Sunday 23rd of November 2014 was a beautiful, sunny Tasmanian day, a pleasant change from the overcast
and threatening ones preceding and following, and my Russian friend Galiya talked me into a trip down
the Huon Valley from Hobart to visit the Hastings Thermal Springs and Cave. She was particularly
interested in a swim in the waters of the springs and to enjoy the walks adjacent to it. We hoped to see a
platypus on the short 'Platypus Walk' from the springs and were told there were several in the
small creek around the spring. We set off from Hobart about 10.30 am with our bathers, towels, some walking shoes
and our cameras to see what the Channel and Huon had to offer.
To add a little to the trip I decided we would follow the Channel Highway along the coast through
Kingston, Margate and Snug to Kettering where the Bruny Island Ferry leaves taking passengers to and
from the island, before backtracking a few kilometres to Oyster Cove and heading across to Cygnet and up
to Huonville before joining the Huon Highway south to Hastings. The round trip was some 200 kilometres
and took in the large town of Kingston before joining the coast at Margate. The Margate Train is a popular
stop as you enter from the north and there are several shops, a market, food shops and a second hand
furniture shop. A nice stop before a look around the small township, typical of the coastal villages
between Kingston and Verona Sands along the d'Entrecasteau Channel. We stopped and watched the ferry
loading at Kettering and were surprised how busy it was. Before leaving we called in to the Visitor
Centre next to the terminal and collected some brochures and guides for the remainder of the journey.
The drive across from Oyster Cove through Nicholls Rivulet is through rolling hills dotted with apple
and pear orchards and every so often a farm or house stands beside the road, with plenty of dirt roads
leading off from both sides indicating there are plenty more set back from the road. The 20km or so
passed quickly and we were soon in the pretty township of Cygnet. Cygnet was once the hub of the massive
apple industry from which Tasmania earned it's nick-name as the Apple Isle, but there is little visible
evidence of this these days from the main road. It is still a substantial township though with three
pubs, a bakery and several shops including an art gallery. A major Folk Festival is held here each
year in mid January and there is a Regatta in March. There is a large wharf from which fishing is
popular there are electric barbecues, toilets and picnic tables in Burtons Reserve.
We passed through Cygnet and travelled up the eastern shore of the Huon River and into Huonville, the
largest town in the area and the business hub for the Huon Valley. We turned sharp left across the
river and headed south towards our destination.
The first place we came upon was Franklin, named after John Franklin, Tasmanian Governor from 1836 -
1843), and the site of the first settlement in the Huon Valley. Franklin is now well known for its
Wooden Boat Centre, which will be seen on the left as you enter the town and the fine collection of
antiques opposite. The pretty town follows the river and there are always yachts and boats off the
shore giving excellent photo opportunities. From Franklin we continued south towards Geeveston, forestry
centre of the Huon Valley. Among the major attractions around Geeveston and only a short drive away,is
the Tahune Forest Airwalk, a tree-top walk through the forest canopy. Geeveston also has a Forestry and
Visitor Centre and there is a 'Heritage Walk' around the town to explore. On this occasion we didn't have
the time to visit all the attractions so we headed south towards Dover where we stopped at a cafe for
some lunch before the final leg to the Hastings Visitor Centre and Thermal Springs.
Tickets for the spring and cave tour can be bought at the complex which also has information, souvenirs
and light snacks. A short walk from the centre leads to the springs which resembles a medium size fibre-glass
swimming pool. There are changing rooms with showers and toilets and barbecue and seating areas. There were
some 50 people there at the time we were, mainly families enjoying a day out and we got changed and joined
some of them in the pool.
Enquiries on 03 6298 3209 or visit the website at www.parks.tas.gov.au/reserves/hastings
The harbour at Kettering
The Bruny Island Ferry
The Springs at Hastings
Along the Platypus Walk
Wildflowers along the Hastings Road
See Area Map and Information.
Column in the Hastings Cave
The water was not as warm as we expected, but was pleasantly warm. The day being hot we didn't see the steam
rising from the pool as I believe you can on a cold day. However,it was pleasant and we spent a half hour in
the waters before getting changed and taking the Platypus Walk. Unfortunately we didn't see any but the walk
among the giant eucalypts is spectacular on its own. We then went inside and had one of the best coffees I have
enjoyed in my travels, got our tickets for the 3.00pm cave tour, and headed off to the cave some 5 or 6
kilometres further west along the dirt track. There are toilets at the cave parking area and a 5 minute
walk up to the cave entrance.
We were the first on the scene and in a little while the previous tour came out from the entrance and we
waited some 5 or 10 minutes before others on our tour arrived. Our guide explained what we would see
and a few basic rules to ensure everyone enjoyed the experience before leading us into the depths of the
There is not much point in describing all or many of the features of the cave. Suffice to say it is spectacular
and most of the features have been discreetely illuminated with soft lighting to illustrate the major points.
There are massive stalactites and stalagmites, formations resembling wedding cakes, angels wings, cathedral
and organ spires, even an ET finger. It has been formed over thousands of years and in places you can still see
drips of water suspended as the process continues. There is much climbing hewn steps up and down and the size
Our guide was well versed in the origins and formation of the cave and parried all questions expertly and clearly.
She even encouraged a young German girl to sing a few lines of a song to demonstrate the acoustics of the main
chamber. One which, incidentally has also been used as an auditorium and is occasionally booked for weddings.
The tour took some 45 minutes and was a wonderful experience I would recommend to anyone.
Put the Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs on your list of things to do while in Tasmania.
By Peter Wilkins 24/11/14