NOW: THE SOUTH EAST
At the Huonville Farmstay you can watch a sheep shorn, a cow milked and get really close to a Tasmanian Devil being fed. The park owner cares for the endangered devils in a purpose built enclosure sharing his knowledge while we watched from behind the glass screen fence. It was a real farm stay experience with ducks, geese and chooks free ranging on the lush green grass on this riverside property. Apples and strawberries also flourish in the Huon Valley and we tried both.
Just south of Huonville along the western bank of the Huon River wooden boats are still built the traditional way at Franklin. Once a timber port as well, Port Huon has diversified with infrastructure now supporting fish farming.
At Geeveston it was and still is all about timber including the rare Huon Pine. At the Tahune Airwalk a stroll along the Huon River reveals ancient Huon Pines that escaped felling before the forestry protection zone was established. This is the only place in the world where the Huon Pine grows naturally making its timber highly prized.
We also took the swinging bridges walk crossing the Huon and Picton Rivers on suspension bridges! Learning to manage the bouncing swinging action on the bridges was one thing but I did jump again when we saw the large black Tiger Snake sun baking as we stepped back on to solid ground.
Our third walk was up in the tree tops on the Airwalk looking down amongst the Sasafras, Myrtle and Blackwoods of the forest. We’d been up here before but it still took our breath away and being experienced adventurers now we didn’t mind the way the gantry swayed and bounced as you walked along.
The road south ends at Cockle Creek so we’d made it to – The End Of The Road! There’s an official sign marking Tasmania’s most southern point on the edge of the calm Recherche Bay. At nearby Fishers Point the whale sculpture reminds visitors of the old whaling sites that once dotted the bay and almost drove whales to extinction.
From this point the only way to go any further into South West National Park is to walk in the wilderness for days carrying all your supplies with you. We opted for a camp in the bush just out of the National Park where fires were permitted as the nights were getting fairly chilly.
The nearby Ida Bay Historic Railway follows a track once used to haul limestone from the quarry to ships anchored in Recherche Bay. They also felled the local Blue Gum and shipped it to England for building the hulls of ships. Members of the pioneering families are buried near the rail track in the family cemetery and remnants remain of the sawmill and the old family homes in the bush. It’s isolated here now yet these pioneers lived and worked here for years living from the bush around them!
The bush was damp from the rain and the bays were still and calm. After a thunderstorm and showers all night we had a wet pack up as the sun tried to peek through the clouds.
Driving north on the Huon Highway we passed all the small fishing villages including Catamaran, then Dover, Geeveston and Huonville. After skirting Hobart via Constitution Dock we followed the Derwent River for a night by the calm water at New Norfolk. This was where the convicts were resettled when the penal settlement closed on Norfolk Island hence, NEW Norfolk with its convict built stone buildings on the River Derwent.
NEXT: THE CENTRAL WILDERNESS
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David