The Hastings Caves State Reserve offers a variety of unique experiences, just a 90 minute drive south from Hobart. Tour Australia’s largest dolomite tourist cave, float in the blissful thermal pool, and explore the lovely forest walks.
There are lots of interesting things to do in the Far South and Huon Valley, so stay and explore the region’s attractions. We’ve put together some tips on visiting Hastings Caves & Thermal Springs to get you started.
1. Begin at the Visitor Centre
When you arrive, head to the Visitor Centre to purchase your cave tour or thermal pool tickets. Plan to arrive at least half an hour before your desired tour start time, as the cave is a short drive and walk away.
While you’re at the Visitor Centre, check out the interpretation displays and learn about the unique values of the area. The friendly staff are happy to answer any questions. If you’re feeling peckish, enjoy a snack and coffee from the cafe (our tip: try the scones with jam and cream).
2. Be awestruck on the cave tour
Knowledgeable Parks & Wildlife Service guides lead regular 45 minute tours into the depths of Newdegate Cave. The cave is spacious with no narrow passages, but there are a fair few stairs to navigate.
The caves started forming more than 40 million years ago, but were only discovered by timber workers in 1917 (we imagine they got quite the surprise). On the tour, you’ll learn about the cave’s history, geology, fauna and unique features, and discover impressive subterranean formations. This incredible cave experience is sure to become a treasured memory.
3. Float in the thermal pool
Relaxing in the thermal pool, surrounded by lush forest, is a special experience. Listen to the birds singing in the trees and feel your worries melt away. The pool is fed by pure spring water and maintains a balmy temperature of 28 degrees all year round—perfect for those crisp Tassie days! The pool and the trail through the surrounding forests are accessible to wheelchair users. Find this place of pure bliss near the Visitor Centre.
4. Enjoy the surrounding walks
In addition to the peaceful short walk to the actual cave tour, there are some lovely walks in the area. Meander along the short walking track through the forest and keep an eye out for wildlife. The trail starts near the thermal pool, and is an easy walk accessible to wheelchair users (although some assistance may be needed at the start of the track).
To further investigate this whole thermal spring phenomenon, follow the Hot Springs Track. Discover the place where the warm waters of one creek meet the cold waters of another. Dip your hand in and feel the change in temperature (what kind of wizardry is this?).
The scenic track to Duckhole Lake (1.5 hrs/4.2 km return) is a short drive away and makes a nice addition to your Hastings Caves adventure. The picturesque lake is actually a flooded sinkhole and is part of the surrounding cave and karst landscape. The walk follows a late 19th century sawmill tramway for much of the way, meandering through a forest of stringybarks and rainforest species, and sections of tea tree swamp.
5. Rustle up a poolside picnic or barbecue
Make a fun family day of it at the Hastings Cave State Reserve and pack a picnic or barbecue lunch. Find fantastic picnic facilities by the pool, including a shelter hut with electric barbecues and power points. The pool is lovely and warm, but the air outside can get pretty chilly. Huddling around the open fireplaces is wonderfully cosy in the cooler months (wood is even provided).
Looking after the caves
There are some key things we can all do to look after the unique and fragile cave reserve. Please resist the urge to touch the cave formations, refrain from smoking, and don’t take food into the caves. Photos are okay without flash, but tripods are not permitted. As with all national parks and reserves, please leave no trace by taking any rubbish out with you.
For accommodation tips, see Where to Stay. Southport and Dover offer a variety of fantastic options, or campgrounds are available at Cockle Creek and Esperance River.
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