A cider and a night at Tahune Airwalk

If you’ve been in Tasmania long enough, you’ll have heard about the Tahune Airwalk. It’s a walkway constructed dozens of meters above the ground in the canopy of the dense forests that spread Westwards into the great wilderness areas of Tasmania. The photos you see of it are breathtaking with the tops of the eucalyptus trees and Huon river below and the mountains beyond.

Our trip to Tahune was as a going away party for one of Sinรฉad’s colleagues from UTAS. We weren’t blessed with the best of weather and indeed arrived at our first pit-stop in the midst of a thunderstorm, with bolts hitting the ground close by. A quick dash from the car brought us into the visitor centre of The Apple Shed, the home of Willie Smiths Cider and the location for one of Tasmania’s great events, the Huon Valley Mid Winter Festival. Regular readers will remember I had the pleasure of attending said festival as part of my first ever Instameet here. It was a fantastic experience and I was honoured to be contacted by the organisers who wished to use some of my images for future promotional purposes.

I had forgotten about the promise of payment in cider for said images until we arrived at the Apple Shed and upon enquiring, was most pleasantly surprised to find that the deal was still very much on. I received a very generous quantity of cider indeed, perfectly timed for the party ahead of us.

Having not had a chance to check out inside the Apple Shed during my previous visit, it was great to take a look inside the visitor centre and museum. It’s chock full with memorabilia and odes to the humble apple which has made the Huon Valley the agricultural powerhouse that it is in Tasmania. It is a shed, but a very fancy and pleasant one on the inside. There’s plenty of seating and for hungry travellers there’s a number of food options from local producers to fill the hungriest of bellies.

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After a quick and tasty cider it was back on the road for the drive to Tahune. The road follows the Huon River south towards its mouth before turning inland towards Geeveston, the nearest populated area to the airwalk, 28km away. From Geeveston you turn off the main road and continue along a logging track all the way to the airwalk. There’s something a little unnerving about driving for numerous kilometres into the forest but also deeply exciting. The fact that Tahune is essentially only on the outskirts of a vast wilderness area makes it all the more impressive.

We arrived at the airwalk area in the early evening and after dropping of our bags in the accommodation we ventured down to the Huon River (or at least a tributary of it) and took in the view from the bridge. The sun was beginning to set and with the hanging mist in the air made for a beautiful atmosphere along the banks of the river. We returned to the visitor centre area and enjoyed a delightful barbecue before meeting up with our friendly guide Martin for a night time walk on the airwalk. It was a bit touch and go whether we’d be able to do it or not as when we had arrived, he had to lock it up as there was danger of lightning strikes. Giant metal structure……rain……lightning….yeah you don’t want to be on that during a storm!

Thankfully the weather eased off enough for us to be able to get up on the airwalk and we enjoyed a fascinating introduction to the plant species surrounding the site. Martin told us the stories behind felled trees, particular species and their adaptations to the environment as well as pointing out the nest of a funnel web spider which was not to be trifled with.

It was definitely a different feeling doing it at night time and not something the average visitor gets to experience so it was a privilege to explore the place in a unique way. The following day after (ahem, a few drinks) people slowly rised from their slumber and began to head home. A small group of us remained, in the hopes that we’d get to have a go  on the Eagle Glide, a tethered hang glider experience that lets you soar over the trees and the Huon river below. Fortunately the weather Gods smiled on us once more and we were all able to blow off our hangovers by flying through the canopy and back down to earth.

By the time we had all had a go on the glider, many people had left or were leaving and unfortunately there wasn’t time to check out the airwalk during the day. That just gives us an excuse to come back again in the future and enjoy a whole new way of seeing the airwalk.

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Our fantastic guide for the evening, Martin Truran.

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This huge moth came by to say hello as we prepared to venture out into the woods

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Martin explaining the fascinating biology of the forest to us

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The wishing tree, where visitors make a wish and try to make their coin land on the top of the stump. (Don’t worry the coins are cleared on a regular basis and the money is donated to charity)

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The final stretch of the airwalk is not for the faint hearted and moves about quite a bit…..high above the ground below.

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VIP transport to the Eagle Hang Glider

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The Eagle Hang Glider is a great thrill and a fine hangover cure at that.

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The modern visitor centre has plenty of seating and is ready for all seasons.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Martin and all the team at Tahune for accommodating us and giving us an insight into the fascinating ecosystem of the area. I’d also like to thank Sinรฉad’s boss for organising the event and to her colleagues for being such a fun bunch on the trip. And of course a big thanks to Willie Smith’s for the most generous payment of cider that will keep me happily enjoying a delicious apple based beverage for weeks to come. It’s funny, I didn’t even like cider before moving to Tasmania but that first sip at the Mid Winter Festival changed all that.

If you’re looking for an exciting day-trip experience beyond Hobart then a trip to the Tahune Airwalk should certainly be on your list. While you’re on the way it’d be a shame to miss out on a trip into the Apple Shed also. The accommodation at Tahune is really nice too if you wanted to make it an overnight trip and explore the trails beyond the airwalk.

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