Huon Valley Drive
Tourism is an important part of Huonville and the surrounding Huon Valley. The area is renowned for its scenic beauty and history as one of Australia's biggest apple producers.
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.
Location: South and south-west of Hobart, Tasmania, beside the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Huon Rover and Port Huon.
Length: Short loop (Hobart - Gordon - Huonville - Hobart) - 132 km; full loop (including Cockle Creek) - 304 km. If you intend to travel the full loop and include the Lower Huon Drive, follow this route as far as Huonville. Upon reaching Huonville, turn left towards Franklin and follow the Lower Huon Drive (link below). Otherwise, turn right and head towards Hobart.
Minimum Duration (one way): short loop (Hobart - Gordon - Huonville - Hobart) - 3 hours; full return loop (including Cockle Creek) - 6 hours
What You Will See
The loop taken by day trippers leaves Hobart via Channel Highway, passing through Sandy Bay (Wrest Point Casino), Taroona (historic shot tower) and Kingston. A side road to Dennes Point via Blackmans Bays offers panoramic views of D'Entrecasteaux Channel. From Kingston, proceed south through Margate and Snug (Snug Falls). The car ferry to Bruny Island leaves from the village of Kettering. Bruny Island is well worth a visit - allow at least a full day for a brief exploration of the island.
From Kettering, continue south along Channel Highway beside the channel, passing through Woodbridge and Gordon. At the tip of the peninsula, the road winds back northwards alongside the lower Huon River to the pretty village of Cygnet. Continue northwards via the Highway, or follow the coast road to Petcheys Bay for a more scenic drive.
Huonville is the main town and the region and most facilities can be found here. If your visit to the Huon Valley is a day trip, complete the loop by heading back to Hobart via the Huon Highway from Huonville. At Huonville you can visit the Huon Apple & Heritage Museum, take a jet boat ride up the river, or a more leisurely cruise on the MV Southern Contessa.
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Lower Huon Drive
The drive south from Huonville to Southport is well worth the effort if time permits. The road the eastern bank of the Huon River to Franklin (wooden boat centre) and Geeveston (Forest & Heritage Centre). The latter is a timber milling town and gateway to the rugged Hartz Mountains National Park. Some of the tallest hardwood trees in the world (up to 95 m high) grow here. Geeveston is also the stepping off point for the Tahune AirWalk (a spectacular aerial walkway through the rainforest canopy on the banks of the Huon River) and cruises on Port Huon.
To the south of Geeveston is the fishing port of Dover, with its quaint cottages and English trees was once a convict station. A trip out to three islands in the bay - named Faith, Hope and Charity - is recommended and includes a visit to convict graves on Faith Island. Southport is a sleepy coastal village off the main road. In the early 1800's Southport was a convict station, bustling mill town and international port. Being Tasmania's second largest town at that time, it was proposed as the capital of the colony.
The small town of Hastings is famous for its limestone caves (Hastings Caves; Mystery Creek Caves), thermal springs, Adamson's Falls and Adamson's Peak and local gemstones (Lune River; its post office is the southernmost in Australia). Also on Lune River is the Ida Bay bush railway, originally built to carry limestone.
At the southern end of Recherche Bay where Cockle Creek enters it, a sign marks the southernmost point in Australia to which a motor vehicle can be driven. A walking track from the locality passes through the South West National Park and leads to South East Cape, Australia's most southerly point. It was on the shores of Recherche Bay that French explorer Bruny D'Entrecasteaux repaired his storm-battered ships in 1792. Fish were caught, firewood gathered, charcoal made and a small garden planted. D'Entrecasteaux returned to the bay in January 1793 for more supplies ahead of his long journey home. The bay later became a base for whalers and is today Australia's most southerly settlement.
If you intend to travel the Lower Huon Drive, follow this drive to Huonville. Upon reaching Huonville, rather that right towards Hobart, turn left towards Franklin and follow the Lower Huon Drive (link below).
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. Relatively little is known about the indigenous people's use of these lands, although some shell middens are said to have been found along the shorelines.
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. For the remainder of that century, the area was largely used for farming, and was sparsely populated. In the first half of the 20th century, more large and elegant residences were built, as well as beach shacks and cottages which were used for seaside holidays by the residents of Hobart.
On the foreshore above Taroona Beach there is the grave of a young sailor, Joseph Batchelor, who died on the Sailing Ship Venus in the Derwent Estuary in 1810, and was buried ashore on 28 January 1810. It is reputed to be the oldest European grave in Tasmania, and it is a declared Historical site.
After World War II, significant subdivision of Taroona was undertaken, and the suburb's population rapidly expanded. Having been developed mainly in the "era of the automobile", Taroona was from the beginning a commuter suburb, and it has a notable absence of commercial or retail premises, many of the early retail enterprises having lost the battle with larger supermarkets elsewhere.
Taroona was the childhood home of Tasmanian-born Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, who attended the river-side Taroona High School before completing her high schooling at Mount Nelson's Hobart College and embarking on her tertiary degree at the University of Tasmania.
Lead vocalist of The Seekers, Judith Durham (born Judith Mavis Cock, 3 July 1943) lived in Taroona as a young girl, and attended the Fahan School in Sandy Bay before moving to Melbourne in 1956. She joined The Seekers in 1963.
David Bartlett, former Tasmanian premier (2008), was also raised in Taroona. Gwen Harwood, poet and librettist, lived in Taroona with her family for a number of years in the nineteen fifties.
Truganini Reserve: Just before reaching Taroona is the Truganini Reserve, named after the woman cited (with some contention) as the last surviving "full-blooded" Tasmanian aboriginal. A steep track leads from the reserve through forest up the side of Mount Nelson to the semaphore station at the summit that offers superb views over the Derwent River. The return walk takes around an hour and a half.
Taroona Shot Tower: Shot towers were used in the 18th and 19th centuries in the manufacture of lead shot for weapons. In a shot tower, lead is heated until molten, then dropped through a copper sieve high up in the tower. Tasmania 's only shot tower is at Taroona, south of Hobart. Australia 's first shot tower and hot for muskets, Taroona Shot Tower was built in 1870. Built by Joseph Moir in 1870, it would remain Tasmania 's tallest structure for over 100 years, until superseded by the 61 m ABC tower in Hobart.
One of three surviving in Australia today (the most well known is in the heart of the Melbourne CBD), it is a remarkable tapered structure 48 metres tall and features an internal spiral staircase of pit-sawn timber and an external gallery at its top which was probably used to store firewood for the upper cauldron. The gallery is now a viewing platform. I won 't tell you how many steps there are to the top, as those who make the trek and get the count right are given a certificate to say they climbed it. Entry fees apply.
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.
The headquarters of the Australian Antarctic Division is situated along the Channel Highway between Kingston and Margate. The centre provides support to the field stations in Antarctica. There are public displays of historic items, including Sir Douglas Mawson 's sledge, and photographs from Antarctic expeditions, and information material about Antarctic wildlife.
Where is it?: 15 km south of Hobart. Road access to Hobart is by the Southern Outlet offering speedy travel through a green band of vegetation past Mount Nelson, or the more sedate and scenic Channel Highway via Taroona.
Alum Cliffs Coastal Walk: The Alum Cliffs walkway also offers some eminently photographic views. At the end of the walkway is the Blackmans Bay blowhole. The scenic delights of the area can be enjoyed from the walkway, or on the coastal drive through Blackmans Bay, Tinderbox and Howden or the views of Droughty Point, Bruny Island and D 'Entrecasteaux Channel from Piersons Point.
Blackmans Bay Arch/Blowhole: There is a blowhole near the northern end of Blackmans Bay beach, which in reality is more like a large rock arch where waves can be seen coming in and crashing on the rocks. There are numerous cliffs and viewpoints along Blowhole Road.
Piersons Point Fortifications: With the outbreak of World War II, the Department of Defence acquired land at Piersons Point and South Arm on the opposite bank of the Derwent Estuary. Piersons Point's guns, though no longer used, are still in place. Nearby Goat Bluff was also the location of further underground tunnel systems. The only enemy action to ever affect Hobart happened on 1 August 1942, when a submarine-launched Japanese spy plane flew from the submarine's mooring in Great Oyster Bay south along the east coast of Tasmania, before flying northward along the Derwent River surveying Hobart and then returning to its mother submarine.
Piersons Point Fortifications are off Tinderbox Road East to the south of Tinderbox. The location offers excellent views across D'entrecasteaux Channel to Bruny Island.
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.
Where is it?: 20 km south west of Hobart, 7 km south of Kingston, 6 km north of Snug, on the Channel Highway between North-West Bay and the Snug Tiers.
Margate Train: 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. The Tasman Limited was built in England in 1950 and served as a passenger service between Hobart and Launceston until 1978. Each week at the Margate Train Sunday Market you can browse stalls of antiques and collectables, crafts, second hand clothing, plants, and fresh produce.
Brookfield Margate: The historic Brookfield Shed was built in the early 1940s for a German Man called Eugene Klinger. Its purpose was to collect flower and vegetable seeds for Yates Seeds. The slatted drying floor is still in place. Other uses have been Chandlers Seeds, Hops and a Co-Op Apple shed for Henry Jones and Co. Today the complex is a vineyard, function centre and restaurant/cafe and well worth a visit. The mezzanine floor houses the Tudor Court Model Village and German Model Train World.
The cafe/restaurant 's healthy diverse menu is suitable for both el fresco and indoor dining. The bright canary room offers you a contrast to the mellow theatre that is often filled with the hum of live music. The program of entertainment with both local and international artists is always available on their website.
Inverware Native Gardens: Inverawe Native Gardens is a Tasmanian garden landscaped along traditional landscaping lines. In 2001 this was 22 acres of weeds. Work commeced on the central section and that is the most developed part of the garden. Work continues on more far flung areas.
The gardens were created primarily as a showcase for the natural flora of Tasmania. Plants have been placed in a semi formal landscaped design and walking paths give access to the vast array of plants in its two distinct areas a natural woodlands remnant and a former tidal swamp that has yielded to rich, grassy flats. Rabbit Hill, at the northern end of the grasslands, affords views across the gardens down North West Bay to Bruny Island. Being a fringe habitat, where forest and pasture meet the shoreline, the wetlands and the tidal flats is an ideal place for bird watching. Entry fees apply. Contact: (03) 6267 2020.
Location: 1565 Channel Highway, Margate.
Snug is a small coastal town located on the Channel Highway. Snug is home to the Channel Folk Museum. 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. Subsequently, around the 1840s and 1850s, a small settlement was established at Snug itself. During the 1967 Tasmanian bushfires the town of Snug was devastated, two-thirds of the town's houses were destroyed, along with two churches and half the school.
Pioneer Silicon Industries port facilities at Electrona, 1988
A carbide factory operated at Snug from 1917. The carbide was used in the manufacture of acetylene gas. The Electrona Carbide Works began production of "carbide" (calcium carbide) using lime (from limestone), coke and electric arc furnaces. With falling demand for carbide, and suffering multimillion-dollar losses from plant failure in 1979 after being badly hit by the 1967 bush fires, the carbide smelter was sold to Pioneer Silicon Industries Pty Ltd. This company converted it to a silicon smelter but the plant as never able to make a profit and it finally closed in August 1991. Today, the small residential area of Electrona, built around the site of the plant, is the only reminder of it. Electrona is currently home to some light industries and the residential area of Peggy's Beach.
The Snug Tiers Nature Recreational Area is located 8.7 km west of Margate. Walking tracks lead to a number of waterfalls, including the popular Snug Falls. The walk itself is only 1 hour, 2km return along an undulating trail, making it a great short walk for those in the area. Beginning the walk in dry sclerophyll forest, the trail descends along a clear path to the fern lined gully below Snug Falls. Once at the bottom there are many nooks to explore along the creek. The falls themselves, some 25m high are absolutely beautiful, picturesquely framed between forest, fallen logs and cliff face. Returning to the carpark along the same trail there is a small shelter and seat for walkers.
Walking Track notes >>
Coningham Beach on the southern shore of Snug Bay is one of Tasmania 's most sheltered, offering year-round swimming. The highway eventually leads to Kettering where you can join the vehicular ferry for Bruny Island.
Travellers wanting a short cut across to the Huon Valley can take picturesque Nicholls Rivulet Road to Cygnet between Snug and Kettering. It passes through the Woodbridge Hill area, a 400 ha park characterised by rainforest vegetation and the presence of the rare Bell Everlasting. Woodbridge Hill, which rises 580 m above sea level, is part of the mountain range which runs between the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and the Huon River. Note: this short cut bypasses the southern section of the peninsula.
Kettering and Woodbridge nestle on the coast on D'Entrecasteaux Channel opposite Bruny Island - two tiny settlements across the narrow channel from the island 's low lying hills. Kettering is the launching point to Bruny Island, but is charming in its own right with a sheltered harbour full of yachts and fishing vessels. With its Marina and its regular ferry service to Bruny Island, Kettering is an important tourist mooring and departure point. The Marine Studies Centre at nearby Woodbridge was specifically designed to cater for school children interested in marine biology.
Where is it?: 37 km south of Hobart on the Channel Highway.
The area was first explored by Frenchman Bruni D 'Entrecasteaux in 1792 and was settled in the early 1800s by timber cutters, whalers and sealers. At that time the area was a violent outpost where the local Aborigines were persecuted and maltreated by the sealers and whalers.
More about Kettering >>
Oyster Cove: Oyster Cove, just north of Kettering on Oyster Cove, is where the last Tasmanian Aboriginal settlement was established in 1847. Aborigines from all over Van Diemen's Land had been rounded up some years earlier and isolated on Flinders Island. In 1847 the remnants, now only 44 people, were taken to a reserve at Oyster Cove. By 1855 there were only 16 people left and by 1869 only Truganini remained. She died in 1876 but it was not until 1976 that her ashes were thrown to the winds on the D 'Entrecasteaux Channel.Today the area is noted for its orchards (apples, cherries, pears) and Kettering has become an important service centre for the local farmers.
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 as first settled by Europeans in 1847. Woodbridge as originally named Peppermint Bay; a Post Office by that name as opened on May 15, 1854, hoever the town was renamed Woodbridge in 1881.
Peppermint Bay, Woodbridge: 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.
Grandvewe Farm and Cheesery, at 59 Devlyn's Rd, Birchs Bay, to the south of Woodbridge, specialises in makes premium cheese from sheep's milk. Grandvewe is recognised as one of Tasmania's premier farmhouse dairy experience, producing hand crafted cheeses, gelato and yoghurt from rural Tasmania.
The leftover whey from the cheesery pipes straight downstairs to Hartshorn Distillery, which produces the world's first Sheep Whey Vodka and Gin. Using a secretive cheesemaking process, the lactose from whey is split to its component sugars which are then fermented, distilled and vapour-infused with Australian natives such as wattleseed and the hay-vanilla aroma of sweet vernal grass. The spirit is designed to be sipped neat, in a round copa glass or brandy balloon, so that you can appreciate the delicate flavours and aromatics. Hartshorn Distillery 's Sheep Whey Vodka was awarded the coveted In The Bottle award at the Delicious Harvey Norman Produce Awards 2019.
Art Farm Birchs Bay
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. A visit to the Art Farm includes meandering through fields of Tasmanian native pepper, orchards and an extensive kitchen garden, which supplies the farm cafe - Five Bob Cafe.
Art Farm Birchs Bay hosts exhibitions, artist residencies, workshops and the renowned Sculpture Trail, set over 1.5 km paths winding through farm and native bush, with a stunning backdrop of mountains, Bruny Island and the sea. Location: 3866 Channel Highway, Birchs Bay.