Find nature on a grand scale and life on a human scale on this journey at the edge of a nation.
Dawdle between farm gates, roadside stalls and markets in the Huon Valley, known for its apple and pear orchards and abundant fresh produce. There’s more grazing along the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, and just a short ferry ride across to Bruny Island for oysters, artisanal cheese and craft beer. Explore the laidback food scene in towns such as Geeveston, Cygnet , Franklin and Huonville. And roll up the sleeves at cooking classes staged by the likes of the Farmhouse Kitchen and Fat Pig Farm.
There’s a trail in the south to satisfy just about any preferred tipple. Follow the Huon Valley cider trail, taking in the likes of Pagan Cider, Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, and Frank’s Cider House & Cafe; Smith’s and Frank’s have on-site museums, too. Tour the region’s wineries, among them Home Hill Winery & Restaurant, Two Bud Spur Vineyard, Mewstone Wines, Kate Hill Wines, and Elsewhere Vineyard. And for thrilling novelty, swing by Ewenique Tasting House for sheep’s whey vodka and the Bakehouse Distillery at Dover for sassafras spirit.
Approach the edge
“It will be difficult to describe my feelings at the sight of this solitary harbour situated at the extremities of the globe,” wrote the French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux in 1793, “so perfectly enclosed that one feels separated from the rest of the universe.”
These days it takes just two hours to travel from Hobart to Cockle Creek, not far from d’Entrecasteaux’s landing spot and the southernmost point you can drive in Australia. Yet at latitude 43 degrees, buffeted by a gale fresh from Antarctica, and on the edge of the vast Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the sense of life-affirming isolation at the edge is complete and profound.
Approach another edge at Tahune Airwalk, a 600m canopy walk near Geeveston that hangs high above the forest floor, with a final cantilevered section positioned – thrillingly – 50m above the Huon River. And waterfalls tumble over the edge of cliffs and gorges across the south; insiders recommend chasing Pelverata Falls, Billy Brown Falls, Arve Falls and Adamsons Falls.
Discover natural wonders
Head underground to explore the labyrinth of dolomite chambers on a tour at Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs and, above ground, walk its rainforest tracks. On Bruny Island, climb the stairs for sweeping 360-degree views from The Neck Lookout, on the isthmus joining North and South Bruny
Look up – in a world where more than 80% of people live with light pollution, the stars are fading, the universe shrinking. In southern Tasmania, however, the universe seems close and vast, the unpolluted night sky inky and sparkling with glittering constellations and the glorious spilt-milk mess of the Milky Way. It’s the night sky as you’ve never seen it. Tasmania is also one of the few places in the world to see the elusive natural lightshow of Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights. Chances improve the further south you head.
Explore by water
Water, water everywhere. Southern Tasmania is bristling with hidden coves and secret bays, broad channels and waterfalls, inlets and mighty rivers – and myriad ways to dive in. Park the car and paddle the rivers and bays of the far south by kayak with Esperance Adventures, charter a cruise into Port Davey and beyond, and learn about the heritage craft of wooden boat building at the Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin. For higher-octane adventure, take a ride with Bruny Island Cruises around a dramatic shoreline, punctuated by cliffs, stacks, caves and marine life.
Walk in wilderness
What does a 2000-year-old tree look like? And what is real wilderness? A drive on the Southern Edge is the place to think about the big questions – the meaning of life and the universe, our place in nature – and a portal into one of the last great wild places on Earth, the 1.5 million-hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Walk in valleys where towering Huon pines grow for thousands of years, where rivers meet cool-temperate rainforest, where snow-peaked mountains shadow buttongrass plains. Insiders recommend the South Cape Bay Track or the challenging 85km South Coast Track in Southwest National Park. In Hartz Mountains National Park, traverse landscapes shaped by glaciers to reach Hartz Peak as a day walk. And on Bruny Island, insiders favour the beach-and-bush vistas of Cape Queen Elizabeth Track and the Fluted Cape Track.