Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs | The Perfect Day Trip From Hobart

Deep within the Huon Valley, 90 minutes south of Hobart, a sprawling cave complex and natural thermal springs hide beneath an ancient fern-laden forest. Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs is a place of rich history, awesome geology and breathtaking beauty.

We had the pleasure of exploring the caves and dipping in the thermal springs on a recent visit to the south of Tasmania and were blown away by the tranquillity of the forest and the ancient history surrounding it.

A visit to Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs is a must for any south Tasmanian road trip. It’s the perfect mix of history and relaxation, starting with a guided tour through the thriving underground ecosystem of Australia’s largest publicly accessible dolomite cave, called Newdegate Cave, and finishing with a soak in the mineral-rich thermal pool and springs.

In this guide, you’ll find answers to all the questions you may have in regards to exploring Hastings Caves State Reserve including how to book, when to visit and what to expect from your experience.

Newdegate Cave Stalactite and Stalagmite formations in Hastings Caves Reserve

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Your Complete Guide To Visiting Hastings Caves And Thermal Springs

Where Is Hastings Caves And Thermal Springs?

Hastings Caves and the thermal springs are both located within Hastings Caves State Reserve, a reserve that began in 1919 and finally included the thermal springs in 1941. The cave complex sprawls beneath a giant stringybark forest that borders the Southwest National Park.

The thermal springs and pool can be found behind the visitor centre, while the caves are located at the end of Hastings Cave Rd, 5km northwest of the visitor centre. This is where you’ll find a short forest walk that guides you the final 400 m to the Newdegate Cave entrance.

The closest town to Hastings Caves, where you can find the basics, is Dover. This small coastal town is 30 minutes northeast of the caves.  

How To Get To Hastings Caves And Thermal Springs

Located within the Huon Valley, the visitor centre at Hastings Caves State Reserve is an easy 90-minute drive south of Hobart along sealed roads the entire way. Unfortunately, as with most places in Tasmania, there is no public transport from Hobart to Hastings Caves so the easiest way to visit is by car. 

If you’re staying in Hobart without a car, you can either rent one for the day or take a look at the tour options below. 

By Car

From Hobart, take Huon Hwy (A6) south for 58km until you reach the giant tree stump signs for Geeveston. From here, you can either detour through the quaint town or turn left onto Scotts Road for 4km before turning left again to get back onto Huon Hwy.

Follow Huon Hwy for another 32km until you reach the turn-off for Hastings Caves Rd (C635). This road will take you the final 8km to Hastings Caves visitor centre where you’ll purchase your pre-booked tickets before driving another 5km to the caves car park. 

By Tour

There are a couple of tour options beginning in Hobart that take you on a day trip to Hastings Caves with the addition of other sights and activities. 


Quick Tips For First-Time Visitors

  • Book in advance (maximum of 14 days prior), especially during summer when it can get quite busy
  • There is no reception at Hastings Caves State Reserve, however, you can use the wifi ‘active8me’ at the visitor centre which gives you 300MB for free before charging $5 for an extra 200MB and $10 for 500MB
  • Allow a whole day for the caves and thermal springs in order to enjoy the heated pool and spacious BBQ facilities located beside the outdoor complex
  • Do the Hot Springs Circuit to find the section where the creek meets the thermal springs, this is a beautiful spot to test the differences and take a plunge if you’re feeling adventurous
  • Arrive at the visitor centre 45 minutes before your tour (more on this later)
  • You don’t need a Tasmanian Parks Pass to visit Hastings Caves State Reserve
  • Don’t forget to bring your bathers! 

Hastings Caves Opening Hours And Booking Information

Hastings Caves Bookings

Newdegate Cave is the only accessible cave within the Hastings Caves complex and can only be entered on a guided tour. Bookings are essential as the tours fill up quickly, and this can be done over the phone up to 14 days in advance. 

You’ll purchase your pre-booked tickets at the visitor centre 45 minutes before the tour starts in order to have enough time to drive the final 5km to the cave car park and walk for approximately 5 minutes along the Newdegate Cave trail to the cave entrance. 

At the entrance, you’ll be met by the knowledgeable cave guide for a quick briefing and overview before setting off into the depths of Newdegate Cave. The underground tour takes approximately 45 minutes. 

Hastings Caves visitor centre:

  • Phone number – (03) 6298 3209
  • When to book – 7 days a week between 10:30 am – 3:30 pm, a maximum of 14 days before your intended tour date (closed Christmas Day)

Hastings Caves Prices

The admission prices for the cave tour as of August 2022 are as follows. This also includes complimentary access to the thermal pool, its facilities, and the two short walks located behind the pool. 

  • Adults (18 years and over) – $24.00
  • Child (4 to 17 years – under 4 years free) – $12.00
  • Concession (Seniors, Pensioners and Health Care Card holders) – $19.20
  • Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) – $60.00

For entry to the thermal springs only, which gives you all-day access to the two short walks, the thermal pool and the BBQ facilities, the prices are:

  • Adults (18 years and over) – $5.00
  • Child (4 to 17 years – under 4 years free) – $2.50
  • Concession (Seniors, Pensioners and Health Care Card holders) – $4.00
  • Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) – $12.00

Hastings Caves Opening Hours and Tour Times

Hastings Caves is open year-round, only closing on Christmas Day. However, the opening times change slightly throughout the year, as do the cave tour times. This is the most recent information for the opening hours and cave tour times as of August 2022. 

Visitor Centre and Thermal Springs Opening Hours:

  • 1st February – 30th April & 1st October – 24th December: 10 am – 4 pm 
  • 1st May – 30th September: 10:30 am – 4 pm
  • 26th December – 31st January: 9 am – 5 pm

*The barbeques close down 30 minutes before closing.

Newdegate Cave Tour Times:

  • 1st February – 30th April & 1st October – 24th December:
    11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm
  • 1st May – 30th September:
    11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm
  • 26th December – 31st January:
    10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm

Newdegate Cave Tour

Newdegate Cave is the only accessible cave within the Hastings Caves complex and received its name after the governor of Tasmania at the time, Sir Francis Newdegate. This was done to impress the governor so that he would visit the caves, which worked. 

This land’s traditional owners were the Lyluequonny people, a clan of the South East nation. There are no signs that these Tasmanian Aboriginals used the cave, unlike some other caves around Tasmania including ones found near Frenchmans Cap.

Getting To Newdegate Cave

Walking track to Newdegate Cave Tour in Hastings Caves Regional Reserve

After driving the final 5km west along a winding sealed road, you’ll reach a large open car park with a toilet block and a wooden shelter. This is the final chance to use any amenities before commencing the tour.

From the car park, a boardwalk trail leads deeper into the dense forest of tree ferns and enormous stringybark trees, their feet covered in an almost fluorescent green moss. Along the walk, you’ll cross Hot Springs Creek and pass a handful of hand-crafted interpretive signs that describe where the thermal springs run and tell parts of the logger’s history. 

If you look further into the forest, you could find old and rusted, half-decayed wooden tramways that assisted the loggers in hauling huge trees out of the forest using bullocks and horses.

The 400 m walk takes no more than 5 minutes to reach Newdegate Cave’s entrance. 

The Tour Experience

45 minutes | 250 stairs each way | 9℃ inside the cave

Hastings Caves large chamber of Newdegate Cave glowing in orange light

Your tour guides will meet you in the shelter covering the Newdegate Cave entrance and give a brief overview before opening the gates and allowing you to descend into the eerie darkness. 

As you adjust to the dim light, you’ll begin to notice just how far the ancient dolomite cave continues. It opens up into an enormous amphitheatre split into two main levels. The upper levels were formed by slow-moving groundwater seeping through, which is reflected in the rounded chambers and abundance of incredible formations. 

Interesting formations of Hastings Caves lit up in orange and blue lights

The lower level descends to almost 50 m below the forest floor, this causes the cave to stay at a fresh and constant 9℃ due to it being too shallow to be warm and too deep to be affected by the outside weather. 

As you wander deeper into the cave that’s estimated to have begun forming almost 60 million years ago, your guide will fill you with interesting facts and the history of Newdegate Cave. They’re extremely knowledgeable and keen to answer all your questions, which added to the experience immensely. 

The entire cave is decorated in countless stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone, columns, straws, and even helictites, which are all continuously forming to this day. One that you will have the opportunity to peer into is over 75,000 years old! 

While the cave continues for 1.8km through tight and treacherous tunnels, the tour stays inside the wide-open amphitheatre and guides you along concrete paths with steps and handrails. There’s no need to squeeze into tight spaces and the only rush of adrenaline you may feel is when they turn all the lights off…

You’ve never seen darkness like that of a cave! It’s a fantastic way to wake the other senses and hear the water dripping onto the stalagmites around you. 

There are no bats living inside this cave or any cave in Tasmania for that matter. The only animals found inside Newdegate Cave are Anaspides (small shrimp-like creatures only found in Tasmania), Tasmanian cave spiders and cave crickets.

Once your tour of Newdegate Cave is finished, retrace your steps and drive back to the visitor centre to spend the rest of the afternoon soaking in the springs. 

Hastings Caves Thermal Springs

Allowing enough time to spend soaking in the mineral-rich thermal pool and on the walks surrounding is a must for anyone that enjoys a bit of nature and time to rejuvenate. The pool is fed by the thermal springs located just beyond the treeline and stays a constant 28℃ year round. 

Along the walking trails branching from the pool, you’ll have the chance to see the thermal springs and feel the difference in water temperatures of that and Hot Springs Creek that passes underneath the trail. 

The thermal springs are caused by water seeping through karst (a landscape that has been eroded by dissolution, creating sinkholes, caves, underground streams, and more) to approximately 600 m below ground where it warms before being channelled back to the surface by pressure. 

Hastings Caves Thermal Pool

Swimming in the Thermal Pool at Hastings Caves which sits at a constant 28 degrees celcius

To reach Hastings Caves thermal pool, simply wander through the visitor centre towards the glass back doors and take the short walk through sassafras and ferns to the large pool area. 

The thermal pool is not crazily exciting but a warm swim in mineral-rich water under the canopy of giant gum trees is pretty darn relaxing. Not to mention, the surrounding forest sets the perfect scene for an afternoon picnic under the multiple picnic shelters. The largest shelter even has a fireplace set inside for those frosty winter days.  

Hastings Caves Thermal Pool amenities and information:

  • Toilets with free showers
  • Three picnic shelters – one with a fireplace and barbeque facilities
  • Rubbish bins
  • Two pools – one small waders pool for children
  • The pools are a constant 28℃
  • The thermal pools are complimentary with a cave tour or $5 entry for adults (more prices above)

Platypus Walk

Testing the water from the Thermal Hot Springs in Hastings Caves Reserve

Platypus Walk is the smaller of the two circuits leading from the thermal pool and takes less than 5 minutes to complete. The boardwalk trail crosses the creek twice and on the northern bridge, you’ll have the thermal springs on one side and the creek on the other. There is a tap here for you to experience the difference in temperatures between the thermal springs and the creek.

Hot Springs Circuit

Hiking the Hot Springs Circuit in Hastings Cave Thermal Pools

Walking anti-clockwise, the Hot Springs Circuit begins on the Platypus Walk before leading you out of the rainforest oasis into a shrubby swampland. Small paperbark trees and yellow banksias flank one side of the trail while the thermal springs trail along the other. As the landscape opens up, you’re gifted a quick glimpse of nearby Adamsons Peak reaching for the distant horizon. 

After 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll reach the section where a cold water stream and the thermal springs meet.

At this junction, a slightly submerged platform allows you to dip your feet into the water to feel the stark difference between the two water sources. You’ll notice that the cold water of the stream has a natural tea colouring while the warm thermal springs have a blueish tone and seep up from the underground bed.

Sitting on the platform at Hot Springs Circuit in Hastings Caves Reserve

If you’re feeling brave, take the plunge to truly experience the difference in temperatures. A nearby sign indicates that the creek is 14℃ while the springs are 21℃, however, after submerging in the stream we believe the water was much colder than the suggested 14 degrees! 

After the junction, the trail continues for approximately 10 minutes through the dense rainforest filled with enormous tree stumps and tall ferns. You’ll merge back onto the Platypus Walk to complete the circuit.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is The Best Time To Visit Hastings Caves And Thermal Springs?

Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs is a popular tourist destination and a favourite picnic area for Hobart locals. Therefore, Hastings Caves becomes quite busy through summer and you’ll likely be sharing the thermal pool with many others. 

Personally, we recommend visiting in winter or the shoulder seasons for more chances of a small cave tour group and the thermal springs to yourself. 

How Long Do You Need To Visit Hastings Caves State Reserve?

If you want to truly make the most of your visit to Hastings Caves, we suggest allocating a full day. This way, you’ll have time to explore the surrounding rainforest and enjoy an afternoon soaking in the thermal pools. 

If you’re only interested in visiting the caves then you’ll only need half a day including the drive time from Hobart. 

Are Dogs Allowed At Hastings Caves?

No, due to the fact it is a protected state reserve, there are no dogs allowed within Hastings Caves and Thermals Springs. 

Can You Camp At Hastings Caves State Reserve?

Unfortunately, there are no camping options within the state reserve, however, there are two free campgrounds close by which are Arve River Campground and Esperance River Campground.

Do You Need A Tasmania Parks Pass To Enter Hastings Caves State Reserve?

No, you don’t need to have a parks pass in order to visit Hastings Caves, however, there are other fees that apply. These are for the thermal pool and Newdegate Cave. 

Who Discovered Hastings Caves?

A group of loggers working for the Huon Timber Company happened upon the entrance to Newdegate Cave while felling a giant stringybark tree in 1917. The tree fell across the entrance which shed light on what lay beneath their feet. Luckily for the cave, logging then ceased and the area was declared a reserve in 1919.

How Was Hastings Caves Formed?

It’s estimated that Newdegate Cave may have started forming approximately 2 million years ago before the Pleistocene glaciations covered much of the state. It’s suggested that the cave could have begun forming when acidic rainwater first came into contact with the dolomite rock. The acidic rainwater dissolves the karst-forming rock causing small hollows to form that allow water flow and rock dissolution, which eventually creates the caves. 

Where To Stay Near Hastings Caves

Hastings Caves is located within the Huon Valley, a beautiful part of Tasmania that’s full of quaint accommodation and a few free campsites. Unfortunately, there are no accommodation options within Hastings Caves State Reserve. 




Things To Do Near Hastings Caves

Hastings Caves is located in the far south of Tasmania in the Huon Valley, where there are plenty of walks, waterfalls and adventurous activities. Along with the abundance of nature activities, Huon Valley is the apple isle of Tasmania and home to a number of cider sheds and apple orchards. 

You could easily spend a week in the Huon Valley exploring the surrounding mountains, visiting the southernmost point of Australia, sipping cider and experiencing some fun adventures on offer. 

Here are just a few of our top suggested things to do near Hastings Caves.

Stay At The Southern Most Campsite In Australia

Drive to the end of the road – literally – and camp at Cockle Creek, the southernmost campsite in Australia. This beautiful campsite is situated where the creek flows into the bay and is also the beginning of the South Cape Bay walk and the end of the 8-day South Coast Track.

The South Cape Bay Walk is an easy 15 km return that takes you out to South Cape Bay where you can witness the wild ocean at full force. 

Hike To Hartz Peak 

Sunset cloud waterfall at Hartz Peak in Hartz Mountains National Park

Hartz Peak is located just north of Hastings Caves and offers breathtaking views over the Southwest National Park. But the best part is that it takes less than two hours to reach the peak. This hike is one of the absolute best short walks we’ve had the pleasure of completing in Tasmania. 

Sip Cider At Willie Smith’s Apple Shed

Wille Smith’s is one of the most popular ciders you can get in Tasmania and for good reason. Their range of delicious ciders is extensive and served in a cool barn-style bar near Huonville. 

If you can swing it, visit on a Friday afternoon when they have live music playing in the large outdoor entertaining area in summer or inside the barn in winter. Or if markets are more your style, they host an Artisan Market every Saturday.

Tasting Platter and Cider tastings at Willie Smiths Apple Shed

Fly High At The Tahune Airwalk

Located near Hartz Mountain, Tahune Adventures is a fun and adventurous day out where you can walk among the enormous huon pine tree tops or fly through them on a hang glider. Or if that’s a little too crazy for your taste, there is a beautiful Huon Pine Walk that keeps you close to the forest floor. 

There is a tasty cafe located at Tahune Adventures and they allow campervans and RVs to stay overnight in their overflow campground for $10 per night with an Airwalk ticket. There is also a lodge located on the premises. 

Final Thoughts 

Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs is a must-visit destination for those wishing to add a unique adventure to their Tasmanian itinerary. We were blown away by the guides’ knowledge and thoroughly enjoyed our time at Hastings Caves. 

Having been to plenty of guided caves throughout Australia, we can honestly say that Hastings Caves was one of our favourite experiences. Just remember to bring your bathers so you can enjoy a soak in the mineral-rich pools afterwards!