Huon Valley, Tasmania
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.
Huonville is a centre for the Huon District which services the local timber, paper mill and fruit growing industries as well as tourism. It is the gateway to the beautiful Huon Valley. It was the apple orchards of the valley that gave Tasmania the name 'The Apple Isle' in the 1960s. The Huon River and the nearby D'Entrecasteaux Channel are popular fishing and boating areas. The Channel is sheltered from the wrath of the Southern Ocean by the bulk of Bruny Island to the east. The drive from Huonville to D Entrecasteaux Channel via Cygnet is particulary scenic; the still waters of the river offer spectacular photo opportunities.
The main town on the eastern shores of Port Huon, Cygnet is a centre for a prosperous fruit growing district (apples; grapes; strawberries; blueberries; cherries) which has numerous orchards and vineyards. The local area also supports a farming population and there are many second homes, sometimes known as shacks in Tasmania. About a mile south of the town centre is Port Cygnet (home of the Port Cygnet Yacht Club), a safe anchorage for pleasure craft with easy road and walking access to Cygnet. Cygnet and surrounding suburbs have access to the beautiful D'Entrecasteau Channel on one side and the Huon River on the other.
The drive south from Cygnet around the tip of the peninsula is particularly pretty as the Huon River widens into D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Verona Sands and Randalls Bay are two popular swimming beaches. Being at the foot of the peninsula, where the Huon Estuary meets the D'entrecasteaux Channel, Verona Sands has expensive views south down the channel and across to Port Esperance and Bruny Island, on opposite shores. The settlement surrounds Lasts Lagoon that occasionally opens to the beach.
Eggs and Bacon Bay is purely residential in nature and is located in an attractive setting, with access to beaches and picturesque coastal views. Eggs and Bacon Bay is located on the western side of Cray point. It has a curving 400 metre long west-facing beach located along its eastern shore. Eggs and Bacon Bay beach and beaches on Garden Island Sands, Barretts and Surveyors Bay are the only sandy beaches located towards the southern entrance to the estuary. How Eggs and Bacon Bay got its name is one of those mysteries that will probably never be solved.
Garden Island is a small stony island that is part of the Partridge Island Group, sheltered by Garden Island Bay near the entrance to the Huon Estuary. Garden Island was first named "Gardners Island" by the Rev R. Knopwood in 1804, and had that name in maps in 1832. At that time, a "Garden Island" or "Smooth Island" appeared on maps at the entrance of Norfolk Bay. Much of the island is covered with eucalypt forest.
Echo Sugarloaf is an elevated area overlooking Randall Bay which is protected as a nature reserve. Its 122 hectares and was donated to the state by local farmers, Max and Bev Thomas, for the protection of endangered species. There are walks through the reserve, the main 2.5 km long walk starts in Williams Road, Randalls Bay, and follows a track to the top where a trig point. Passing through varying habitats, walkers may encounter a wide range of birds, including threatened species like the swift parrot and wedge-tailed Eagle, pademelons, bettongs and other marsupials.
Prior to 1840 the area around Copper Alley Bay had been mainly settled by Irish settlers, who cleared the heavy timber and transported it to Hobart by boat. The land was turned into farmlets growing potatoes and other vegetables. By 1843 it had a thriving community. In 1845 Probation Stations for convicts were established at Port Cygnet, Lymington and Nicholls Rivulet and Huon Island. The clearing of land and building of huts continued. There were 333 convicts stationed in the district and a hospital was being built at Lymington where the staff were based.
It was at Petcheys Bay in 1838 Matthew Fitzpatrick came from Ireland with his wife and sisters and settled. He planted the first orchard in the area, giving birth to one of Australia's most productive fruit growing area. In 1935 the district reached its record-breaking peak, producing 21,170 bushels of pears, 5,470 lbs of gooseberries, 644 800 bushels of apples, 31,890 lbs of blackcurrants, 100,750 lbs of raspberries and 160,880 lbs of strawberries. Because of the easy access to the Huon River Petcheys Bay was used as a pick-up point for ferries shipping their cargo to Hobart.
Like Petcheys Bay, Glaziers Bay was once an important port for the shipping of produce to Hobart but eventually, road transport took over. In its heyday as a port, as many as 32 vessels a month passed through the area. There were in fact jetties at Crooked Tree, Deep Bay, Coal Jetty, Herlihys Bay, Petcheys Bay, Wattle Grove, Lymington, Glaziers Bay, and Randalls Bay - apart from Port Cygnet. All produce had to be carted by dray to these points.
The former Methodist church at Nicholls Rivulet is one of only two surviving structures with direct associations with the Tasmanian Aboriginals (the other being Dolly Dalrymple’s cottage at Sherwood, near Latrobe). The building has very strong associations with its principal benefactor, Fanny Cochrane Smith. Early Methodist services in the district of Nicholls Rivulet (formerly Irish Town) were held in the home of William and Fanny Smith. Fanny Cochrane Smith (1834-1905) was recognised by the Tasmanian government as ‘the last survivor’ of the Tasmanian Aboriginal race, and was granted 305 acres of land at Nicholls Rivulet in 1889.
Gardners Bay, to the south east of Cygnet, is both a rural area and a small inlet on Kanagaroo Bay on the Huon River. If you are looking to take one of those iconic photos of the amazingly tranquil, reflective waters of the Huon, Gardners Bay is a great place to start your search. Be there on a still day and chances are you'll get what you are looking for here, or at nearby Glaziers Bay. Close by are two award-winning wineries - Panorama Vineyard at Cradoc, and Hartzview Vineyard (photo), high in the mountains above Gardners Bay. As its name suggests, Hartzview affords panoramic views across the Huon Valley to the Hartz Mountains.
The Lower Huon 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.