Hastings Caves and Cockle Creek, Tasmania

Easter Sunday we woke at 8, giving us enough time to have breakfast at the B&B at 8:30. We stuffed ourselves with a cooked breakfast of poached eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast. There was also a selection of stewed fruits (rhubarb, berries, nectarines), which I couldn’t help but have two helpings of.

We ate breakfast while ignoring the other two couples in the room, who also ignored us. Glen absolutely hates having to socialise in these sorts of situations so if it weren’t for the “and Breakfast” bit, I’d probably be strongly discouraged from booking a B&B at all.

After breakfast we packed and then walked down to the creek for another attempt at seeing the local platypus. Again, nothing. This isn’t really surprising considering it was early and if I were a platypus, I’d still be in bed somewhere.

We left Geeveston to continue our adventures south. Having seen part of Mt Hartz the day before we skipped it and travelled to Hastings Caves. Karen, our host at Cambridge House, suggested we take the scenic route around Police Point on our way to the caves and I’m glad we did. It hugged the coast, providing spectacular views of the bay with fields and forests too.

After a while we headed in land. Next time we plan a trip to somewhere that’s got a nature element, I think I’ll just book a big car, a 4WD perhaps, because our drive around southern Tasmania has involved a lot of gravel roads.

Our little hire car has survived them but not without going super slow (a real trial for me who likes to get wherever we’re going asap) or being shaken to bits (I think Glen got quite car sick at one point). We took roads that seem to be frequently travelled but are nevertheless unsealed and arrived at Hastings Caves in time for the 11:15am tour.

Hastings Caves

Being Sunday and Easter there were a lot of people there so they put on three tours at 11:15, spacing them out enough so we didn’t fraternise with the group ahead or behind. Our group of 26/27 descended into the caves, led by our guide. We went down steps and stopped at various convenient locations to look at stalactites, stalagmites, columns and other formations. We also got to touch the insides of one of the columns.

Despite being on holiday, and therefore not required to think of work, I can’t help but do so, particularly when it relates to guided tours and presentations. While we were given some interesting facts, there was nothing to hold them all together and no overarching message that emerged at the end of it.

I wanted to ask, “Why should I care about these caves?” or “What are you trying to tell me that you think I need to know?” I think if there had been something to tie it all together, something with a great hook as well and a message that TasPaWS wanted us to know about the caves, then it would have taken it from a good tour to a great one. I suppose it’s just front of mind for me at work right now that I couldn’t just enjoy what was presented.

The most interesting thing I remember is something we didn’t even see: cave spiders. Our guide told us about them right at the end of the tour, saying the females are 18cm in diameter (males much smaller) and they build horizontal webs to catch insects that fall from the cave ceiling. Wow! What a fact! But because it was at the end and almost a throw-away line, Glen thought it was made up. I wondered why that should be the last piece of information to handover, especially as it’s about the only thing I remember. Anyway, enough about work-related topics.

After the caves we went to check out the hot springs, where you can swim in a 28°C heated outdoor pool that is filled from the hot springs in the area. It looks like a regular garden swimming pool so it wasn’t really something we felt we had to do. We didn’t swim, instead heading off on the walk to find the source of the pool and to look for platypus. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any platypus but the walk was nice and we got to dip our hands into slightly cooler-than-luke-warm water. After our walk, we got back in the car and headed south to the Ida Bay Railway Cafe for lunch.

Cockle Creek

Replenished we drove on more unsealed roads to get to Cockle Creek, which has the honour of being the southernmost point in Australia that you can drive to. It rained as we arrived but only sparingly so we walked to a point to see the whale sculpture and then to Cockle Creek itself.

A streak of turquoise ran through the middle of the creek, so blue you think you were looking at a tiled surface beneath the water. We took out time taking photos of rocks, the water, the bridge, the bay, mussels on rocks and birds also on rocks. It’s a beautiful spot and well worth the bumpy drive.

From here you can set off on any number of hikes, one of which lasts seven days. Perhaps one day we’ll attempt the four hour one as it would be something to see the untouched wilderness of the southern forests.

We drove back the way we came, heading for our accommodation in Dover. It wasn’t as nice as Cambridge House in Geeveston, and considering Geeveston wasn’t all that far down the road (a poor bit of planning on my part), it would have been better to spend a second night there. Nevertheless, it was comfortable, had heating and was reasonably priced.

We ate at one of two restaurants, the Post Office (the other being the RSL club), and had pizza for dinner. Then it was back to the accommodation to watch Doc Martin and then the second half of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was relaxing and quite holiday-like.

What do you say, eh?

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