Tasmania’s far south is a portal to one of the last great wild places on Earth. There’s no better place to explore, feed your sense of adventure and contemplate life’s big questions.
Day 1: Huonville to Dover
Leave plenty of time for frequent foraging detours to fill a hamper – the fertile Huon Valley is dotted with cideries and cellar doors, markets and roadside stalls.
The pretty fishing village of Dover sits on Esperance Bay, overlooking the islands of Faith, Hope and Charity. Its cottages and English trees give the town a lost-in-time charm.
Bread and liquor are made side by side at the century-old Bakehouse Distillery. Call ahead for wood-fired sourdough and for tastings of Evoke, a unique spirit made from the endemic Tasmanian southern (or blackheart) sassafras and native botanicals.
At dusk, stroll along the Dover waterfront or head to the local jetty, a popular spot to drop a fishing line. No bites? Head to Post Office 6985 for gourmet wood-fired pizzas for dinner, or the Dover RSL.
Day 2: Dover to Southport or Cockle Creek
Stock up on supplies in town, ready for a self-catering night far from the shops.
It’s time to head underground. Hastings Caves State Reserve has a network of spectacular caves, thermal springs and forest walks. Take a tour of Newdegate Cave, the jewel in the crown. It’s one of the few dolomite caves in Australia, full of flowstones and stalactites, columns and helictites. Linger for lunch – the reserve has barbecue facilities and picnic spots – and take a swim at the thermal pool, which is perpetually and naturally set at 28 degrees.
Nearby, in the remnants of an early Jurassic forest at Lune River, Lunaris Gemstones is an Aladdin’s cave of rare fossils, crystallised minerals, gemstones and curiosities. Marvel at the delicate fossilised ferns.
Keep driving south another 30min to reach the end of the road at Cockle Creek – the southernmost point you can drive in Australia. This is the access to Southwest National Park and the trailhead for the challenging 85km South Coast Track. For a taste of solitude, the much-shorter South Cape Bay walk takes about 4hr return and has clifftop views of the Southern Ocean and Lion Rock. Or take the short beach walk from the car park to the bronze whale sculpture (during the 1830s there were four whaling stations here), then on to Fishers Point Navigation Light and Pilot Station ruins.
Pitch a tent at the Cockle Creek campground and spend the evening stargazing – if you’re lucky, you might witness the elusive Southern Lights.
Day 3: Southport to Hobart
From the river to the ocean, get paddling on a morning kayak tour of Lune River with Esperance Adventures. Beneath Adamsons Peak and the Southern Ranges, glide along the tannin-dark river, spot birds, learn about the region’s history and end on a white sandy beach at Southport.
The return drive to Hobart takes only 90min, but slow down and dawdle in towns with character such as Huonville, Geeveston and Franklin. Plan a stop or two at a cidery or a cellar door, such as Kate Hill Wines outside of Huonville.
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