Great Western Tiers
The Great Western Tiers are a collection of World Heritage listed mountain bluffs that form the northern edge of the Tasmanian Central Highlands plateau. Places of diverse beauty with spectacular natural features, history and heritage and amazing geological features, the Great Western Tiers stretch northwest to southeast over 100 kilometres from the 1,420-metre Western Bluff near the town of Mole Creek to the 1,210-metre Millers Bluff, approximately 25 kilometres west of Campbell Town. On this website, our focus is on those parts of the Tiers that lay within Tasmania's North West or border the region and can be easily accessed from it.
The Great Western Tiers are the gateway to Tasmania's best known National Parks - Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair and Walls Of Jerusalem - as well as an alternative route to the west coast of Tasmania. The Tiers form the northern face of the Tasmanian Central Plateau, which rises up to 1420 metres above sea level and is dominated by Cradle Mountain. In the foothills of the Great Western Tiers can be found a wide range of attractions both man made and natural which can be explored on this drive. It is also an alternative route to reach Cradle Mountain from Launceston.
How to get there
Deloraine sits roughly in the middle of the length of the Great Western Tiers, but to their north. The town makes an excellent starting point for touring or for visiting individual localities and geographical features.
The peaks and bluffs of the Great Western Tiers include:
Brady's lookout, at 1,371 metres. Named after the bushranger Matthew Brady.
Dry's Bluff at 1,298 metres. Origin of the Liffey River.
Ironstone Mountain, at 1,444 metres
Millers Bluff, at 1,210 metres
Mother Cummings Peak, at 1,255 metres
Quamby Bluff, at 1,227 metres
Western Bluff, at 1,420 metres
Great Western Tiers Drive
The drive as written begins in Launceston, but if you are coming from the North West coast you can join it at Delaoraine. Allow a full day for the drive; add additional time if you are contemplating taking any of the bushwalks in the area or spending more time than a quick visit. Features accessible from the drive include the Mole Creek caves - 300 caves and sinkholes including Marakoopa and King Solomons Caves; scenic lookouts - Devils Gullet Lookout, Alum Cliffs, Walls of Jerusalem; waterfalls - Lobster Falls, Meander Falls, Liffy Falls; bushwalks - Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair, Marakoopa Fern Glade Walk, Pine Lake Walk, Alum Cliffs, Walls of Jerusalem NP.
Great Western Tiers Drive
Enjoy natural wonders including the celebrated Mole Creek Caves, a Mole Creek attraction for over 100 years, world-class national parks including the Walls of Jerusalem, easy walk trails to spectacular lookouts at Alum Cliffs, Devils Gullet and Westmorland Falls, and bush walks along tracks forged by hunters, trappers and loggers up the face of the Great Western Tiers and beyond. Get up close and personal with our native wildlife, including Tasmanian Devils, at Trowunna Wildlife Park.
Approach from Deloraine. Access is down a steep narrow road to a large, secluded picnic area with information booth, picnic shelters, gas barbecues and disabled access toilets. The 40 minute return walk through wet eucalypt forest and tall ferns has viewing points for the upper falls and cascades. A steep descent allows access to the base of the Western Tiers' most well known and majestic falls.
Location: off the Lake Highway along Riversdale Road.
Quamby Bluff lies 19 kilometres from Deloraine by road, just north of the main escarpment of the Great Western Tiers mountain range, of which it is a a solitary outlier. Due to its prominence and isolation, views from the top cover a large portion of Northern Tasmania. In the right conditions Mount Strzelecki on Flinders Island, approximately 200 kilometres distant, can be seen from its largely flat peak (1,227 metres).
Quamby Bluff is one of the Tiers' easier peaks to ascend on foot. The walk to the summit is a popular day walk and can be easily completed in an afternoon. The most popular trail, which is a straightfordard but steep climb, is the fairly glade track that is accessed from Lake Highway. There are no formal car parks or facilities in the forest reserve. The walks are marked simply, with some small coloured metal triangles, cairns and track markers of coloured plastic tape. Camping is permitted and dogs are allowed on leashes. Hunting is not permitted
Devil's Gullet is a dolerite cliff in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, but is included here as it is approached via Mole Creek at the western end of the Gt Western Tiers. Devil's Gullet Lookout gives you uninterrupted views of Tasmania's World Heritage Area. A glacier carved its way through this alpine highland to cut the deep valley below. Alpine forests now cover the landscape leaving only the 220-metre dolerite cliff bare. The lookout comes at the end of a 20-minute return walk from the lookout's carpark. The entire walk is easy and takes place on a boardwalk. There are no facilities at this site so plan and pack accordingly. Devil's Gullet is 79 km from Devonport via Mole Creek.
This climb to the highest peak of the Great Western Tiers is for the more serious of hikers/walkers. Do not attempt this one if you are unfit, inexperienced or ill-prepared. The track is challenging track with steep sections, but scrambling over boulders and crossing the Western Creek waterfall makes for a very fun hike. Access to Ironstone Mountain is mainly from two walking tracks. The closest access is from the north via Mole Creek, Caveside and Westrope Road to the Western Creek Track which follows the eastern side of the gully formed by Western Creek. Another access route is from the east via Deloraine, Meander, Smoko Road and the Mount Ironstone Track. This track starts 2 kilometres south of Mother Cummings Peak, another dominant landmark in the region.
Dry's Bluff, just south of Liffey, is one of the highest peak of the Great Western Tiers. The climb to the top is considered one of the most strenuous day-walks in Tasmania. Most walkers are happy to make it to the trig point on the slightly lower but closer northern peak, serious ones will want to push on 3km south over the plateau to the highest point. The view from either peak is amazing. The southern summit encompasses the plateau, down into the Liffey Falls area and right along the Tiers to the west. The northern view extends over the northerm Midlands and lower Meander valley. Strong, supportive boots, wet weather grear and gloves are recommended.
Oura Oura and Dry's Bluff
The walk begins at the Liffey Falls road, at what is now known as Oura Oura - a private forestry reserve formerly the property of environmental campaigner Bob Brown. It is also possible to approach Drys Bluff using Westons Road. This is a locked Hydro road that heads NW from the top of the Poatina Highway along to a canal and wiers on Westons Rivulet and Brumby's Creek. You can ride a mountain bike along to the end of this wier. From this spot you are only 5km from the southern peak of Drys with only a modest climb required. Cars can do this by getting a key from the Hydro and driving to the end of the road.
Pine Lake is situated off the Lake Highway on the Central Plateau. This easy 800 metre return walk leads to a small alpine lake fringed by beautiful pines. From the highway there is a board walk with an interpretation of Tasmania’s highly specialised alpine vegetation. This is a real treat for those no longer, or not yet, able to access the wilderness on a longer walk with a back pack. There are spectacular flowerings of wild flowers in the early summer and a variety of endemic Tasmanian plants and animals.
The short walk (about 40 minutes return) to Alum Cliffs takes you to a forest lookout perched high above the Mersey River, as it flows along the valley through the Alum Cliffs Gorge. The Gog Range is o the opposite side of the gorge. Tulampanga, or Alum Cliffs, was a place of particular social and spiritual significance to Aborigines because of the ochre to be found in that area. Many tribes travelled to Tulampanga to obtain this highly prized material and for them this was a sacred celebration place. The car park is just a few minutes drive from Mole Creek or Chudleigh.
Located near Sheffield, on the northern edge of the Great Western Tiers, Mt Roland (1,233 metres) looks quite ominous as you approach from Sheffield with its many sheer cliffs. It makes for a great backdrop for your photos of the Kentish Municipality. From most angles it presents the onlooker with its steep bastions of seemingly impregnable cliffs. Moreover, these ramparts form the containment walls of a huge dolerite plateau of which the summit tor is but a small part. Looks can be deceiving, however, as this is not a difficult climb but a good day walk up to the summitthat is easy to follow. The path has branches off to the other mountains near by (Mt Van Dyke, Mt Claude), but the Mt Roland track is much better maintained. The trig point at the top of the summit provides spectacular 360 degree views to Bass Strait, Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff.
View from the summit of Mt Roland looking south west. The distinctive shapes of Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff (right) are clearly seen in the distance.
About the Great Western Tiers
The Central Highlands, or Tasmanian central plateau, was uplifted from the lower Meander Valley, most probably in the Eocene epoch though possibly earlier, forming the Tiers' escarpment. The plateau's north-east boundary, which ranges from 760 metres – 1,500 metres , originated in extensive Tertiary faulting.
This escarpment divides the high, rocky, sparsely inhabited central plateau from the fertile lower land of the Meander Valley and the northern midlands. The edge of the tiers have prominent cliffs and columns of Jurassic dolerite. The highest peak in the tiers is the 1,444-metre Ironstone Mountain. Unlike most of the bluffs this mountain is not visible from the Meander Valley, but is south of the escarpment. The escarpment has a distinct concave profile. Cliffs and scree slopes are common features. The dolerite is so prominent as the older rocks that overlay them are softer and have been eroded away. In places dolerite columns have collapsed into scree slopes.
The face of the tiers has been eroded and retreated approximately 6.4 km since their formation, leaving the mountain Quamby Bluff as a solitary outlier. The central plateau's landform has been changed by glaciation. Valleys under the tiers are filled with talus, mostly bounders with a 25% mix of soil formed from boulder weathering.