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Camping with a van at Duckhole Lake & Hastings Thermal Springs, Tasmania

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Welcome to the wild and breathtaking landscapes of Tasmania, where every winding road leads to a new adventure waiting to be explored. If you're a nature enthusiast eager to traverse the scenic beauty of this island, look no further than Southwest National Park and the serene Duckhole Lake. This travel story is your ultimate guide to experiencing the best of Tasmania, complete with camping spots and must-do activities along the way.

Heading South: The Journey from Hobart to Southwest National Park

Before immersing yourself in the wonders of Southwest National Park, plan a picturesque road trip from Hobart, heading south towards the Huon Valley. The journey itself is an adventure, offering glimpses of charming towns, rolling hills, and the pristine Huon River. Be sure to take your time, stopping at local markets and cafes to savor the delicious produce of the region.

Camping Spots in Huon Valley:

  1. Franklin Foreshore Reserve: Set up camp by the river and enjoy the tranquility of the Franklin Foreshore Reserve. Facilities include BBQ areas and amenities, making it an ideal spot to relax before venturing into the wilderness.

  2. Geeveston Campground: Nestled in the heart of the Huon Valley, Geeveston Campground provides a convenient base for exploring the region. Take a stroll through the town's famous Tahune Airwalk or stock up on supplies for your journey ahead.

Dover Sunday Tasmanian market
Credit: Tourism Australia

Local markets & times:

  • Willie Smith Market: every Saturday morning (10am - 2pm)

  • Judbury Market: second Sunday of each month (10am - 2pm)

  • Dover Market: third Sunday of each month (10am - 1pm)

Exploring Southwest National Park

Once you've soaked in the beauty of Huon Valley, it's time to enter Southwest National Park, Tasmania's largest national park. It is situated in the remote and rugged wilderness of Tasmania, and stands as a testament to the island's untouched natural beauty. Encompassing a vast expanse of over 6,000 square kilometers, it holds the prestigious title of being the largest national park in Tasmania. The park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers, boasting diverse landscapes that range from ancient rainforests and pristine rivers to towering mountain ranges. One of its most iconic features is the jagged peaks of the Arthur Range, which offer awe-inspiring panoramic views and serve as a backdrop for the park's extensive network of hiking trails.

lonely hiker walking South Coast Track
Credit: Matty Eaton

This pristine wilderness is home to a rich tapestry of flora and fauna, including endemic species that thrive in this secluded environment. The park's dense rainforests house ancient myrtle trees and moss-covered landscapes, while its open plains provide habitat for unique wildlife such as wallabies, wombats, and a variety of bird species. Southwest National Park is also a gateway to some of Tasmania's most challenging and rewarding hiking experiences, with trails like the South Coast Track, ending at Cockle Creek, leading intrepid explorers through a diverse range of terrains, from coastal heathlands to dense forests. The park's untouched beauty and the sense of remoteness it imparts make it a must-visit destination for those seeking an immersive and untamed wilderness experience in the heart of Tasmania.

trail signs at Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs
Credit: Osborne Images

Here are some highlights and tips for making the most of your visit:

  1. Hiking Trails: Lace up your hiking boots and explore the park's diverse trails. Don't miss the iconic South Coast Track. Remember to check trail conditions and pack essentials.

  2. Camping in the Wilderness: For an authentic wilderness experience, consider camping within the national park. Remember to obtain any necessary permits and adhere to Leave No Trace principles to preserve the pristine environment. Some of our favorite campspots include Edgar Dam & Cockle Creek Campgrounds.

Duckhole Lake: A Tranquil Oasis

A short drive from Southwest National Park, Duckhole Lake awaits with its reflective waters and peaceful surroundings. This hidden gem is perfect for a relaxing day by the lake or a quiet overnight stay. Tucked away from the beaten path, this hidden gem offers a peaceful retreat surrounded by lush forests and undisturbed wilderness. The lake itself, with its still waters reflecting the surrounding greenery, creates a mirror-like surface that enhances the sense of tranquility. This untouched paradise is a testament to Tasmania's commitment to preserving its natural landscapes, providing a sanctuary for those seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

"You can rent a kayak or stand up paddle with your van rental for a better deal than a daily fare elsewhere"
Duckhole Lake on a calm day, water is still and transparent
Credit: Jess Bonde

Duckhole Lake's allure extends beyond its surface, as the surrounding area is teeming with native flora and fauna. The lake is fringed by dense vegetation, creating a habitat for various bird species, including the melodious calls of native parrots and the occasional sighting of elusive waterfowl. Exploring the shores of Duckhole Lake reveals a mosaic of colors, with wildflowers carpeting the ground in season. Whether you choose to camp by its shores, paddle its still waters, or simply soak in the serenity, Duckhole Lake offers a sublime experience for nature lovers and those seeking a moment of quiet reflection amidst Tasmania's breathtaking landscapes.

lonely hiker walking on a boardwalk towards Duckhole Lake
Credit: Jess Bonde

Camping at Duckhole Lake: Pitch your tent by the lake and enjoy the soothing sounds of nature. Camping facilities are basic, providing an immersive experience in this untouched paradise. If travelling by van, you can park at the walk's entrance and enjoy a night in the heart of Tasmania.

Canoeing and Wildlife Watching: Explore Duckhole Lake by canoe or kayak, taking in the serenity of the surroundings. Keep an eye out for the abundant wildlife, including native birds and perhaps even a platypus.

Hastings Caves & Thermal Springs: Nature's Therapy

Newdegate Cave, with lights on in the case at Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs
Credit: Jess Bonde

While immersing yourself in the wonders of Southwest National Park and Duckhole Lake, consider extending your adventure to include the enchanting Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs, a short drive from this picturesque region. Nestled within the Tasmanian wilderness, Hastings Caves provides a unique underground experience, allowing you to explore an ancient dolomite cave system with stunning formations that have been evolving over millions of years.

Hasting Springs warm water pool on a sunny day with no one else around
Credit: Osborne Images

The Hastings Thermal Springs, located nearby, offer a perfect opportunity to unwind and rejuvenate. Immerse yourself in the warm, mineral-rich waters surrounded by lush forest, creating a soothing contrast to the rugged adventures of Southwest National Park. The thermal springs provide a natural and therapeutic retreat, inviting you to relax and bask in the tranquil ambiance of the Tasmanian wilderness. Local tip, get there an hour before closing to get it for yourself.

Boardwalk going to the warm creek at Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs
Credit: Jess Bonde

Adding Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs to your roadtrip introduces a delightful blend of adventure and relaxation, showcasing the diverse natural wonders that Tasmania has to offer. Whether you're marveling at the underground wonders of the caves or indulging in the soothing warmth of the thermal springs, this side trip complements your journey through Tasmania, creating a well-rounded and unforgettable van life experience.

Arriving in Style: The Clever Approach

Maximize the thrill of your Tasmanian expedition by opting for the ultimate exploration companion – a fully equipped 4WD van. With rugged terrains and off-the-beaten-path destinations like Southw

est National Park, Duckhole Lake, and Hastings Caves on your itinerary, a 4WD van adds a layer of versatility and capability to your adventure.

"Our favorite campervan to explore Southwest National Park is kunanyi"

Conquer challenging trails with ease, reach remote camping spots, and revel in the freedom to chart your own course. A well-equipped 4WD van not only enhances the practicality of your journey but also elevates the entire experience, allowing you to seamlessly transition from the comforts of the road to the heart of the wilderness. Unleash the full potential of your Tasmanian van life adventure with a 4WD, turning every bend into a new opportunity for discovery.

Certain locations, like Duckhole Lake, necessitate carrying extra batteries and water for overnight stays, given it lack of nearby amenities. Having a compact kitchen can prove cost-effective since dining options are limited, and the area's isolation makes expenses slightly higher than other places.

When visiting during colder months, it's essential to prioritize good insulation and warm blankets, as winters in this region can be notably cold. kunanyi is fully insulated and comes with an extra warm doona making you feel like at home.

Tasmania's Southwest National Park and Duckhole Lake offer a van life experience like no other. From the picturesque Huon Valley to the untamed wilderness, this journey promises unforgettable moments. Embrace the freedom of the road, savor the local flavors, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that Tasmania has to offer. Your van is not just a mode of transportation; it's your ticket to adventure in the heart of Australia's island state.

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