3 days exploring the Huon Valley
Take a small break and a big appetite to Tasmania’s fertile Huon Valley, where the food is abundant, and the wine flows all year round.
By Elspeth Callander
Southern Tasmania’s Huon Valley is a patchwork landscape of small farms and orchards, with swaths of bushland dissected by the tannin-brown Huon River. Before the Apple Isle’s major export industry crashed in the 1970s, much of the Huon was apple orchards after the first trees were planted in 1843.
Now there’s more diversity with cherries, peaches, plums, pears, nectarines, blueberries and strawberries, with raspberries and blackberries growing wild. Grapes are also grown in the Huon, so get ready for some incredible cool-climate wines.
A three-day return road trip out of Hobart offers up the chance to sample the fresh produce and pristine environment that this slice of Tassie is renowned for.
Day 1: Hobart to the Huon Valley
Make sure you drop into family-owned Willie Smiths Apple Shed, about 30 minutes outside of Hobart. Established in 1888, this orchard survived by diversifying to organic cider production.
- Drive time: about 1.5 hours, depending on where you stay
If you’re coming from cities like Adelaide, Melbourne or Sydney, then hop on a direct flight to Hobart with one of the main domestic carriers, pick up your rental vehicle and drive 45 minutes to the northern end of the Huon Valley. Alternatively, drive onto the Spirit of Tasmania in Port Melbourne, take the 11-hour crossing and then drive from Devonport to the Huon Valley (3.5 hours).
From Hobart, take the back road from the city through Fern Tree and drive to the summit of kunanyi (Mt Wellington) for views that go for miles on a clear day. Back on the Huon Road, stop off at Longley Organic Farm’s roadside stall, just past Longley Hotel, which sells freshly picked vegetables for cash only. In Huonville, buy meat for dinner at classic country butcher N.C. Griggs & Co.
Stay: Frenchman’s River in Cygnet has two self-contained houses with wood fire heating, kitchens, well-stocked pantries and views across paddocks to Cygnet Bay, where the Huon River makes its way to the Tasman Sea. Peppermint Ridge Retreat in Woodbridge is better for larger groups, including families. The self-contained, open-plan eco studios can accommodate up to five guests and have views of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel across to Bruny Island. Get cosy in the cooler months with wood fire heating. Either property is a perfect base for your stay in the Huon Valley.
Day 2: Exploring the wineries
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your accommodation, then hit the road and head towards Home Hill Winery in Ranelagh. They’ve won multiple awards for their pinot noir, so settle in for a tasting inside the rammed-earth restaurant that looks out onto the grapevines; if you’re lucky you’ll catch winemaker Gilli Lipscombe for a chat. Have a wander among the vines and stay on for a lunch that showcases the valley’s oysters, lamb, yoghurt and fish.
The next stop on your tour of the Huon Valley wine region is to a couple of the state’s most southern vineyards: Two Bud Spur Vineyard and Hartzview Vineyard in Gardners Bay. Hartzview also specialises in port, liqueur and mead produced with local honey.
Continue onto Grandvewe Sheep Cheesery and Hartshorn Distillery in Birchs Bay for a tasting of their local cheese as well as the spirits made with whey. You’re welcome to watch the cheese-making process, and children can help feed the lambs in summer (check the website for times). There’s also an on-site restaurant and café plus a shop with sheep’s milk ice-cream, fudge and other products to purchase.
Day 3: Southwest National Park to Hobart
- Drive time: about 2 hours to Southwest National Park, then 3 hours direct to Hobart
After breakfast, pack your gourmet leftovers into a picnic lunch and make sure you have your swimmers and a towel. Expect a more active day, and take plenty of food to keep you fuelled. From Huonville it’s about a two-hour drive to the most southern point of Australia’s public road network, Cockle Creek, where you’ll meet Southwest National Park. It’s easy to see why the Lyluequonny people camped and traded along this sheltered coastline through summer and autumn, living on seal, abalone, crayfish, mussel and mutton bird.
The South Coast Track is a multi-day walk between Melaleuca and Cockle Creek. For a shorter day hike, begin at the trailhead close to the carpark in Cockle Creek. From here, it’s a relatively flat, four-hour (16-kilometre, 10-mile) return walk to South Cape Bay, where dramatic black cliffs and long beaches are pounded by the mighty Southern Ocean. A valid park pass is required.Show more