A winter travel guide to the sights, sounds and pagan festivals of Tasmania’s Huon Valley.

Photo credit: Ricky French

Tasmania’s Huon Valley region is one of Australia’s natural wonderlands. Split by the Huon River and dotted with growers’ towns, when the days get shorter here the valley becomes a hideaway of cosy farmstays, fireside cider tastings, and spectacular caving and river tours. Clear, still mornings and mist cover the region’s many orchards, and deciduous trees drop their leaves and become skeletal.
Then in mid-July it erupts into the bacchanalian Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival. Thousands descend on the township of Ranelagh to nurse mugs of hot spiced cider, feast on a smorgasbord of local produce and throw themselves into “wassailing” – a centuries-old tradition of donning masks, hoisting flaming torches, and beating drums and pots and pans in procession while singing and shouting – all in the hope of promoting a good harvest.

Here’s a guide to adventuring through the Huon Valley in the darker months.