Balfour Track is one of the most difficult 4WD tracks in Australia. It is located inside the vast Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area. Taking this track will lead you to the town of Arthur River which is locally known as “The Edge of the World”. You will also pass by grass plains and a 70-metre high water crossing.
Before you begin your journey to the tracks of Balfour, you need to prepare some things first. You will need a recreational vehicle pass to drive on the park’s tracks and book a trip going to Tasmania (if you’re from the “big island”). Food, water, and recovery gear are also important for this journey.
So, here are the reasons why you should head to Balfour Track…
Where Is It Located?
As mentioned earlier, the track is in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area. If you take the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne, you will reach Devonport after sailing for 9 hours and 30 minutes or more. From the pier of Devonport, you will have to travel for 2 hours more (about 166 km) to reach Balfour Track.
We recommend that you book your trip in advance as slots can be limited during peak times. It also makes more sense to travel at night and book a cabin. Doing so will enable you to start your trip the first thing in the morning. You should also know that if you bring your caravan or camper trailer with you, the full price of the ticket must be paid, and it can get quite expensive.
What Can I Do in Devonport?
If you haven’t prepared your supplies for the trip, Devonport is the perfect place to stock up. However, you should prepare your food and water before even starting the trip (from home) as the food served on the ferry is quite expensive. If you prefer not to, then it’s fine because there are many supermarkets in Devonport. Taking the Bass Highway to reach Balfour Track will lead you to scenic coastal towns like Wynward and Burnie. If you have enough time to spare, you can also explore Stanley and its “nut” mountain.
What Can I Do in Arthur River?
Arthur River is the last town before you reach the park. It is also your last chance to replenish your supplies before heading into the wilderness. If you fancy river cruises, the Arthur River cruise will take you deep into the Tarkine Wilderness.
The town is also one of the areas where you can purchase the permit required to gain access to the park. To purchase them, head to the Ranger Office and don’t forget to secure a camping permit if you plan on spending a few days in the park.
What Attractions Are Located in Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area?
The park offers a variety of landscapes including a coastal strip, an elevated plateau, and the Norfolk Range. There are also many creeks and rivers that flow through the whole park. Taking the Balfour Track will let you explore the wilderness while other tracks will lead you to the coast where you can surf or swim.
The area is also home to rich Aboriginal heritage as is evident with the middens, hut depressions, artefact scatters, and rock art that are found in certain places inside the park. Most of them are found at Sundown Point/Iaraturunawan.
You can also encounter a lot of native birds in the park. So, it is a good spot for bird watching. Wombats and wallabies are also present in the area.
Where Should I Go to Reach Balfour Track?
From the town (Arthur River), head south by taking the Temma Road. Once you’ve reached Possum Creek, where the Sandy Cape Track starts. You will encounter dangerous slopes so be very careful while driving. After you have travelled 3 km away from the track, you will have a view of Mount Balfour which is also where Balfour Track starts.
Is Balfour Track Difficult to Drive On?
Yes. The first section of the track is hard, but it will ease off as you reach the farther sections.
How Long Does It Take to Complete the Track?
Normally, it will take about 2-3 hours to complete. However, it can take longer if you decide to explore the wilderness or take a dip in the waterholes.
Balfour Track Driving Directions
Four kilometres into the journey, you will encounter a large waterhole. Do not attempt to take the shortcut to Buttongrass Plain as you will wander off the track. Stay on the left lane and drive slowly. You should also cover your radiator to minimise the entry of water into the engine bay. Six kilometres away from the water hole, you will pass by a bridge and after 3 kilometres you will encounter another waterhole. After you have travelled 14.5 km of track, you will reach the end of the road which leads to Western Explorer Link Road. From this point, you can either turn left to return to Arthur River or continue to Smithton.
Can I Travel Alone on Balfour Track?
No. You will need to be accompanied by another vehicle because of the deep-water hazards in the track.
What Are the Things That I Should Prepare Before Taking Balfour Track?
Before you start your journey, make you sure that another vehicle is accompanying you. Recovery gear is also important because the track can get boggy and you might get stuck. You should also bring tarpaulin or other materials to cover your vehicle’s radiator and other stuff that can be damaged by water. You should also:
- Watch the video presented at the Ranger Office to gain information about how to safely navigate the track.
- Carry enough supplies such as water, fuel, and food. Emergency kits are also needed as accidents can happen while you are in the middle of nowhere.
- Ensure that your vehicle is in prime condition and carry spare parts so that you will not get stranded.
- As the mobile reception is spotty, you should use satellite phones, UHF, or EPIRB radio to communicate with your group or with the authorities.
- If you want to drive on the beach, check the tide times so that you can safely drive through the coast.
Can I Stay at A Camp in The Park?
There are three campgrounds in Arthur River. But you will need to pay for the camping and cabin fees to stay there. The camps have access to running water and toilet facilities. Inside the park, there are no campsites that have electricity however, there are caravan parks for those who brought their RVs.
The Arthur River Cabin Park has space for tent sites, powered RV sites, and cabins for groups. It is located 2 km from Arthur River and it also has toilets and hot showers.
If you don’t prefer staying in crowded places, there are several informal campsites along the beach or near creeks. However, they offer no facilities such as water or toilets. You should also remember to set up camp only on established sites rather than create new ones.
What Other Activities Can I Do in Balfour Track?
Aside from driving, you can take bushwalks, fish, ride a boat, surf, swim, do horse-riding or ride a kayak in the park. The park’s coast is the perfect place to walk as you will witness the massive waves and ancient forests in the area. You can also bring your fishing rod to fish in the park’s estuary. Abalone and cray are one of the most common catches by visitors. If you want to catch salmon, you should head to the west of the Arthur River bridge.
The massive waves on the park’s beach are renowned among surfers. The best spots for surfing are located near Lighthouse Beach and Marrawah. But you should have someone accompany you as the area is isolated and very dangerous.
What Are Other People Saying About Balfour Track?
Scouring through numerous forums and blogs online, most people are saying that you should NOT attempt to travel the track alone. The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service requires visitors to travel in a convoy and bring along a winch as there is a high-risk for vehicles to get stuck. You will also have a very hard time in recovering your vehicle, in case you get stuck, as there are no trees or other solid structure along the track. So, recovery will be challenging to outright impossible.
One user from 4×4 Earth said that Balfour can be very boggy especially after heavy rain. He added that he encountered a bog that can measure to about 70 meters long. Going around them through the button grass is futile as they are not much better. These boggy holes have a firm bottom so recovery will not be challenging if you are with another vehicle. However, a user from the website ExploreOz assures everyone that “the bottom of the main track [was] in a good condition was pretty solid.” The same user also added that only one crossing gave them a hassle and you should use a water blind while traversing it. The water blind is essential because the first section of the track was very deep and water can reach up to the windscreen.
How Cold Does It Get in Tasmania?
Climate and Weather for Tasmania has four distinct seasons with the warmest months being December to March. The average summer temperatures range between 17 and 23 degrees Celsius and winter temperatures can be between 3 and 11 degrees Celsius. Rainfall varies a lot across the island.
What Is the Best Month to Visit Tasmania?
Usually, dry and warm periods are from December through February, this would be the ideal time to visit Tasmania. Don’t let the tourist troops and pricier rooms discourage you as summer in Tassie is gorgeos with various festivals and is its an awesome time for hiking and scuba diving. March-May is a season for yachting, tasting wines, and eating fresh Pacific oysters.
Is There A Ferry from Sydney To Tasmania?
There is currently just the 1 ferry route running between Tasmania and Australia operated by 1 ferry company – Spirit of Tasmania. The Devonport (Tasmania) to Melbourne ferry crossing operates weekly with a scheduled sailing duration from about 9 hours.
How Much for A Cabin on The Spirit Of Tasmania?
Accommodation for passengers (without vehicles) on night sailings ranges from recliners in the lounge ($96) to a four-bed inside cabin (from $96 a person plus $132 a cabin), four-bed porthole cabin (from $96 a person plus $180 a cabin), twin-bed porthole cabin (from $96 a person plus $180 a cabin) and queen-bed deluxe.