Seek out subterranean adventure in the island’s darkest depths.
Beneath Tasmania’s surface is a hidden network of caves, caverns, gushing waterfalls and mirror-still reflection pools. This is the realm of glittering glow-worms and dark-dwelling cave spiders and beetles.
In the island’s north, Mole Creek Karst National Park alone has more than 300 known caves, carved out of the rugged limestone landscape.
In the Off Season, these subterranean labyrinths are transformed by water.
“Who cares if it’s wet and cold? I'd rather be underground in winter than anywhere else,” Hunter says.
Winter in the caves is when everything comes alive – the animals are more vibrant in the caves and the nature experience itself is authentic.
Stepping into the belly of these wild and undeveloped caves is like walking into an alternate universe. Within minutes, the light fades, the air fills with earthy aromas, and the sound of water flowing over rocks replaces the wind in the trees above ground.
"We know there’s going to be water in the winter, but we might end up going 30m down, or only 20m, and popping in and out of holes watching waterfalls and seeing all this water running in the passages below,” Hunter says.
"There might be snow on the mountain above the caves one day, and then the rain comes and washes it down through the cave."
Hunter’s wild winter water caves tour is a portal into an underground realm that most people never experience. Hunter has been caving here since the 1970s, and her skill and passion shine brightly in the inky darkness.
On the tour, which is open to people with no caving experience, Hunter shares her extensive knowledge of the caves and their natural and cultural values. She delves into science, palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) culture, environmental conservation, fossils and fauna, as she deftly leads small groups through narrow passages, across flowing streams and into dark nooks.
We will take you deeper into nature than you ever knew was possible.
“It isn't for the faint-hearted. This is a serious undertaking.
“It's such a different world that it's inhabited by specialist animals that are found nowhere else… The walls of this cave are festooned with fossils that lived in warm shallow seas 450 to 500 million years ago.”
Hunter’s energy and enthusiasm for this remarkable part of northern Tasmania is contagious.
“What I love about winter is the whole package. If we get wet and cold in the caves, we're going to retire to a warm eating place and a warm bed at night, and then get up and do another adventure in the morning,” she says.
“I'm privileged to be able to live here.”
Immerse yourself in Hunter’s world for a few hours – a place of unexpected beauty, curious creatures and otherworldly Off Season ambience.
Hunting for truffles
On the outskirts of Deloraine, Anna Terry and her dogs dig for hidden treasure in the frosty earth among the 5000-odd trees of the Truffle Farm. During winter, while many crops lie dormant, the aromatic black truffles are ready for harvest. Rug up and join the hunt.Read more
Meet our seasoned Off Seasoners – artists, hikers, makers and musos – and open the door to winter with a sassy spin. The Off Season Community is your personal invitation to embrace the cooler weather, banish the winter doldrums and fall asleep with a satisfied grin.Come on in