Heading south from Huonville towards Australia’s southernmost point (beyond the end of the road at Cockle Creek), is the locality of Lune River. Its post office is recognised as the southernmost in Australia.
In early colonial days, limestone was sent by train from Lune River, using the same wharf that timber was exported from Hastings. All access was originally by water, with the two communities of Lune River and Hastings separated by a long, narrow tongue of land, and boat-building became a significant industry in the area, with coal once exported via Hastings. Here too, a eucalyptus oil distillery operated briefly. By necessity, people grew vegetables, fruit-orchards and livestock for food, with hunting and fishing an essential part of life as well as providing income. The discovery of the Hastings dolomite caves by timber workers(1917), led to the early development of tourism.
There are few remaining houses or structures of this early European period of history and the population is much reduced, though in the last 20-30 years, there has been a slow migration of people back to the area.
Ida Bay Railway
Ida Bay Railway is a tourist bush railway that travels on a 2’ gauge line constructed in 1922. It is the last original operating bush tramway in Tasmania and is state heritage listed. Ida Bay Railway also has the distinction of being the most southerly railway in Australia running two 1940 era Malcolm Moore diesel locomotives. The return trip of 2 hours affords many historical points of interest. The train meanders through bush land and along the water’s edge to a safe and secluded beach which is only accessible by walking, by water or by the train.
A picnic shelter with BBQ facilities and toilets are available at the beach at the end of the railway line. Passengers can also enjoy the walks to Southport Lagoon (easy 2-3hrs) and Southport Bluff (easy 2-4hrs) accessible from the end of the track and return on a later train.
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Fossicking on Lune River: 100 km south of Hobart beyond the Huon River lies the Lune River gemfields. The collecting area is about 1 km south of the old Ida Bay township on Lune River Road in an area east of Lune Sugarloaf. Yields include petrified wood and ferns, agate and jasper. More info. Ph (03) 6297 1501
Fossicking at Coal Hill: This area begins approx. 18 km south of Dover in the Huon region. The area yields agate, chalcedony and crystalline quartz. More info. Ph (03) 6297 1501
Hastings Caves State Reserve offers visitors a variety of from relaxing in the warm waters of a thermal springs pool, walking in the rich forests of the reserve and, of course, the unique experience of exploring Newdegate Cave. Both the thermal pool and the trail which leads through the surrounding forests are accessible to wheelchair users. Named after Sir Francis Newdegate, the Governor of Tasmania from 1917-1920, Newdegate Cave is the largest tourist cave in Australia which occurs in dolomite, rather than limestone. Adamson’s Falls and Adamson’s Peak, the Mystery Creek Caves are accessed from Hastings.