The Huon Valley is a green, inviting valley located 35 minutes south-west of Hobart. Spread over an area of 5,497 km², the Huon Valley hosts bustling towns and regional centres like Huonville, Cygnet, Dover, Geeveston and Franklin. Locally referred to as the ‘Huon’, this picturesque valley is known for its apple orchards, old town charms, enchanting forests and friendly locals.
Exploring the Huon Valley
When driving from Hobart, visitors to the Huon generally make a brief stopover at the Huon Valley Apple and Heritage Museum, in a small town called Grove on the Huon highway. The museum offers a glimpse of the life of early Tasmanian settlers and the main feature of the museum is over five hundred varieties of apples… some of which are grown exclusively in the area.
Huonville is an iconic and enchanting town situated on the Huon Highway, about 30 mins from Hobart. Dubbed as a “Foodie’s Paradise”, visitors to Huonville enjoy local fresh produce including mushrooms, apples, pears, cherries, honey and smoked salmon.
The Huon River snakes through the length of the valley and is a hub of outdoor activities including fishing, boating and jet boat rides. 170 Km long it flows from Scotts Peak Dam at Lake Pedder all the way through to Cygnet.
The Hartz National Park is one of Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Areas and can be easily reached from Huonville. The Park contains mountain ranges, glacial lakes, waterfalls and a large variety of animal and plant life. Popular bushwalking destinations include the Waratah Lookout, Arve Falls, Lake Esperance and the Hartz Peak (experienced climbers only!).
Travelling further south takes visitors to the town of Franklin, known globally for its wooden boat building industry and untouched heritage buildings. A popular location in Franklin is the Wooden Boat Centre, a school and a visitor centre where the traditional craft of boat building is taught to students, and also the history of Tasmanian boatbuilding, tools and timber are on display. Other places worth seeing in Franklin are the Palais Theatre and the old court house (now a gourmet cafe). Much of the old Franklin remains.
Further south from Franklin is the town of Geeveston, popular for its apple orchards, creative local artists and forestry heritage. This small town offers local art and craft, eateries and picturesque landscape. The Tahune Reserves are a stone’s throw distance from Geeveston and are especially known for the amazing Tahune Airwalk: a carefully constructed walkway through the forest 45m above ground level. Other attractions in the area of the Tahune Airwalk include Eagle Hang Gliding where you fly a controlled hang-glider through the forest and over the Huon River and Huon Pine Walk along the river bank to a stand of the fabulous Huon Pine trees.
Dover is an angler’s delight with crayfish, abalone and Salmon ready to be plucked (or fished) from crystal waters. With charming unspoilt beaches, quaint houses and groves of English trees, Dover is an old town of the bygone era sitting at the head of Esperance Bay looking out at the three islands, Faith, Hope and Charity. Hastings Caves and the Thermal Springs are also located near Dover: here you can take a 45 minute guided tour of spectacular dolomite caves, enjoy local bushwalks or soak up in warm thermal springs.
Also located nearby at Southport is the Ida Bay Railway, the last operating bush ‘tramway’ in Tasmania takes visitors on a 14 km long ride through epic forests from the Lune River Station to Elliot’s Beach. Keep a sharp look-out and you will see the tiny cemetery between the railway and the water.
Lying between the Huon River and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel is the small town of Cygnet. Though small in size, it is a major fruit producing centre of the Huon Valley. The Cygnet Folk Festival occurs every January and is one of Tasmania’s premier cultural events. Local, national and international artists entertain revellers with music, dance and drama. There are many art galleries, studios and craft shops where the works of local artists are on display. A market is held on the first and third Sunday of every month and award winning wineries are located nearby at Cradoc and Gardners Bay
History and Economy
Originally called Tahune-Linah by the Tasmanian Aborigines, the Huon Valley draws its name from the French explorer Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec. Together with Rear Admiral Bruni D’Entrecasteaux; Huon de Kermadec explored South Pacific and Australia in the eighteenth century and the channel through which they sailed came to be known as Huon River.
Because of the presence of pine forests, the European settlers who made Huon Valley their homes established a lucrative timber milling industry. Because of the quality and strength of the timber, it was ideal for boat making but unfortunately the trees were rapidly wiped out and apple trees planted in their place.
Today, the Huon Valley is known for its apple produce, tourism attractions, award winning wine cultivation and many other relaxing and memorable things to do whilst visiting. It is one of the many exquisitely beautiful valleys in Tasmania and has rightly earned the title of “Tourist’s Paradise”.