Tassie is renowned as an adventure wonderland and that description extends to Hobart, the Apple Isle’s vibrant capital. With a range of escapes only a couple of hours out of the city – and some within its limits – Hobart has plenty of outdoor fun to keep you busy over a weekend or longer.
Australia’s island state punches well above its weight when it comes to adventure. But there’s also a downside to that fact: plenty of awesome destination options can fail to make their way onto Tassie holiday itineraries already loaded with the state’s bucket list items, such as hiking Cradle Mountain, mountain biking in Derby or paddling the Franklin River.
But if you’re looking for a multifaceted getaway that’s still within easy reach of Hobart, then the Huon Valley has you covered. The Huon Valley Local Government Area covers a massive 5497sq.km – technically encompassing Tasmania’s South West World Heritage Wilderness area, home of the famous South Coast Track, and even administering Macquarie Island, half-way to Antarctica. But for the purposes of this guide, we’ll stick to adventures close to Hobart – and there’s plenty.
The tannin waters of the mighty Huon River, with headwaters at Lake Pedder and flowing into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel past Bruny Island and out to the Tasman Sea, offer plenty of paddling opportunities. Experienced paddlers can find their own way, or companies like Esperance Adventures offer no experience needed guided tours in Tassie’s far south – in the Huon River, Port Esperance Bay, Lune River and Recherche Bay.
The Huon Valley is also home to a few impressive summits – there’s Hartz Peak (1254m) within Hartz Mountains NP, achievable in a day trip. While this is the park’s hero track, there are shorter but equally beautiful hikes if you only have a couple of hours, or are hauling little’uns. Lake Esperance track is mostly boardwalk and finishes with the pretty namesake mountain lake.
Just outside Hartz Mountains NP is Adamsons Peak (1225m) – another full-day hike but with views of the valley and beyond on a clear day that make the thigh-burn worth the effort. Looking north from the Huon Valley towns of Huonville and Grove, you’ll see a mountain range that locals affectionately call ‘Sleeping Beauty’ for its resemblance to the profile and bust of a reclining woman. She is actually made up of two mountains – Collins Bonnet (the nose, 1261m) and Trestle Mountain (the bust, 1100m), both climbable together in an eight-hour return loop.
If you like to get underground on your getaways, then Hastings Caves State Reserve is home to Australia’s largest dolomite tourist cave, with guided tours on offer. Within the reserve is a thermally heated pool which is a great spot for a dip (and a reprieve from Tassie’s famously brisk waterways), and some short forest strolls, with platypus spotting.
If getting deep underground isn’t your cup of tea, the Huon Valley caters equally to those who want to get high – as in, into the treetops. In recovery from the region’s devastating 2019 bushfires, Tahune Adventures Airwalk offers a different perspective of the region, by taking you 50m above ground on a cantilevered air bridge over both the Huon and Picton rivers.
Keep heading south and you’ll reach Cockle Creek – the southernmost point you can drive in Australia (and still only two hours drive from Hobart!). The pristine waters are great for fishing and swimming in summer, with free camping available. Keep an eye out for weary hikers, as this is also the finishing point of the challenging 6-8 day South Coast Track. If you want a taste of this famous 85km hike, you can take on the last section with the four-hour South Cape Bay walk. The Huon Valley is also a fertile food-bowl region, so keep a look-out for farm-gate honesty boxes to load up with fresh produce between adrenaline sessions.
Within easy reach on foot, by bike, or car from Hobart, Wellington Park takes the name from its major attraction, kunanyi / Mount Wellington or simply ‘The Mountain’ as it’s referred to by locals. Standing at 1271 metres, it is the highest peak in the park and provides an impressive view across the Tasman Sea and into the wild South West National Park. Wellington Park’s 18,250 hectares also contains plenty of outdoor activities.
Pack some warm clothes, bring a lunch and choose from a range of hiking tracks threading the park. Hiking options vary from easy and short hikes in the foothills to challenging tracks deeper into the park. For a relaxing stroll, trail along the Fern Glade Track in the shade of fern trees, past bubbling streams and moss covered rocks. For a steep and rocky walk with great views of nearby cliffs, the East Coast and Hobart, go from The Springs to the Pinnacle via the Zig Zag Track.
Think ‘mountain’ and rock-climbing comes to mind. Mt Wellington’s claim to vertical fame is the globally recognised Organ Pipes, an expanse of vertical dolerite buttresses high up on its flanks. Climbs available on the crags of the Mountain range from short and hard routes to long multi-pitch and sport climbs. Climbing here is a serious endeavour; you should be well prepared for all kinds of weather and bring appropriate gear. A detailed climbing guide has been put together by local enthusiasts, and that is well worth checking out for the latest beta on climbs in the area.
If your mountain-based activities lean toward two wheels, the MTB trails and cycling routes in the park cover everything from scenic routes (the Pipeline Track is great for families) and cross-country to flowing singletrack (there are four more MTB trails under development here, too). There is even the opportunity for some 4WD touring, with Jefferys Track (north-south between Lachlan and Crabtree – it is a shared track) and the East West Trail, which is a bit more challenging as it takes tourers up into high and remote terrain.