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South West Walks


This is the most spectacular peak in Tasmania and for many walkers is one of the ultimate goals. Part of this is because it is visible from much of the south-west and dominates the area. It is not the highest peak but its rocky thumb like profile make it unmistakable. Of course, the mountain stands in one of the worst weather regions of Tasmania and many groups are defeated from standing on the summit by the often appalling weather.

While it is only 1300 m high (just over 4000 feet), Federation Peak is surrounded by cliffs. These cliffs reach 600m to the north and south and the only feasible approach is along the two razorback ridges. Even then, the final 200m is a near vertical climb. It is normally climbed without ropes but this is dangerous. There have been several fatalities already.

The peak is located in a large wilderness area. You need to allow between 5 and 9 days to walk to the peak, climb it and return. Of course the weather might dictate no ascent and this happens to about half of the parties who attempt the climb. I suggest allowing extra time to wait for suitable weather and 7 to 12 days is suggested. Fuel stoves must be used as this has been declared a fuel stove only area and camp fires are banned.

Expect very deep mud (knee deep) and many cliffs to climb and descend. There has been considerable erosion of the track in some areas and some repairs have been done. The most visible repairs are timber platforms at campsites and the fly out toilet bowls - please use them.


While the peak is visible from much of Tasmania, it was not named until 1901. This was probably because many thought it was already named as 'The Obelisk' as some maps showed this. It was officially named in 1901 after the year of federation for the federation of Australia.

After World War 2, a small group of determined walkers, mainly from Tasmania, explored routes to the peak. They pooled their knowledge and shared it with others and in 1949, the peak was first climbed by a party from Victoria. Gradually, the tracks were improved and the peak became easier to approach. The tracks to the peak are still very rough climbing many cliffs without any ladders or other aids and would not be considered tracks in most parts of the world.


The peak is located in the Eastern Arthur Range. This is located south-west of Hobart in the heart of the South West National Park.


There are several approaches. The main western one is from Scotts Peak and a regular bus service runs from Hobart to Scotts Peak, 3 days each week during summer. From Scotts Peak it is about 4 to 5 days walk to the peak. Many of the parties who use this approach return the same way to Scotts Peak.

The other main approach is via Farmhouse Creek. This is the eastern approach and starts at the end of a very quiet gravel road which is 50 km off main roads. There is no regular bus service to the creek and either private transport or a bus or taxi charter are the only alternatives. It takes 2 to 3 days to approach the peak along this route.

Maps and Track Notes

The most detailed notes of all the recognised routes to the peak are published in South West Tasmania by John Chapman.

The TASMAP 1:100,000 Old River is the most commonly used map. It does lack many details but then no map can really show what will be encountered. TASMAP also produce 1:25,000 maps and Razorback, Glovers, Federation, Burgess and Bobs cover most of the approaches and the peak.

Suggested Itinerary

There are several possible trips. I will provide the most common trip which is a return walk from Scotts Peak Dam. This can be accessed by charter buses in summer. The other access road to Farmhouse Creek has no public transport and very little tourist trraffic.

1 Bus to Scotts Peak, afternoon walk to Junction Creek, 7km, 3 hours
2 Follow Arthur Plains to Cracroft Crossing, 19km, 6 hours
3 Half day to Pass Creek, 7km, 2.5 hours
4 Climb Luckmans Lead and continue to Goon Moor, 5km, 6.5 hours
5 To Thwaites Plateau, 4km, 4 hours climb Federation if weather suitable
6 Sidetrip - allow day to climb Federation Peak and explore area.
7 Return along Eastern Arthurs to Stuart Saddle, 6km, 6 hours
8 Return to Cracroft Crossing, 10km, 7 hours
9 Along Arthur Plains to Junction Creek, 19km, 6 hours
10 Morning walk to Scotts Peak to catch bus, 7km, 3 hours

It is suggested to add a couple of extra days to improve the chances of an ascent.


A general entry permit to a Tasmanian National Park is required. The best value for bushwalkers is the 2 month Backpacker Pass which provides entry to all national parks. There are no bookings or quotas on numbers of bushwalkers visiting the park. 

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Photographs and text are copyright 2000-2015 John Chapman.
Last updated : December 8th 2015