One of the features of the Huon Valley that makes it so attractive to families is the enormous range of activities that are on offer within a relatively small area. If you have younger kids and you’re just looking for a quiet playground and a decent takeaway coffee, there are plenty to choose from. Equally, if you’ve got older kids and you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure, the Huon has you covered. From beach days to bush walks and forest-covered mountains to treat-filled menus, there’s nowhere like the Valley for a day of family fun.
Out on the water
There’s no doubt that a walk or a drive along the meandering curves of the Huon River is a beautiful way to spend a day – but for something a bit more special you need to experience it from the water.
Esperance Adventures offer a selection of kayak tours in the Huon area – families with children aged 10 and up are welcome on all of them, and no previous experience is necessary. The Huon River Kayak Tour departs from Franklin and includes morning tea on the river; while the popular Treasure Hunter Tour operates out of Southport between December and May – children as young as 7 can paddle their own kayak, while younger kids can share a double kayak with an adult. With treasure maps and clues, it’s loads of fun for young and old alike.
If you’re keen to set sail on something a little bigger, Yukon Tours offer weekend river tours onboard their 17m wooden ketch, departing from Franklin. The 90-minute soup and sail cruises are perfect for families. Tuck into homemade soup and crusty bread as you enjoy the calm water sailing, and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins. If your crew are especially boat mad (or should that be ketch keen?), you can combine your sail with a tour of the Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin. Keep an eye on the Centre’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date opening times, but at the time of writing they were offering guided tours of the workshop on Sunday mornings from 10am.
On, above and below ground
Back on dry land, there are plenty of family-friendly options for exploring some hidden corners of the Huon.
Conny at Horse Haven Farmstay offers a range of horse riding options in the hills around Judbury, and welcomes everyone from complete beginners to experienced riders. If it’s your kiddo’s first time on horseback you might want to start with the half hour or hour long pony ride. For more experienced riders, the choices range from 90 minutes to four hours, and all options include a light picnic or lunch.
Alternatively, for the chance to hang out with some Highland Cattle and get a behind-the-scenes peek at life on a Huon Valley farm, why not book an ATV Farm Tour with Julie at Highland Getaway near Ranelagh. Not only will you be treated to a fun trip in Julie’s 6-seater ATV, you’ll also have the opportunity to brush the cows, admire the chooks and llamas, and ask as many questions as you’d like about life on the farm.
Tahune Adventures near Geeveston has long been a local favourite in the Huon Valley, and it’s great to see them open again after a challenging 18 months, starting with the 2019 bushfires. If your kids are aged 10 or over, why not splash out on the Twin Rivers Adventure, a fabulous four-hour trip on raft or kayak along the Picton River which is run in partnership with King River Rafting. The Tahune Airwalk itself offers a spectacular birds’ eye view of the forest from 50 metres above the riverbank, but if you haven’t got a head for heights you can still enjoy parts of the Swinging Bridges Walk. They’re open weekends, with free kids entry through the winter.
If you’re more comfortable below ground than above it, you and your family will love Hastings Caves – a spectacular dolomite cave system with stalactities, stalacmites and columns aplenty. Keep an eye on the Parks and Wildlife page for the current opening hours. Leave time while you’re in this southern part of the Valley to pay a visit to nearby Lunaris Gemstones – a fascinating showroom and shop specialising in Tasmanian minerals, fossils and jewellery.
If your family is anything like mine, sometimes you just want to keep things simple. We love boat rides and big adventures… but we also love leisurely walks and casual lunches.
For some family-friendly short walks, Hartz Mountains National Park is a great place to start. Waratah Lookout is just five minutes from the car park, and offers incredible views back across the Huon Valley; but if you’ve made it this far you may as well explore a little deeper. Arve Falls is about 20 minutes return, while Lake Osborne is 45 minutes return and suitable for most ages. For families with a bit more bushwalking experience behind them, Lake Esperance is a couple of hours return – much of the trail is on boardwalk, but this can become slippery in winter, so dress for the weather make sure you’ve got sturdy footwear.
If you’re looking to blow the cobwebs away with some fresh sea air, you can’t beat heading to Southport for a morning on the beach. Parents can kick back with a coffee from The Rocket at the End of the Road (they’re only operating one day a week at the moment, so keep an eye on their Insta and plan your trip accordingly), while kids explore the tide pools, fossick for shells, and splash in the shallows – how is it that even in the middle of winter they seem immune to the cold?
Post-walk, you’re bound to have hungry tummies. Ranelagh General Store is a firm family favourite, famous for its delicious burgers. Alternatively, the Conservatory Cafe at Cygnet Old Bank is now open seven days a week serving delicious meals, fresh baked savouries and pastries.