Don't let the name of this place put you off - going there might have been a dismal experience for the surveyors who named it back in 1828, but for today's visitors it offers a unique eco-tourism adventure. Dismal Swamp is actually a sink hole created over time with the dolomite slab dissolving in the wet area. Early last century its timber was used for making kegs and more recently was on a logging, clearing and draining list. Locals realised its importance and fought to preserve its destruction. In 1976 they had success.
Today it has been developed by Forest Tasmania with four boardwalks on the swamp floor to enable easy access to swamp life while keeping your feet dry. Visitors are able to stroll down the 40m to the floor, take a gentle buggy ride or take a 110m slide to discover the delights of swamp fertility. Two kilometres of meandering pathways lead to a maze. Decaying logs provide a nursery for baby blackwood trees and tiny burrowing crayfish are evident in their important role in the survival of the area. You can also slide down a tube to the forest floor or take a stroll or buggy ride down to the fertile swamp below.
The state's top designers have created magical and moving artwork to enhance the power of the environment. Local artist Roz Langford used tree knolls to create tree spirits representing her Aboriginal ancestry. Moss and railings that make sawing sounds when touched give a very spiritual feeling to the walk.
The modern visitors' centre, with its pleasant cafe, is perched on the sinkhole rim overlooking the forest and blends in perfectly. Entry fees apply. Ph: (03) 6456 7199
Where Is it?: Dismal Swamp is 87km from Burnie via Smithton in Tasmania's northwest. Smithton to Tarkine Forest Adventures - 32km. Click on or tap an attraction to read the description. Click or tap again to hide the description.
In The Area
Marrawah is the most northerly on the settlements on Tasmania's west coast. Besides surfing, the major activities in the area include walks along the coastline, viewing the important Aboriginal carvings at Mt Cameron West and Sundown Point, and cruises along the beautiful reaches of the Arthur River. Marrawah is 16 km west of Dismal Swamp via Bass Highway.
A hidden gem, Lake Chisholm (60 km west, partly unsealed road) is a flooded limestone sinkhole, one of the many sinkholes in the area, but one of only two filled with water. A gentle half hour return walk meanders through a majestic old myrtle forest to the tranquil waters of the lake. This can be a fantastic photo opportunity, especially in the early morning, so remember to bring your camera.
Tayatea Bridge Picnic Area (38 km south) provides easy access to the Arthur River - a great opportunity to fish, picnic or even launch a raft or kayak and paddle down medium rapids to Kanunnah bridge.
Allendale Gardens (10 km south of Smithton), located on the road to Edith Creek, are an interesting mixture of rainforest, botanic gardens and pleasant walkways. There are 2.5 hectares of landscaped gardens set in 26 hectares of rainforest. Paths weave through lovely tree fern glades, eucalyptus and blackwood trees. In the gardens, 16th and 17th century roses are featured. This is a hidden gem, a beautiful, tranquil and fragrant paradise away from the everyday stress. Here you can take in the tranquillity and silence and the sensory delights of fragrant flowers, roses and the rainforest walk is a delight. Open Open from Tuesday 6th October until the last Saturday in April, 10am until 4pm. Ph (03) 6456 4216. How to get there: At Smithton take the B22 just inside the Smithton town boundary via Irishtown or the C217 two kilometres further on at the roundabout on the Marrawah road.
Milkshakes is a magical picnic spot. Picnic facilities are nestled among the eucalypt and rainforest trees. There are two walks, a basic 10 minute nature walk through the forest which is relatively flat, or you can climb to the top of one of the Milkshake Hills (45 minutes return). Shelters, picnic area and barbecues are available at the car park. A signposted track leads to the lookout on the Milkshakes Hills; a worthwhile climb.
The Milkshakes Forest Reserve free campsite is located app. 26 kilometres to the north of the Julius River campground, some 6 kilomtres south of the Tayatea Bridge. Turn off, follow the well signposted area for just over 3.5 kilometres where you will find this very appealing free camping ground. Make sure you walk through the rainforests on the tracks provided. Please note, this site is not ideally suited for tent-based camping; recommended for campervans, campers, motorhomes and caravans. For further information please contactForesty Tasmania - 03 6452 4900.
How to get there: Travel south from Smithton on the B22 to Edith Creek through excellent, fertile, dairy country. Take the C218 to Kanunnah Bridge over the Arthur River. Travel east via Julius River and the Rapid River Road and follow the signage to the Milkshakes Forest Reserve. Total distance is 80km.
This site has recently been upgraded and has excellent picnic facilities. A half hour return walk winds through the cool temperate rainforest. Interpretive signs provide an insight into the nature of this forest. Julius River Rainforest Walk: From Milkshakes Hills, continue on to the 30 minute Julius River Rainforest Walk, situated in a beautiful reserve, set in sinkhole country. There are two easy walks into the mossy, myrtle forests, found throughout the Tarkine. BBQ facilities, picnic shelter and a toilet are provided.
These falls are in the Wes Beckett Reserve, 61 kms south of Smithton. The walk is short and the 1.2 kms return track is barely definable in has steep rocky sections and is sometimes close to the edge of the ravine. The falls are small, but pretty and the walk takes 30 - 35 minutes. It is not suitable for small children. Wes Beckett Reserve is 61 kms south of Smithton. After turning left at Kanunnah Bridge onto Sumac Road, drive 16 km before branching left onto Mount Bertha Road. There are five more signed intersections in the final 10 km. Take a left turn at each one.
Water Wheel Creek Timber Heritage Experience is located on 20 hectares (49 acres) of forested land at Mawbanna, community 25 minutes south east of Stanley (27 km), en route to Dip Falls. Here you can take a guided tour to see Tasmania's only working example of a timber tramway. Discover the spirit of early pioneers in the Heritage Museum and browse the displays of restored pioneer machinery, artefacts, photographs and memorabilia to gain an insight into life in the early timber communities of Tasmania s north west.
You can also take a guided Forest Experience Walk. On this gentle, tracked walk through native forest you will discover a complex eco-system and the diverse wildlife it supports. See Tasmanian rainforest trees including blackwood, sassafras and myrtle and walk in the shade of giant tree ferns. You may even catch a glimpse of an elusive platypus or giant Tasmanian freshwater crayfish.
Visit the Bushman's Cafe to try freshly made cakes and scones, sustaining snacks and steaming tea and coffee. Soak up the atmosphere of the surrounding forest on the outdoor deck.
Another attraction in the forest near Mawbanna is The Big Tree, a 400 year old browntop stringybark tree standing head and shoulders above all the other much smaller trees in the surrounding rainforest. The Big Tree is 62 metres tall, and at 16 metres, it definitely has the widest circumference of any tree in Australia.