Suggestion One for one day exploring the Far South of Tasmania

Breakfast can be served anytime from 5am onwards for an earlier start which would allow more time to enjoy the scenery or one or possibly two of the many great walks.

Please Note: The following timings are based around the main tourist season of November to March, either side of this different departure times are required to fit in with day light hours, different opening times at the Caves and Ida Bay train departures.

8.30am depart Ashdowns of Dover Bed & Breakfast.

Turn left out of drive way and follow the main road south passing through the settlements of Strathblane, Hastings and Lune River where the sealed road ends and the reasonably good quality gravel road continues south through beautiful scenery and the smaller settlements of Catamaran and Recherche to Cockle Creek where the road literally ends. About 1hr drive/43km.

The ‘End of the Road’ signpost is opposite the small carpark just over the bridge not far from the public telephone and informative signboard.  From here it’s a leisurely 15 minute walk along the beach (tide permitting) or the main path to the bronze whale sculpture where the interpretive signs guide you through the history of the area and offer a geographical view as to where you are.  ‘Closer to Antarctica than Cairns.’

The tiny settlement of Cockle Creek at the southern end of Australia is the gateway to the Southwest National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.  The area is known for its scenic beauty of deserted white beaches, turquoise waters of Recherche Bay and a variety of short and multi-day bushwalks including the end of the famous 82 km South Coast Track.  Historically aborigines valued the region for the seals, shellfish and bush hunting it provided during the warmer months, with evidence of many shell middens in the area.  French explorer, Bruni D'Entrecasteaux sailed his ship, the Recherche into the bay in 1792, subsequently naming the bay.  The region provided an important port of call for ships transporting convicts to the Sarah Island Penal Colony in Macquarie Harbour on the West coast of Tasmania from 1822 to 1834, when sealers, whalers and loggers visited the area and settled to extract Huon pine.  At its height the settlement numbered more than 2000 people.

Aim to depart Cockle Creek around 11am for the 30minute/19km drive back to the Ida Bay Railway for the midday train.  Leave Cockle Creek a little earlier if you intend to enjoy lunch at the Ida Bay Railway café.

Ida Bay Railway
1st May – 30th Sept – Thu, Fri, Sat and Sun only. Café open 9am – 3pm, Train times 10am & 12.30pm.
1st Oct - 24th Dec – Everyday. Café open 9am – 3pm, Train departure times 10am and 12.30pm.
25th December – Closed.
26h Dec - 31st Jan – Everyday. Café open 9am – 3pm, Train departure times 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm.
1st Feb – 30th Apr – Everyday. Café open 9am – 3pm, Train departure times 10am, 12pm and 2pm.

The Ida Bay Railway was originally used to transport limestone from the Lune River quarry to the Deep Bay jetty between 1919 and 1975.  These days you can sit back and relax in the open or closed carriages as you travel the historic 7.3 kilometre track through scenic bush.  There’s a brief stop at an historic graveyard where your guide will tell you about some of the history.  Once back on the train you’ll head down to Deep Hole beach, where you have time to enjoy your own packed lunch before travelling back to the station once again enjoying the scenery and if you are lucky spotting a seal swimming alongside the shoreline.

Aim to depart Ida Bay Railway at around 2pm for the 10minute/5km drive to the Hastings caves and Thermal Pool. 

Well worth a stop just up the road from the railway is Lunaris Gemstones, 175 Lune River Road.  They specialise in Tasmanian gemstones, fossils, crystals and minerals, natural specimens, unique jewellery pieces, ornamentals and decorative items.

Try to arrive at the Hastings caves visitors centre around 2.30pm in plenty of time to take the 3pm tour, ticket sales close strictly 15 minutes prior to the advertised cave tour time. After ticket purchase there is a further drive of 5kms and a 5 minute walk to the cave entrance where your guide will meet you.  The travel to the cave is undertaken in your own vehicle.  If you miss the 3pm cave tour, visit the thermal pool first and then take the 4pm tour.  Otherwise visit the thermal pool after the cave tour.  

Hastings Cave and Thermal pool
11th Apr - 30th Sept - Visitors centre open 10.30am – 4pm, Cave tours 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.15pm & 3.15pm.
1st Oct - 24th Dec – Visitors centre open 10am until 4pm, Cave tours 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.
25th December – Closed.
26h Dec - 31st Jan – Visitors Centre open 9am until 5pm, Cave tours 10, 11, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm.
1st Feb – 10th Apr – Visitors Centre open 10am until 4pm, Cave tours 11.15am, 12.15pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm. 

The Hastings Caves State Reserve offers visitors a variety of experiences, from relaxing in the warm waters of a thermal springs pool, walking in the rich forests of the reserve and the unique experience of exploring Newdegate Cave. Both the thermal pool and the trail which leads through the surrounding forests are accessible to wheelchair users.  Named after Sir Francis Newdegate, the Governor of Tasmania from 1917-1920, Newdegate Cave is the largest tourist cave in Australia which occurs in dolomite, rather than limestone.

Its richly decorated chambers began forming tens of millions of years ago.  Don't miss the opportunity to take a tour of the cave with qualified Parks and Wildlife Service guides.   Hastings Pool is fed by pure spring water which maintains a constant temperature of 28 degrees Celsius year round.

Return to Ashdowns of Dover Bed & Breakfast around 5.30pm.

Telstra has by far the best mobile phone coverage in the Far South, Optus is OK but patchy and the others don’t work at all.  Food is available at several places in Dover, the Southport hotel, Hastings Caves visitor centre and at the Ida Bay Railway café. Fuel is available in Dover and Southport.

Suggestion Two for one day exploring tree tops, mountains and caves.

Breakfast can be served anytime from 5am onwards for an earlier start which would allow more time to enjoy the scenery or one or possibly two of the many great walks.

Please Note: The following timings are based around the main tourist season of November to March, either side of this different departure times are required to fit in with day light hours, different opening times at Tahune Adventures and at the Caves.

8.30am depart Ashdowns of Dover Bed & Breakfast

Turn right out of the drive way heading north to the town of Geeveston where you leave the Huon Highway (A6), follow the signs to Tahune Adventures along the Arve Road (C631), a good quality sealed road all the way 45km/1hrs drive.

Tahune Adventures.
Open 7 days a week 9am – 5pm October to March,
10am – 4pm April to September.
Closed Christmas Day and during hazardous weather. 

Situated on the edge of 1.6 million hectares of World Heritage Listed forest Tahune Adventures (AirWalk) was opened on the 1st of July 2001 and has since become one of the most visited tourism attractions in Tasmania.  The 600m long raised steel AirWalk ends at a spectacular cantilevered platform 50m above the riverbank – the views extend over the forest canopy to the mountains of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.  You can also enjoy one of the many short walks such as the Huon Pine Walk 20mins or the 3km Swinging Bridges Walk crossing the Huon and Picton Rivers or soar like an eagle across the Huon River on the Eagle Hang Glider.  There is an information centre and licensed café at Tahune Adentures specialising in local food and wine.

Lunch:  As a very rough guide I would allow between 2 and 3hr at Tahune Adventures. Which would make it about midday when you are thinking of leaving, either have lunch at Tahune Adventures, enjoy your packed lunch from Ashdowns or return to Geeveston for a range of cafes, shops or takeaways. 

From Tahune Adventures there are a number of options: two popular options are return to Geeveston and then south passing through Dover to the Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs or visit nearby Hartz Mountains NP.

For mountains, from Tahune Adventures head back down towards Geeveston, about half way back to Geeveston turn right onto Hartz Road (C632) (this is a good quality gravel road) up to Hartz Mountains National Park 29km/30mins drive. 

Hartz Mountains National Park is a window into the south-west wilderness, offering views of remote mountain ranges as far as the southern coast. As well as spectacular views of a landscape which has been shaped by glaciers during past ice ages, the park offers a variety of unique features. Waterfalls tumble off the dolerite range that runs through the centre of the park and small glacial lakes dot the plateau. The park contains a wide variety of vegetation from wet eucalypt forest and rainforest through to alpine heath on the exposed mountain tops.  The park was included in the Tasmaniain Wilderness World Heritage Area in 1989, in recognition of its spectacular natural and cultural values.  From the Hartz Shelter carpark and picnic area there are 3 short return walks of 20 - 45mins and several longer walks such as the 1.5hr return Lake Esperance or the 4hrs return Hartz Peak.  The parks highest point, Hartz Peak (1254 m), provides panoramic views into the heart of the southwest.  

For caves and thermal springs, return to Dover and then continue on the Huon Hwy south passing through the settlements of Strathblane and Hastings, turning right onto Hastings Caves Road, the last few kilometres are a good quality gravel road.  About 1hr and 20mins drive or 71km.

Try to arrive at the Hastings caves visitors centre around 2.30pm in plenty of time to take the 3pm tour, ticket sales close strictly 15 minutes prior to the advertised cave tour time. After ticket purchase there is a further drive of 5kms and a 5 minute walk to the cave entrance where your guide will meet you.  The travel to the cave is undertaken in your own vehicle.  If you miss the 3pm cave tour, visit the thermal pool first and then take the 4pm tour.  Otherwise visit the thermal pool after the cave tour.  

Hastings Cave and Thermal pool
11th Apr - 30th Sept - Visitors centre open 10.30am – 4pm, Cave tours 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.15pm & 3.15pm.
1st Oct - 24th Dec – Visitors centre open 10am until 4pm, Cave tours 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.
25th December – Closed.
26h Dec - 31st Jan – Visitors Centre open 9am until 5pm, Cave tours 10, 11, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm.
1st Feb – 10th Apr – Visitors Centre open 10am until 4pm, Cave tours 11.15am, 12.15pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm. 

The Hastings Caves State Reserve offers visitors a variety of experiences, from relaxing in the warm waters of a thermal springs pool, walking in the rich forests of the reserve and the unique experience of exploring Newdegate Cave. Both the thermal pool and the trail which leads through the surrounding forests are accessible to wheelchair users.  Named after Sir Francis Newdegate, the Governor of Tasmania from 1917-1920, Newdegate Cave is the largest tourist cave in Australia which occurs in dolomite, rather than limestone.

Its richly decorated chambers began forming tens of millions of years ago.  Don't miss the opportunity to take a tour of the cave with qualified Parks and Wildlife Service guides.   Hastings Pool is fed by pure spring water which maintains a constant temperature of 28 degrees Celsius year round.

Return to Ashdowns of Dover Bed & Breakfast around 5.30pm.

Telstra has by far the best mobile phone coverage in the Far South, Optus is OK but a bit patchy and the others don’t work at all.  Food is available at several places in Dover, the Southport hotel, Hastings Caves visitor centre and at the Ida Bay Railway café. Fuel is available in Dover and Southport.