Cockle Creek Sights & Attractions

The tiny seaside settlement of Cockle Creek is nestled amid the tranquil coves of Recherche Bay on the edge of Tasmania’s Southwest National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

The main activities in Cockle Creek are camping, fishing, birdwatching and bushwalking. The settlement has campsites and basic facilities but no shops or services.

Here you can explore pristine beaches and natural wilderness along several trails, including the South Coast Track – one of Tasmania's great bushwalks.

Cockle Creek was named after the once abundant cockles, oysters and mussels found at its mouth as it enters the sea.

French explorer, Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, sailed into Recherche Bay in 1792 on a botanical expedition. The remains of a garden planted by the French were found here in 2003, resulting in the creation of a reserve to protect the area.

Cockle Creek is the furthest point south that you can drive in Australia and is the gateway to the Southwest National Park.


What to do and see

Within the town you can explore Aboriginal sites, abandoned tramways, gravestones and ruins.

Take a short stroll around the foreshore to the whale sculpture; interpretation signs explains the bay’s whaling history.

Continue on to the Fishers Point Navigation Light and Pilot Station ruins or take the track to South East Cape for cliff-top views of the Southern Ocean and Maatsuyker Island.

Short walks in and around Cockle Creek, include…

Cockle Creek Cemetery – This historic cemetery, which lies a couple of minutes stroll from the Cockle Creek campground, gives an insight into the hardships endured by the community that once lived here.

Whale Sculpture – The impressive bronze sculpture of a southern right whale is located at Adams Point.

You can walk or drive to the end of the dirt road, past the Ranger Quarters and Boltons Green campground.

From the car park it's a short five minute stroll along Fishers Point Track.

Fishers Point Track – This 4km (2.4mi) return walk from the whale sculpture car park is an easy coastal walk through heathland with spectacular views to distant Adamsons Peak, Southern Ranges, Bruny Island and the Southern Ocean.

At Fishers Point, explore the ruins of the 1843 pilot station and lighthouse.

Consider tides and coastal conditions before undertaking this walk, as sections of beach may be restricted during high tides.​ The return walk takes around two hours.


Southwest National Park

Tasmania’s largest expanse of wilderness, at around 6200km² (2390mi²), is located in Southwest National Park – a remote and rugged landscape in the heart of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Here you can expect windswept beaches, rocky coastlines, dramatic mountain ranges and extensive buttongrass plains that are home to unique plant and animal species.

You can explore the park on foot along a choice of bushwalks, as well as by kayak or boat.

There are also plenty of opportunities to experience the National Park from the comfort of your car.

West of Maydena the Gordon River and Scotts Peak Dam roads provides access to Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon as it weaves through the largely untracked region of buttongrass plains, forest and imposing mountain ranges.

Lookouts, picnic areas and short walks along the way allow you to stop and enjoy the views, stretch your legs and experience this special landscape. From Maydena allow around 60 to 90 minutes to reach either Strathgordon or the Huon Campground.

Both roads are lined with a variety of rainforest trees including myrtle, sassafras and celery-top pine. During the warmer months you will see bright red waratah blooms and flowers of the leatherwood tree – source of Tasmania’s famous honey.

Birdlife is common including green rosellas, black currawongs and various honeyeaters. In the picnic areas you may see scarlet or pink robins and Tasmanian thornbills.

Both Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon are popular trout fishing waters. Lake Pedder is open to trout fishing all year and can be fished from the shore or by boat. Lake Gordon has a closed season and is more suited to boat-based fishing.

The coastline of Southwest National Park and inland areas including Lake Pedder offer a wealth of kayaking opportunities. However, due to the remoteness, the extreme weather changes that this area can experience, including strong gusty winds, heavy rain, with sleet and snow at any time of the year, kayakers need to be very skilled and well equipped.

Short walks in Southwest National Park include…

Creepy Crawly Walk – This easy 1km return walk through cool temperate rainforest takes around 30 minutes.

The fully-boarded track gently weaves its way around moss-covered trees and over giant logs.

Note: The ​track is not recommended for people who cannot climb a lot of stairs or who are unable to bend down and duck under branches.

Duckhole Lake Track – This 4.2km (2.6mi) return walk is an easy stroll through a forest of stringybarks and stretches of tea tree swamp to the idyllic Duckhole Lake.

The track, most of which is boardwalk, follows a stream through regrowth forest to the lake. The trail tracks a late 19th century sawmill tramway for much of the way, with remnants of the tramway still visible. The return walk should take around one hour.

Duckhole Lake is a flooded sinkhole, part of the extensive regional cave and karst system that includes Hastings Caves.

The lake is located south of Dover and can be accessed via Creekton Road. An alternative access is via the Hastings Caves Road and Chestermans Road. Note: this route is only accessible with a 4WD vehicle.

Longer walks in Southwest National Park include South Cape Bay, Eliza Plateau and the South Coast Track.

South Cape Bay Walk – This 15.4km (9.5mi) return walk starts from the end of the southern-most road in Australia.

The track leads through woodland and open bush till it reaches the cliff above South Cape Bay.

Here, you can expect strong winds and roaring surf most days. If conditions permit, take the steps down to the beach; usually, you can wander the sand and cobble beach as far as Lion Rock. Along the way, check out what flotsam the wild ocean has washed up.

This is also the eastern end of the popular South Coast Track that leads to Port Davey. Some bushwalking experience is recommended. The return walk takes around 4 hours to complete.

Eliza Plateau – This 11km (6.8mi) return walk with a steep climb up to the Eliza Plateau offers expansive views deep into the heart of Southwest National Park.

The walk takes around six to seven hours and requires a good level of fitness as it has a 900 metre elevation gain and the need to clamber over large boulders to reach the plateau.

Standing alongside Mount Anne, the highest peak in Southwest Tasmania, the Eliza Plateau offers expansive views over the mountain ranges and lakes of Southwest National Park.

The track is well defined and low growing vegetation means that great views can be enjoyed for the duration of the climb. However the low vegetation also means there is little protection from the weather.

Just below the plateau, and accessible on a short side-track, is the small High Camp Hut. From here it's a challenging steep climb over large boulders to Eliza Plateau, from where walkers are rewarded with views of the Eastern and Western Arthur Ranges and Lake Judd, directly below.


South Coast Track

Discover one of Tasmania's most challenging multi-day walks along the island’s wild southern coastline.

Along the way, hike past windswept beaches, scramble around rocky headlands and climb over hills and mountain ranges.

This 85km (52mi) one-way track takes around six to eight days to complete and includes several creek and river crossings as well as one boat crossing.

This walk is more difficult than the popular Overland Track as strong winds, steady rain, and even snow in elevated areas, can occur at any time of the year. In addition, there are no huts once you leave Melaleuca.

In one location, walkers are required to row a dinghy across a lagoon outlet. At creek and river crossings, if the water level is above your knees you should retreat and wait until the level has dropped.

South Coast Track walkers need to be experienced, well-prepared and completely self-sufficient. The hike can be undertaken in either direction from Cockle Creek or Melaleuca.

Route of South Coast Track commencing at Melaleuca…

Melaleuca to Cox Bight Bay/Point Eric – The first section of the South Coast Track is an easy 13.4km (8.3mi) walk through buttongrass plains to the wide arc of Cox Bight.

This walk should take around four hours to complete. Along the way you may opt for a refreshing swim in Freney Lagoon.

Cox Bight/Point Eric to Louisa River – The first full day on the track starts with a beach walk before turning inland to buttongrass plains and forested hills.

You can expect several creek crossings along the way to Louisa River on this 17km (10.5mi) walk.

A 6.6km (4.1mi) side trip to Louisa Bay takes around two hours 30 minutes.

Louisa River to Little Deadmans Bay – A distance of 13km (8mi) of hard walking with a 900m elevated mountain ascent onto the Ironbound Range takes around seven to 10 hours.

After traversing the exposed top – with good views in fine weather only – a long descent though rainforest leads to the campsite at Little Deadmans Bay.

Little Deadmans Bay to New River Lagoon – Follow the track though buttongrass, bush and along Prion Beach.

The 9km (5.6mi) of medium walking conditions should take around three to four hours to complete; plus an additional hour for the boat crossing.

Finish the day by rowing across New River Lagoon to the campsite, don’t forget to leave one boat on each side for the next walkers.

New River Lagoon to Granite Beach – This 12km (7.4mi) stretch of the track brings varied walking conditions, with some clambering and rock hopping.

A side trip to Osmiridium Beach is an option, where it is also possible to camp. This section should take around five to six hours to complete.

Granite Beach to South Cape Rivulet – This 9km (5.6mi) stretch involves hard walking and long ascents taking around seven to ten hours.

The walk starts with a long ascent through forest to cross the South Cape Range.

The track is often boggy and there are many tree roots. You then descend though wet forest over hills to the campsite at the end of South Cape Bay.

South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek –  The last day involves 11km (6.8mi) of easy walking along two short beaches before heading inland across a long headland and then descending to the western end of the beach where Lion Rock juts into the sea.

The walk then proceeds along the beach, up the next headland and inland through to Cockle Creek. Allow around four hours to complete.

Note: Walk times are calculated for average, experienced walkers and do not allow for lunch stops, long rests or side-trips. You should allow extra times for these and always carry extra supplies/food in case of injury or unfavourable weather. Walkers are strongly advised to carry the South Coast Walk Map and Notes.


The Huon Trail

No trip to Hobart and Southern Tasmania is complete without driving the Huon Trail to Cockle Creek.

This drive takes you through the fruit growing district of the Huon River valley, Port Huon, Geeveston and the vast expanse of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. A short loop incorporates Woodbridge and Bruny Island.

Drive through rolling countryside along winding back roads past a patchwork of orchards, small farms, vineyards and picturesque small townships scattered among the hills – all set against the scenic backdrop of pretty bays and rivers.

Off road, you can bushwalk to Hartz Peak for panoramic views, descend into the caves of Hastings, relax on the magnificent beaches of Recherche Bay and stroll the clifftops of Bruny Island.

Along the way browse arts and craft galleries, savour the seasonal produce of the Huon Valley – salmon, oysters, beef, trout, lamb, fruits and vegetables, including famed Huon Valley mushrooms – and sample award-winning wines.


Huon Valley

The Huon Valley stretches inland from Huonville. Here the river narrows and meanders through rural country around the towns of Glen Huon and Judbury.

The surrounding hills are covered in thick forests that stretch all the way to the west coast of Tasmania. South from Huonville, the river widens and becomes a very scenic estuary.

By crossing the river at Huonville and following the west bank, you drive on to Franklin, Port Huon, Geeveston and south all the way to Hastings Caves and Southport.

The drive follows the old, mountain road on the way to the Huon River, and then the main Southern Outlet Road on the way back to Hobart.

For the most scenic route, leave Hobart by driving up Davey Street as it climbs through south Hobart and becomes the B64 Huon Road. This route takes you through the winding foothills of Mount Wellington and on through Neika and Longley, to join the A6 at Lower Longley.

This scenic mountain road was the main road between the Huon and Hobart until the building of the A6 in the 1970’s.

From Lower Longley, the road drops into the Huon Valley at Grove, and then runs through cherry and apple orchards to Huonville at the crossing point of the Huon River.

Be sure to stop at the Apple and Heritage Museum just before Huonville. With 80% of the island’s apple production, the Huon Valley gives Tasmania it affectionate nickname the 'Apple Isle'.

View the forest from above on the Tahune AirWalk in the pristine Hartz Mountain National Park, thrill to a jet boat ride up the Huon River or cruise the river on a paddleboat through the habitats of pelicans, sandpipers and numerous other waterbirds.

Witness the natural wonders of Hastings Caves Reserve. Hike through the forest, observe the Newdegate Cave during a guided tour, or enjoy the soothing waters of the thermal springs pool.

Cast a line for trout in the valley's many rivers or hike the Huon Trail through waterways and wilderness into the sheltered bays of the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.


Hartz Mountains National Park

Climb through forest to Hartz Peak for panoramic views over the ocean and into the very heart of Tasmania’s south-west wilderness World Heritage Area.

Hartz Mountains National Park covers an area of roughly 72km² (28mi²) and is defined by dolerite peaks rising out of a plateau.

This region was carved out by ancient glaciers which left oddly placed piles of boulders and carved small alpine lakes, known as tarns, into the landscape.

The best way to experience this wild and rugged region is on foot. Here you can hike across alpine heaths and through eucalypti forest to waterfalls that cascade off the range.

Three recommended short walks of under an hour allow you to experience the natural wonder of this pristine wilderness. These include a short walk up to Waratah Lookout, a stroll to Arve Falls and a flat hike to Lake Osborne.

Waratah Lookout – This short, easy five-minute walk on a gravel track leads to a viewing platform overlooking the rolling hills, forests and orchards of the Huon Valley with uninterrupted views across the valley to the Wellington Range.

Starting near the Waratah Picnic Shelter, the 300m return track is a flat even surface with no steps or steep sections. Admire the different plants growing along the track along the way to the viewing platform.

Visit in December and January, and you'll be treated to a blaze of red created by the flowering of wild Tasmanian waratah plants.

Arve Falls – This short, easy 20-minute return walk offers a glimpse of sub-alpine vegetation including a variety of wildflowers, silver banksia and Tasmanian snow gum with their beautiful twisted branches and striking, smooth mottled bark.

The track follows the creek via a staircase and viewing platform to Arve Falls. While not high, the falls do have an impressive drop over the edge of the plateau overlooking the valley beneath.

Lake Osborne – This gentle 2km (1.2mi) uphill trail climbs through a grove of rainforest, containing myrtle, sassafras and pandani, and leads across the Hartz Plateau to an impressively blue glacial Lake.

Along the way, the track passes the Devils Marbles, which are large boulders dumped on the plateau by ancient glaciers long since melted.

Interpretive signs help with plant identification and describe many of the features in the landscape.

Sections on this trail consist of raised boardwalk that can become extremely slippery when covered in ice or snow.

The well-signposted walk takes around 45 minutes return and starts from the northern end of the car park.


Longer hikes include those to Lake Esperance, Hartz Pass and Hartz Peak. A medium level of physical fitness is required as well as knowledge of Tasmania's unpredictable weather.

Lake Esperance – This 3.4km (2.1mi) return hike takes you through woodlands and snow gums to Lake Esperance, which was formed as ice and snow built up on the lee side of the mountain spine known as The Devils Backbone.

Much of the two hour return walk is on a well-constructed boardwalk. It is one of the more accessible glacial lakes in Hartz Mountains National Park, with a a viewing area with seats overlooking the edge of the lake.

The walk starts at a memorial to Sydney and Arthur Geeves who perished in the area in 1897 during an unpredictable blizzard. Along the way listen out for the call of the mountain currawong.

Hartz Pass – This 6km (3.7mi) return trail takes more than three hours to complete with a final steep uphill climb to Hartz Peak that offers stunning views of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

The well-marked track winds through low alpine vegetation with open vistas and views that encompass Hartz Peak, Mount Snowy and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel.

The track continues southwards to Ladies Tarn, before climbing steeply towards Hartz Pass.

At the track junction, the left-hand path leads to Hartz Peak, while the trail to the right heads towards Hartz Lake – this section of the trail is marked with cairns.

The ground around the lake shores can be damp and slippery underfoot, so exercise caution on this section.

The Hartz Pass walk is for reasonably fit walkers, and offers a wonderful way to explore the alpine environment and glacial landscapes of the Hartz Mountains National Park.

Hartz Peak – This robust 7.4km (4.6mi) walk to the summit of Hartz Peak with a 400m climb is best done in fine weather.

As the peak is 1254m (4114ft) high, it is subject to severe weather. Walkers should check the weather forecast before beginning the walk and have good all-weather clothing.

Hartz Peak is the highest point in Hartz Mountains National Park and provides 360° panoramic views from the summit taking in much of the south-west wilderness, including Federation Peak and Precipitous Bluff.

Beneath the peak lies Hartz Lake, a classic cirque lake formed by ice action over the last million years.

The walk takes between three to five hours to complete.


Animals living in Hartz Mountains National Park are mostly nocturnal, however you'll probably catch a glimpse of echidna and platypus during the day. While at dusk look out for wallabies, pademelons and brushtail possums when they emerge to feed.

Birdlife to watch out for include eastern spinebill, Forrest Raven, honeyeaters and green rosella.

There are no camping facilities inside the park, but you are allowed to camp at least 500m from any roadway. However, there are numerous accommodation options in the Huon River Valley.

Note: the road from the park to Geeveston is unpaved and you'll be sharing that Road with wildlife at dusk.

Facilities at the park entrance include a toilet, running water and a picnic shelter. You'll also find a fireplace, gas barbecue and tables with firewood provided.

The park also performs rubbish collection at the entrance and maintains a walker registration booth. Always register before setting out on a nature walk in the park.

Hartz Mountains National Park is located around 88km (54mi) from Hobart, around one hour 30 minutes. The drive takes you along the western banks of the Huon River to Geeveston. From Geeveston, turn right onto Arve Road (C632) and follow it for around 13km (8mi) until you reach the turn off that is clearly signposted to the park. The final section of the road is unsealed and continues for 10.5km (6.5mi).

Note: The weather in the southwest of Tasmania is unpredictable. Storms can gather at a moment's notice and you should always be prepared for bad weather.

Tracks are subject to severe weather conditions and are especially difficult to navigate when covered in snow and may be impassable. Walkers are warned that blizzard weather conditions can occur with little warning, in any month.

Roads are subject to snow and unless your vehicle is fitted with chains, you should not drive in snow. There are no rangers based in Hartz Mountains National Park.


Tahune Airwalk

This stunning treetop walkway gives you a bird’s-eye view of the forest as you walk 20m above the forest floor. The climax is a steel viewing point cantilevered nearly 50m above the ground, and overlooking the river.

Experience the forest among the treetops overlooking rare species, some found only in Tasmania, such as King Billy and celery top pine, myrtle, beech, blackwood and sassafras.

The 1.6km (1mi) walk extends into the Tahune State Forest and Picton River.

Later go bushwalking, fishing, white water rafting or fly like an eagle in a secured hang glider 70m above the forest and Huon River.

Two other walks are available: the short River Walk on the McKays Track is a one hour, 3km loop walk along the river banks, crossing the Picton and Huon River on swinging bridges; while the Huon Pine Track is a short 1km return 20 minute walk through tall forest. Walkways and bridges have continuous safety fencing, and are rated to withstand cyclones.

Tahune Airwalk sits amid treetops in the Huon River Valley.


Hastings Caves

Discover magical chambers on a tour through the large, highly decorated cavern of the 40-million-year-old Newdegate Cave, the largest dolomite tourist cave in Australia.

Within the spacious and well-lit cavern lie flowstone, stalactites, columns, shawls, straws, stalagmites and the unusual helictites – tendrils of calcite that grow in all directions in tiny filaments.

The spacious dolomite cave system is a labyrinth of chambers, richly decorated and cleverly lit to highlight ancient subterranean formations.

After touring the caves, relax in the nearby mineral-rich thermal springs – luxuriant, warm and clear the naturally occurring pure spring water remains at 28°C (82°F) year-round and is surrounded by forest and ferns.

Enjoy a picnic or take a forest walk along the Hot Springs Track to the convergence of two streams: put your hand in the water to feel the warm current from one stream meeting the cold current from the other.

Explore the Hastings Caves State Reserve further on the easy walking trails, pack a picnic, or enjoy a barbecue with friends and family in the peaceful forest surrounds. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the native wildlife that share this forest, including platypus, quolls, pademelons and varies species of birdlife.

Cave tour bookings are required from Hastings Visitor Centre and can be made up to 14 days in advance. Email bookings are not accepted.

Hastings Caves State Reserve is 105km (65mi) from Hobart city centre, around one hour and 45 minutes.


Woodbridge

Explore one of the prettiest small towns on the D’Entrecasteaux Channel – a beautiful spot to stay while exploring the Huon Valley and Bruny Island.

Surrounded by rolling hills and winding roads with small farms, Woodbridge overlooks Peppermint Bay, the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and the northern end of Bruny Island.

Lunch at the Peppermint Bay restaurant, highly regarded for its innovatively prepared local produce served in a gorgeous setting. Later browse a range of interesting arts and crafts shops and galleries before heading to nearby Kettering for the 30-minute ferry ride to Bruny Island.


Bruny Island

If time allows, spend a day exploring the island’s fascinating history of sealers, whalers and explorers, all the while looking out for wildlife.

Stroll through the gentle countryside of rolling farmlands and tall trees, along the wild coastline past quiet beaches and roaring surf, and see wildflowers and rare bird life.

Head to the Bruny Island Lighthouse, located on a wild and windswept cape overlooking the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean.

Walk along one of many spectacular cliff-top walks in South Bruny National Park and look out for short-tailed shearwaters and little penguins (also known as fairy penguins) at The Neck Game Reserve.

Climb up from the dunes to the Neck Lookout, offering stunning 360-degree views. Here you’ll find a memorial to the indigenous Nuenonne people who lived on Lunnawannalonna (Bruny Island) before European settlement.


Getting to Cockle Creek

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Cockle Creek is located around 125km (77mi) south of Hobart, a two hour drive via Huonville and Geeveston. The last stages of the road are fairly rough but can be negotiated by two-wheel drive vehicles. ​

During the peak summer season there are multiple bus services between Hobart and Cockle Creek. Bookings are essential. Operators include Tassielink and Evans Coaches.

Alternatively, fly or take a private boat to Melaleuca. Par Avion operates daily flights to and from Cambridge, a 15 minute drive east of Hobart.


Best time to visit Cockle Creek

Anytime, but the weather in the southwest of Tasmania is unpredictable. Storms can gather at a moment's notice and you should always be prepared for bad weather. Precipitation in the area requires hikers to bring waterproof footwear for even the shortest of walks.

For warm-weather activities the best time of year to visit Cockle Creek is during January and February.

Tasmania has four distinct seasons with the warmest months being December to March.

In summer, the average maximum daily temperatures are between 19°C (66°F) and 21°C (69°F); during winter daily temperatures sit between 3°C (37°F) and 12°C (53°F).

Hiking tracks are subject to severe weather conditions and are especially difficult to navigate when covered in snow and may be impassable. Walkers are warned that blizzard weather conditions can occur with little warning, in any month.

More about Cockle Creek weather


Hobart sights & attractions…


Latest update: Cockle Creek sights & attractions: 15 May, 2022



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