While there are towns further south than Dover, this is your last chance to buy petrol and supplies before venturing further down the southern coast. This makes Dover the southernmost town of importance in Australia.
Dover sits on the incredibly beautiful Port Esperance Bay. And while there are villages on Bruny Island that are further south, none of them has the infrastructure of Dover. In fact, the owners of the hotel at Alonnah on Bruny Island and the Dover Hotel argue which building is more southerly.
Looking south from Port Esperance fills one with hope. On a clear day, you can see 3 islands out on the horizon named Faith, Hope and Charity. But sailing to the Faith Island is a sombre experience as it is covered in historic gravestones from the 1840's when Dover served as a convict probation station. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett
Take the Huon Highway 77 kilometers south of Hobart and you'll arrive in Dover in a little more than 1.5 hours Launceston is another 200 kilometers north of Hobart and will take you more than 3.5 hours by car. And you'll have to drive towards Launceston on your way to Devonport which is 359 kilometers north and almost 4.5 hours by car.
The Stunning Port Esperance
The drive south from Hobart through the orchards and farms of the Huon Valley is breathtaking. The farther south you get, the more remote it feels. And it gets incredibly remote just after Dover on your way into the Heritage listed southwestern wilderness. But for all its dramatic wilderness, Dover has a very comfortable infrastructure.
And this small town sits right on the waters of Port Esperance Bay. There are plenty of picnic spots along the water where you can watch commercial fishing boats looking for salmon, abalone and crayfish. Their catch is incredibly fresh and you can find this tasty seafood at restaurants in town. And you'll be absolutely fascinated by the number of seagulls that sit on the jetty waiting for a snack. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania & Wheeler Studios
The Last Southern Stop on the Way to Wilderness
Dover sits right at the southern end of the Huon Valley region. This area of Tasmania is incredibly lush with green rolling hills and perfect conditions for growing apples. It's a relaxing few days to drive down through this area while stopping at farmers stands, picnicking on the Huon River and checking out some of Tasmania's most beautiful natural surrounds. You'll find plenty of families enjoying a few days off together in this peaceful stretch of land.
You'll also meet hikers who are making Dover their base camp. As the last Southern town of significance in the entire country, Dover has the infrastructure for nature enthusiasts that are committed to exploring the area southwest of town. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area includes the stunning Hartz Mountains National Park beyond Dover.
Couples love using Dover as a romantic escape. Picking apples on the drive down to town and exploring nearby attractions such as Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs is an idyllic way to spend a weekend. The nearby Ida Bay Historic Railway takes you on a 14-kilometer passage through colorful fields of wildflowers and rugged coast to an isolated beach for a lunch picnic. There's simply no better way to connect with a loved one.
You'll find an assortment of accommodations ranging from backpacker hostels to seaside hotels. There are quaint bed and breakfasts on the Huon Highway as it enters town. You'll find the prices are much more reasonable on the outskirts of town than they are near Port Esperance Bay. If you have a camper van, you'll have to head much further south to Southport to find a caravan park.
Take a peaceful stroll along Kent Beach. You'll be able to see three beautiful islands off in the distance named Faith, Hope and Charity. The names were given to the islands in order to inspire incarcerated convicts kept at Dover. And you'll notice that this beautiful piece of coastline is sheltered from the high winds and rain of the Roaring Forties to make for a pleasant picnic.
Dover offers up a pizza joint, two local restaurants and an RSL club. The seafood hauled from nearby Port Esperance Bay is incredibly fresh and Dover is known for its fish and chips. You can find them on the southern end of town. But for hearty meals at an incredibly reasonable price, head to downtown's RSL club.
Port Esperance Bay was named after one of Bruni D'Entrecasteaux's ships as it originally explored the area in 1792. The area where Dover now sits was established as a convict probation station which operated for 4 years starting in 1844. Dover has all but erased its convict past as the economy quickly changed to timber in the 1850's. Timber work began the settlement of what is now Dover and a post office was built in 1856. 10 years later, Dover was officially named a township. Now the economy revolves around tourism and fleet fishing for abalone, salmon and crayfish.
You can count on cool temperatures in Dover, but you'll rarely ever see snow. This small coastal town is fairly sheltered from the Roaring Forties and a typical day features cool weather and overcast skies.
Be sure to visit nearby Hasting Caves and Outdoor Thermal Pool. It's a unique geological feature and you can spend a relaxing afternoon in the pools. Image credit: Tourism Tasmania & John de la Roche
The nearby Ida Bay Historic Railway is a convenient and romantic way to see Dover's natural surrounds. It'll take you through fields of wildflowers, rainforests and along rugged shorelines to an isolated beach where lunch is served.