Ornate caves, thermal springs and forest walks make an inspiring day trip to Hastings Caves.
Located south of Hobart in Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area, the caves were discovered by timber workers cutting trees near the entrance to Newdegate Cave in 1917.
The star attraction of the Hastings Caves State Reserve is the richly decorated Newdegate Cave, the largest dolomite cave open to visitors in Australia. Inside are spectacular subterranean formations, including flowstone, stalactites, columns, shawls, straws, stalagmites and unusual helictites.
Take a 45min guided tour of Newdegate Cave's stunning chambers with a park ranger to witness these curious underground features. Tours are scheduled several times daily. The caves are surrounded by a beautiful forest and a local population of platypuses, wallabies and pademelons.
The Hastings Caves Visitor Centre is the hub of a range of other experiences. Relax in the 28-degree waters of the thermal pool, or set out on an easy forest trail.
The short Platypus Walk is a wheelchair-accessible path (5-10min) along the stream behind the thermal pool, with a good chance of spotting the namesake monotreme. The longer Hot Springs Track leads to a confluence where the warm waters of one creek meet the cold waters of another.
The walks return to the thermal pool, which is surrounded by forest and ferns, with picnic tables, barbecues, toilets, change rooms and showers.
Find accommodation nearby at Dover and Southport, and there’s camping at the end of the road at Cockle Creek.
Hastings Caves State Reserve is a 90min drive (100km) south of Hobart.