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Ah, the Huon Valley – the land of apple crops, giant trees, vineyards and…huskies?

Bordering the Huon River and dense forest reserves is Lonnavale – a small suburb with little more than 100 inhabitants…and 35 resident sled dogs.

In this lush hamlet, Prue and Peter deVries have transformed their serene organic farm into a rambunctious doggy residence. Every Off Season, the couple and their many dogs take guests on thrilling Sled Dog Adventures Tasmania expeditions.

"We didn't plan to have sled dogs and run sled-dog tours," Peter deVries says, "we just found ourselves in a position where we could rescue some dogs and give them a home."

The deVries’ sloping green property has everything a canine could desire: trampolines, swimming dams, spacious yards and cosy, straw-filled kennels. Tall fences corral the Siberian huskies, though they do little to quieten the chorus of howls within.

The vast property encompasses colourful, wet tracts of forest – a winter playground through which the agile dogs pull four-wheeled passenger carts. It’s a simple formula: cool weather, teamwork and outdoor activity make for happy huskies.

Two husky dogs stand in a grassy inclosure.

"The colder it is, the more the dogs love to run."

"Their enthusiasm is quite intoxicating so, when they're getting ready for a run, they get very excited and very noisy, and you also feel that adrenaline." Peter says.

As the dogs set into their running rhythm, their "little sounds of joy or excitement" turn into concentrated silence.

"They're actually just in their own little zone and doing what they love."

A man wearing a cap wit ha bushy beard crouches to pat a husky sitting on a wood platform.
A husky with Peter deVries at Sled Dog Adventures Tasmania.
Tourism Tasmania

Sled Dog Adventures Tasmania takes guests on an exhilarating dash over hills, around corners and along narrow trails. Cold winds whip the faces of passengers as the dogs unleash their pent-up energy – passing frosty plains, misty trees and ponds glowing in the slanting sunlight. Whether beneath baby-blue skies or steely rainclouds, it’s a mesmerising scene.

Winter used to be a time of rest for Peter and Prue, but these days, they have a reason to rug up and embrace the cold at first light.

“It’s just nice to be out there with them,” Peter says.

“[Even if it’s] pouring with rain and blowing a gale, the dogs are still excited about going for a run. You’re watching the dogs and you sort of forget about what the weather’s doing.”

A pair of husky dogs wearing harnesses.
A husky at Sled Dog Adventures Tasmania.
Tourism Tasmania

Having grown up on Tasmania’s south-east coast, Peter is no stranger to the island’s distinctive cold season. He’s found plenty of ways to enliven the darker months, from hearty stews to bracing ocean swims.

"When we're out doing tours, we have a nice fire going," Peter says, "so, we can sit by the fire. We spend all day with the dogs."

The Off Season brings the couple closer to their woolly rescue animals – each possessing unique personalities and living their canine lives with a contagious "don't worry, don't care attitude".

"We like all of the dogs for their different little quirky things," Peter says, "they're very accepting dogs, of whatever comes their way."

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