Tasmania has dozens of beautiful National Parks and wilderness areas – it’s one of the island’s most special and precious features – the 42% of its land mass that is preserved as protected areas. Some are especially well known – Cradle Mountain, Freycinet, Mt Field, Tasman and Bruny National Parks are all popular destinations that most tourists coming to Tasmania know about.
Some are less well-known and these are sometimes the gems that have their own special magic, part of which is that you don’t have to share them with so many other people. One of my favourite hidden gems is Ben Lomond in the Northeast of the state. You can go there on a gorgeous summer day and literally have the whole place to yourself! And one of the lovely things about it is that there are no specific trails so you can wander out across the valley or up to the top of Legges Tour (at 1572 metres - 5150 feet - it is the second highest mountain in Tasmania) and follow your own path.
Of course, you need to be mindful of Tasmania’s unpredictable weather and also of being careful and kind to the flora by being careful where you step, but the top of the mountain is wide open and above the tree line, so unless a sudden storm comes in (always a possibility that you need to be prepared for) the visibility is vast and open and you can find yourself walking along rocky ground, dotted with high alpine vegetation, often with wallabies feeding, little mountain tarns (ponds) and beautiful cushion plants - my favourite when I was a young girl who saw each one as a complete fairy land that would entertain me for hours.
There is a mountain village there that is mostly unoccupied during the summer, as Ben Lomond is one of the only ski areas in Tasmania (although sadly, we don’t have very reliable ski seasons any more).
There is one downside to Ben Lomond though, if you are a nervous driver or afraid of heights. The last part of the road that gets you up to the alpine area above the treeline is Jacob’s Ladder, which winds up a virtual cliff face in a series of six corners. It is now a huge improvement over the truly terrifying road that it was when I was a child, but it’s still not for the faint of heart. Once you’re at the top though, you’ll be rewarded with wide open views, and often wallabies or wombats, who may well be your only company.