Federation Peak is a remote peak in Tasmania's Eastern Arthur Range. The 4,180 ft / 1,274 m summit is accessible via Farmhouse Creek to the east or the via the Western Arthurs to the west. A full traverse of the Arthur Range and exit via Scotts Peak Dam is possible via Federation Peak (or “Feddy” as it's sometimes called by locals), but here I'll be talking about hiking up to the summit from Farmhouse Creek. For more on the Arthurs, check out my Guide to the Western Arthurs Traverse.
The hike to Federation Peak is challenging and remote (the most remote hike I've done in Tasmania). Before reaching the peak you'll need to get up an exposed area of climbing that will require the use of your hands. It's not as dramatic as some photos make it out to be, but falling here would not be in your best interest (i.e. it might kill you).
Federation Peak Basics
- Location: Southwest National Park, Tasmania
- Roundtrip Length*: 24.85 mi / 40 km
- Type: Out-and-back
- Officially Recommended Time: 4 to 5 days
- My Suggested Time: 2 to 3 days
- Possible Time: 1 day (would be huge)
- Booking Required: No
- Booking Cost: A$0
- Permit Required: Tasmania Parks Pass (buy)
- Permit Cost: A$12-$60
- Summit Location: -43.271576, 146.474932
- Trailhead Location: Farmhouse Creek (end of Picton Road) -43.231673, 146.668112
- Elevation Gain*: 4,265 ft / 1,300 m
- Summit Height: 4,180 ft / 1,274 m
- Difficulty: Very Strenuous
*These numbers are approximates.
How To Get To Federation Peak
The Federation Peak trailhead at Farmhouse Creek is located 68 mi / 109 km southwest of Hobart. However, most of the road is unpaved, so it will probably take between two and three hours to get there via car (the only way to get there). Unfortunately, there is no public transportation to Farmhouse Creek so you will probably have to rent a car or have a very nice person drop you off if you're wishing to start your hike there. Although hitchhiking is technically possible, I wouldn't recommend it as there's a good chance you'll be stuck for a couple of days waiting for a ride.
- Accessible via public transportation: No
- Trailhead parking: Yes (free, unmetered)
- Trailhead coordinates: -43.231673, 146.668112
BY CAR: Via car, the Federation Peak trailhead is 68 mi / 109 km southwest of Hobart. Much of this drive is on unsealed roads and the drive can take upwards of three hours. It's a long drive in that I did at night (would not recommend), and you'll have to take your time as the road isn't very well maintained. You'll find parking when Picton Road ends (at least as far as cars can go), but the parking area only has room for maybe eight cars – it is free and unmetered.
BY TRAIN: Sorry, no trains.
BY BUS: Sorry, no buses
BY PRIVATE TRANSPORT: There are a number of companies in Hobart and around Tasmania offering transport to/from trailheads. If you're up for shoveling out a bit of cash for a ride, go for it (this one will probably cost you a lot).
HITCHHIKING: Hitchhiking to the start of the Federation Peak is, of course, theoretically possible. However, this trailhead is extremely remote. I saw only three other parties during the two days I spent hiking Federation Peak. If you plan on hitchhiking you will have to 1) bring plenty of extra food for the days you might spend waiting, and 2) be very lucky to get the maybe one car per day driving to the trailhead (if that).
Notes On Federation Peak
The following are some notes to help you more easily understand exactly what I'm saying in this post, since when I was doing my research I found things to be a little confusing.
- The Cracroft River and the South Cracroft River can flood during heavy rain making the track more difficult (the track crosses the South Cracroft and runs parallel to both for most of the track).
- There are no fires permitted anywhere along the Federation Peak Track.
- Tasmania is notorious for its unpredictable and quickly changing weather. Make good decisions.
- There are no huts or toilets along the Federation Peak Track.
- The fungus, phytophthora cinnamomi, is rampant in Tasmania and kills native plants. Clean your shoes, gaiters, trowel beforehand (there's a shoe cleaning station thing at the start of the track).
- You may read reports of people bringing rope for climbing and pack hauling on this track. This is not required, but don't let me stop you from bringing any if that's what you're into.
- There are a number of named campsites along the track (through you will find no signs or markers as such, only flat, empty spaces), they are: Crest Camp, Forest Camp, Paperbark Camp, and Cutting Camp (these are not the only camping opportunities, just the named sites).
- There are wooden platforms for tent on Bechervaise Plateau just below Federation Peak (there was also a water source available when I was there).
Federation Peak Itinerary
The suggested Federation Peak Traverse itinerary calls for three to five days. Five days would be an incredibly leisurely pace as the entire track is only 28.58 mi / 46 km. I completed the track in two days having spent the night at the halfway point – on top of Federation Peak. A one day trip would be possible if you really wanted to go for it. Most people might be most comfortable with three days (but personally, I would recommend two).
Here is an example itinerary:
- Day 1: 5.9 mi / 9.5 km – Farmhouse Creek to South Cracroft River crossing
- Day 2: 4.29 mi / 6.9 km – South Cracroft River crossing to Cutting Camp
- Day 3: 2.55 mi / 4.1 km Cutting Camp to Bechervaise Plateau via Federation Peak
- Day 4: 6.03 mi / 9.7 km – Bechervaise Plateau to South Cracroft River crossing
- Day 5: 5.9 mi / 9.5 km – South Cracroft River crossing to Farmhouse Creek
Here's what I did:
- Day 1: 10.25 mi / 16.5 km – Farmhouse Creek to Cutting Camp
- Day 2: 4.35 mi / 7 km – Cutting Camp to Federation Peak (Return)
- Day 2: 10.25 mi / 16.5 km – Cutting Camp to Farmhouse Creek
Federation Peak Track
The trail leaving Farmhouse Creek begins innocently. You cross a bridge, there's a clear path, there's a shoe-cleaning station, there's a nice creek you walk next to, there are plenty of pink ribbons and orange arrows marking the way – but this doesn't last long. Let me tell you upfront, the trail to Federation Peak is probably the most poorly maintained trail I have ever been on. It's muddy, overgrown, full of blowdowns, and not very well-marked. Consider yourself warned.
The trail heads west, slowly climbing along Farmhouse Creek and at around the 3.11 mi / 5 km mark you'll pass an unmarked junction with a trail heading south that leads to Lake Sydney and Mount Bobs. If you have the time and are prepared (the tracks south of here are largely unmarked and undefined), then Mount Bobs looks like a worthy detour (around 8.45 mi / 13.6 km return).
Continuing on the Federation Peak trail, you'll soon reach South Picton Saddle where there's an unmarked junction leading to Judds Cavern (an aboriginal sight that you're discouraged from going to). Continuing toward Federation, the trail descends southwest and into a buttongrass-filled plain with views of Federation Peak (weather permitting).
The trail crosses the South Cracroft River (where there's a nice campsite) and continues west through muddy buttongrass plains. Slowly climbing again, the trail crosses a ridge before descending to parallel the Cracroft River on the other side. It's easy to get turned around on this track and once I even ended up unintentionally walking back the way I came after getting disoriented – so pay attention.
You'll pass many suitable campsites during this section of trail. The final one, Cutting Camp, is a good place to end your first day if it's getting late because the next section of trail involves a slow and steep climb up Moss Ridge to Bechervaise Plateau (where there is both water and platforms for camping).
The climb up Moss Ridge is steep and filled with blowdowns. Sometimes it looks like there's no way forward, but it's because you need to climb up onto and then walk along a fallen tree to the next section of trail. Around halfway up you'll get some nice views of Federation Peak and the trail mellows out a bit (in terms of steepness), but there are a few areas where you will need to use your hands for a bit of climbing.
From Bechervaise Plateau (now above treeline), the trail climbs up west toward Federation Peak, but you'll actually approach the summit from the south. After a bit of climbing, the trail heads down through a narrow split in the rock before making a shar right and heading up Chockstone Gully – an impossibly steep-looking chute with a rock jammed into the middle of it (a rock you will go under). Yes, this is where the trail goes next.
Climbing up this chute isn't as difficult as it may look and you even get to go underneath a big boulder pinched between the sides of it. Cool. There are some trail markers here, but there's really only one way up.
The trail continues up to the final climb up to the summit. There are (or were) a number or cairns here, but not all followed the same route. You can make it up to the summit without having to make any dangerous moves, so if you're feeling uncomfortable at a certain spot, don't be afraid to descend a bit and reevaluate (I had to do this as I picked the wrong way up the first time).
When you reach the summit you'll find a log book (I forgot to sign, sad face), and (if you're lucky) awesome views in all directions.
If you want to extent the trip you can hike to Hanging Lake from Federation Peak where there are (supposedly) some suitable camping spots. Or, if you're feeling really badass, you could just traverse the entire Eastern Arthur Range (as you've just done the first and probably most miserable section). When you're ready to stop enjoying the summit, just remember that you need to walk back through all that terrible trail you just walked in on. Have fun!
Federation Peak Map
This is a GPS track that I found for Federation Peak online. This is not my GPS track. This track should be used for illustrative purposes only and should not be used for navigation. I've also marked the campsites that are marked on the TASMAP maps (links to these maps are at the end of this post).
Federation Peak Conclusion
Federation Peak is an awesome hike and if you're in Tasmania (and have the experience/confidence), then definitely try to do it (I know, getting out to the trailhead is a bitch). Be warned that the track is not an easy one. It's overgrown, poorly marked, full of mud, and incredibly frustrating at times. However, if a friend of mine was making a trip to Tasmania, I would absolutely recommend it.
If you're feeling super badass, I would also definitely suggest that you turn this into a longer trip by heading to Hanging Lake, Mount Bobs, or (ideally) a full traverse of the Arthur Range.
I'm always looking to improve this information, so if you have any suggestions to improve or update this information then please leave a comment below or get in touch.
Federation Peak Resources
- Tasmania Parks Pass
- Australia Bureau of Meteorology
- Southern Region Rainfall and River Conditions
- Southwest National Park
- TASMAP Bathurst 1:50000 Topographic Map
- TASMAP Burgess 1:25000 Topographic/Cadastral Map
- TASMAP Bobs 1:25000 Topographic/Cadastral Map
- TASMAP Federation 1:25000 Topographic/Cadastral Map