Roaming Down Under

Lake Pedder campgrounds

Three places to park a campervan or tent near Lake Pedder in Tasmania's southwest wilderness

Anyone venturing into Tasmania's southwest on the roads to Strathgordon or Scotts Peak Dam will be treated to some great views of Lake Pedder and surrounding mountains. Weather permitting of course. To really soak up the scenery and enjoy the sunrises and sunsets - or wait for weather to clear - an overnight stay is desirable. If you're in a campervan, caravan or tent, here are three campgrounds I can recommend.

Part of Ted's Beach Campground, with mist over Lake Pedder

Part of Ted's Beach Campground, with mist over Lake Pedder

Ted's Beach Campground

This campground is literally right on the edge of Lake Pedder just three kilometres short of Strathgordon, at the north-western end of the massive lake. There is an upper section which is mostly level but doesn't have lake views. The rest of the campground has varying views over the lake but is on a slope. In fact it slopes right into the lake, so park with care and remember the handbrake!

When I visited I had the campground all to myself, a common experience when touring in winter. This meant I could park the rental campervan wherever I wanted, and being rather indecisive it took a while to settle on a sloping spot near the lake.

Not the view from Ted's Beach campground, Lake Pedder

Not the view from Ted's Beach - this was from just up the road

Like most bush campgrounds in Tasmania, facilities are limited to toilets and rainwater tanks, although at Ted's Beach the toilets are more substantial and inside a solid shelter. The real assets of campgrounds are the location - and at Ted's Beach the views across the lake are the big drawcard. If you can see the view, that is. Following a clear night a layer of fog covered Lake Pedder, so I had to wait a while to fully enjoy the superb location. In the meantime I visited the impressive Gordon Dam, which is 15km further down the road from Ted's Beach.

Users of Ted's Beach campground can also take advantage of meals in nearby Strathgordon. Disused housing for Hydro workers became the Lake Pedder Chalet; this closed in 2009 but reopened again in 2012 as the Pedder Wilderness Lodge. It has a restaurant with great lake views, plus accommodation which could be tempting to campers in bad weather.

Edgar Campground

A front site at Edgar Campground, Lake Pedder

A front site at Edgar Campground

The other two campgrounds are at the far south-east end of Lake Pedder, near the end of the Scotts Peak Dam Road.

The Edgar Dam campground is reached first, and not surprisingly is right near the wall of the Edgar Dam (but slightly beneath it, so there are no lake views). The first couple of campsites are near the road and have some mountain views, being fairly open. As you go further in, the campsites are more sheltered by trees and lack views of the surroundings. Pit toilets, rainwater tanks and some fireplaces are the sum total of the amenities.

The selling point of this campground is its access to views. If you're lucky enough to score one of the front campsites, you might have some views straight out of your van or tent. Anyone, however, by walking the short distance onto the dam wall can enjoy sweeping vistas across eastern Lake Pedder, from Mt Anne round to the Arthur Range. This is a spot well worth visiting for sunrise or sunset photos.

Huon Campground

At Huon Campground

At Huon Campground

A few kilometres past Edgar Dam campground lies the Huon campground. It is accessed by turning off Scotts Peak Dam Road just before it climbs to its terminus on Scotts Peak. The trailhead for the Port Davey and South Coast tracks is close to the campground, and could be one reason for camping there.

Huon campground is small and has no views. It sits in a forested area, with the seven or so campsites hidden away among the trees in a low lying area below Lake Pedder. Even walking some distance down the access road fails to reveal the mountain scenery so tantalisingly close.

If you want views from your campsite, Huon is not the place to go. However it does offer good protection from the wind, and more privacy and seclusion than the other campgrounds. I spent a comfortable quiet night there, but it wasn't until I packed up and drove away that I saw any of the mountains I was camped in the midst of.

Huon Campground is down among the trees somewhere, Arthur Range in background

View from Scotts Peak: Huon Campground is somewhere down among the trees, Arthur Range in background.

In conclusion, I would recommend staying at both ends of Lake Pedder if time allows and the views are not obscured by bad weather. The scenery is different at each end and gorgeous at both, particularly in the dawn and dusk light. Ted's Beach is the only choice at the north-west end. Of the two at the south-east end, I would lean towards the Edgar Dam campground on the basis of the access to views. Even if you can't see much from your campsite, it is only a short walk to the dam wall where the views are excellent.

And the cost for enjoying these great Tassie wilderness campgrounds? Nothing. There are no site fees, just the entry fees which apply to all national parks.

The main cost is in being prepared. Once past Maydena there are no services or facilities (apart from the Pedder Wilderness Lodge at Strathgordon), so you have to take with you everything you might need. Also there are no bookings for campsites ... so first in gets the best camping spot.

Sunrise behind Mt Anne, from Edgar Dam

Sunrise behind Mt Anne, from Edgar Dam

More information

Southwest Camping - camping and fee information from Tas Parks & Wildlife Service
Camping Guide to Tasmania - by Craig Lewis and Cathy Savage, Boiling Billy Publications. I've used this guide book on four (so far) campervan trips in Tasmania and found it to be accurate and extremely useful.