Once the hub of Tasmania’s apple-growing industry, the Huon Valley has well and truly broadened its palate.
The apples have become cider, and fine wine pours from its vineyards, while fresh produce can be easily found at roadside stalls and valley eateries.
Add to the mix the Huon Valley’s natural assets and you have a compelling combination – the peaks of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area run along the valley’s western edge, while the namesake Huon River winds gently through before pouring into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
- Plunge underground at Hastings Caves.
- Walk high in the forest canopy on the Tahune Airwalk.
- Hike to South Cape Bay for a look at Australia’s southern tip.
- Sample some cider – the new apple of the Huon’s eye.
The town of Huonville is a 30min drive (38km) south-west of Hobart.
Things to do
Go as far south as you can get on the walk to South Cape Bay, where the Southern Ocean thunders ashore and Australia’s southernmost point – South East Cape – is almost in reach. The walk (4hr return, 15.4km) forms the eastern end of the week-long South Coast Track. Scale one of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area’s most accessible mountains on the walk (3-5hr return, 7.4km) to the summit of Hartz Peak, or head to different heights on Tahune Airwalk. This 600m canopy walk hovers high above the forest floor, with a cantilevered platform hanging 50m above the Huon River.
Hastings Caves State Reserve
Discover the rich beauty beneath the earth on a guided ranger tour through Newdegate Cave, Australia’s largest dolomite tourist cave. The temperature inside the cave, which is naturally furnished with an array of stalactites and stalagmites, is a constant nine degrees. Warm up in the 28-degree waters of the reserve’s mineral-rich thermal pool, or follow the 10min walk behind the pool for a chance to spot an elusive platypus.
Wooden Boat Centre
Take a 45min tour through the workshop of this centre that preserves the ancient art of handcrafting timber boats. Inspired by what you see? The centre, which sits on the bank of the Huon River in Franklin, is the only school in Australia teaching traditional wooden-boat construction. It runs a series of boat-building courses that run as short as five days, making timber oars and spars or a skin-on-frame kayak.
With a reputation founded on food, this region remains an enticing one for gourmands. At Fat Pig Farm, Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans and Sadie Chrestman take what’s great from the garden and paddocks of their Huon Valley farm and turn it into long lunches, with guided walks around the farm between courses. Filling a former apple canning factory in Cygnet, the Port Cygnet Cannery delivers a menu filled with produce from its own farm at nearby Gardners Bay. Cook up your own storm at a class at the Farmhouse Kitchen, with options ranging from traditional pasta masterclasses to winter warmers and tiramisu.
The Huon Valley’s apple heritage lives on, in liquid form, across a range of cideries. Get to the core at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed (also home to the Charles Oates Distillery, producing fine apple spirits), Frank’s Cider House and Pagan Cider. Winery cellar doors in the region include Home Hill Winery, Kate Hill Wines and Mewstone Wines, which opened in late 2021 with a lofty outlook across the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island. Head to Dover to find Bakehouse Distillery, making the world’s first sassafras spirit.
The Huon Valley celebrates life in fine style. A Taste of the Huon is a festival, held in March, framed around the area’s food, wine and arts and crafts. The Huon Valley Mid-Winter Fest, held in July, embraces the southern winter – wassail at the apple trees, banging pots and pans to scare off evil spirits and awakening the trees with song, and listen to a host of music talent.