02 February, 2021

The Huon Valley and Tasmania’s Deep South: nature at its best

Go gourmet in the valley, then go wild in the spectacular wilderness just beyond.

One of the best places to explore is the Huon Valley and its little towns, including Cygnet, Franklin, Geeveston and Huonville, are famous for fresh produce. The Huon Valley council area – the southernmost in Australia – offers so much more to travellers though, including a big chunk of the vast Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area to explore.

Only 30 minutes’ drive south-west of Hobart, the main town of Huonville – like the valley and pine – is named after 18th century French navigator Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec. In 1843, a British settler planted some apple trees, and the Huon (as locals call the valley) soon became a renowned food bowl. You’ll still find oodles of apples, as well as cider and many other delicious fruits.

Huon River (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne)
Huon River (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne)

Things to do

Good news! After being badly damaged by 2019’s bushfires, Tahune Adventures is once again inviting visitors to experience their breathtaking Airwalk above the forest canopy, and hike or simply stroll at ground level. Feel invigorated by the rapidly regenerating native forest’s sights, sounds and scents.

Other natural ways to explore the valley include guided horse riding, or cruising along the Huon River in Yukon, a restored 1930 Danish sailboat. It departs from Franklin’s Wooden Boat Centre – pop in for a tour of this workshop where boats are lovingly built by hand. Fancy a faster ride up the river? Huon Jet’s boats weave through the forest at high speed, leap over rapids and do 360-degree spins!

Tahune Adventures (Image: Tahune Adventures Tasmania)
Tahune Adventures (Image: Tahune Adventures Tasmania)

Wild places to explore

A substantial part of this region is Southwest National Park. Tasmania’s largest, it’s 600,000 hectares of mostly untouched wilderness, including towering Huon pines, glacial lakes and rugged coast. If you can’t make it to remote Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey, take a walk in the park’s more accessible north. Or explore the waterfalls, lakes, forests, alpine moors and jagged peaks of Hartz Mountains National Park, just 80 kilometres from Hobart.

Not all the natural wonders are above ground. Hastings Caves State Reserve is a subterranean wonderland of stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, natural columns, shawls and straws. Back at ground level, stroll through ferny forest and relax in the natural thermal springs. Close by is the Southport Lagoon Conservation Area, a wild yet tranquil place for boating and birdwatching. There are also beautiful beaches around Recherche Bay.

Hastings Caves (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett)
Hastings Caves (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett)

Where to eat

The place most famously embracing the Huon’s extraordinary produce is Fat Pig Farm, subject of SBS TV series Gourmet Farmer. Book ahead for their weekly paddock-to-plate leisurely lunch and tour. Other dining hot spots include the new Port Cygnet Cannery, a former fruit-processing co-operative now championing local goodness through a restaurant, cafe and bar.

Another landmark tastily reborn is the Old Bank of Geeveston. Enjoy house-made cafe fare, including an irresistible array of baked treats, amid comfy country-meets-city decor. Really indulge your sweet tooth with high tea at gracious Villa Howden, or feast on The Block Steakhouse @ The Manor’s more substantial fare, from King Island beef to Huon salmon.

Or get hands-on with local produce during an Italian-inspired Farmhouse Kitchen cooking class.

Fat Pig Farm (Image: Alice Hansen)
Fat Pig Farm (Image: Alice Hansen)

Where to drink

The valley’s building on its apple reputation with exceptional cider. Pagan Cider, Frank's and Willie Smith's have their welcome mats out for tastings, sales and leisurely sips with food and sometimes live music too. While other fruit, especially pears, are in the mix, these cideries are mostly about apples – including apple spirits thanks to Willie Smith's distillery sideline.

You can also taste the world’s first spirit made from Tassie’s native sassafras tree at Bakehouse Distillery, or visit some of Australia’s southernmost wineries. The Huon is classic cool-climate grape country, so white wines and pinot noir are the heroes at Kate Hill Wines, Elsewhere Vineyard, Home Hill and Hartzview Vineyard, which produces fortified wines and fruit liqueurs too.

Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cider (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne)
Willie Smiths Organic Apple Cider (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Nick Osborne)

Where to shop

Farm-gate stalls abound in the valley, especially on the road between Huonville and Cygnet, so keep your eyes peeled for fresh, seasonal tastes of Tasmania. There’s also a permanent shop at Australia’s first saffron farm, Tas-Saff, where you can buy this precious spice plus saffron gin, vodka and tea. Make a beeline for The Honey Pot, an emporium of local honeys, honey skincare, beeswax candles, mead and more, or get a sugar rush at The Wall of Lollies, a shop living up to its name with all sorts of sweets from around the world.

On the first and third Sunday of each month, Cygnet Market brings together regional produce and creativity, from jam to jewellery. If you’re looking for quality souvenirs to treasure forever, Makers on Church St and Lovett Gallery are top options for regional arts and crafts including landscape paintings, woodwork and ceramics.

The Wall of Lollies (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett)
The Wall of Lollies (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett)

Discover more to do, drink, eat and shop in our post about the creative town of Cygnet.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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