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Hobart and the South East
Port Arthur Hobart is a vibrant city which proudly preserves its remarkable colonial heritage. To stroll past the cottages and mansions of Battery Point is like stepping back in time. To the north of Hobart you will find some delightful villages with a rich legacy of colonial buildings and the stunning coastline and craggy peaks of Freycinet National Park. Here too you will find the road which takes you to the Tasman Peninsula the hauntingly beautiful ruins of Port Arthur. To the west lies the agricultural area around New Norfolk and the waterfalls and forests of Mount Field National Park. South of Hobart lies the Huon Valley, renowned for its orchards, the wild beauty of Bruny Island, the thermal pools and caves at Hastings and the World Heritage Area of Southwest National Park.
Climate
In Hobart, the average temperature in winter is 11 degrees Celsius, in summer 21 degrees. Be prepared for cool days at any time of the year, and if you want to go walking in the mountain areas of Tasmania, ensure you take rain and cold weather gear with you.
How do I get there?
Hobart is accessible by air from all the mainland states of Australia. Tasmania can be accessed by ferry from Melbourne and Sydney. Ferries terminate at Devonport on the northern coast of Tasmania. As driving distances are not great, it would not take more than a few hours to drive from Devonport to Hobart.
What are the main towns?
The main towns in the region include: Hobart, Richmond, Port Arthur, Bicheno, Huonville and New Norfolk.
Where can I stay?
Travelmate has a range of accommodation in the region to suit all budgets.
What's there to do in the region?
Hobart combines the best of both worlds - large enough to be lively while small enough to retain a sense of community. Founded in 1804, the city is Australia's second oldest capital city. The original settlement was built at Risdon Cove, 8km along the Derwent River. The current site occupies an enviable position on the river with Mount Wellington as a dramatic backdrop and the view from the top of the mountain is second to none.

Stroll along streets of original workers' cottages and magnificent Georgian mansions in Battery Point or visit Salamanca Place with its shops selling quality Tasmanian crafts. Constitution Dock, not far away, is the finish for Australia's premier ocean yacht race, the Sydney to Hobart race, held annually from Boxing Day. On Saturday, make sure you catch the famed Salamanca Market, which sells everything from hand-crafted toys to organic produce. The market has a festive air, with bands and buskers to entertain the crowds.

The rest of south-east Tasmania can be comfortably explored with several day trips from Hobart, or you may prefer to plan a touring route which takes in the major attractions of this beautiful and historic part of the island state.

Your first stop should be Richmond, just 25km north-east of Hobart. This historic village boasts the oldest bridge in Australia, built by convict labour in 1823, and Old Richmond Gaol, the oldest convict prison in Australia. Many of the old buildings now house shops, galleries and boutiques displaying some of the fine crafts for which Tasmania is renowned.

Next, head to the Tasman Peninsula, where you will find the historic Port Arthur settlement, which was established to confine the worst convicts. The narrow strip of land - Eaglehawk Neck - connecting the peninsula to the rest of the island was cordoned off by ferocious dogs and guarded day and night. Despite its harsh beginnings, the Port Arthur Historic Site now has an air of tranquility. Nearby there are some fascinating geological formations to see: the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman's Arch, Devil's Kitchen and the Blowhole.

From here, head north past Maria Island, also a former penal colony and now a national park, accessible by ferry from Triabunna on the mainland, to the historic town of Swansea. Swansea features many well-preserved colonial-period buildings, including the convict-built Spiky Bridge. On the other side of Great Oyster Bay lies Freycinet National Park, one of Tasmania's oldest national parks, declared in 1916. The 13,000-hectare park includes rocky headlands, sandy beaches, woody hills and slopes, and rough granite mountains. Take a walk to one of the vantage points over Wineglass Bay, where you will not believe how blue the sea is, how white the sand and how perfect the shape of the bay is.

The coastal resort and fishing town of Bicheno, popular for its mild climate, clean beaches, and penguin colony, marks the most northerly point of this region. Just north of the town lies Douglas-Apsley National Park.

Heading inland to Campbell Town you can return south along the Midland Highway, past the historic towns of Ross, Oatlands and Pontville. Take some time to visit the original site of the city, at Risdon Cove Historic Site.

The town of New Norfolk, set on the banks of the Derwent River, is the centre of a hop-growing district with many colonial buildings and fine English trees. The resulting landscape is often called "Kentish", after the hop-growing area of Kent in England. In the town there are scenic walks, lookouts, a wetlands area and a hop museum.

From here, continue west to Mount Field National Park, one of Tasmania's oldest national parks. There are walking tracks past impressive waterfalls (especially after rain), including perhaps the best-known, Russell Falls, and through the forest with its tree ferns, giant gum trees and mosses, ferns and lichens which thrive in the damp conditions. The drive to Lake Dobson takes you across the high country with its alpine scenery.

As you return towards Hobart, consider a side trip to Hamilton and Bothwell. Hamilton has many historic buildings, while Bothwell has been proclaimed a historic village. Take a stroll around and absorb the historic atmosphere in this delightful village.

The Huon Valley, less than 50 kilometres south of Hobart as the Huon River nears the coast, is an area of intensive orcharding, producing more than half of Tasmania's apples. The Apple and Heritage Museum at Grove, just north of Huonville, provides a history of the industry.

The first apple tree is said to have been planted by William Bligh in 1788 at Adventure Bay on nearby Bruny Island. Bruny Island, accessible by car ferry from Kettering, offers visitors a scenic treat including the rough, wild coastline of Storm Bay, the quiet of the sheltered D'Entrecasteaux Channel and the mountains, beaches and isolated lighthouse of South Bruny Island.

The D'Entrecasteaux Channel was named eponymously by the French explorer Bruni D'Entrecasteaux in 1792. Ships servicing settlements of whalers, sealers and timber-getters to the south used the calm channel to avoid the treacherous open sea. The main timber sought in the area was the Huon pine, which can live for 2000 years and was found to be particularly useful for shipbuilding.

Back on the mainland, Huonville is the main service centre for the Huon Valley district. It is located about 10 kilometres from the mouth of the Huon River and jet-boat riding, paddleboating and fishing are popular. In spring, the surrounding area bursts with blossom, and in summer you can see orchards full of apricots, plums, cherries, pears and apples. In season, you can buy just-picked produce for roadside stalls.

Two towns lying between Huonville and the Huon River estuary are Franklin and Port Huon. Franklin is the oldest township on the Huon, with some surviving early architecture and a flourishing arts and craft community as well as a wooden boat-building industry. Port Huon, once a busy trading port, is now an ideal place from which to take a cruise up the Huon. It is also the site of some of Tasmania's increasingly successful Atlantic salmon farms.

Inland from Port Huon is Geeveston, known as the gateway to 1740-hectare Hartz Mountains National Park. The gravel road to the park runs through tall eucalypt forest, valleys of beech rainforest, alpine heathland and rocky mountain tops. Arve Falls, before Hartz Peak, where the Arve River drops suddenly is worth a stop. At the end of the road, a number of walks of varying degrees of difficulty are marked out, including a rugged one to Hartz Peak which can take up to five hours return. Walkers should be prepared for sudden changes in weather.

If instead of following the road from Geeveston south into Hartz Mountains National Park visitors turns north onto Arve Road Forest Drive, they will arrive at Tahune Forest Reserve, where again a number of walks have been marked out. Various timbers can be identified here including Huon pine, sassafras and myrtle.

From Geeveston leave the Huon behind and head south along the coast of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to enjoy more seascapes. Off the fishing town of Dover you can see the islands Faith, Hope and Charity, and enjoy a stroll along the beach. Southport, further south, was once a base for whalers and sealers, and still retains a small fishing fleet. Inland from Southport are the Hastings Caves (on the edge of Southwest National Park, a World Heritage listed area) and Hastings Thermal Pool, where the waters are about 27 degrees Celsius all year-round. It is about 20 kilometres south of Hastings to the southernmost settlement in Australia, Cockle Creek. From here a four-hour return walk will take you to the Southern Ocean.

One way of exploring the Huon Valley area is by way of the Huon Valley Trail. The route is marked by timber-crowned signs at 24 locations throughout the area, and begins just south of Hobart at Taroona. Here visitors are invited to climb the 318 steps up the Shot Tower (a shot tower produced rounded lead shot balls by letting molten lead fall in droplets from the top of the tower to the bottom) for views of the surrounding land and water. The trail continues south, taking in the coastal towns, Bruny Island, the orcharding areas and even the peak of Mount Hartz.


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