Exploring Southern Tasmania

When you arrive in a capital city, there is always plenty to see and do, but sometimes you just need to get out further and experience more of the region.

Southern Tasmania has plenty on offer during the cooler winter months. While the days still remain bright, the air crisp, you can still easily take advantage of being outdoors and explore what is on offer.

Heading directly south of Hobart takes you though outer Hobart suburb, Kingston, and from there, onto destinations such as Huonville, Dover and Geeveston.

These areas are recognised for their primary production values, including apples, cherries, fish farming and forestry and have a proud place in Tasmania’s history.

A drive to Huonville, about 40 minutes outside Hobart, will have you at the gateway to the far south of Tasmania. Along the way you can stop at the Huon Apple & Heritage Museum, get on board a jet boat for a blast up the Huon River or enjoy a more sedate ride on a paddleboat. A great stop is Home Hill Winery for a bite to eat and try some of Tasmania’s cool climate wine.

Heading further south gets you ever closer to the Hartz Mountain National Park and one of Tasmania’s most iconic tourism attractions, the Tahune Air Walk.

This tree top walkway takes you to new heights above the natural forest of the area, culminating with the suspended cantilever section of the walkway over looking the joining of the two major waterways, the Picton and Huon Rivers.

Or if you are up to it, you could experience a tour of area on the ground through Segway Tasmania, a brilliant and unusual way to experience this incredible Southern wilderness. Trips on this service can be limited, so be sure to book well in advance.

Heading further south you will come across Dover and Port Esperance, a great stop for dinner or overnight before continuing your adventures the next day.

The next stop on the attraction list is Hastings Caves, a National Park featuring the Newdegate Cave system. Here you can learn about the difference in stalagmites and stalactites in a cavern over tens of millions years old. There are guided tours available at various times of the day.

And if you are brave, why not pack the Speedos and give the thermal pool a go – this pool remains on average at 28° Celsius. The pool is fed by rainwater that enters the dolomite cave system. As it descends some 600 metres into the ground it is heated before rising up again under pressure as a natural spring. The Thermal Pool has gone through improvements over the years and now includes a treatment system that ensures that a high quality water supply is delivered via a filter and UV disinfection.

You can round off your Southern trip with a ride onboard the Ida Bay Railway at Lune River. This two hour return trip takes in button grass plains, birdlife and wildflowers alongside the Ida Bay and Lune River estuary. The narrow gauge railway has its history in the Lime mining trade of the 1890s, in fact, some of the passenger carriages are built on the original bogie flat wagons!

Be sure to book in advance for winter, to ensure you have the right departure times and that the railway is operating the day of your arrival.

The furthest south by car you get is Cockle Creek, the entry to the magnificent Southwest National Park. Cockle Creek is home to many shacks and is a great place for the kids to enjoy the pristine air and white sand of Tasmania. There are no shops or man made attractions here, just the start of the wild Tasmanian wilderness, a sight to enjoy and remember.

Instead of going far south, heading to Sorell and then south from here takes you to the Tasman Peninsula. This area of Tasmania includes towns such as Dunalley, Eagle Hawk Neck, “Doo” Town and Tasmania’s most recognised convict settlement, Port Arthur.

Must see stops along this route include stopping at the lookout at Eagle Hawk Neck and gazing out to the Tasman Sea. On a fine day, it feels like you can see for miles. A short two minute drive and five minute walk will then find you on the tessellated pavement, an amazing erosional ocean shore formation that looks like formed manmade paving.

A quick cup of coffee to warm back up and five minutes off the Arthur Highway you can travel through iconic “Doo” Town at Pirates Bay. This 1930’s shack town has a history of naming properties with some element of “Doo” in their name.  Some examples include Doo Nothing, Gunnadoo, Doo Little, This Will Doo and Love Me Doo.

Continuing on past Doo Town will find you at the car park of the Tasman Blowhole. This spectacular and unusual formation has been carved through rock by the sea. The tunnel, particularly at high tide, has water forced through it sending the sea spurting up to 10 metres into the air. The great thing about this attraction is that it is literally right at the car park – so no long walks are involved.

Heading back to the Arthur Highway and continuing south you will find Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park at Taranna. This park is all about protecting and conserving the Tasmanian icon from the threat of facial tumours, but at the same time, helping visitors get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. The park is actually the only one of its kind located in an isolated disease free location, making it extra important to the long-term survival of the species.

A short drive further south and you will arrive at Port Arthur and the well know historic prison site. This iconic Penal Settlement started life as a timber station in 1830, but by 1833 it was a destination for the hardest of Irish and British criminals, sent to the end of the world for their crimes.

The location has had a chequered past, but is an incredible step back in time to a completely different way of life for many of our original settlers. The site is now on the National Heritage List along with the coal mines just out of Saltwater River on the road to Lime Bay.

There are many options to explore Port Arthur including guided tours or self discovery options, either way you’ll need a day to fully appreciate the site and to really take in the full size of the attraction. Besides, if you don’t stay a day and night you’ll miss out on a night ghost tour, a great way to end your Port Arthur and Southern Tasmania experience.

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