Tasmania’s far south is a place of natural beauty – rolling hills meet calm river waters and mountain peaks overlook vast wilderness. It is Tasmania’s southernmost region and part of Tasmania’s newest drive journey – The Southern Edge.
Here, not only will you find stunning landscapes, but also incredible art by creative locals, beautiful fresh produce, and a great range of cafes, cooking schools, food experiences and cider houses for you to enjoy.
So, pack the car, the kids, the camera and your thirst for uncovering some of Tasmania’s treasures and let’s discover the Southern Edge.
Explore the Landscapes
The Harts Mountains National Park is home to a number of great walking tracks for all abilities. For those just looking for a short stroll in nature, the tracks to Arve Falls and Waratah Lookout are great options and offer scenic views over the Huon Valley. For those keen to head further into the park, Lake Esperance and Hartz Peak are some of Tasmania’s finest trails.
Uncover the incredible underground dolerite chambers of Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs. The caves are spacious and are well lit to highlight ancient subterranean formations. Guided tours of Newdegate Cave are available throughout the day and run for around 45-minutes. Call ahead to book your tour.
At the very far edge of your journey, you will reach Cockle Creek. Located overlooking Recherche Bay and on the edge of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area, Cockle Creek is a great place to stretch the legs, have a swim and learn a little about Tasmania’s whaling history, and even check out the bronze whale sculpture. There are some great walking tracks departing from Cockle Creek including the epic South Coast Track (7 days) and the South Cape Bay Track (4 hours)
A walk amongst the trees is the best way to re-connect with nature and Tahune Adventures is the perfect place to do so. Their famous Airwalk is an elevated walkway 30 metres above the forest floor, with the final cantilever section sitting at a height of 50 metres above the Huon River. While you are there, visit their onsite café for some home-made scones with jam.
Head over to Bruny Island and take in the views of the isthmus connecting the north and south of the island from The Neck Lookout. Down on the south end of the island and you will find the rugged South Bruny National Park, where steep cliffs meet the wild southern ocean. Visit the Cape Bruny Lighthouse for great views and Instagram-worthy photos.
Feast on local produce
There are plenty of amazing local producers, cafes and foodie experiences along the Southern Edge journey. For great little coffee shops, be sure to visit Harvest and Light in Geeveston, Summer Kitchen Bakery in Ranelagh or The Gateway in Kettering.
Take your time when driving the Southern Edge and stop at one of the many great cafes along the way. Ranelagh General Store in the Huon Valley offers big burgers, great shakes and friendly service. For a sweet treat, try My Slice of Pie, found at Mountain River.
Peppermint Bay Hotel in Woodbridge is a great place to visit before making your way across to Bruny Island. Over on Bruny Island, you will find some great little stops. Get Shucked Oysters offer – as you can expect – 0ysters! Beautiful, fresh and shucked onsite. Bruny Island Cheese Co is also a great stop for cheese lovers while the Hotel Bruny offers more hearty style meals.
For some of the finest sushi in Tasmania, be sure to check out if you can order some of Masaaki’s Sushi in Geeveston or settle in at The Old Bank of Geeveston for some fresh pasta or artisan pastries. Speaking of Old Banks, the Cygnet Old Bank serves a delicious range of meals made from locally grown produce from the Huon Valley.
When driving around the Southern Edge, be sure to stop at one of the many roadside stalls. The stalls often stock freshly baked treats and local in-season produce for you to enjoy. Pick up a few treats and find a little picnic spot down by the water in one of the villages.
Uncover the Art
The Southern Edge is home to so many amazing local artists, makers and musicians. There are also some great local markets that you can explore on the weekends where you will find a great range of art and craft.
The Wooden Boat Centre in Franklin is the only school in Australia that teaches Traditional Wooden Boat Construction. Enjoy a guided tour of the discovery centre and workshop and appreciate the amazing art form of boat building.
Campo de Flori at Glen Huon is both a farm and an artisan ceramic studio, bundling the sensory pleasures of the rare spice saffron, fragrant lavender, and olives with bespoke ceramics.
Phoenix Creations is a little gallery tucked away in Cygnet and is home to a beautiful range of hand-carved spoons and utensils. The gallery also hosts spoon carving workshops. Lovett Gallery Cygnet and Stanley’s Studio and Gallery are also lovely galleries to visit in Cygnet.
Take a wander around the Art Farm at Birchs Bay and enjoy their unique Sculpture Trail – an annual sculpture exhibition featuring Tasmanian and interstate artists.
Bronwyn Clark Ceramics is a ceramics studio in Deep Bay where Bronwyn hand-crafts beautiful tableware. The studio is open to visitors via appointment and on weekends from September – May.
A Huon Valley Art and Wine Trail will be operating over three days, December 4-6, 2020. Cellar doors of the wineries and 8 participating art studios will be open from 10am to 4:00 pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for an opportunity to stop in and sample the wines and the art works. There will be maps with studio locations available at each location.
Taste a Tassie Tipple
The Huon Valley is the heart of the Tasmanian apple-growing regions and with apples comes cider. Follow the Southern Tasmanian Cider Trail and you will find Franks Ciderhouse and Cafe, Willie Smiths’s Apple Shed, Pagan Cider and Simple Cider. Each cider house has a unique spin on the tipple with Willie Smith’s and Franks also home to museums illustrating the regions apple growing history.
For those who are more known to prefer grapes to apples, there are also some lovely wineries along the Southern Edge.
Home Hill Wines have a great range of cool-climate wines and their on-site restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Kate Hill Wines also offers a fine tipple, their range includes a sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Noir. Hartzview Vineyard offers Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnay and Fortified Wines – their Spiced Apple liquor is particularly delicious.
Vodka and Gin lovers will enjoy a visit to Hartshorn Distillery. Located in Birchs Bay their unique products are made from Sheep Whey, with a Cheesery also onsite.
Cruise the waterways
Mix up your drive with an adventure on the beautiful waterways of the Southern Edge.
Esperance Adventures offers half day kayaking tours around the Lune River, Port Esperance Bay, Recherche Bay and the Huon River. If you’re really keen to get into the nooks and crannies, Southern Seaventures offer a range of multi-day kayaking trip.
If you feel like sitting back and letting someone else steer the ship, SailTas offers 6-hour day sails and 3-hour twilight sails around Bruny Island. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely lunch cruise with Peninsula Cruising taking in the tranquillity of the Huon River. Yukon Tours also offer a 90-minute calm water cruise on the Huon River.
For something a little more speedy, take a jet ski tour from Coningham, near Snug, with Tasmanian Jet Ski Adventures and cruise to Bruny Island. Alternatively, enjoy the thrill of a high speed jetboat on the Huon River with Huon Jet.
If you are keen to spot some seabirds, whales, dolphins or just enjoy the Bruny Island coast from the water, jump onboard the Bruny Island Cruises 3-hour eco-cruise around the island.
The best way to take in the Southern Edge is over a few days and there are some great little stays along the way for you to enjoy.
- Bruny Island Coastal Retreats offer a great range of accommodation with nine guest houses available to choose from.
- The Bruny Boathouse is a cute little beachside cottage at Alonnah overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
- Captain Cook Holiday Park is the perfect option for families and offer villa-style accommodation with uninterrupted views of Adventure Bay.
- Bruny Island Explorer Cottages offers six cottages overlooking the bay at Lunawanna in South Bruny.
- Hundred Acre Hideaway offers luxurious, solar-powered accommodation on Bruny Island with views over valleys, mountains and beyond to the Southern Ocean
- Free Spirits Pods offers two superb self-contained Pods with direct waterfront access Quarantine Bay in North Bruny.
- Highland Getaway Luxury Farm Stay B&B is a modern, stylishly appointed homestead and working farm. Visit the highland cattle and have the opportunity to brush their fluffy coats.
- The Huon Valley House is a place where you can unwind in comfort. It’s a spacious, stylish space, with comfortable beds and gorgeous views from every window
- Matilda’s of Ranelagh is a romantic bed and breakfast. The accommodation is spacious and comfortable with elegant surroundings that hark back to a bygone era
- Crabtree River Cottages is a heritage listed property sitting on the banks of the Crabtree River and overlooking ‘Sleeping Beauty’ mountain.
- Cygnet Retreat is an architecturally designed three-bedroom, two-bathroom and outdoor spa holiday home in the heart of Cygnet
- Villa Talia is a deluxe holiday home on the banks of the Huon River with scenic views of the surrounding mountains.
- Cygnet Old Bank B&B is an elegant, stylish Bed and Breakfast. The stunning and grand Victorian-style building built in 1909 overlooks the main square of Cygnet and was originally used as a bank.
- Frenchmans River – The Writers House was once a an apple-pickers cottage and is now an enchanting getaway with lovely views.
Brooks Bay/Glendevie/Surveyors Bay
- Esperance Landing is a three-bedroom waterfront house at Brooks Bay, perfect for a romantic getaway or group retreat.
- Fair Winds Tasmania offers luxurious three-bedroom accommodation on the banks of the Huon River and is great for a couple escape or group retreat.
- Enjoy a romantic retreat at Shanleys Huon Valley, featuring a sunken spa with panoramic views of the valley.
- Sea Eagle Sands is a modern two-bedroom home by Roaring Beach, great for families or couples.
- Book a room at Ashdowns of Dover Bed and Breakfast and be warmly hosted in a beautiful country house. The house is wheelchair friendly and has been modernised in consideration of travellers who have limited mobility.
- The two-bedroom Castaway Cottage offers a relaxed beachside haven, great for a group or family holiday or a romantic retreat.
- Driftwood Cottages offers deluxe self-contained accommodation, with waterfront studios, a range of cottages.
- Smugglers Rest self-contained units are great for couples or families. Choose from two-bedroom beach view or garden view studio apartments.
- The Peninsula Experience is an exclusive hideaway set on a private gated peninsula with 200 acres of wilderness, wildlife, and water to explore. The Cape House is perfect for groups and the Boat House is designed for couples.
- Self-contained cottage Tides Reach is ideal for a romantic getaway or a two-couple trip, steps away from the white sands of Pottery Beach.
- The Dover Beachside Tourist Park offers a great range of budget-friendly cabins, powered and unpowered camping sites.
Southport & beyond
- Rock Lobster is a beautiful three or four bedroom holiday home, perfect for adult group getaways to the seaside.
- Couples, families or friends will love peaceful Southern Forest Accommodation (keep an eye out for wildlife).
- The Jetty House is a charming historic home. You can book a ‘bed and breakfast’ room or the whole house as self-contained accommodation for up to 12 guests.
- The Southport Hotel & Caravan Park is budget-friendly, offering self-contained units, cabins, and powered and unpowered camping sites. It’s also pet-friendly!
- At nearby Ida Bay, enjoy an exclusive eco-experience at Buttongrass Retreat, a modern two-bedroom cabin set amongst a 20-hectare private reserve. Take some time to reconnect with nature—the cabin is free from modern distractions.
We love it when you share your adventures with us! Share your snaps by tagging @hobartandbeyond and using #HobartandBeyond on Instagram and Facebook – we’ll share our favourite pics on social media and in the blog.
Header image: Jess Bonde