Mount Barrow is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.413m (4,636ft) above the sea level, located just east of Launceston in north east Tasmania. The drive is stunning. It's one of the most scenic drives in the world. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. Stay away if you're scared of heights.
The road to the summit is gravel. It’s called Mount Barrow Road, also known as C404, and is a 14km long, unsealed spur route. The road to the summit is periodically closed in winter due to snow, with the snow line located at around 1.100 metres (3,609 ft) metres.
This road has been heralded as one of the most spectaculars roads in the world by the dangerousroads.org users. The first 10km of the route has a well-maintained gravel surface and runs through a combination of undulating farmland and forestry areas. The boundary of Mount Barrow State Reserve is reached at the 10km mark, where parking and picnic areas are provided. The road beyond the parking area is officially closed to vehicles other than 4wd. The road beyond the reserve boundary is certainly worth the drive. It comprises of a tortuous, steep collection of switchbacks - rivalling nearby Jacobs Ladder - but also provides spectacular views of the valleys to the north and west. The last 1.5km is located above the tree line, at around 1000m above sea level, and is the nearest location to Launceston that regularly gets winter snowfalls.
The road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. This is a gravel road and is sometimes in bad condition, especially in winter, so 4WD vehicles are recommended. For safety reasons only 4WD vehicles are allowed on the mountain, when it is snowing.
At the summit there are some big antennas for TV, radio, and aircraft navigation. It’s the main television and FM radio transmission site for north east Tasmania. Broadcast Australia’s Mt Barrow transmission site overcomes extreme weather conditions to deliver television and radio services to Tasmania’s north.
The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. This is a working forest - log trucks are a regular feature along the Mt Barrow Discovery Trail. The Discovery Trail is designed as a ONE WAY LOOP, so please follow the directional arrows and do not back track. The discovery trail covers the rich tradition of timber harvesting and sawmilling dating back to the 1830s in the Mt Barrow state forests. Red directional arrows lead you up the mountain. Stop at lookouts, cultural sites and walk beneath the forest canopy. Immerse yourself in the natural surrounds as you learn about the history of the timber industry in Tasmania. From the summit there is a very impressive panoramic view both of the Tamar Valley and the mountains to the east.
Pic: Daniel Wild