Cockle Creek: The end of the road adventure with kids
January 1, 1970
by Samantha Jones
Tasmania, the Apple Isle at the southern end of Australia, has so many amazing destinations to visit and explore. Within a few hours of any direction from Hobart, you can be in a National park, a white sandy beach or a Heritage and historical site.
We have two young children, so we are always looking for new places to take our children on adventures. I love to make the most of the sunny days and the boys to be outside whenever possible. This year we are hoping to go new places with the kids and explore what our beautiful Tasmanian Island has to offer. Recently, we had a long weekend and no plans. So on Friday night, we started looking at where and what we could do for at least one of the days. It was one of those mornings where we just got up and got in the car and we would stop when we needed to and hopefully get a good amount of time at Cockle Creek before we had to turn around and come home.
The ideal time to visit
Autumn is a spectacular time of year in Tasmania, as the ocean water has had plenty of time to warm up over summer, the leaves are starting to change colour and the temperature seems to be mostly stable. So, on a beautiful Autumn morning, it was predicted to be around 27 degrees and sunshine. I find December to April the ideal temperature (if you didn’t want to see snow). It is a small window and unpredictable, so take the opportunity when the sun is out! The apples in the Huon Valley are ready to be picked at this time of year, so there is an abundance of fresh apples on roadside stalls. We packed a picnic, beach bag and stopped in the Huon Valley to get local apples, coffee and some Pastry goodness. Snacks! A very important ingredient to a road trip with small children, especially as there are no shops at Cockle Creek. And lots of Water!
Just over 2 hours south (148km) of Hobart, is the most Southern point of Tasmania accessible by car, Cockle Creek. It is on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness Heritage Area and is the starting point for the South cape bay walk. On the journey down, you will pass through Huonville, Franklin and Dover. These little towns boast the gorgeous Huon River with some great little parks to get the kids out and have a runaround if the drive is getting a bit restless. We got to Dover before the kids decided they needed to escape the car, so we found a park on the waterfront and they had a play and a walk along the waterfront. We spotted a few people out kayaking, fishing and a few other families at the beach already at 10 am. The scenery is great as you pass through the Lune River, the Ida Bay Train and Recherche Bay. The last part of the drive is a dirt road, so make sure the kids have their windows up!
Things to do
There are a few different walks that vary in length and level of experience.
•The Bronze Whale Sculpture. My 6-year-old and myself ran into the sculpture within a few minutes, which was a very level accessible short stroll.
•Fishers point. Is a 2-hour return walk which has a moderate difficulty rating. On this walk, you can come across rock pools, an old pilot station and lighthouse.
•South Cape Bay. Is a 4-hour return walk which also has a moderate difficulty rating.
The Bronze Whale Sculpture housed some information and history on the Whaling history in the Bay.
After our short walk in to see the Bronze Whale Sculpture, we spotted a little walkway between the bushes down to the beach. We were so excited to have this amazing little slice of paradise to ourselves. It is amazing that our island has so many sandy, white beaches and you can have it all to yourself. The Bay is very well sheltered, and the water was so clear, calm, reasonably warm and shallow, which is ideal for small children. The kids had so much fun spotting little fish, climbing the rocks and searching for rock pools.
Our day was to focus on relaxation and making the most of the warm water, however, we did see many boats cruising in and out of the bay, people fishing off the rocks, camping and setting off for the South Cape bay walk.
The camping is free at Cockle Creek and works on a first in, best-dressed principle and availability will vary. The sites varied from a small little nook off the side of the road, to a hidden cleared bush site. You will need to purchase a park pass before entering the National Park (which begins on the south side of the Cockle Creek Bridge). The campgrounds had a few basic toilet facilities scattered along the campsites and untreated water (advised to boil before drinking).
For Next Time
I think it would be worthwhile to throw the tent, sleeping bags and some basic cooking essentials in the car and make a night of it. For a long weekend, I was surprised at the available camp spots. But as it is unpredictable to know if you will get a camp spot or not, being a bit flexible with where you wanted to set up camp would probably add to the excitement of the journey, rather than be a burden. We did come across a few camp spots from Dover to Cockle Creek, so backtracking may be an option.
On our drive home, we stopped for ice-creams at Dover. What road trip doesn’t include an ice-cream and a spot of eye spy! I think at least one-night camping down in the far south of Tasmania will be put on our to do and go list. There are quite a few activities to do as a family from the short walks that start at Cockle Creek, to the Ida Bay Train or a Detour to the Hastings Caves and Thermal pool. If you plan to go on the Train at Ida Bay, I would recommend checking they are running on the day, as when we drove past they were closed. Our mission for the day was to have a cheap day out adventuring and sparking creativity to our options to further family day/weekend trips that are only a short distance from home.