Roaming Down Under

Donaghys Hill lookout

A walk up a hill with extensive views of Tasmanian wilderness

There are several scenic stops on the road crossing Tasmania to its west coast, but the one with the most extensive views is Donaghys Hill lookout. On a grey murky day you might see nothing. In clear weather the stunning views more than justify the interruption to the drive and the uphill climb.

Distant peaks viewed from Donaghys Hill lookout, Tasmania

Distant peaks viewed from Donaghys Hill lookout

Weather is the important factor. The first few times I passed this lookout I didn't bother stopping because of the low cloud and rain. Such conditions are not unusual for the area, and obviously limit what you can see from any lookout. You could get lucky with a break in the cloud, but to really get the most from Donaghys Hill you need clear weather ... or at least cloud that is high enough to reveal the peaks beneath them.

A roomy parking area is at the Lyell Highway roadside, 47km east of Queenstown and 35km west of Derwent Bridge. In relation to other stopping places, it is between Nelson Falls and the Franklin River walk.

The path to Donaghys Hill lookout, Tasmania

The path to the lookout

The walking track heads steadily upwards, around the side of Donaghys Hill until the top is reached. It's not especially steep or tricky, but is a solid twenty minutes of uphill effort. The young and fit might race up a bit quicker, but the less athletic should budget for an hour for the return trip, including some time at the lookout. Keen photographers may need longer.

From the summit of the pointy hill the views extend in all directions. Most notable is the view into the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The valley of the Franklin River fills the foreground, with the magnificent peak of Frenchman’s Cap looming beyond.

Some of the peaks to the west of Lake St Clair, Tasmania

Some of the peaks to the west of Lake St Clair

In other directions there is the Collingwood River, Mt Gell, Mt Arrowsmith and the King William Range. Rocky peaks, forested slopes, buttongrass plains, wild rivers … and no sign of anything man-made.

Once the views have been soaked up - which can easily take longer than anticipated - the walk back to the car park is refreshingly downhill all the way. On a long drive it can be easy to just keep going, but if you get to enjoy the panoramas from Donaghys Hill in good weather, you might agree with me that setting aside an hour to enjoy this lookout was worth it.

Franklin River, Tasmania

The Franklin River

Panorama from Donaghys Hill lookout. The top of Frenchman’s Cap is obscured by cloud.