Tasmania is at its best when the weather is wild and dark. The Off Season is a chance to catch some of its more underrated pleasures – like sampling spirits at one of its celebrated distilleries, taking in rugged coastal views from the fireplace at a winter retreat, or exploring subterranean cave systems while the winter rain flows through. Here’s our guide to six unexpected experiences worth booking this winter.

Dark Paddle

The River Derwent offers a spectacular vantage point every June, especially when Dark Mofo paints the town red. The full festival isn’t returning this year (it’s got a reduced program), but this exclusive twilight paddle by Southern Sea Ventures is making a comeback. This small-group activity starts out at Marieville Esplanade in Sandy Bay and skirts historic Battery Point before reaching Constitution Dock, where you’ll be greeted by flaming hot chocolate and freshly roasted local chestnuts. As the sun sets behind kunanyi / Mount Wellington, the Dark Mofo lights come on, illuminating the city in a stunning red glow.

Equipped with navigational lights and Antarctic-spec clothing, plus some hot refreshments, you’ll take in the sights and sounds around Hobart’s working waterfront. Winter typically affords calm conditions, ideal for stargazing. Consider paddling on the winter solstice (June 21) or the full moon (June 22) to enhance your mid-winter experience.

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Wild Cave Tours

Designed for both beginners and adrenaline junkies, Wild Cave Tours offers customised adventures through Tasmania’s World Heritage underground cave systems. These tours, led by dedicated caver and conservationist Deb Hunter, take advantage of winter’s elevated rainfall, when water spills through the glistening caves. Each eight-hour session is tailored to the day’s conditions and the group’s preferences, offering a choice between leisurely walks and more challenging caving techniques. Lunch is provided between exploring two different caves, and the day ends with afternoon tea and a debrief. Hunter shares her extensive knowledge, including photography tips. Keep on the lookout for glow worms.

Gleneagle Tasmania

Glamping destination Gleneagle consists of two beautifully appointed geo-domes on a 46-hectare property, just over 10 minutes’ drive from the coastal town of Penguin. Each secluded dome, with a very comfortable 50-square-metre footprint, has panoramic views of the lake and the Dial Range. While away your morning in a king-size bed with coffee from your in-room machine, and end the day with fireside chats, toasted marshmallows and drinks from the bar. Explore the property with the binoculars, spotlights and fishing gear provided, and keep an eye out for the resident echidna and giant freshwater crayfish. Later, relax in the outdoor claw-foot bath for uninterrupted stargazing. And if you want to really lean into the experience, book the in-house masseuse.

Ettrick Rocks

King Island, in the wild Bass Strait, is known for its great local produce, world-class golf courses, surf breaks and scenic trails, and Ettrick Rocks is the perfect base for exploring it all.

On the island’s south-west coast, Ettrick Rocks consists of three retreats (sleeping two, four or six people), with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide stunning coastal views. Each space features original artworks and photographs by local artists. This winter, guests will also be treated to an intimate dinner prepared in-house by your own private chef. Choose between a three-course dinner or a six-course degustation centred around local produce. You’ll also get breakfast provisions, a cheese platter and a bottle of Tassie wine on arrival.

You’ll enjoy uninterrupted views from the coves and rockpools below out to the horizon. And early risers can see fishing trawlers heading out for the day’s catch.

Glow Tour

Biologist Dr Lisa Gershwin leads this nightly tour of local bioluminescent sights – the only one of its kind in Tasmania, and possibly all of Australia. In a forested parkland near Hobart city centre, you’ll have the chance to spot wombats, wallabies, spotted quolls, and luminous flowers and fungi along the Hobart Rivulet, with a UV light to help catch the magical fluorescence. You might even see the aurora australis or a ghost mushroom on this otherworldly walk. Dr Gershwin provides historical and scientific insights as you search, as well as tips on capturing biofluorescent phenomena in photographs.

Ewenique Tasting House Winter Alchemy Experience

Move over Apple Isle – Tasmania is fast becoming the Gin Isle. Ewenique Tasting House is an idyllic location to dabble in distilling. It’s at Grandvewe Cheeses and Hartshorn Distillery in the hamlet of Birchs Bay, just 40 minutes’ drive south of Hobart. In this hour-long guided session, you’ll create a winter gin using various locally grown botanicals. Sample, mix and blend to craft your very own personalised bottle of gin, complete with a wax seal. Enjoy a house-made hot apple-crumble cocktail while you work, then stay a while and enjoy the view, cheeses and spirits.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tourism Tasmania. Embrace the Off Season and explore more wild, weird and wonderful experiences in Tasmania this winter.