Wellington Park is much loved and enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. it is Tasmania's second most visited attraction, and the most visited natural attraction. The Park offers a diverse range of recreational opportunities, is an important hub for communications, and a source of drinking water for Hobart.
Wellington Park was established under the Wellington Park Act 1993, and is governed under its own set of rules. Although the Park is not a National Park, at 18,011 ha, it is one of the state's largest reserved areas outside of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, stretching westward from the 1270m summit of kunanyi / Mount Wellington for almost 30km.
kunanyi / Mount Wellington and the Wellington Range are the traditional lands of the Muwinina (mou wee nee nar) people.
Average rainfall in Wellington Park ranges from 750mm along the northern and southern foothills, to 1500mm on the higher peaks. Snow can fall in any season, but the changeable weather and proximity to the sea make persistent snow cover a rarity. The alpine area is subject to rapid and extreme changes in weather. Severe conditions with snow, sleet and high winds can occur with startling suddenness at any time of the year.
Winds are predominantly from the west and north-west throughout the year. Tasmania's strongest wind gusts of 174 km/hr were recorded on the mountain. In the warmer months, strong and dry north-westerly winds can cause extreme bushfire weather, as was seen in the devastating fires of 1967.
The Bureau of Meteorology collects weather observation data at the Pinnacle using an automatic weather station. Weather observing on the mountain is a long–standing tradition. The first weather observing stations in the Southern Hemisphere were established at The Springs and on the summit in 1895 by Clement Lindley Wragge, also known in unfavourable weather as ‘Inclement Wragge’. With Wragge’s revolutionary technique the observatories, at different altitudes, played a vital role in weather forecasting.
Early naturalists were fascinated by the mountain's flora, taking specimens for collections in England. Today, all flora in Wellington Parks is protected, and permits are required to collect or remove any vegetation.
Contemporary research has since identified the richness and significance of the Park's flora that features:
Over 130 exotic vegetation species have been recorded in the Park, predominantly in the foothills near modified areas. Control programs are conducted by community groups, and neighbours are encouraged to reduce invasive species in their gardens.
The range of altitude, vegetation and landforms across Wellington Park influences fauna diversity. Consequently, the Park is species rich with many significant communities and threatened species.
During the 1800s early naturalists visited kunanyi / Mount Wellington and collected numerous species. Contemporary research has since confirmed the importance of the Park’s fauna which features:
Wellington Park is home for the long–nose potoroo, pademelon, bettong, southern brown and eastern barred bandicoots, brush tail, ring–tail, pygmy and eastern pygmy possums, eastern quoll, platypus and echidna, swamp rat, long-tailed mouse, dusky antechinus and various species of bats.
In damp places in and around the Park reside the Tasmanian and brown froglet, brown tree frog, southern toadlet, bull frogs, spotted grass frogs and the endangered green and gold frog.
Reptiles found in the Park include blue–tongued lizards, mountain dragons, a variety of skinks, all three of Tasmania’s snakes – the tiger, copperhead and white–lipped snake.
All fauna within Wellington Park is protected and permits are required for any collection and/or monitoring.
A number of exotic species including house mice, black rats, rabbits, blackbirds, goldfinches, sparrows, feral cats, goats and bumble bees are found in the Park. These species have a detrimental effect on native flora and fauna, and the integrity of natural systems.
More information on the fauna in Wellington Park can be found in the publications listed or through the Tasmanian Field Naturalists.
The geology of the Park provides the physical foundation for the landscape, ecosystems and character of the Wellington Range – the sheer dolerite columns of the Organ Pipes, hidden caverns of Lost World, familiar features of Collins Cap and Collins Bonnet, the band of sandstone beneath the Wellington Range and mudstone waterfalls in the foothills.
Millions of years of geological construction, erosive processes and change have shaped the area to form the landforms we know today.
The Park’s geodiversity ( the range of geological, landform and hydrological processes and soil types) is highly significant in a number of ways including:
Non–living components are a vital part of the life sustaining systems within the Park, providing the foundations for other species. More information is available in the Geodiversity Overview available to download below. Additionally, there are many individually significant features. Geoconservation management ensures the preservation of these unique natural landforms.
French expeditions in the late eighteenth century reported extensive Aboriginal firing of the forests on the foothills of the Wellington Range. Since European settlement severe fires are known to have occurred on parts of the Wellington Range in 1806, 1851, 1897, 1914, 1934, 1945, and 1967. Approximately 90% of the Park was burnt in the ‘Black Tuesday’ bushfires on 7th February 1967. These bushfires burnt 270 000ha across southern Tasmania including the fringe of Hobart. In five hours 1300 houses and 128 major buildings were burnt. Sixty two people lost their lives. Since 1967 there have been major bushfires in the Park in 1983, 2001 and 2013.
Bushfires within the Park can threaten surrounding property and vice versa. Within the Park bushfires can damage and destroy infrastructure and cultural heritage, reduce scenic values and affect the quality and amount of water that can be extracted from the drinking water catchments in the Park. Although many of the plant communities in the Park benefit from occasional fire, some can be severely degraded by fire. Much of the vegetation in the higher parts of the Park is still recovering from the 1967 bushfires.
Park neighbours should reduce the risk of fire through simple preparation and precautions. Every neighbouring household should have a Bushfire Survival Plan and this must be implemented early. Visitors to the Park are reminded to observe fire restrictions during total fire bans as no fire places can be used during these periods. To minimise the risk to Park visitors and reduce the risk of bushfires, the Park will be closed on days with an Extreme or Catastrophic fire danger rating.
The Wellington Range includes prominent skyline features such as Sleeping Beauty, Collins Cap, Cathedral Rock and kunanyi / Mount Wellington. For today’s locals and visitors to southern Tasmania, the mountain is especially significant visually, offering a sense of homecoming and arrival.
Early visitors to Van Diemen’s Land portrayed their impressions on canvas and Mount Wellington was an obvious influence. Lieutenant G. Tobin painted the views during Bligh’s visit in 1792, then later that year C.F. Beautemps–Beaupré sketched images on D’Entrecasteaux’s journeys.
Many early settlers to the new colony depicted the local views including John Glover. 'Mount Wellington and Hobart Town from Kangaroo Point 1831-33' is considered one of Glover’s most significant works, depicting the mountain, the river, and Aboriginal people.