Discover Tasmania with Avis
Road To Joy with Avis
A road trip is the perfect way to discover Southern Tasmania – from stopping at roadside stalls to taking the long way to soak in a serene vista. With Avis' flexible risk free bookings, you can confidently plan ahead, giving you the freedom to find joy around every corner.
More than any other Australian state, Tasmania packs all the essentials for a perfect road trip into a delightfully small space. Where else can you find premium food and wine producers, vast expanses of untouched wilderness, and spectacular windswept beaches all within an hour’s drive?
The Southern Edge drive begins in easy reach south west of Hobart. It has long been a popular region for day trips from the capital, but an explosion of activity in recent years – new art galleries, lively markets and festivals, and an abundance of fresh produce straight from the farm gate – has made this region even more deserving of your attention.
Above: A road trip gives you the freedom to immerse yourself in the scenery
With plenty of accommodation for every budget – from riverside campsites to self-catering cottages and farm stays – the Southern Edge is always a great option for a long weekend on the road. But with increased flexibility on all Avis bookings made between now and July, including the ability to change or cancel your reservation up to 24 hours before your trip with no cancellation fees, there’s never been a better time to explore Tassie.
As you crest Vince’s Saddle – the highest point of the Huon Highway – and wind your way down towards Grove, it becomes obvious how Tasmania earned its ‘Apple Isle’ moniker. With an incredible backdrop of World Heritage Area peaks to the west, the Huon Valley is a region of rolling orchards, dotted here and there with wooden pickers huts and packing sheds.
There’s no better way to honour the area’s apple-growing history than stopping at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed for a generous slice of pie and a tasting flight of their award-winning ciders. Take a moment in the car park to look back at the mountains that make up the Wellington Ranges and see if you can spot Sleeping Beauty; the silhouette of a resting woman in profile.
Continue south through the valley towards Huonville, and you’ll find two excellent vineyards in close proximity. Home Hill Winery has a cellar door and restaurant offering a seasonal menu; Kate Hill Wines has a more intimate tasting room based in a heritage-listed cottage from the 1880s. Either way, you can’t go wrong by picking up a bottle of Pinot Noir to enjoy later in the day.
Left: At Willie Smith's Apple Shed you can enjoy a tasting at the Charles Oates Distillery; Right: Savour local produce on the menu
One of the many joys of driving through the Huon is the variety of roadside stalls where you can stock up on picnic provisions. Many of these operate on an honesty-box basis, so bring along some cash if you want to stock up on apples, berries, stone fruit, fresh flowers and even – if you seek out the Little Black Fridge at Geeveston – sweet treats and baked goods. Keep an eye on their Insta for details of what’s on offer each day, and get there early for the brown butter cookies, which always sell out first.
When it’s time for a leg stretch and a snack, there are dozens of spots to pull over and enjoy the scenery. Head for the foreshore at Franklin and take a leisurely walk along the river – the tannin-stained waters create beautiful reflections, and there are traditional wooden boats moored all along the shore.
Another lovely spot is Heritage Park in Geeveston – keep an eye out for platypus in the river, and leave time to pick up some fresh sushi from Masaaki’s. Chef Masaaki Koyama is originally from Osaka, and his use of traditional techniques combined with fresh Tasmanian produce is a mouth-watering combination.
Staying on the western side of the Huon River, there’s the option to head inland to Hartz Mountains National Park. You’ll need a Parks Pass to visit (it’s easiest to book this online before you arrive), but with several spectacular walks in the area, it’s well worth the drive. Lake Esperance is a favourite with locals: the walk is two hours return, mainly on a well-constructed wooden boardwalk, and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of southern Tasmania.
The Far South
Dover is a pretty fishing village about 80 minutes south of Hobart on the Huon Highway, and it’s a great base if you’re keen to explore Tasmania’s Far South. It sits at the head of Esperance Bay, and photographers will enjoy the opportunity to capture some spectacular shots of the sun setting behind Adamson’s Peak.
Dover is also the last place to stock up on supplies before driving further south. Call ahead to order some sourdough bread from the Bakehouse Distillery, along with a bottle of Evoke – a small-batch, uniquely Tasmanian spirit distilled from sassafras.
From Dover, it’s about half an hour to Hastings Caves State Reserve, where you can head underground to discover an impressive network of dolomite caves, and then a further half hour to Cockle Creek – the southernmost point you can drive to in Australia.
There may not be any shops or services in this part of the state (although you might get lucky in Southport and find The Rocket at the End of the Road is open – grab a coffee if so) but if you want to enjoy solitude, stargazing, and long stretches of deserted beach, then you’re in the right place. It’s pretty special to find yourself right on the edge of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area looking south, knowing that there’s nothing else between you and Antarctica.
There’s just as much to discover on the eastern side of the Huon River as there is on the west, so make sure you leave time to stop and explore as you make your way along the Channel Highway.
At Glaziers Bay, you’ll find Tas-Saff saffron farm, where you can sample saffron-infused tea, vodka or gin. This is also where you’ll find Matthew Evans’ Fat Pig Farm – book ahead if you want to enjoy a cooking class or a seat at the table during one of their regular feasts.
Left: Book ahead for a table at Matthew Evan's Fat Pig Farm; Right; Book in for a cooking class at Fat Pig Farm
In nearby Cygnet, immerse yourself in the buzz of artistic activity, with ceramicists, painters, weavers and woodcarvers all busy at work in their studios and galleries. This is the kind of town where it’s worth just strolling around to see what you can find; although one visit worth organising ahead of time is to
David and Michelle Rauenbusch’s Phoenix Creations, where you’ll find beautiful hand-carved wooden spoons, ethically sourced from green wood and vintage Tasmanian timbers.
Art lovers will also appreciate Art Farm Birch’s Bay; a 1.5km sculpture trail through native bushland. It’s around half an hour from Cygnet if you drive directly east on a minor road, or about twice that if you take the longer (and much more scenic) route through Verona Sands and Flowerpot on the Channel Highway.
Above: Exploring the trails at Art Farm Birchs Bay
Once you’ve reached this section of the Channel Loop, you’ll find Hartshorn Distillery and Grandvewe Cheeses – a family run dairy that also produces boutique batches of vodka and gin from sheep’s whey; and Peppermint Bay Hotel, where head chef Toby Annear maintains a strong focus on local, seasonal produce. You can trust that both the food and the view will be exceptional.
By this stage of the drive, you’ve likely run out of holiday reads, so now’s your chance to seek out the Woodbridge Village of Street Libraries; there’s not one but five free little libraries, each one modelled on a different building from the local area.
If there’s time for one more stop – and with the flexibility to extend your rental car quickly and easily through the Avis App, there surely will be – make it the Raptor Refuge near Kettering. Advance bookings are essential, but their private walk and talk tour will introduce you to a range of magnificent raptors, including eagles, owls and falcons. The passion of their volunteer team is infectious, and there could be no better way to round off your Southern Edge road trip.
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