Queenstown: Hike to Kelly Basin's Ghost Town

Queenstown: Hike to Kelly Basin’s Ghost Town

Get There:  From Queenstown, head down Mt Jules Road for 29km until it becomes gravel. Follow this gravel road for 11 more kilometres, at which point you’ll hit the Bird River Bridge turn off. 2WD drivers will need to park at the turnoff and walk the last five kilometres to the bridge, but those in 4WDs are laughing and can get all the way to the start of the hike, though watch for fallen logs.


In its heyday, a thousand people lived in bustling East Pillinger, built on the edge of the Kelly Basin. Today, it is a ghost down steeped in the depths of a cool temperate forest, and the shells of its buildings have almost been swallowed by creepers and the elements. The beauty of five-and-a-half kilometre walk, which follows the Bird River, is beyond description. Think shades of green you didn’t know existed, and lush forest so dense that at some points that the path is almost like a tunnel.


The walk can get extremely slippery at times, especially the boardwalk towards the end, so don’t wear high heels. Like everywhere in Tasmania, the weather can change in an instant, and the forest drips even when it’s sunny, so bring a raincoat. Allow three or four hours for the return walk, or freecamp overnight in East Pillinger near the jetty and hike out the next day.

old pillinger

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