The final section of the much more difficult and remote South Coast Track, this 16km return hike to South Cape Bay can be done as a day trip, or overnighter, for the less serious but still adventurous nature lover.
- Standing at the most southern point of Australia
- Hearing the roar of the Southern Ocean beneath you as you stand on top of a giant cliff
- Watching the sun set behind the picturesque Lion Rock
- A bite-sized taste of the Southwest Wilderness World Heritage National Park
Bringing in the New Year
With New Year’s Eve approaching, and only two days off work, I knew I wanted to do something special to bring in 2020. My brief was clear; an overnight hike (my first as a solo hiker), somewhere not too far from home, with good photography potential, where I could watch the sunset on the old year and rise on the new.
A work colleague, also a keen photographer, suggested the South Cape Bay walk would be perfect. And he was oh so right.
Setting off from Hobart on Tuesday morning I drove the two hours, through the charming Huon Valley, to arrive at Cockle Creek, or the ‘end of the road’. The most southern road in Australia, you literally can’t drive any further!
The journey to Cockle Creek itself is enjoyable, travelling through small rural towns with apple sheds and jetties, cafes and even an historic bush tramway at Ida Bay.
Behind the ranger station at Cockle Creek is a long term car park where you can leave your vehicle. There’s also an information board, and a toilet for that last minute pit stop.
Setting off to South Cape Bay
Setting off on the track, you soon reach the walkers log book, and a boot cleaning station to ensure you don’t bring in any microscopic gremlins that may harm the native plants or animals. The first 3km takes you over Moulders Hill, a slightly rocky track, it’s not difficult walking but you may need to watch your step.
You then emerge from the bush onto the marshland of Blowhole Valley. This section is very easy walking, on constructed duckboards. Just make sure you take the time to look around you at the rolling hills on either side, the tiny wildflowers lining the track, and maybe even a mama wallaby having lunch with her small joey.
When you reach the end of the boardwalk the track starts to become sandy, a teaser for what’s to come. At this point, if you stop to listen, you may also hear the distant crashing of huge waves rolling into the beach at your final destination, still some kilometres away. This last section of track undulates through green forest on a mainly dirt track, at one point beside a small cascading creek.
The doorstep to South Cape Bay is the top of a cliff, with panoramic views over the beach below, the Southern Ocean, and a giant sleeping rock in the distance, known as Lion Rock. A photo with the ‘You are standing at the southernmost point of Australia’ sign is a must!
I spent an undetermined amount of time exploring the cliff top before I even ventured down to the beach, and walked its length to the staircase leading to a small protected campsite concealed within the dunes. There’s also a compostable toilet, and a small creek for water collection.
Bringing in the New Year on the Edge of the World
After setting up my tent and brewing a coffee, the rest of my afternoon was spent exploring the base of the cliffs, which were equally as beautiful and interesting at ground level as they had been from the top. Huge chunks of broken rock, fallen from above, have been eroded by salty waves creating sponge-like patterns in their surfaces.
Sunset was spent in the ‘lion’s den’, watching the golden glow light up the western wall of Lion Rock. I climbed into my tent and went to sleep to the sound of the Southern Ocean roaring, thinking how appropriate that sound is for a place whose main geological feature resembles a lion.
I watched the sun come up on a new decade sitting on the beach with a cuppa in hand. Despite the fact there were a few other campers around I had the beach to myself, and felt a sense of complete stillness and serenity. Just how I’d hoped to begin my year.
Tracing my steps back out to the car a few hours later I passed several day walkers on their way in. I wished them a happy new year, and smiled a little knowing smile at them, as if to say ‘You’re in for something pretty special’.
- Tent, sleeping bag and head torch
- Camp stove (this is a no campfire area)
- Food and snacks
- 2-3L water per person (there are no water tanks, only the creek and in summer months it can run quite low)
- Hat and sunscreen
- Raincoat (it’s Tassie, be prepared for all seasons on any given day…)
- Tasmanian National Parks Pass (available to purchase online)
- A camera!
How To Get There
The trailhead car park is located at Cockle Creek, 120km south west of Hobart. From Hobart take the Southern Outlet (A6) towards Kingston before taking the 3rd exit onto the Huon Highway to Huonville.
Continue straight, across the bridge, for 70kms to Hastings Caves Road (C635). This road soon becomes Lune River Road, follow it for another 22km to get to Cockle Creek. Access is by car and there’s no regular public transport or charter services.
- Surfing (if you’re brave! Surfers often walk their boards in to surf this beach)
Beginner to intermediate.
I saw several families with very young children doing the walk as a day walk. It’s important to note the steep cliff edges have eroded sections and are to be avoided. The beach is also known to have dangerous rips and should only be entered by confident swimmers.
Distance Covered/Elevation Gained/Time Taken
16km / 45m / 2 days