These tips are practical, if not a little quirky. But pay attention.
To make the most of your West Coast experience you’ll need to immerse yourself in the environment and our communities. It also takes some planning and local knowledge.
Bring a smile and say Hi
West Coasters love a chat. Whether we know you or not, when we pass you in the street, stand next to you at the checkout or drive past in the car we’ll say hi or wave. It’s just what we do.
Dress for comfort – and all weather
Your three-day visit might include a warm 25-degree day, some wind, rain and perhaps snow. Sometimes all in one day. Sturdy footwear needed. And thongs. A beanie. And hat and sunscreen. We don’t have shopping malls here, our stores stock a small range of clothing so preparation is key. Pack accordingly.
The sounds of the West can bring wonder, disruption and peace. Stand still, silent. At the right time there’re birds chirping in the trees, train whistles, wind through trees, helicopters, boats signalling entrances to the wharf, mine blasts, rain on roofs, kids playing in streets and playgrounds.
Bring a sense of humour
West Coasters love a good laugh. Our stories, even the hard ones, often include some wry, dark humour. We joke about ourselves, tell jokes at others expense. We have thick skins. But be careful. We can pick on each other, but no one else can. It’s like a sibling rivalry.
We’re more than meets the eye. So many visitors comment that they didn’t realise there was so much to do and see on the West Coast. We’re here to change that. Three days is good. Five days is better. Seven days (or longer) is best. It takes time to get here – we’re a bit off the beaten track but it’s worth the wait. And each of our towns have places to go, things to do. You want to do more than scratch the surface.
Don't expect a cashless visit. It’s not that we’re backwards and behind the times. We just live a little more simply. And our internet connections can sometimes be unreliable. Best to make sure you have some cash just in case that little café with the best coffee, or local artist with the landscape painting you desperately want don’t have EFTPOS. Also, our towns have ATMs but cash can run out quickly.
Not all of our towns have petrol stations, and some are cash-less and not open at night. Advice? Fuel up at every opportunity. You may find yourself down side roads as you get caught up in the adventure of exploring the roads less travelled.
What happens beyond the range of mobile signal?
We spend time with ourselves. We use landlines. We take a break from swiping up, left, right, down. Most of our towns have decent mobile coverage (Tullah can be a bit patchy) and signal is non-existent on the highways between as you travel. You might have to wait to check those emails and post that Facebook update. But that’s okay, right?
Bring ginger, other remedies or a bucket
Even the most hardened traveller can experience travel sickness getting to and around the West Coast. Our roads are mountainous and windy. It can feel like corners for days. And those corners can be sharp and unexpected. Lucky we’re worth it. There are pharmacies in Queenstown, Strahan, Rosebery and Zeehan open weekdays who are well versed in assisting weary travellers.
Break up the long drive and stretch your legs - you won't be disappointed. Nelson Falls are reached after an easy 20 minute return (1.4km) boardwalk stroll beside a river through a forest of sassafras, myrtle and ferns. The falls are especially spectacular after heavy rain.
Henty Sand Dunes
A series of giant dunes formed by the Roaring Forties are great to explore. The dunes are around 30m high, reaching several kilometres inland and extending 15 km along the coast. From the picnic area it's an easy 1.5 hr return walk through the dunes to Ocean Beach.
Lake Mackintosh is one of the most beautiful lakes in the region. The lake and surrounding country is magnificent with myrtle, sassafras and eucalypt forests along with native ferns growing almost to the lake's edge.