Ten Tales of Tassie — Hastings Caves and Cockle Creek
Part Three of a series of ten
Access to the cave is proving to be a bit convoluted. I arrive at the visitor centre, pay my entrance fee but then I am told to get back in my car and drive 500 metres up the road. The speed limit is 40kph but I feel as though I am having to speed a little if I want to make the next tour. I park the car and then walk quickly through the forest for another five or so minutes. I needn’t have rushed as the visitor centre has phoned ahead to the tour guide and he is waiting for 13 people and so far there’s only 9 of us. (Tours are accompanied and run every hour for about 45 minutes).
Tour guides are a strange breed. The worse ones are dickheads but even the better ones, which thankfully this one is, never quite leave you with the feeling that you would ever spend a social evening with them down the pub. Still I learn a lot, none of which I can recall now, except for the facts that Hastings caves are the largest dolomite caves in Australia and that they maintain an all year round temperature of 9 degrees.
After the guided tour, I and my fellow tourists are encouraged to get back in our cars and drive back to the visitor’s centre where there’s a thermal swimming pool, admission to which is included in our $24 cave admission. I give it a go but the temperature is a mere 28 degrees which seems quite chilly compared to the hot springs I visited south of Melbourne the week before. Less time here will give me more at my next destination.
From Hastings Cave to Cockle Creek is about 25kms but it’s not until I am on the way, that it suddenly turns into an unsealed road and once again my progress is slow. It’s annoying but I think it’s going to be worth it so I persevere.
Cockle Creek turns out to be the end of the Australian line — pretty much the furthest south you can drive in Tasmania. There are no shops, no buildings, just camp grounds and solitude. And it’s now that I wish that I had a tent and provisions as I could certainly spend some more time here.
I stay longer than I should but in the end, I slink back to the car and head back to Hobart. I look at myself in the mirror and realise that I am pouting.