Lower Huon Valley Drive
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.
Location: South and south-west of Hobart, Tasmania, beside the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Huon Rover and Port Huon.
Length: - 304 km.
Minimum Duration (one way): 6 hours
This drive begins at Huonville, to the south of Hobart. To reach Huonville from Hobart, leave the city via Davey Street. As you exit the central business district, you have the choice of taking Huon Road, which winds itself through the countryside to Huonville, or take the Southern Outlet to Kingston, then Huon Highway to Huonville. The latter is the quicker of the two. A third option is to take the longest but most scenic route - The Huon Trail. Leave 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). Use our guide to follow The Huon Trail as far as Huonville, then reverse to this guide (link below).
Either of the three options detailed about take you to Honville, which is the main town and the region and most facilities can be found here. At Huonville you can visit the Huon Apple and Heritage Museum, take a jet boat ride up the river, or a more leisurely cruise on the MV Southern Contessa. From Huonville, head south towards Franklin (wooden boat centre), following the bank of the Huon River.
What You Will See
Beyond Franklin is Geeveston (Forest and Heritage Centre), 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).
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.
The town of 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.
Where is it?: 39 km south west of Hobart on the Huon Highway, in the Huon Valley.
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.
Huon Valley Apple Museum and Heritage Centre is a typical local folk museum with memorabilia, gifts and, in season, lots of apples for sale.
Huonville was not originally intended as the site of a town. Nearby Ranelagh was laid out as the town of Victoria in colonial days. Huonville grew around the bridge crossing the Huon River and hotels at the bridge. Today the Huon Valley is best known as one of Tasmania's primary apple growing areas. Once enormous in its extent, the significance of the industry has declined steadily since the 1950s and today cherries and fish farming are the rising commercial stars of the district.
A sleepy timber milling town on the eastern shores of the Huon River. It supports orchards and dairy farming. Franklin South has become well known for the Craft and Apple Houses at the southern end of the village. Where is it?: 45 km south west of Hobart, 6 km south of Huonville in the Huon Valley. Ye Olde Franklin Tavern is a pleasant historic pub beside the road which proudly announces that it was established in 1853 and the jetty beside the river which was once used as a major point for shipping timber and fruit from the area. In the river at Franklin is the long narrow strip of land known as Egg Island.
The Wooden Boat Centre
The Wooden Boat Centre sits alongside the jetty and is a great place to visit. You can watch craftsmen and trainees building wooden boats from complicated plans. To fulfil their lifetime ambition, trainees pay for the unique experience and dedicate countless hours of labour in achieving their goal.
The River To Rainforest Experience is a truly inspirational full day tour combines a visit to historic Franklin's wooden ship-building centre with a stroll on the airwalk at Tahune. This diverse and culturally-rich tour follows the story of the famous Huon Pine, from river to rainforest, and how the forest, landscapes, culture, and farming have made the Huon Valley what it is today. A 2-day option is available, where the sailing is on a separate day, and can be packaged with overnight accommodation.
The Egg Islands
The towns of Franklin and Cradoc lay on opposite banks of the Huon River. In between these two centres, situated midstream, are the North and South Egg Islands. During early European settlement, the Egg Islands - located a stone's throw from the township of Franklin - were utilised for stock grazing, fruit and vegetable growing, timber harvesting, duck hunting and greyhound training, with some sources even reporting a football oval to have once existed on one of the islands. Little evidence of this use remains today and the islands are now an untouched wilderness hideaway and conservation sanctuary.
The location of the islands made water travel between Franklin and Cradoc difficult. In order to facilitate better navigation between the towns, convict labour was used to cut a canal through South Egg Island in 1838. At some point in the subsequent years the canal became impassable so a second canal was cut across North Egg Island in the 1870 s. This canal was 10 feet wide and 4 feet deep, but it soon followed the footsteps of its southern counterpart silting up and becoming un-navigable. Work began on re-excavating the original canal on South Egg Island in 1884. A team of horses dragging a dredge was used to make the cutting. The canal was widened to a width of 20 feet and the depth was increased to 8 feet. It is still popular with kayakers and boaters.
Just a few kilometres north of Geeveston is Port Huon, a small community with big, sweeping views of the Huon River, Bruny Island, D'Entrecasteaux Channel and the Hartz Mountains. Port Huon was once a busy trading port and the destination for international apple boats that transported and exported the region's famous apples to the world. The original port remains and is a quaint reminder of the glory days of apple growing. Today, Port Huon is a departure point for boat cruises up the Huon River. It's also a great place to stop and take in the views.
A small timber milling and apple growing town, Geeveston is the gateway to the rugged Hartz Mountains National Park. Some of the tallest hardwood trees in the world (up to 95 m high) grow around here. Geeveston is also the stepping off point for the Tahune AirWalk and cruises on Port Huon.
Australian Paper Mills pulp mill at Hospital Bay was opened in 1962 and its deep sea wharf is capable of loading two ships simultaneously.
Where Is it?: 62 km south west of Hobart, 12 km west of Cygnet, in the Huon Valley.
The Forest & Heritage Centre, which details the history of the timber industry in the area, is located in Geeveston. Outside the Centre is one of many chainsaw-crafted statues of some of the region's memorable personalities dotted around town. A sportsman who has been honoured this way is dual silver-medal winning Olympian, rower Simon Burgess (above).
The town's most overt symbol (it is impossible to miss as you drive through town on the Huon Highway) is the huge trunk of a Swamp Gum (eucalyptus regnans) logged in Arve Valley on 10 December 1971. A sign on the side of the trunk proudly declares that the length is 15.8 m, the girth 6.7 m, it weighs 57 tonnes and its volume 56.7 cubic metres.
Platypus Walk, Kermandie River
The visitors centre has beautiful wood turning demonstrations, displays, as well as items of good quality for purchase. You might also see a platypus living in a wild near the centre. There is a map outside the centre that shows the way to a platypus lookout. The lookout is only about 5-10 mins walk from the centre along the Kermandie river. You can see a platypus at any time of the day, although, after dawn and pre dusk are definitely the best times. Be aware that these are wild animals in their natural surrounds and no a wildlife park, so there is no guarantee that platypus ill be sighted. Lcation: 15 Church Street, Geeveston.
Whilst in Geeveston, you might like to check out The Wall of Lollies, a popular sweet shop at 20 Church St, Geeveston; The Aurora Fae Studio Gallery at 22 Church St, Geeveston; Arve Art Gallery at 22 Church St, Geevestonl; The Red Door Larder at 20C Church St, Geeveston; The Farmhouse Kitchen at nearby Wattle Grove (292 Sunday Hill Rd.)
Hartz Mountains National Park
Hartz Mountains National Park is a window into the south-west wilderness, offering views of remote mountain ranges as far as the southern coast. As well as spectacular views of a landscape which has been shaped by glaciers during past ice ages, the park offers a variety of unique features. Waterfalls tumble off the dolerite range that runs through the centre of the park and small glacial lakes dot the plateau. The park contains a wide variety of vegetation from wet eucalypt forest and rainforest through to alpine heath on the exposed mountain tops.
The park was included in Tasmania s Wilderness World Heritage Area in 1989, in recognition of its spectacular natural and cultural values. Take your time and enjoy short strolls out to the glacial lakes in the area, or try the more challenging walks up to the range top. Its highest point, Hartz Peak (1255 m), provides panoramic views into the heart of the southwest.
Wildlife: Most animals in the park are nocturnal, however echidnas and platypus are sometimes observed during the day. In the evening Bennetts wallabies, Tasmanian pademelons and brushtail possums are often seen.
Day visitor facilities: The park facilities are basic, with a toilet, water and picnic shelter available near the entrance to the Waratah Lookout track. The shelter has an open fireplace, free gas barbecue, and tables. Firewood is supplied and a recycling station is provided for rubbish collection.
Walks: The Hartz Mountains experience typical south-west weather conditions. This can be a wild, inhospitable and isolated place. Rain falls on more than 220 days of the year so it is necessary to carry waterproofs and warm clothing with you at all times. In all seasons there can be snow, high rainfall, extremes of temperature, strong winds and sudden weather changes, which can provide a dramatic contrast to conditions in the forested lowlands you have just passed through. The current weather forecast should be checked before heading to the park.
It is important to register your walk, even the shortest one, at the registration booth next to the carpark. Don t forget to sign out at the end of your walk. But remember that this book is usually not checked by rangers until a group is reported overdue. The raised boardwalk on many tracks can become difficult when covered in ice or snow.
There is an array of short walks to do in this park to help you experience its special features. You won't need special footwear for the short walks, though comfortable and solid walking shoes are a good idea. Thise are all highly recommended.
Waratah Lookout (5 minute return walk): This walk is a great introduction to this park, giving you a look out over the forests you have just driven through. Starting near the Waratah Picnic Shelter, a very easy gravel track leads to a viewing platform overlooking the Huon Valley. Old myrtle forest grows immediately below the lookout, with views of forest across the Huon Valley to the Wellington Range. But don t forget to stop to look at the interesting plants beside the track. On visits in December and January you will be treated to a blaze of red from the Tasmanian waratah in flower.
Arve Falls (20 minute return walk): A leisurely walk follows the path of the Arve River through alpine herbfield and snowgum woodland to the edge of the plateau where the Arve Falls tumble into the valley below. Signs along the way tell you about the landscape and its special plants. This walk starts from a small car park about 1 km past the Waratah Picnic Shelter.
Lake Osborne (40 minutes return): If you want to experience the many varieties of forest and moorland then this walk is an ideal start. A gentle uphill climb through forest takes you across the Hartz Plateau to this picturesque glacial lake. You will pass through a grove of young rainforest, containing myrtles, sassafras and pandani. Beyond the forest look out for the Devils Marbles, large boulders dumped onto the plateau by glaciers. A section of woodland and open moorland then leads you to the lake which is fringed with ancient King Billy pines. You can also learn, from signs along the trail, the story of how fire and ice have shaped this landscape and its vegetation.
For the adventurous walker, there are numerous walking trails on which you may encounter steep terrain and sections of track which are wet, muddy or rough underfoot. You will need good footwear, preferably walking boots. A warm hat and gloves, as well as gaiters and overpants, should be worn or carried in addition to your usual walking gear.
Lake Esperance (2 hrs return): A fascinating walk through woodland and snowgums, up to the high country where cushion plants and ancient King Billy pines encircle the lake. You may hear the haunting call of the mountain currawong as you wander along the plateau. A short distance along the track you will pass a memorial to Sydney and Arthur Geeves, who perished near here in 1897 in the harsh blizzard conditions that can occur here at any time.
Hartz Pass (3.5 hours return): This is an ideal place to get a view into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, but is a steep uphill climb. You will need to be a reasonably fit walker.
Hartz Peak (5 hours return): Hartz Peak is the highest point of the Hartz Mountains, and in fine weather the summit offers one of the best views of the south-west. The jagged outline of Federation Peak can be seen on the horizon. This is a relatively easy walk compared to some in the area, and perhaps the best to experience the mountains, glacial lakes and alpine moors of Tasmania s World Heritage Listed South West Wildnerness region without having to embark on a multi-day cross country hike. Credited with having the highest view/effort ratio of any walk in Southern Tasmania, you will see Federation Peak, Precipitous Bluff, Eastern Arthurs, Mt Weld, Snowy South, and Frenchmans Cap on a clear day. All walking paths are wintin Hartz Mts National Park. Access to the mountains is via Geeveston.
How to get there: In Geeveston turn right on the Arve Road (C632), which is clearly signposted for Hartz Mountains National Park. Much of the C632 is a winding, steep, but good quality sealed road. A sign marks the turn-off to the park. The last section of the road continues for 10.5 km and is unsealed and can sometimes be closed by snow. Check the local road conditions by phoning (03) 6264 8460 if in doubt.
Tahune Forest AirWalk
Tahune Forest AirWalk is a spectacular aerial walkway through the rainforest canopy on the banks of the Huon River. It offers breathtaking views of the forest canopy from spine-tingling swinging bridges across the Huon and Picton Rivers. With breathtaking views of the forest canopy, spine-tingling swinging bridges across the Huon and Picton Rivers, and Tasmanian food and wine in the licensed cafe, there's a full day of fun for the whole family.
Whether you're looking for a peaceful forest ramble or are up for a more challenging hike, one of Tahune's trails is sure to fit the bill. Pick your own path to the AirWalk by taking time out to enjoy one of the many forest walks en route, all clearly signposted along the Arve Road.
Opening Times: check the website.
A small fishing port with quaint cottages and English trees, it was once a convict station. Dover is an important centre for both apple orchards and the salmon, abalone and cray fishing industries. Dover can legitimately claim to be the southern most town of significance in Australia. There are villages further south but Dover is the last place where you can buy petrol and supplies. Some of the villages on Bruny Island are further south and, inevitably, there is a long standing argument between the hotel in Alonnah on Bruny Island and the Dover Hotel as to which is the most southern hotel in Australia.
Where is it?: 83 km south west of Hobart, in the Huon Valley. Dover lies beside the waters of Esperance Bay and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, with the imposing figure of Adamson's Peak in the background.
Dover enjoys a moderate climate, sheltered from the prevailing cold winds by Bruny Island, and is frequented by tourists keen to experience the idyllic coastal scenery or those eager to explore the deep wilderness further south.
A trip out to three islands in the bay - named Faith, Hope and Charity - is recommended. The three islands were named perhaps to inspire the convicts held at the original probation station. The smallest of the three islands in Esperance Bay, Faith Island, was known in earlier times as Dead Island. When the Dover Convict Probation Station was in use between late 1844 and 1848, numerous convicts were buried here, hence its early name. Cruises and charters take in the stunning waterways of the Huon Valley and Far South. Peninsula Cruising offer Half Day and Full Day charters or we can tailor a package/time to suit your schedule. More information: Peninsula Cruising, 51 Bay View Rd, Dover. Phone: (03) 6298 1441
The town's locality was named Port Esperance by the French explorer, Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, who charted the area in 1792. Dover was originally established as a convict probation station. Here, inmates transitioned to the status of a pass-holder, eligible to be assigned to employers and earn wages while still serving their time in the penal system. There is now little evidence of the town's penal past. All that remains is the well preserved (and privately owned) Commandant's Office which is located next to the Caravan Park on Beach Road.
Hastings Caves State Reserve offers visitors a variety of from relaxing in the warm waters of a thermal springs pool, walking in the rich forests of the reserve and, of course, the unique experience of exploring Newdegate Cave on a guided tour.
Both the thermal pool and the trail which leads through the surrounding forests are accessible to wheelchair users. Named after Sir Francis Newdegate, the Governor of Tasmania from 1917-1920, Newdegate Cave is the largest tourist cave in Australia which occurs in dolomite, rather than limestone. Adamson's Falls and Adamson's Peak, the Mystery Creek Caves are accessed from Hastings.
A sleepy coastal village off the main road. In the early 1800?s Southport was a convict station, bustling mill town and international port. Shore-based whaling took place at Southport in the 19th century. Being Tasmania's second largest town at that time, it was proposed as the capital of the colony. A declining shipping industry slowly led to the town's shrinking population, and much of it has been destroyed by fire.
Today, Southport is just a nice quiet spot to relax, go swimming, sail the calm waters of Southport Bay, walk on the beach or a little fishing. Roaring Beach and Lady Bay rewards the traveller with beautiful white sand beaches and bull kelp near the rocky headlands.
Where is it?: 104 km south west of Hobart, in the Huon Valley.
Southport was named because it was the southernmost port beyond Hobart. The locality had been named Mussel Bay on 7 February, 1793 by Charles-Francois Beautemps-Beaupre, a hydrographer and cartographer travelling with Bruni D'Entrecasteaux on the L'Esperance, who was mapping Southport Bay. He named it the bay 'Baie des Moules' (Mussel Bay). It was subsequently changed to Southport.
In 1837 a settlement was established with a Police Magistrate and a small number of troops. It was an important whaling station from the 1830s to the 1850s. Between 1841-1848 Southport as the site of a convict Probation Station. By the mid nineteenth century, timber workers were in the area searching for stands of sassafras, huon pine and stringy bark. It became Tasmania's second largest town and was proposed as the capital of the colony. From the 1860s-1920s it was a bustling mill town and international port shipping valuable timber to Europe.
Lunaris Gemstone Museum shop has a comprehensive display of fossils and agates fromthe local gem fields as well as minerals, rocks and fossils from around the world.
There is a monument on Southport Bluff (40 minute walk from the road) to the convict ship George III which was wrecked off the coast in 1835 with the loss of 94 passengers near the end of a voyage from Woolwich to Hobart Town. It is said that the guards on the ship, fearful that the convicts would panic if the ship went down, shot indiscriminately into the ship's hold. This is supported by the peculiar death toll which saw 81 convicts lose their lives while only 13 passengers and crew were drowned. The loss of the George III was the third worst shipping disaster confirmed in Tasmanian waters, after the Cataraqui and Neva. Note: the monument may be closed to the public because it is home to a highly endangered Tasmanian heath species (Epacris stuartii).
The Southport Lagoon Conservation Area, which covers 4,280 ha, lies between Southport and Recherche Bay. It includes the George III Monument Historic Site, the Ida Bay State Reserve and the Lune River estuary.
Fossicking on Lune River
The Lune River
100 km south of Hobart beyond the Huon River lies the Lune River gemfields. The collecting area is about 1 km south of the old Ida Bay township on Lune River Road in an area east of Lune Sugarloaf. Yields include petrified wood and ferns, agate and jasper. More info. Ph (03) 6297 1501
A quiet, idyllic bay in the far south of Tasmania beyond the Huon Valley. There are a three small settlements on Recherche Bay - Catamaran, Recherche Bay and Cockle Creek. These are the most southern communities in Australia. A signpost at Cockle Creek marks the most southerly point in Australia accessible by motor vehicle. The southern tip of Tasmania, Australia s southern extremity, which marks the beginning of the South West Walk, is just an hour s walk away.
Where is it?: 80 km south of Southport.
The bay was the first landing place of French explorer Bruny D'Entrecasteaux in 1792 who came ashore here for water and stayed for a number of weeks to rest his crew and complete maintenance on his ships. Coal found on North Point by D'Entrecasteaux was mined by a team of 43 convicts from 1841 to 1848. Mining was abandoned because of seepage in its two shafts caused by the mine being so close to sea level.
During the early colonial days, some thirty years after D'Entrecasteaux's visit, the bay became a centre for whaling.
It was at Recherche Bay that the last iron barque to sail Australia's shores, the James Craig, now restored and on display in Sydney, NSW, was scuttled at her moorings in 1932. The ship was abandoned on a mooring on the western shore (where the main road is located) just into the top half of the kidney and was left abandoned until 1972.
Visit of Bruny D'Entrcasteaux: In the autumn of 1792 a pair of storm-battered French ships, their crews weather beaten and tired, gratefully dropped anchor in waters off Tasmania's south-east coast. The ships were Recherche, under command of expedition leader, Rear Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, and Esperance, under Commander Huon de Kermadec. The peaceful waterway was later named D'Entrecasteaux Channel and the kidney-shaped bay they chose for their rest and repair became known as Recherche Bay. D'Entrecasteaux's was a high profile dual-purpose expedition. His mission was to search for the lost maritime hero, La Perouse, but also to undertake top-level scientific research including astronomy and research into the Earth's geomagnetic field.
La Perouse was never found, and neither D'Entrecasteaux nor his ships ever returned to France. But return to Recherche Bay they did. On 22nd January 1793, the two great ships once again dropped anchor on the "very good bottom" of this calm bay. "It is difficult to express the sensations we felt," wrote the ship's botanist, Jacques Labillardiere, "at finding ourselves at length sheltered in this solitary harbour at the extremity of the globe, after having been so long driven to and fro in the ocean by the violence of the storms."
Cross over Catamaran River and Cockle Creek Road continues through the tiny settlement of Cataman to Cockle Creek. After passing Bruni D'Entrecasteaux's watering place historic site the road crosses Cockle Creek, then loops around a small bay and stops at Bottoms Green Campsite. This is the set-off point for the South Coast Walking Track and the southern tip of Australia.
A sign announces that you have reached "The End of The Road" - you are now standing in Australia's most southern street and there is no further point south of here in Australia that can be reached by road. Visitors to Cockle Creek must return to Hobart by the way they came - along Cockle Creek Road and Huon Hwy via Geeveston and Huonville.
During the early colonial days, Recherche Bay became a centre for whaling, and Cockle Creek a campsite for whalers during their annual stay in the area. Their visit is recalled in the Whale Sculpture on the coast here.
Cockle Creek is the starting point for walks to South East Cape and South west Cape walks, and the South Coast Track, a 7 day walk along some of the wildest, most isolated coastline in Australia. Beyond where the bridge crosses Cockle Creek, a track continues south. Though fairly rough it can be negotiated by 2 wheel drive vehicles. If driving between dusk and dawn, please be aware that you are sharing the road with wildlife.
Southwest National Park
The magnificent Southwest National Park encompasses over six hundred thousand hectares of wild, inspiring country and forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The park, the largest in Tasmania, epitomises the granduer and spirit of wilderness in its truest sense. Much of the park is remote and far removed from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. For many, just the fact that such a place still exists brings solace. For others, the region offers the challenge to explore areas that retain the same wildness that once characterised new frontiers. For yet others, the area offers the chance to view magnificent scenery from the comfort of their car.
In the southeast, the park is accessible from Cockle Creek the most southerly point able to be reached by road in Australia. From Cockle Creek, the magnificent south coast is able to be reached along a walking track. From the coast, the South Coast Track continues to Melaleuca, a 7 day walk along some of the wildest coastline in Australia. Melaleuca itself is accessible by air or boat only. Here, in the far southwest of Tasmania, lies the spectacular Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour.
The drive along the Gordon River Road to Strathgordon is nothing short of spectacular. The greatest asset of this national park is the sheer scale of its wilderness regions. On a fine day, a drive along this road will be a memorable experience. It begins at Mt Field National Park, beyond New Norfolk in the Upper Derwent Valley.
Some of the best fishing in Australia can be found in the Southwest National Park, while bushwalkers will find some of Australia s premier wilderness walks, including the South Coast and Port Davey Tracks. There is also a range of less demanding walks, including the popular Creep Crawly Trail.
The Bathurst Harbour - Port Davey region is an excellent example of a drowned river valley. Beneath the waters of Bathurst Channel lives a range of fascinating marine species, such as sea pens. These animals are usually found in much deeper water. In the Channel, the dark, tannin-stained water allows the sea pens to thrive in very shallow water.
How to get there: The Southwest National Park encompasses much of the southwest wilderness region of Tasmania. It can be accessed by road in two ways:
via Maydena Allow 2 1/2 to 3 hours from Hobart to reach the northern boundary of the Southwest National Park. From the Lyell Highway (A10) at New Norfolk take route B62 past Mt Field National Park to Maydena. The Gordon River Road (B61) continues to Strathgordon and the Gordon Dam. At Frodsham Pass on the Gordon River Road, a winding gravel road turns off to Scotts Peak and the Huon Campground. Fuel is not available past Maydena, and at Maydena opening hours and supplies are limited it would be wise to get petrol at Westerway.
via Cockle Creek Cockle Creek is about 2 hours drive south from Hobart. It is reached via the Huon Highway (A6) through Geeveston. Take the C635 past the Hastings Caves turn off then follow the C636 gravel road through Lune River to Cockle Creek. The last stages of the road are fairly rough but can be negotiated by 2 wheel drive vehicles.
If driving between dusk and dawn, please be aware that you are sharing the road with wildlife.
Fligthts to Melaleuca: Located the far southwest, Melaleuca is accessible only by light plane, or boat. The airstrip is close to walkers huts, and is the usual starting point for walkers on the South Coast Track. Par Avion operates Southest Wilderness Experience flights to Melaleuca. Departing from Hobart, flights pass the Derwent River, Bruny Island and follow the stunning coastline through the Southwest National Park, landing at Melaleuca Airport. Guests then take to the water and explore the pristine waterways of The Port Davey Marine Reserve taking in Waterfall Bay and the Breaksea Islands.
After a gourmet lunch featuring Tasmanian produce, guests disembark the vessel and explore the Melaleuca Museum and the Neewonnee Walk, a monument to the rich indigenous history of the area. Returning to the skies, guests head inland over The Arthur Range, arguably Tasmania's most spectacular mountain range. Taking in Mount Picton and The Huon Valley, they return to Hobart via Mount Wellington for a birds-eye view of the capital before landing back at Cambridge.
South Coast Track
This rugged cross country trail passes through the Southwest National Park in Tasmania. The Park is an unforgettable, enormous area of World Heritage wilderness that is remote, ancient, and epic in its proportions. The Roaring Forties lash the park for much of the year, adding to the drama. This walk is recognised as one of the world's great wilderness walks and its reputation is justified. The track takes walkers through the heart of over 600,000 hectares of wild, untouched and challenging country into which, unlike the famous Overland Track, there are no roads. Most people take approximately 6 - 8 days to complete the South Coast Track.
South Cape Walks
South East Cape
South East Cape Bay Walk: This one-day walk takes in part of the famous South Coast Track, beginning at the small town of Cockle Creek on Recherche Bay. Visitors observe native plants and birds as they cross coastal heathland, enjoy ocean views and gaze out over the expanse of the Southern Ocean imagining the distance between themselves and the nearest landmass of Antarctica.
A highlight of the walk is South East Cape, which is the southernmost point of the main island of Tasmania, and the most southerly point in Australia to which you can walk - next stop Antarctica! Islands of the Maatsuyker and Pedra Branca island groups, as well as the subantarctic Macquarie Island, lie further south than South East Cape and are also part of the state of Tasmania. South East Cape is one of the Five Southernmost Capes that can be rounded by Southern Ocean sailors. The return walk is about 15kms and despite what the signs say it takes a good 5 hours but it is worth it.
- South East Cape track notes >>
South West Cape
South West Cape Walk: South West Cape lies about 64 km west and 8 km north of South East Cape. It lies on the south-western corner of the Southwest National Park approximately 140 km south of Hobart in Tasmania, and about 65 km west and a little north of South East Cape. The cape is south of Low Rocky Point and Point Hibbs. Wrecks and foundering of boats up to 500 km away in distance, are usually referred to this cape as an identification point, and mapping of the area usually uses the cape as a boundary between sections of the coast.South Cape Bay track notes >>