4 days in the Huon Valley
Best of the mid south
Appreciate Tasmania’s slow pace of life and celebrate the good things – like the hand-picked, the home-made and the heart-felt – at a cluster of Huon Valley towns.
- The historic river town of Franklin is neatly wedged between rolling green hills and the mighty Huon River, yet only 40 minutes’ drive south of the capital. Start the day with a bulgur bowl, paper-baked eggs or simit at the Tassie-Turkish café Cinnamon and Cherry in Franklin.
- The magical Tahune Airwalk is a 600-metre canopy walk that hangs high above the forest floor, with a final cantilevered section positioned 50 metres above the Huon River. Take in views to its confluence with the Picton River and beyond to the peaks of the World Heritage Area. A day pass includes access to all the forest walks on site, including a couple of swinging bridges. Have lunch in the on-site café, surrounded by forest.
- There’s more adventure in store, this time at river level. From Tahune, the Twin River Adventure is a four-hour return rafting or kayaking excursion bouncing down rapids and drifting along quiet sections of the Picton River. Spot Huon pines and towering mountain ash.
- Book ahead for acclaimed Japanese fare by the “surfing sushi chef” Masaaki Koyama. A loyal following at his pop-up food van in Hobart has followed him to Geeveston, where he’s opened Masaaki’s Sushi in a restored church. Think Tasmanian wasabi and wakame, inari tofu pockets with sesame seeds and toasted almonds, and southern Tasmanian seafood.
- Overnight at Geeveston, which bills itself “Australia’s most southerly town”, where options include guesthouses such as the 1868-built Cambridge House B&B and Bears Went Over the Mountain.
- For today’s walk, assemble a packed lunch at the likes of the Old Bank of Geeveston, known for its baked goods and fresh pasta, and the picklery-café Harvest & Light.
- Elusive platypus can sometimes be spotted from the aptly named Platypus Lookout in the town’s Heritage Park.
- Pack that lunch, pull on the boots and pick a walk in Hartz Mountains National Park. Ancient glaciers carved this rugged landscape of peaks, waterfalls and lakes, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s surprisingly accessible, though – walks to the likes of Arve Falls, Lake Osborne and Waratah Lookout (named for the blazing red endemic flower that dots the landscape in summer) are easy and take less than an hour return.
- Dinner options include the Kermandie Hotel, with a restaurant and bar overlooking the marina at Port Huon, and handmade pasta at Franklin’s old riverside courthouse, Osteria at Petty Sessions.
- Overnight at Geeveston.
- “There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” says Ratty to Mole in The Wind in the Willows, as if the friends were planning a day together in Franklin.
- Chief among the town’s maritime treasures is the Wooden Boat Centre, the last remaining school in Australia teaching traditional wooden-boat construction. On a guided tour of the centre and its busy workshop, smell the woody fragrance of Huon, celery top and King Billy pine, and watch shipwrights at work.
- Inspired by what you’ve seen, head next door and embark on a “calm water” sailing on the mighty Huon River in the Yukon, a 1930s Danish oak ketch, raised from the bottom of the harbour in Copenhagen and carefully restored.
- Continue the nautical theme with lunchtime fish and chips or a fisherman’s basket at Aqua Grill Cafe.
- Spend the afternoon pottering around the valley. Drop by family-owned Frank’s Ciderhouse and Café for tastings and an insight into the proud tradition of orchard keeping in the Huon. While away an afternoon at the cellar door and restaurant at serene Home Hill Winery. Or settle in at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, a bustling barn, for cider and apple-spirit tastings, a menu based on local produce, and a self-guided tour of its apple museum for insight into the rise, fall and recovery of the Apple Isle’s rosy industry.
- Overnight in the Huon Valley. Options include Crabtree River Cottages, Huon Bush Retreats and a farm stay at Highland Getaway, starring woolly Highland cattle and alpacas.
- In the valley’s flagship town of Huonville, fossick for secondhand treasures and source baked goods along the main street and Wilmot Road. Or book ahead for cooking classes with Puglian leanings at the Farmhouse Kitchen.
- After a spot of bargain-hunting, prepare for white-water thrills aboard Huon River Jet Boats.
- In neighbouring Ranelagh, refuel at Summer Kitchen Bakery, known for superior sweet treats, pies and wood-fired bread.
- On the way back to Hobart, detour to the lookout at the summit of kunanyi/Mount Wellington, for views of the Southern Edge.
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