Tasmania is the only state in Australia where you're never more than a 10-minute drive from a fantastic walking opportunity.
Curious pademelons, echidnas on the hunt for food and an array of birdlife are almost always a reward on bushwalks in the North and North-East, along with spanning vistas making way for rugged mountain ranges.
As more mainlanders look to the southern island state for a unique travel opportunity with international borders shut, and it becomes an even more attractive option for a permanent seachange, the walking tracks offer the perfect first chance to discover what's great about Tasmania at your own pace.
But navigating bushwalking blogs and forums can be a challenge for beginners.
With Launceston as a base, here's a small selection of some of the best walks of the North, including:
- Launceston local walks
- Short walks ideal with the kids
- Slightly more vigorous
- Challenge yourself and enjoy the view
As always, remember to take adequate water, food, sun protection and good footwear, and check weather conditions before embarking on longer walks.
Starting local - Launceston and surrounds
Few regional Australian cities have as many great short walks within its boundaries as Launceston.
The Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area on the city's western fringe offers a selection of walks from a 10-minute stroll through native vegetation and excellent views of the South Esk River, to spending hours navigating all of the tracks.
Just follow Reatta Road and turn left onto Duck Reach Road.
Nearby, the Cataract Gorge Reserve is not only Launceston's most picturesque location, it is also a great starting point for walks. In particular, the Duck Reach Track skirts the river before emerging at the power station.
It's a vigorous workout, taking about 45 minutes to reach the power station. You can either turn around, or cross the foot bridge and tackle a steep climb with clearly-defined steps and track. The track loops around and brings you back to Cataract Gorge through a rocky course.
In the suburbs, Punchbowl Reserve boasts a manicured park perfect for barbecues, but also a neighbouring bush area full of pademelons. The foot bridge gives you a view of a small waterfall, and up the top you get a great view to the east of Launceston.
The Kate Reed State Recreation Area near the Silverdome in Prospect quickly takes walkers into dense bushland with native wildlife aplenty - just watch out for mountain bikers.
Short walks ideal for kids
The benefits of letting children experience nature on their own terms are well documented, and fortunately Launceston has plenty of nearby locations for that first taste of the great outdoors.
These areas are also a nice introduction for any visitors wanting to immerse themselves in a typical Tasmanian landscape, suitable for all fitness levels.
At the base of Mount Barrow, a short 10-minute looping track is like something out of a fairy tale, complete with a trickling creek, the sun filtering through the canopy and unique native flora with interpretive signs. It's accessed via Mount Barrow Road.
Likewise, Notley Fern Gorge,north of Bridgenorth, is a delightful short 20-minute loop track through rainforest, a haven for native birds. It takes you down to the huge Brady's Tree which has a burnt out hollow ideal for exploring, while ferns dominate the walk.
Liffey Falls is one of the most popular easy walks within an hour of Launceston, featuring dense wet eucalypt forest and tiered waterfalls. It's a favourite for tourists, so be prepared to share your moment with others.
Want the perfect photo opportunity and don't mind driving 90 minutes to get it? Mount Paris Dam features a curious sight - an abandoned dam wall great for photography and history buffs. Following the stream - which can be tricky - presents huge ferns and a lush green scene. The entrance can be easy to miss on Mount Paris Dam Road, but has a small wooden sign.
And Hollybank is not just a ropes course, but also has a picturesque free 40-minute loop track through native bush and old plantation forest from the barbecue area that has access to Pipers River.
Slightly more vigorous but with a great reward at the end
Nothing is better than a reward at the end of a walk - whether a waterfall or a magnificent view.
These include slightly steeper inclines, but they can be managed with a reasonable fitness level.
Meander Falls offers several walks from the base. The main track is 10 hours return, beyond the scope of this guide.
But Split Rock Falls Track, starting from the main car park, is only about 90 minutes return through lush rainforest. It's a constant incline and has various uneven sections on rock and slopes, yet the tiered waterfall at the end - and wonderful geological features along the way - make it well worth it.
Also in the Meander Valley is Westmorland Falls Track, taking you through a series of fern-filled forests alongside a rushing creek. It's about 90 minutes return and follows a constant incline before coming out at another exceptional waterfall.
While in the area, definitely check out the Honeycomb Cave that you'll pass at the start of Wet Caves Road.
If you want the perfect view over the rolling fields of Scottsdale and district and beyond, you can't go past the walk to the summit of Mount Stronach. It's fairly steep, but on an even track, for about an hour to the top. Either enjoy the view from a rocky outcrop, or head to the summit for the full experience. It's best-accessed via Buckneys Road.
Ben Lomond isn't just famous for the winding Jacob's Ladder, but also has a decent 30-minute walk up the top. Reaching the summit of Ben Lomondmakes for amazing views over Northern Tasmania, with the beginning clearly signposted from the beginning.
Challenge yourself and enjoy the view
Have a day to spare and want to get the heart racing?
These three walks offer the perfect challenge for anyone wanting to get a Northern Tasmanian wild experience without having to trek for days in the wilderness.
At 1188-metres, the summit ofMount Arthur is the shortest of the three mountains to Launceston's east. But it makes for a great half-day of hiking, starting from the track at Mountain Road, south of Lilydale.
Make your way along a level track through dense forest full of wildlife before reaching a rocky section where you need to keep close eye on direction markers. From a small shed at the end of the four-wheel-drive track, head for the summit where rocky outcrops make way for alpine vegetation and the best views of North and North-East Tasmania possible.
It's about six hours return.
South of Deloraine, the Quamby Bluff Trail can be completed in a shorter time than Mount Arthur, but the rocky sections can be challenging. The views from the top are second-to-none, however. It's accessed from Highland Lakes Road, just around a bend and with a chain link fence at the entrance.
From Sheffield, Mount Roland looms large. It presents a vigorous, all-day hike taking you through a diverse range of native vegetation, from temperate forest, to dense rainforest and alpine areas. It's a long walk - about four hours each way - but the clear view to Bass Strait in one direction, and Cradle Mountain in the other, makes it very much worthwhile.
The track is well-marked throughout and has exceptional photography opportunities at all stages.