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Mt Snowy and Arthur and Emily Tarns

An easy-medium walk depending on route chosen, which provides good views of the southern ranges, Hartz Peak and if done to include Hartz Peak itself, terrific views of much of South-West Tasmania. The tarns are picturesque and add variety to the walk.

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Mountains, glacial lakes, alpine moor, views of much of south-eastern Tasmania, excellent views of south-west wilderness - including Federation Peak, Precipitous Bluff, Eastern Arthurs, Mt Weld, Snowy South.


Easy - Medium





Gear Code




4 - 5 hrs


Access from


Distance from

26/90/47 km

Road Directions

Travel to Geeveston, and upon entering the township (travelling from Hobart) immediately turn right (West) into Arve Road, heading for the Tahune Airwalk. Shortly after passing the Arve River picnic area, turn left uphill on a dirt road, Hartz Mts Rd, clearly signed as the route to the Hartz Mts National Park. Drive to the end of this road, avoiding turnoffs and spur roads (all signed properly). Park in the circular parking area at the road-end. A visitor/registration shelter is here, and has water, toilets, visitor information, tables and chairs, and walker registration facilities.

Road Types

Sealed to bottom of Hartz Mts Rd, then moderate dirt roads for bulk of remainder. Some rough/soft patches, care required. Some narrow sections, and sharp, unexpected corners. Look out for other vehicles, especially log trucks. There is new forestry activity up Hartz Mountains Road, so large vehicles may be encountered. Sharp dolerite pebbles can cause punctures on these roads.


The track is clearly signposted and winds roughly southwards through low alpine trees. Cordwood and duckboarding have been used on the lower sections of this walk to reduce erosion and wet feet.

Within a few minutes you pass the Geeves memorial, mounted on a rock to the left of the track. After a while, the way becomes more open, and views of Hartz Peak and Mt Snowy can be had ahead. The track curves westwards towards Lake Esperance, and a very short side trip can be made to this glacial lake nestled below the Devil's Backbone.

The main track then continues southwards to Ladies Tarn, before rising and turning westwards once more to climb towards Hartz Pass. About 100 metres after the track climbs, a track will be found to the left. This track is not always easy to find. If you find yourself climbing the steep escarpment to Hartz Pass, then you have missed it. The map reference is approx 812125. This should be followed. It is easy to follow initially, but becomes less distinct shortly after. The correct way heads slightly east of south, climbing slightly. After a while though, cairns will be found. The track undulates until entering a creek bed with much pineapple grass. Turn right up this. There are some boulders to clamber over, then the track is clear as it climbs steeply to Arthur Tarn, which is reached suddenly.

The track passes Arthur Tarn, and climbs to a saddle between it and Emily Tarn, where a good view of Mt Snowy can be had. A short descent leads to Emily Tarn, before the track climbs again to the saddle between Hartz Peak and Mt Snowy. Navigation is not difficult. The climb to Mt Snowy is cairned from the saddle, and is quite steep towards the top, but is rewarded by good views.

As an extension, walkers may wish to climb from the saddle to Hartz Peak. The climb follows the ridgeline, although some deviations to the west are recommended to avoid a couple of trickier sections, especially along the higher parts approaching Hartz Peak. You can basically make your own way up here. In places the way is obvious, but for much of the climb sticking close to the ridge highpoint is adequate. This leads directly to the Hartz Peak summit. Of course. this walk can also be done in reverse from the summit of Hartz Peak.


As for the whole of South-West Tasmania, the Hartz mountains are subject to sudden changes of weather - even in summer a sunny day can change to fog, rain, icy wind and even snow. In winter, if the peak is shrouded in cloud, it would be best to do another lower walk or not walk at all. Walkers must always carry warm and waterproof clothing, especially ensuring children can be kept warm and dry in case of rain, wind or snow. At no point in the walk are walkers ever more than 5 1/2 km from the road, however people have died of exposure in this area in past years.

Some of the walk is across rock scree and boulders, and care will be necessary, particularly if the rock is wet and/or icy, or when tired. In winter the higher parts of the park may be covered in deep snow for some of the time. Care is required in maintaining warmth, route-finding and retaining footing at these times. Snow can persist until late spring on certain slopes shaded from the sun.


1:25,000 Waterloo (4821) sheet; Hartz Mt National Park Map 1;50,000; 1:100,000 Huon (8211) sheet


Large visitor shelter with composting toilets, water, seats etc, spacious barbecue shelter hut with free gas barbecue, fireplace, composting toilet, seats and tables (Waratah shelter).

Nearby items of interest

In the park: Arve Falls, Lake Esperance, Lakes Perry and Osborne, Waratah Lookout, Ladies Tarn, Hartz Peak and Lake.


The Hartz mountains was one of the first popular bushwalking areas in Tasmania, already attracting people from Hobart in the 1920s.

In the 1820s however, it was valued for timber by carpenters and ship-builders. Timber-getters cut tracks westward from the Huon valley into the mountains in search of both timber and minerals. Others reached the Hartz Mountains from Macquarie Harbour on the west coast, cutting tracks along the Huon River.

The Geeves family, who founded Geeveston, cut the first track to the Hartz Mountains from that town, and then extended it westward to the base of Federation Peak. On November 27, 1897, Osborne Geeves, his three sons and his nephew were returning from a prospecting expedition, and were overtaken by a severe snow storm while crossing the Hartz range. One son and his nephew died of exposure, the nephew doing so minutes after reaching Hartz Hut. A memorial is located near where they perished, and can be seen by walkers.

In the early 1900s, an industry sprang up around the extraction of eucalyptus oil from the varnished gum (Eucalyptus vernicosa), the smallest eucalypt in Australia.

The Hartz mountains were set aside as a scenic reserve in 1939, however some parts have been revoked for logging. In 1989, the 7226ha of the Hartz Mountains National Park was included in the Tasmanian World Heritage Area.

(ref. Hartz Mountains National Park Day Walk Map. TASMAP. 1992)