Lake Osborne | An Easy And Stunning Walk In The Hartz Mountains

Tasmania has no shortage of alpine lakes and wild landscapes scarred by ancient glaciation. And while many of these glacial tarns take hours of trudging through thick forests and over bony ridgelines to reach, the beauty of Lake Osborne can easily be accessed in under 30 minutes. 

Hidden in the folds of the Hartz Mountains, Lake Osborne is an easy short walk that encompasses deep green forests, vast sup-alpine meadows and towering dolerite cliffs that plunge into the mountain lake.

We’ve spent a great deal of time exploring the less inhabited parts of Tasmania and can honestly say that Lake Osborne is worth your time. A visit to the wide glacial lake is the perfect addition to a Hartz Mountains adventure and in this post, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to enjoy this little slice of paradise. 

Lake Osborne on a moody, misty evening through the king billy pines

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Visiting Lake Osborne In Hartz Mountains National Park, Tasmania

2 km return

30 – 40 mins

Elevation Gain
65 m

Highest Elevation
914 m

Grade 2

Toilets, Shelter, Information Boards

Entrance Fees
Tasmanian Parks Pass

Hiking the Lake Osborne Track at sunrise with a sunstar flaring through the trees

Where Is Lake Osborne

Tucked into the rugged southwest of Tasmania, Lake Osborne can be found in the Hartz Mountains National Park. Of the six accessible alpine lakes scattered among the mountains, Lake Osborne is the easiest to reach and in our opinion, one of the best. 

The Lake Osborne trailhead can be found at the Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter, located at the end of Hartz Rd. Hartz Mountains National Park is located 90 minutes southwest of Hobart and 4 hrs southwest of Launceston. 

Hartz Mountains National Park shelter facility

How To Get To Lake Osborne, Tasmania

While Lake Osborne is quite a popular place for locals to visit during summer, it’s far enough out of Hobart to avoid being part of any public transport route. Therefore, the only way to get to Lake Osborne is by car. If you don’t have access to your own vehicle, we suggest checking out Rental Cars to find the best deals on car hire. 

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Directions From Hobart To Lake Osborne, Hartz Mountains National Park

To reach the Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter, where the track to Lake Osborne begins, head south out of Hobart on Huon Hwy (A6) for 60 km until you reach Geeveston. Just before you enter the town centre of Geeveston, turn right (northwest) onto Arve Rd (C632). After 13 km, take the left turn (south) onto Hartz Rd and follow the unsealed mountain road for the final 13 km.

Note: While Hartz Rd is suitable for all vehicles, it can become hazardous in winter when it’s susceptible to ice and snow. It’s best to check the road conditions before driving past Geeveston as there is little reception afterwards. Tasmania Police Community Alerts is an excellent resource for finding information on road conditions.

Lake Osborne Walking Notes

In the northwestern corner of the car park beside the Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter, you’ll find a gravel trail winding into the thick surrounding forest. 

For the first 500 m, you’ll walk within a vibrant forest of woolly tea trees, twisted sassafras and myrtle beech trees, gently ascending over their gnarled roots as you make your way towards the open alpine above. 

Stepping down the well formed path in the forest of the Lake Osborne Walk

Eventually, the trees will begin to recede and make way for a wide-open alpine heath that creeps to the corners of the dolerite ridgeline. The walk continues through the alpine meadow on a mix of boardwalks and a spongy groomed path, passing tall pandani and grass trees that sprout above the tangle of coral ferns and pineapple grass.

As you reach a high point in the open heathland, you’re gifted with uninterrupted vistas of distant mountains, including the Wellington Range rising beside Hobart. The easy boardwalks allow you to soak in the landscape as you continue walking towards Lake Osborne, which slowly begins to edge into view. 

Cloud waterfall over distant mountains of the Hartz Peak National Park

A gentle descent over thoughtfully placed rocks will take you from the alpine meadow into a small band of snow gums, mountain pepper berry trees, and the few surviving king billy pines that circle the tarn. 

And after just one kilometre, you’ll be standing on the edge of Lake Osborne. 

Reaching Lake Osborne

Lake Osborne has resided beneath the jagged dolerite ridgeline, named The Devils Backbone, since the last glaciation about 18,000 years ago. You can find an interpretive sign on the shore that offers some insight into the lake’s beginnings.

Sunrise at Lake Osborne

On the shore, you’ll also find a bench to sit on and soak in the scenery and the sound of the gurgling streams falling from Lake Osborne. If sitting isn’t your style, you can seek out the perfectly situated boulders that allow you to hop a little way into the alpine tarn in order to view the eastern peaks and the beginning of the Arve River. 

If you look carefully, you might find a little trail along the water’s edge that leads to a hidden lake just beyond the small rise in the northwest corner of Lake Osborne. 

We haven’t attempted to search for the little trail that takes you to Lake Perry, but we have heard it’s very overgrown and hard to follow. If you’ve found the track, we’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below. 

Walking the final step down to Lake Osborne in Tasmania

Returning To The Car Park

Once you’ve finished exploring Lake Osborne, and perhaps even braved a swim, simply return along the same well-groomed path towards the car park. The way back offers increasingly stunning views of the Huon Valley unravelling below. 

The entire walk, excluding any exploration time at the lake, will likely take between 30 and 40 minutes to complete. 

Hiking along the boardwalks of the alpine section of the Lake Osborne Walk

If you’ve only got time for one walk in the Hartz Mountains National Park, we suggest choosing the Hartz Peak Track instead. This track provides better views and two lakes to wander past before tackling the climb to the tallest point. You can even opt to turn around after reaching Lake Esperance or Ladies Tarn to shorten the walk. 

However, if you have the time to explore more of the Hartz Mountains National Park, the walk to Lake Osborne is most certainly worth the small amount of effort and time.

Best Time To Visit Lake Osborne

Lake Osborne can be visited any time of year and which is best highly depends on your preferences. Due to the easy nature of the walk, it’s doable even when snow covers the tracks – but to avoid ending up on your butt, wear sturdy shoes with good grip!

Sunrise layers from the Lake Osborne Track

To help you decide which season is the best time to visit Lake Osborne, I’ve added a little summary of the highlights and lesser qualities of each.  

  • Summer: The weather is often warm enough to swim and the longer daylight hours allow more time to explore, however, the trails are busier this time of year and you need to watch out for snakes
  • Autumn: Autumn is our favourite time to explore the Hartz Mountains as you’re often gifted with crisp and clear days and smaller crowds, and you can still swim if you’re brave (or crazy) enough
  • Winter: Hartz Mountains National Park is frequently covered in snow during the wintertime which creates a magical wonderland to explore, however, you need a little more skill to hike in these conditions and sometimes the road up to the car park will be closed due to too much snow or ice
  • Spring: Spring brings with it beautiful wildflowers and warmer days, yet this is when Tasmania receives most of its rain so it can be hard to score a clear day

In our opinion, the best time of day to visit Lake Osborne is sunrise. While you may miss the sun breaching the horizon, the morning light puts on a brilliant show as it slowly cloaks the Devils Backbone and eventually seeps into the lake. Plus, it’s an easy and short walk to do in the dark with a headtorch. 

Hiking in the dark forest of Lake Osborne Track at night

Leave No Trace

Hartz Mountains National Park is a very popular day trip from Hobart for both tourists and locals alike. This ultimately brings in large crowds and increased stress on the fragile landscape. Please read and follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles before setting off in nature and remember that every footprint off the trail can cause damage. 

It’s each and every one of our responsibilities to help preserve our natural spaces and save our planet. It’s as simple as staying on the trails, taking all your rubbish with you (including food scraps and tissues) and leaving a place the same or better than how you found it. 

You’ll find toilets at the Hartz Mountains Day Visitor Shelter as well as at the car park for the Waratah Lookout a little further down the road. However, there are no rubbish bins within the national park so you’ll need to take it all with you to the nearest town, Geeveston. 

What To Bring

Lake Osborne is an easy trail that takes less than an hour to complete. Therefore, there is no real need to take much with you aside from a water bottle and perhaps your bathers and a towel if you’re game enough to swim! 

Here is our basic list of items that we recommend taking on the Lake Osborne walk

Where To Stay Near Lake Osborne, Tasmania

Lake Osborne is located within Hartz Mountains National Park, 90 minutes southwest of Hobart. It’s a popular day trip from the city, but if you’d rather stay closer to the Hartz Mountains there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. 

Our favourite place to stay near Lake Osborne is the Arve River Camping Area that’s located 13km from the Hartz Mountains car park. The camping grounds are situated right beside Arve River (which actually starts its journey from Lake Osborne) and offer picnic benches, a BBQ shelter, toilets and firepits. 

Wide open space at Arve River Campground in Hartz Mountains National Park


Port Huon


Camping Near Lake Osborne