Exploring southern Tasmania through the beautiful Huon Valley, is full of fresh, sweet apples, refreshing cider, fabulous fishing spots, deep caves and a glimpse of tranquil and peaceful living.
After leaving Hobart, we headed south with our destination - Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs - 1 hour and 45 minutes via the Huon Highway.
The drive takes you through apple orchards, fishing villages, before winding through the national park and spitting you out along the banks of the Huon River, with beautiful scenery across the water.
Hastings Caves is located in the Hastings Caves State Reserve, where you will find a Visitors Centre where you can pick up your tickets for the cave entry, refreshments and souvenirs. Bookings are essential if you want to enjoy a guided tour of the caves and can be made online or by calling the Visitors Centre. The Thermal Springs can also be accessed through the Visitors Centre, and are a short stroll down the path, where you will find a pool, short scenic walks, an extensive BBQ area and changing facilities.
After leaving the Visitors Centre, you will drive for around 5 minutes to the carpark, where you will leave your car, for the short walk through the forest, to Newdegate Cave.
For those that feel a bit claustrophobic, and question whether to take the tour, rest assured that you will feel OK once in the cave. I felt a bit apprehensive walking down the steps into the cave, however it quickly opens up to an amazing cathedral, with lights and hand rails, to assist. You will quickly be amazed with what you see, and be ready to explore further.
The subterranean formations in this deep cave will take your breath away, the age of the cave and the tiny little creatures that inhabit this black, cold environment (9 degrees C), will surprise you.
The tours take approx. 45 minutes, the guides imparting their knowledge throughout and if you’re lucky, someone will fill the cave with angelic song – absolutely amazing.
When you ascend and come out of the cave, the smell of the forest takes you by surprise for a moment!
We had decided to stay the night, so we could explore more of the delicious Huon Valley, and there are a couple of options for accommodation. You will find the coastal town of Dover, 30 minutes northeast of the caves or Hastings, only 5 mins away.
We decided to explore and stay at the seaside town of Southport which is 10 minutes from the caves. If turning off the main road to head to the beach, make sure to explore around the bay to the boat ramp, passing some gorgeous, colourful shacks along the way.
If you are thinking about staying in Southport, remember it is a small, sleepy, seaside town so ensure you look for accommodation before making the trip. We found it difficult to find an Airbnb or B&B, however we found a gem, the Southport Hotel and Caravan Park, the most southern pub in Australia.
We stayed in one of four motel units at the rear of the Tavern however you can also camp. There is a large grassed area next to a small creek, where you can camp or park your caravan – all non-powered sites, and powered sites also available. There is Wifi in the Tavern, but otherwise you will be pressed to find any service.
If you want to have dinner in the Tavern, and believe me you do, make sure you book otherwise you might miss out, it was full the night we stayed. The menu was traditional pub food, delicious and the portions were huge, catering for travellers and locals alike. The tavern has a couple of pool tables and open fires for the cool nights.
If you are a dedicated Aurora Australis chaser, this is a fantastic place to view the phenomenon that is the elusive, fleeting light show. I was ready to go at 2am, however was bitterly disappointed that the clouds had come in and my quest would have to continue elsewhere!!