Discover the very best the Huon Valley has to offer – from rolling green hills and scones with jam, to wild rivers, chocolatiers and Australia's first organic cidery. There's so much more to experience in the area, as Paul Fleming uncovers.
Within minutes of heading south from Hobart, I find myself amongst rolling hills of green flowing down the valleys and hugging cosy bays, with charming villages dotted amongst century-old apple orchards. At Margate I get my first hit of the Huon’s farm-fresh produce with a stop at Meredith’s Orchards for some delicious Pink Ladies for snacking on during my trip. In reality though, it’s to ward off an anticipation-induced rumbling tummy ahead of afternoon High Tea at Villa Howden, and letting myself fantasise of taking residence in the luxury of one of their ten suites.
Just down the road, past the delightfully named village of Snug, I call into a sweeping bay filled with dozens of gleaming yachts at Kettering. With my bag of apples glaring at me, I decide that it’s not too early to begin hunting and gathering – for chocolates. Nutpatch Nougat happily fuels my cocoa desires, as I wander off down the Kettering Point Track for some wonderful views of Bruny Island, chocolates in hand.
At Woodbridge the architecturally splendid Peppermint Bay serves up a slow-roasted lamb shoulder for lunch, bring a friend or two, the dish is designed to be shared. A few minutes inland from Woodbridge, Hartzview Vineyard is the perfect place to taste some local wines, ports and liqueurs and for a history lesson of the orchards from colonial days. A ridge-top cabin overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel at Woodbridge Hill Hideaway is home for tonight; as is their indoor pool, perched high, overlooking Bruny Island.
The Huon Valley is an artist’s paradise; lovers of sculpture and outdoor art should head to Pepperberries Café and Art Farm at Birch’s Bay. After a wander through the garden, orchard and bushland sculpture circuit, I find room for a fresh scone with cream, sweetened with blackberry and native pepperberry jam. As a lover of cheese, I pop into Grandvewe Cheeses – that’s not a typo, but a clue that this farm produces cheese products from sheep’s milk.
If the Huon Valley is an artist’s paradise, then Cygnet must be its warm, beating heart. Wandering the main street, I find myself window-shopping for well-crafted handiwork, and high quality art at the Lovett Gallery. Lunch, and perfect coffee, fills me up at the Lotus Eaters Café, and a handful (OK, yes, it is a box) of chocolates from Cygneture Chocolates keep me company while browsing for gifts at Lanique Design Jewellery. I spend the afternoon wandering the Mickeys Beach track at Randalls Bay; a little-known meander that few visitors find. I’m looking forward to resting my head tonight at Hillside at Woodstock, a beautiful B&B by the Huon River, and reading my book by a roaring log fire.
Heading out to Tahune Airwalk, the forests grow taller and darker. Suspended 20-30m in the forest canopy, the Airwalk provides a unique perspective of the forests – and the grand finale, where I take in the view of the Huon and Picton Rivers coming together, 50 metres below the swaying, cantilevered, walkway! Pretending to be a bird, I soar across the Huon River on the Eagle Cable Hang Glider. After feeling light and free, I call into the riverside village of Franklin for a cider at Franks. The Wooden Boat Centre offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, and how the traditional methods of the craft are being kept alive through this unique school. A self-contained house, Shanleys, at Glendevie, is home for tonight. The sunken indoor spa is calling me.
Arguably the state’s best sushi can be found at Masaaki’s at Geeveston – visit on a Saturday as I did, and the farmers market will be on right outside and nearby are local crafts stores and art galleries. Note Masaaki’s is only open on Friday and Saturday – otherwise you can find him at the Farm Gate Market in Hobart on Sunday. Exploring a little further south, Duckhole Lake is the perfect place to discover the secrets of the forests; the water-filled sinkhole offers a tranquil spot to watch for platypus. Back in Huonville, I can’t resist a stop at the Cat’s Tongue Chocolatiers on my way to lunch at Home Hill Winery at Ranelagh. With a heart-racing buzz up the Huon River with Huon Jet Boats, I feel it’s time to slow things down a notch; nestled in the forests high in the hills outside Huonville, Huon Bush Retreats has me at “outdoor bath.’