D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania
One of the most memorable routes from Hobart to the Huon Valley is via the Channel Highway, the coast road alongside D'Entrecasteaux Channel through Taroona, where the world's oldest round shot tower stands. Further on, there are superb sea views of Storm Bay and Bruny Island beyond. Travelling south, on the shores of the Channel are Kingston, Margate, Snug and then Kettering. The sheltered Channel, which separates the Tasmanian mainland south of Hobart from Bruny Island, was named eponymously by the French explorer Bruni D'Entrecasteaux in 1792. The channel became important for shipping between Hobart and the coastal bases of whalers, sealers and timber-getters further south.
The far northern section of the channel between the mainland of south east Tasmania and the northern tip of Bruny Island is known as North West Bay. The larger bay to the south of it, between Woodbridge and Gordon, is called Great Bay. Though these two bays are treated as part of D'Entrecasteaux Channel, in reality the channel begins where the huon River estuary flows into it in near Verona Sands. D'Entrecasteaux Channel was first sighted by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642 and later visited by British explorers Furneaux, Cook, Bligh and Cox between 1770 and 1790. The majority of names in and around the channel recall the visit of a French expedition to the area in February 1793. The Huon River is named after Captain Huon de Kermadec, commander of one of the expedition ships - L'Esperance.
Taroona is a major residential suburb approximately 15 minutes drive from the centre of Hobart, Tasmania on the scenic route between Hobart and Kingston. Although on the edges of the City of Hobart, Taroona is actually part of the municipality of Kingborough. Taroona is an Aboriginal word meaning sea-shell, specifically that of a 'Chiton'. The traditional owners of the lands now known as Taroona were the Aboriginal people of the Derwent estuary known as the Mouheneener people. The first European settlement at Taroona took place in the early 19th century, when land was granted to settlers who had relocated from Norfolk Island.
A residential and commercial centre to the south of Hobart, Kingston offers many attractions including safe swimming at Kingston Beach, fishing, golf and shopping centres. Nearby Blackmans Bay, Tinderbox and Howden offer excellent views of the Derwent Estuary and across the D Entrecasteaux Channel to Bruny Island. Golfing enthusiasts will also enjoy a round of golf at the Kingston Beach Golf Club. Known as one of Tasmania s premier golf courses it features an 18-hole championship layout making use of the Browns River with great ocean views. The golf club also has excellent clubhouse facilities including a dining room and spike bar.
A small bayside town, Margate is a frequent 'pit-stop' for those travelling south towards Snug, Kettering or Bruny Island. Vineyards, grazing fields and stands of trees surround the town and its approaches. From 1906-1922, the Sandfly Colliery Tramway ran from Margate Wharf to the coal mine at Kaoota. The Margate Train, formerly the Tasman Limited, is Tasmania s last passenger train. The restored railway carriages of the train, open daily, now house a range of businesses including arts and crafts, bric-a-brac, a specialist book exchange, a pancake restaurant, and the original buffet car is now a cafe. There is also a huge antiques warehouse and second hand shop here, located in an old IXL apple packing shed.
Snug is a small coastal town located on the Channel Highway. The area around Snug was first encountered by Europeans when Rear Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux sailed up the nearby channel. Following the establishment of a colony at Hobart Town, the Snug River was found and named reflecting the "snug and agreeable seclusion" of the inlet. By the 1820s a port and sawmilling facilities had become established at nearby North West Bay. Snug is home to the Channel Folk Museum.
Kettering and neighbouring Woodbridge were once violent outposts where the local Aborigines were persecuted and maltreated by sealers and whalers who has set up camp here long before the first official European settlement in Tasmania at Hobart had been founded. Today the area is noted for its orchards (apples, cherries, pears) and Kettering has become an important service centre for the local farmers. Like so much of the area south of Hobart, it has become a centre for commuters and alternative lifestyle dwellers.
Across the D'Entrecasteaux Channel a short drive south of Hobart, Bruny Island is effectively two quite different islands connected by a narrow neck of sand. With its wild seascapes and sweeping surf beaches, rich maritime history, abundant birdlife and wildlife, tall forests and historic lighthouse, Bruny is an island paradise in Australia's deep south. In terms of breathtaking majesty, few features on South Bruny Island compare to a series of sea caves found along its rocky coastline. 'Breathtaking' is an over-used word used to describe Australia's scenery, but when it comes to these amazing coastal caverns, it is totally appropriate.
Overlooking Peppermint Bay, Woodbridge is one of the prettiest towns on the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Located 38 kilometres south of the state capital, Hobart, it was first settled by Europeans in 1847. Woodbridge was originally named Peppermint Bay; a Post Office by that name was opened on May 15, 1854, hoever the town was renamed Woodbridge in 1881. Peppermint Bay is home to Peppermint Bay Cruises, which operates cruises of the River Derwent and D 'Entrecasteaux Channel on its luxuty catamaran. Cruises include general sightseeing, wildlife adventure around the shores of Bruny Island, or are available for charter.
Birchs Bay is a quiet, rural residential locality, the waters of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel forming most of the eastern boundary. Art Farm Birchs Bay is a not-for-profit association established to foster engagement between community, artists, art and the landscape. Art Farm Birchs Bay lives at Five Bob Farm, an innovative working farm in the south Channel and home to Diemen Pepper. Grandvewe Farm and Cheesery specialises in makes premium cheese from sheep's milk. The leftover whey from the cheesery pipes straight downstairs to Hartshorn Distillery, which produces the world's first Sheep Whey Vodka and Gin.
There are numerous small communities along the shores of D'Entrecasteaux where people have built their own little corner of paradise. This one takes its name from a rock formation on the Channel which looks remarkably like a flowerpot. A little further south is Middleton. The original town reserve was known as Long Bay, but this was never proclaimed, and ended up being called Middleton instead. That name came from Middleton Beach, but where it got its name from is a mystery lost in the annals of time.
Gordon is another small locality on the shores of D'Entrecasteaux, believed that the locality was named for General Charles George Gordon. At a pleasant picnic spot beside the calm waters of the Channel is monument to Brni D'Entrecasteaux, after whom the channel is name. D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Bruni Island and the Huon River are just a few of the local geographical features with names that recall the visit of D'Entrecasteaux and his French expedition to the area in 1792-93.
No trip to Hobart and Southern Tasmania is complete without a drive along the Huon Trail. Taking in the the fruit growing district of the Huon River valley, Port Huon, Bruny Island and the vast expanse of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, the Huon Trail incorporates busy towns and sleepy villages, serene boutique farms and World Heritage Wilderness areas accessed by roads that wind through a world of extensive and beautiful valleys and waterways.
The Huon Valley and the coasts of Port Huon and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel are places of natural beauty, perfect for a relaxing holiday, a short break or even a day trip from Hobart. Rich in maritime and rural heritage and populated friendly creative people, the region is known as much for its gorgeous scenery as it huon pine, apple orchards and boutique wineries and gourmet specialities. By big city standards, the roads are always quiet and there is something different around every corner.