On our last trip to the Far South of the state, we talked about going to Hastings Caves, which is even further south than the Tahune Airwalk.
We decided we didn’t have enough time to fit it in on that trip and that we’d come back another time.
School holidays seemed like a perfect time for an overnight trip, when we had some time off and none of Juniordwarf’s regular commitments. Apart from it being school holidays and there being, you know, people around.
We spent the night in Southport. It’s very small – population is less than 400 – and has a history of shipping and timber.
After we arrived we had a look around the town. There are a lot of little shacks along the waterfront. It’s very quiet.
Southport boasts Australia’s most southern pub (and southernmost petrol outlet). Obviously we had to stay there, and we had dinner in the bistro. It was a really good meal.
In the morning we walked down to the beach and Juniordwarf collected some sea shells, which he then proceeded to drop off the side of the jetty.
It was a nice walk along the beach, then out on the jetty and finally back to the motel.
The main activities in the reserve are the Thermal Pool which, despite its 28 degrees water temperature, we weren’t game to venture into (also we didn’t bring our swimmers), the Thermal Springs walk and the cave tour.
We arrived just before the Visitor Centre opened at 10.00, bought our tickets for the cave tour, and then set out on the Thermal Springs walk. Part of the track was closed due to a tree fall.
The main thing you find out during this walk is how the water in the warm springs has been warmed because it’s soaked deep into the earth and has then resurfaced into the springs. The cold water in the streams is from rain and from snow melt.
There are a couple of places on the walk where you can reach down into the springs and feel how warm the water is.
The point we had to turn back was a point where the spring water and the stream water meet – you can see the difference between the darker cold stream water, which has tannins in it and the spring water that has come from the earth and has a blue tint to it.
When we returned to the Visitor Centre it was time to drive to the Newdegate Cave for our tour. It’s a short drive and then a short walk to the cave entrance. We met our tour guide Lauren at the entrance and, after she’d run though the rules (no eating, drinking, smoking, tripods or touching the crystals) it was time to go in.
The cave is called Newdegate Cave after a former Governor of Tasmania, Sir Francis Newdegate. It was found by some forest workers in 1917, and is unusual because its formations are dolomite rather than limestone.
The formations were really interesting and the cave itself is huge. The tour ran for about 45 minutes, and Juniordwarf was particularly taken by the name of the creek that runs nearby, Mystery Creek.
Our final port of call today was the nearby Duckhole Lake walk, which is included in the 60 Great Short Walks of Tasmania. It was supposed to be 1 hour return, and one reviewer said they got there in 20 minutes. We usually find that estimated the walk times are overestimates, so we thought it would be about 45 minutes return.
In the end the walk took us almost an hour and a half. It was raining (Lauren had told us they get 8-10 mm rain every day around the caves, so we must have got some of that), the ground was wet and some of the boards on the board walk were a bit loose. Overall it was a pretty easy walk, with just a couple of places we had to tread very carefully.
Duckhole Lake is a flooded sinkhole. It was a lovely walk to get there, and the lake was very pretty. I would have liked to have looked around a bit more, but we didn’t want to get home too late, so we didn’t spend a lot of time there.
A couple of things caught my eye on the way back that I’d missed on the way up.
We enjoyed the half-weekend away. It was great to be able to see another part of Tasmania we hadn’t been to before. Next time our plan is to go even further south and check out the Cockle Creek to South Cape Bay walk. It will be longer and more difficult than any walk we’ve done so far, so we might wait until Juniordwarf is a big bigger before we do this.
In the meantime there’s heaps of the state we still haven’t explored.