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Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area (APCA) in West Coast Tasmania contains some of the world's cleanest air. In addition to some of the best rugged and wild beaches found on the West Coast, it is also home to the Edge of the World – it's named so as the next point of land is over half a world away in Argentina. For many people the latter is the sole reason to visit this park.

For practical purposes, this article covers also the nearby settlement of Arthur River, a township of 32 (2021). The township and the park are almost coexistent and there is no fee required for visiting the conservation area.



World's cleanest air?

Tasmania has a reputation for having the world's cleanest air and many Tasmanians are proud of this fact. The air in this part of Tasmania is so clean, in fact, that some companies have started to sell empty-looking bottles of clean air to places with high levels of pollution. If you've read the lede of the PWS website, it's not unplausible to think that APCA has the world's cleanest air.

The simple answer to "does APCA have the world's cleanest air?" is that while APCA is a close contender, the answer is no. The actual cleanest place is Cape Grim, a cape about 50 kilometres to the north of Arthur River. Here lies the Cape Grim CSIRO Atmospheric Research Centre, led by Australia's leading science organisation (CSIRO) that detects air pollution levels. However, Cape Grim is generally closed off to the public (unless you're on a tour), so it may very well be true that APCA contains the cleanest air on a place that's publicly accessible.

You might wonder how this phenomenon occurs and that's all because of wind direction. Most of the wind that hits APCA comes from south and southwest, where there is no land for thousands of kilometres – the closest land to the south is Antarctica (which as you can imagine, is very clean) while the closest southwest is Argentina, which is too far away to make a major difference to air pollution.

The land that APCA protects has been continually inhabited for over 35,000 years by four different Aboriginal groups; you can learn about the history in detail at the visitor centre. Even today, APCA is significant to the local Aboriginal groups, as generations upon generations have left middens, hut depressions, artifact scatters and rock art in APCA. However, most of them are inaccessible to the general public and these tracks have been sealed off (do not venture out seeking to find them – this is disrespectful and can land you hefty fines).

The park was established in 1982 to protect this region's pristine windswept landscape. It makes up 1,030 km2 (400 sq mi) and is today popular for camping and other recreation. Although rather unusual, the Edge of the World also attracts quite a number of tourists (just like Nowhere Else) not just for its name, but because of the views.


To put it simply, APCA is mostly comprised of large sand dunes (though these don't compare to Stockton Beach) along with large inland coastal tundra forests. Some parts closer to the north is mostly plains and plateaus, resembling the Faroe Islands or the Irish countryside (and the strong winds only strengthen the similarities).

Flora and fauna[edit]

The most common animals encountered here are wallabies, pademelons, and wombats. Other animals such as the all-known devil (the Tasmanian Devil), quolls, and possums are also found at dusk. The park is also rich in birdlife.

The fauna here resembles other tundra forests in Western Tasmania, though the forest isn't as lush as in Southwest National Park or Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.


The West Coast is generally unforgiving, being in the Roaring Forties, and Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area is no exception. There is no major landmass between Argentina and Tasmania to prevent the westerly winds (the Crozet Islands aren't significant enough); the result? The West Coast usually cops all the wind and rain.

The relatively volatile weather means that you should come prepared. That is, bringing a good jacket (even in summer), a raincoat, and shoes or boots that are waterproof (unless you want wet sand in your shoes). Though APCA contains some of the cleanest air, that does not equate to a good place to swim, unless you want to be swept away by the unforgiving waves crashing down the coastline.

Visitor information[edit]

Get in[edit]

A road towards APCA

Though the park is over 1,030 km2 (400 sq mi), most travellers visit the park from Burnie. Some travellers also visit APCA from Strahan via Zeehan.

From Burnie, head west on the Bass Highway (A2) for approximately 130 km (81 mi) until the end of the highway. You'll pass Wynyard and Smithton along the way, but apart from those two settlements, the highway is very desolate. Although the Bass Highway is an A-route for its entire length west of Burnie, the road quality significantly drops west of Smithton and is more like a C-route with no shoulder.

The highway mysteriously ends in the middle of the Tasmanian countryside at a junction with Arthur River Road (C214) and Comeback Road (C213). At this junction, turn left onto Arthur River Rd, and within a kilometre or two, you'd be travelling on the park's eastern boundary. Continue for another 15 km (9.3 mi) until you reach the township of Arthur River. Just before you cross the one-lane bridge across the river, make sure you turn left and stop by the visitor centre.

The road from Zeehan is a bit more of an adventurous journey, as the over two and a half hours 140-kilometre (87 mi) drive to Temma includes taking the 1 Corinna Ferry, a car ferry crossing the Pieman River; parts of the road are also unpaved. The route is more straightforward, though – head northwest on Norfolk Road (C249) and turn left onto Rebecca Road (C214) at the end of the road. You'll pass the car ferry is about an hour or 50 km north.

Fees and permits[edit]

Map of Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area

Unlike most other Tasmanian parks and reserves, you do not need a national parks pass to visit Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area.

Conversely, to protect the area's pristine landscape, if you are driving on off-road tracks, you will need a APCA Recreational Driver Pass which can either be purchased online or at certain Service Tasmania outlets. A 1 month pass costs $33, while an annual pass costs $55. Only purchase this pass if you're driving off-road – many places, including the Edge of the World, do not require a pass. When purchasing a park, you will also have the latest version of the Arthur-Pieman Recreational Driving Guide. This contains some detailed maps of tracks, routes and facilities.

Get around[edit]

The unambiguous answer on how to get around is to take the car. You are not going to see much of a park greater than 1,000 square kilometres on foot.

See § Fees and permits above for driving on certain tracks. Not having a pass can result in hefty fines.


APCA doesn't have that many specific attractions. Apart from the "Edge of the World", which is the reason why many travellers visit the park, you should mainly enjoy the general feeling of the landscape, and small wonders you happen to stumble across.

  • 1 Edge of the World, Airey St. Flat-earthers may have been debunked, but the name still doesn't deter people away from coming to this place – instead, many travel here because of its obscure name. This place was thought to be the starting point of the longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean in the world – if our vision had no limits, the land you'll see will be in Argentina, almost 18,000 km away. However, the longest uninterrupted stretch of ocean is now believed to be from Quebec's North Shore to British Columbia (about 35,000 km).
  • 2 Balfour. A ghost town just a few metres outside the park. It's a former mining town in operation when the region thrived on copper. Today, it's deserted with virtually no tourists as it's a fair bit inland from Norfolk Road (C249). Visiting Balfour today is mostly done on a tour organised by Tall Timbers Adventure Tours based in Smithton.
  • 3 Sandy Cape Beach is the park's largest beach, which the Sandy Cape Track passes through. However, it is not like an ordinary Tasmanian beach: it's super cold and windy like the Irish countryside and the waves in the roaring forties are fierce and unforgiving. That means all you can do is wander around, but also don't venture off towards Aboriginal sacred sites (these are unmarked and cannot be legally visited without the appropriate permits from the PWS and the elders). Still, the beaches are a great spot for a photo and if you're the person who likes exploring off the beaten path destinations, this beach may be just right for you.


By far, the thing to do in Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area is to drive the 48-kilometre (30 mi) (return) Sandy Cape Track. You will need an APCA Recreational Driver Pass before driving this track (see § Fees and permits).

The first 12 km of Sandy Cape Track between Temma and Greens Creek is relatively okay to traverse, except after heavy rain (which unfortunately, is a common occurrence) where you may encounter some deep-water sections. South of Greens Creek is where the track gets real hard – do not try and attempt this track alone (i.e. drive with another vehicle). Quicksand swallowing vehicles has happened several times; due to 4-metre (13-ft) swells, you must check the weather before departing. Never try and traverse the trails during high tide – you risk not coming back.


APCA doesn't really have any souvenir stores, but the visitor centre is the closest that resembles anything like it.

Arthur River has one essentials store opposite the visitor centre (Arthur River Store, +61 3 6457 1207), but it acts more like a takeaway food store that handles bookings for river cruises too.

Eat and drink[edit]

There are no places to eat or drink within APCA, but there are a few in Arthur River. None are restaurants – only takeaway cheap food is available in Arthur River. Oh, and there's definitely fish and chips – can't leave a coastal Tasmanian town without having one of Australia's few colonial remnants.

  • 1 Arthur River Take Away, 1414 Arthur River Rd, +61 3 6457 1032. Su–Th 9AM–5PM, F Sa 9AM–6PM. Basic town store with food you would normally find in Australian beachside towns (including fish and chips).
  • Seapod on 26 Gardiner St is a simple coffee shop, but its Facebook page suggests that it has closed permanently (and not just for the 2020 season).


You have two options: camping or staying at a holiday home in Arthur River. All campgrounds have a limit of six persons. Information can be found on the park website.

There are six campgrounds, though only two of them are serviced. Both of them, 1 Manuka Campground and 2 Peppermint Campground, are near the visitor centre. For a short-term stay, it costs $15 per two adults and $5 per additional adult. For a long-term stay (up to 7 days), it costs $55 per two adults and $20 per additional adult. Children under 17 can camp out free. These two campgrounds have toilets nearby.

The other four unserviced campgrounds are 3 Nelson Bay Campground, 4 Stinking Beach Campground, Prickly Wattle Campground and Camp Elsewhere Campground. These cost $6 per 2 adults (short-term stay) with a $3 addition per extra adult and $30 for a long-term stay with $10 per extra adult.

Stay safe[edit]

If you're camping, make sure you boil the freshwater for at least three minutes.

The park can get very cold and very windy – make sure you bring good jackets.

Go next[edit]

Being pretty desolate, your next options onward are also very limited. To the north, you can head to Woolnorth and take a tour to Cape Grim and actually breath the world's cleanest air.

Otherwise, you can head south towards Zeehan, Strahan or Queenstown. You will still have to cross the Corinna Ferry, though.

Routes via Arthur River and Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area
A2 jcn to Burnie N C214 S  C249 jcn → Kanunnah Bridge
END N C249 SSE  Corinna Zeehan

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