Tasmania’s Far South: An Easy Getaway that Stuns

19 June 2017

When life gets busy and the work never seems to stop, sometimes all you need is an easy local getaway to recharge the batteries. Tasmania’s stunning south is perfect for just that.

It’s said that Tasmania has the world’s cleanest air and water, and in the vast forests, ethereal beaches and towering cliffs south of Hobart, it certainly feels like it. From the layered mountains that roll into silk-water bays to the dramatic, splayed headlands and the way eagles and albatross fly close overhead – there’s so much that’s rarefied about this region. So strap in. Melodramatic scenery and evocative history await in Australia’s southernmost reaches.

Location:

Far South Tasmania

Distance:

732km including side-trips

Highlights

Breath-taking scenery – cliffs so high they bring on giddiness and along mirror-smooth D’Entrecasteaux Channel, bush-nudged bays with improbably clear water.

Convict relics that will give you chills. Along with Port Arthur, explore photogenic reminders such as Coal Mines Historic Site and Willow Park, now enlivened by paranormal tours.

Around the Huon Valley, a postcard mosaic of orchards, farmland, vineyards and pristine waterways.

Atmospheric places to lodge and dine; and in Hobart and New Norfolk, browse for antiques.

Wildlife galore.

Day 1 Tasman Peninsula

Tasman Peninsula Driving down the Tasman Peninsula. Image: Melissa Rimac

Get out of town! Head straight for the magnificent scenery of the Tasman Peninsula.  Eaglehawk Neck – 60 kilometres from Hobart International Airport – signals the onset of the rearing Tasman Peninsula. Home to some of the highest cliffs in Australia, this region regales with rewarding bushwalks, empty beaches and activities such as horse riding.

For splendid views and whacky rock formations, take the Pirates Bay Drive. At low tide, rock-hop to Clydes Island and if you’re feeling energetic, take the cliff-top walk from Devils Kitchen to Waterfall Bay. Look out for whales and wedge-tailed eagles.

At Taranna, visit the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo before detouring west towards Nubeena – home to cosy cafes, beautiful White Beach and waterside walks. This scenic loop takes in convict probation stations at Premaydena and Koonya and World Heritage listed Coal Mines Historic Site.

From Nubeena, head to the Port Arthur Historic site; it’s extensive –  with prisons, guards quarters, houses and asylum – so soak it up slowly and stick around for a ghost tour.   

Day 2 Tasman Cliffs

Start the day with an exhilarating eco-cruise to Tasman Island and get up close with cubist cliffs – the highest in the southern hemisphere – and wildlife aboard Pennicott Wilderness Journeys.

Port Arthur’s two day pass means you can experience the site’s many moods and atmospheric eateries.

Spend the afternoon slowly snaking the 93 kilometres back to Hobart; sampling scenic lookouts and short walks offering stunning panoramas, such as around Remarkable Cave.

huon valley Approaching the Huon Valley. Image: Melissa Rimac

Day 3 Southernmost Australia

Amid orchards and mountain fringed farmland, the arty community of Huonville ­– 38km from Hobart – is the place to indulge in foodie delights and browse for antiques. Feel like exploring? Take the scenic back-road to Judbury.

Southern Tasmania is home to some of the world’s tallest trees; a thrilling way to see them is the Tahune Forest Airwalk, near erstwhile timber town Geeveston.

At Surges Bay, detour along the Esperance Coast Road for soothing views and the mountain-draped village of Dover.

Once a whaling station, now wrapped in World Heritage wilderness, Cockle Creek (148 kilometres from Hobart) is the furthest south you can drive in Australia. It feels like the edge of the world; nearby scenic hot-spots include Hastings Cave and hot springs, Pilot Station Ruins and South East Cape.

View near Cockle Creek Beaches around Cockle Creek. Image: Melissa Rimac

Day 4 Bruny Island

On the 119 kilometre drive to Kettering –where you’ll catch the ferry to Bruny Island – pause at Cygnet, a cute village amidst the apple and cherry growing district that’s become a magnet for artists and musicians. Verona Sands and Randalls Bay are popular swimming spots; for atmospheric wine-tasting, head to Panorama and Hartzview vineyards.

Imbued with a heady sense of escapism, glorious wilderness and rustic rural scenes, Bruny Island is best savoured as an overnight stay. To get a sense of glorious solitude, visit Cape Bruny lighthouse and walk to nearby isolated beaches. At dusk, watch penguins at The Neck.

Day 5 New Norfolk

Get within touching distance of towering dolerite cliffs, delve deep into sea caves and get up-close with seals, whales and dolphins on a morning cruise departing from Adventure Bay – home to white wallabies.     

In the afternoon, drive 103 kilometres to New Norfolk, where you’ll have to remind yourself you’re not in England. Lap up heritage buildings galore here, oast houses and atmospheric eateries. New Norfolk offers acclaimed antique shopping, with the Willow Court Antique Centre – set in the grounds of an old assylum – a must- see, especially at dusk.

Day 6 Hobart   

Visit historic Redlands Estate to see how whisky is created before driving back the 38 kilometres back to Hobart.  

view at Cockle Creek The view at Cockle Creek, the furthest south you can drive in Australia. Image: Melissa Rimac

Luxury Stays in Hobart

Villa Howden

Boutique, 5-star accommodation located on the tranquil shores of Northwest Bay, just 15 minutes from Hobart and located on the edge of the Huon Valley Tourist Route.

The Islington

Serenity, luxury and tranquillity is what you’ll find at this very special boutique hotel. Known for offering guests privacy and superior service in a beautiful setting, the Islington is Tasmania’s most awarded boutique hotel.

The Henry Jones Art Hotel

A luxurious and innovative hotel, with a captivating history. Located on Hobart’s waterfront, the Henry Jones is Australia’s first dedicated art hotel, merging the historic and the modern.

Melissa Rimac

Melissa Rimac is a travel writer and photographer.
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