Saturday, 28 Nov 2020

Narawntapu National Park

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Come all the lovers of wildlife, sand dunes, lagoons, sweeping vistas, and beach combing: Narawntapu National Park is for you! Incorporating the disconcertingly named Asbestos Range, and initially called Asbestos Range National Park, Narawntapu National Park protects a stretch of central north coast between Devonport and the Tamar River.

 Narawntapu National Park - photo 1

Narawntapu National Park. A zigzag climb up Archers Knob leads to an

expansive view west to Port Sorrell (town and water)


12km loop

Time required:

3–4 hours

Best time:

Mild, sunny day, but walkable year-round


Easy (with one climb)


Sand dunes, coastal scrub, Bass Strait beach, swamplands, hills, historic farm site, lagoons

Best map:

This one


Flushing toilets in main car park




Walking sandals are all you need for this walk, so leave your boots at home.

Much of the walk is in the open so wear a sun hat and sunscreen in warm weather; carry a jacket for wind protection in cooler temperatures.

Narawntapu National Park - photo 2

Narawntapu National Park

Narawntapu national park. Tasmania

Narawntapu National Park. The name change, in 1999, reflected that the park was safe (the small amount of asbestos mined locally was won beyond the range) and that it had traditional names. Narawntapu is what the Punnilerpanner Aboriginal people called the twin bluffs of Badgers Head and West Head.

For millennia the plants, lagoons, ocean beach and abundant birds and animals that now bring visitors to the park provided winter food and fibres for First Australians. Narawntapu was the equivalent of a well-stocked supermarket so they didn’t need to travel far for good tucker. Their diet included native currants, boiled she-oak apples, swans’ eggs and shellfish, as evidenced by middens within the park.

This figure-eight outing, combining several shorter walks, starts from Narawntapu’s western Springlawn and Bakers Beach area, 30 minutes’ drive east of Devonport on the B71 and an hour’s drive north-west of Launceston. From Launceston take the A7 to Exeter and then the B71, looking for the marked park turnoff (B740) short of Harford. Narawntapu National Park.

Narawntapu National Park - photo 3

Narawntapu National Park

Star pickets mark the way from the visitor centre ramp across lawn, between the camping area and plains rolled flat to the low-rise Asbestos Range. Where lawn meets coastal scrub, swing left over a footbridge and creek, and stroll among bracken and banksias towards Badger Head (six to eight hours return). Another footbridge fords a tranquil wetland of tall, immature paper barks (melaleucas). Narawntapu National Park.

Pademelons and Bennett’s wallabies are often seen in Narawntapu National Park. Also watch out for snakes, crossing the track or coiled in the sun. The three snakes found in Tasmania, the Tiger, the Lowland Copperhead and the White-lipped, are poisonous, so if you spot one, note its appearance and position and report it to visitor centre staff on your return. You may also glimpse a Tasmanian devil in Narawntapu National Park.

Narawntapu National Park. Over the 20 years since contagious devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) was discovered in Wukalina/Mount William National Park, wild populations of Tasmania’s white-spotted black carnivores have plummeted by 80 per cent. Recent promising results with immunotherapy prompted Wild Devil Recovery (WDR) trials, with the release of disease-free animals into Narwantapu National Park in September 2015.

In Narawntapu National Park look for animal tracks and droppings, and listen for rustling as you tread a sandy track through tea tree and melaleucas. Honeyeaters and other birds feast on the silver banksias’ yellow wire-wool flowers.

Narawntapu National Park - photo 4

Narawntapu National Park

About 800m in, a boardwalk branches right, to a bird hide (see point 1 on map) on Springlawn Lagoon where you can see cormorants, bitterns, grey teals, black swans, herons and many more birds. Narawntapu National Park, beyond the hide, the main track climbs marginally, giving a widening view of the lagoon and the hills behind.

Narawntapu National Park. Ignore the Bakers Beach track on the left, about 600m after the bird hide, and another track going right to Springlawn and the visitor centre 700m further on (you’ll go that way later). Alternately sandy, rocky, and leaf-littered, the track now wanders through banksias, rounds a rocky outcrop (see point 2 on map), and passes another palisade of slender, peeling melaleucas rooted in a swampy creek. Walkers have cut alternate dry- and wet-weather tracks here and occasional orange ribbons keep you on-route.

In addition to the ‘disappointed’ cries of crows you’ll probably also hear the plaintiff calls of yellow-tailed black cockatoos – look up! Another slight climb gifts your first view of dunes and a sliver of ocean.

Narawntapu National Park. Head right for Archers Knob, at the next junction, on a narrow track that roughens as it heads inland and uphill. Keep to the ribboned track, which zigzags steeply for about 900m, rewarding with an expanding view west along the beach to Port Sorrell (town and water) and the distant Dial Range, and across the lagoon and swamplands. The impressive inland massive to the south-west is Mount Roland.

Narawntapu National Park - photo 5

Narawntapu National Park

Lower your gaze to the curly white hakeas, she-oaks, common heath and (in summer) pretty stalks of spotted pink-to-mauve hyacinth orchids. The summit is crowned with grass trees sometimes armed with flower spears. Narawntapu National Park.

The track loops clockwise around the top of Archers Knob (114m) and pops you out on the main track. Turn left and backtrack to the junction below at the foot of the hill. Turn right and pad about 400m along lagoons, through melaleucas, tea tree and banksias, over dunes and onto Bakers Beach – wide, flat, and firm at low tide. Hooded plovers and other shorebirds nest in the soft sand so stay below the high-tide mark.

Narawntapu National Park. For a longer leg stretch, you could amble east along the sand and climb over Little Badger Head. Otherwise, go west along Bakers Beach, stopping to look at the driftwood, shells, and odd exposed rock.

A blue-and-white post with a number one and a sign ‘track’ about two kilometres along marks your exit from the beach into the dunes. The first 10m is steep and soft; then you’re back in thick coastal scrub that feels airless after the beach breeze.

Narawntapu National Park - photo 6

Narawntapu National Park

Narawntapu national park. Camping

Narawntapu National Park. Cross a vehicle turning area (the visitor centre is signed right, along the road) to a track signed for Archers Knob and follow orange arrows on a short, fun run through wind-rippled dunes (see point 3 on map) with sandy descents and views from the crests. Through a tree tunnel you’re back at the Bakers Beach track junction passed earlier. Turn left and re-tread about 700m of track to the Springlawn junction. Turn right this time and cut through tea tree to grassed flats where Forester (eastern grey) kangaroos graze and laze.

With Archer’s Knob behind, plain and sand hills to your left, and the lagoon ahead, follow yellow-topped star pickets about 500m to an information board (see point 4 on map). This is Springlawn, where settler George Hall drained marshy land in 1833 and planted potatoes, which he was soon selling for a handsome profit to the infant colony of Port Phillip Bay (Victoria) across Bass Strait. Hall also helped cut the first track across the Asbestos Range. Narawntapu National Park.

Springlawn changed hands several times but potatoes and beef were farmed here up until 1974 when the farm was bought to create Asbestos Range National Park; the shadows of old ploughing furrows are still visible in the adjacent paddock.

Narawntapu National Park. Turn left (east); the next marker post is about 100m away. Follow the markers across the flats to the edge of Springlawn Lagoon opposite the bird hide. The lagoon is a sanctuary for native wildlife and a refuge for ducks in hunting season. Watch for cute native water rats and platypus. It’s an easy and obvious 800m walk from here to the visitor centre car park.

“Top Walks in Tasmania”

Melanie Ball 

A Four-Inch-Long Penis Is More Than Adequate

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