that dissimilar to us.
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Other great walks that add to this perfect day adventure include the Badger Head/Copper Cove walk, easily added to a days adventure to Narawntapu, or the more adventurous nine-hour, one-way coastal traverse to the other end of the national park - high on our Tasmanian bucket list. Returning from our walk and eager to spot the lazy Forester Kangaroos again, we meandered the Springlawn Nature Walk. Instagram selfie with these native locals - check - we were undoubtedly fully satisfied from this Tasmanian adventure.
In summary, this national park is a must! Home to one of the densest populations of native Tasmanian animals, a geographical and coastal paradise, a hikers playground and Tasmania’s next best travel destination hotspot, this surely can not stay secret for that must longer!
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