Far South Instameet: Trains, caves and a nice cup of tea.

These Instameets keep getting better and better! For our latest adventure we headed to the south of Tasmania. Our first port of call was the exceedingly delightful Chapel Lane Hall, a former church with over 100 years of history under its roof. The space has been lovingly converted into self-contained accommodation with tasteful touches and a really really nice and homely atmosphere. The building is perfectly situated at the end of the Huon Highway where it meets the coast. There’s plenty of activities available on the nearby waters and it really is a perfect little base from which to explore the surrounding area.

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From here it was a short drive on our comfortable Love Tasmania Tours coach to the Ida Bay Railway, the last operating bush “tramway” in Tasmania. We picked up our packed lunches from the cafe and awaited our noble steed. The base of operations at Lune River is a hodgepodge of sheds and shacks from the heyday of this historical gem. The bright red WWII era locomotive soon appeared around the bend and it was all aboard on Australia’s most southern railway. There was a brief wait at the crossing before we ventured into the bus towards Deep Hole and Elliot’s Beach. On the way we passed through beautiful scenery of button grass plains, white sandy beaches and the banks of Ida Bay and Lune River Estuary.

At the half way point we stopped at the local graveyard where some of the area’s most famous residents are buried. Our driver told us the fascinating story of their industrial efforts and how this one family basically ran the whole show in this part of Tasmania. After detailing the many tales of intrigue and despair, it was back aboard for the rest of the journey to the beach at Deep Hole.

We arrived at the end of the line where a family were enjoying a picnic at the rest area beside the beach, the kids excitedly watching the train pull into the station. Fifteen minutes of happy snapping and wandering around later and it was back on board for the return trip to the Lune River Station.

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As if that wasn’t enough adventure for one day we still had one more item on our itinerary! We were off to Hastings Caves, the largest tourist subterranean experience in Australia. This was the highlight of the trip for me and a fantastic experience. Our coach pulled up near the entrance to the caves after driving through what seemed like miles and miles of huge, dense and ancient forests. We then had the opportunity to experience these mammoth forests up close and personal as we walked along the raised platform towards the Newdegate Cave entrance. We were met by our Parks & Wildlife Service guides who explained to us a little more about the caves we were about to enter, as well as the numerous other systems in the area.

It didn’t take long after entering for my jaw to hit the floor as the staggering beauty of the Dolomite formations inside was revealed. The main cavern is a sight to behold with ceilings literally oozing with stalactites. The public access pathways are well laid out and do not take away from the fascinating experience of the cave. Thankfully we were allowed to use our tripods inside on this occasion (They’re usually not allowed) as despite the artificial lighting highlighting the main features, it’s still pretty dark.

The caves were really and truly spectacular and I would definitely recommend a visit. Having a picnic on the beach after stepping off the train would be a great family experience and then getting to sit and relax in the warm atmosphere of Chapel Lane Hall would just be the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake.
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It’s an immense privilege getting invited along on these Instameets and being able to experience the best that Tasmania has to offer and I hope these brief words and pictures do the experience justice. Huge thanks to Jared at Hobart & Beyond for organising yet another amazing trip, can’t wait for the next one! Big thanks to our hosts at Chapel Lane Hall as well for the coffee and divine cakes. Massive respect to the good people at the Ida Bay Railway who keep this fascinating piece of Australia’s history alive and of course kudos to the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife service for the sterling work they do in preserving the state’s many natural treasures while allowing the public to experience them.

Now all that’s left to do is get yourself down to Tassie and experience these wonderful sights for yourself.

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