The Huon Valley is located about 30 minutes south of Tasmania’s Capital, Hobart. A stunningly beautiful area it spans rivers, orchards, forests and picturesque towns.
The Huon region is just 30 minutes south of Hobart. Somewhat unsurprisingly Huonville is the region’s unofficial capital. Named after Captain Huon de Kermandec who was second in command in a French expedition lead by Admiral Bruni D’Entrecasteaux he spent only about five weeks in Van Diemen’s Land, as Tasmania used to be known, but he must have had a huge ego as gave his name to a whole range of things such as the Huon River, which, in turn, gave its name to Huon pines which grow on the banks of the river and is regarded as being one of the slowest growing and longest living plants in the world.
Tasmania is known as the “Apple Isle”, thanks mainly to the number of apple orchards that thrive in the Huon Valley. It’s a very productive area but, thanks to a fall in the price of apples, growers are now experimenting with other crops too so that the area also has a reputation for excellent mushrooms, wines and cheeses. A lot of artisans have also moved into the Valley and there is a Cygnet Art Trail you can follow should this be one of your interests.
It’s recommended that if you are traveling by car then you follow the Huon Valley Trail, which takes in the four distinct areas that are found within the Valley. Apart from the Huon Valley, the Trail includes the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island (these French explorers were serial place namers – they’ve also implanted their names indiscriminately near Esperance in Western Australia). The fourth area is called the Far South because it is a wild, rugged and extremely scenic part of Tasmania.
A winding road leads you to the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. On the way you pass some little towns with fascinating names like Snug, Margate, Kettering, Woodbridge, Middleton and Gordon. Margate has a couple of attractions, namely the Inverawe Native Gardens which displays thousands of plants that are native to the area, it’s a peaceful retreat for those interested in flora, with many paths for you to follow to better indulge your pleasure in plants. Also at Margate is the Margate Train complex. Here stands Tasmania’s last passenger train, housing a licensed restaurant and café, bookshop, barber, lolly shop, photographic studio and much more. There are also two warehouses on site offering antiques, jewellery and second hand goods.
At Woodbridge is the highly popular Peppermint Bay Restaurant which puts the best produce of the Huon Valley on show. The menu focuses on local seasonal produce including organic beef, saffron, abalone, farm cheeses, and smoke house fish.
Bruny Island is a 15-minute car ferry crossing from Kettering. It is worth visiting for its lovely, sandy beaches. Don’t think tropical beaches, this is Southern Tasmania and the next bid of land south is Antarctica, so whilst the beaches, such as the crescent-shaped Cloudy Bay Beach, beckon don’t plan on developing a suntan. From Bruny Island you can go in search of whales, seals and dolphins, and enjoy the magnificent seafood that is plucked from the cold waters that surround Tasmania.
If you don’t have your own transport there are a number of companies which offer tours of the region. As well there are also many activity-based tours such as fishing, horse riding, caving, golf and cruising. Bear in mind that the climate can change quite rapidly, although the Tasmanians have a saying that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing”, so it is best to pack for all four seasons, no matter which time of the year you visit.