Southwest National Park

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The Southwest National Park is a 618,267 ha national park located in the south-west of Tasmania, Australia.[2] The park is Tasmania's largest and forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.[2]

The eastern boundary is 93 kilometres (58 mi) west of Hobart and the park stretches to the west and south coasts. This park comprises the bulk of Tasmania's South West Wilderness.

The park is well known for its pristine wilderness and remoteness. Weather in the park is highly changeable, and can be severe. The area is largely unaffected by humans. Although evidence shows Tasmanian Aborigines have visited the area for at least 25,000 years, and European settlers have made occasional forays into the park area since the 19th century, there has been very little permanent habitation and only minimal impact on the natural environment. Within the area there is only one road, to the hydroelectricity township of Strathgordon. The southern and western reaches of the park are far removed from any vehicular access. The only access is by foot, boat, or light aircraft.

The tiny locality of Melaleuca in the extreme south-west provides an airstrip and some very basic facilities, mainly to do with the National Parks Service.

Contents

History

The core of the park was created in 1955 and was originally called Lake Pedder National Park. Over the following 35 years the park was gradually extended and renamed, finally reaching its present size in 1990.

Wildlife

The Melaleuca area is the summer breeding grounds of the highly endangered orange-bellied parrot .

Access and recreation

There are two ways to access the park: the Gordon River Road to the hydroelectricity township of Strathgordon and the Cockle Creek route via the Huon Highway. The southern and western reaches of the park are far removed from any vehicular access. The only access is by foot, boat, or light aircraft.[3] Two main walking tracks cross the park: the Port Davey Track, south from Lake Pedder and the South Coast Track, east from Cockle Creek, the other west from Cockle Creek along Tasmania's south-coast to Melaleuca. The walks are generally for more experienced walkers, taking approximately ten to fourteen days to complete the full route. Alternatively a flight to or from Melaleuca may be arranged to split the walk, or for tourist access for day trips. Several more difficult walks also exist, encompassing the Eastern and Western Arthur Ranges, Precipitous Bluff, the South West Cape, and Federation Peak. Many of these latter routes are not recommended for inexperienced walkers, or for people traveling alone. Sea access to the region is best gained via Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour.

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