On the road

The Huon in a Holden

We tackle the 'end of the road' to Cockle Creek in the new Holden Equinox.

When the Holden Equinox was launched into an already crowded mid-size SUV market in late 2017, the new name struggled to find ground against the more popular models of Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail

However, buyers in this market who fail to take the Equinox into consideration risk missing out on an all-encompassing package that offers so much for (comparatively) little money.

The five-seater Equinox was designed to fill the hole left when Holden stopped making the Captiva. The Mexican-built machine provides excellent handling and comfort, plenty of room front and back, and loads of features both in the safety and technology departments.

Hastings Caves Thermal Springs

Credit: Sarajayne Lada

While the base model LS is just that, a base, moving up to the LS+ onwards gives you the Holden Eye forward facing camera system, with autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, following distance indicator and forward collision alert with head-up warning. This came in very handy on our drive when the vehicle in front braked suddenly, and the multiple warning systems quickly snapped me to action to avoid a crash. Add to this side blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic alert and a slightly disconcerting safety alert in the driver’s seat that vibrates when it believes you are about to hit something, and the vehicle almost speaks to you.

In the top-spec LTZ-V, you get all the ‘bells and whistles’, including some you never thought you would need such as heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats (yep, that’s right, they blow cool air through the seats… and it was a welcome addition in the summer weather we were experiencing during our drive!).

Hopping in the LTZ-V AWD diesel, the first thing I noticed was the space. Not only is there great leg and headroom in the front (easily made larger by the electronic controls on both driver and passenger seats), but the rear passenger space would comfortably fit three adults. In addition, the 846L rear luggage space is more than enough for the usual stuff people travel with, expanding to 1798L with the rear seats folded down.

The Equinox did not drive like a huge car. The steering has been tuned well to suit open road driving, handling our Sunday Drive into Tasmania’s far south with ease.

South Cape Bay, Cockle Creek

Credit: Tourism Tasmania & Geoffrey Lea.

Armed with swimsuits and more than a little courage, we decided to tackle the ‘end of the road’ – touring through the picturesque Huon region to Cockle Creek – the furthest south you can travel in Australia. And we nearly made it… had I not been driving a borrowed vehicle and already encountered some slightly unnerving moments on the gravel road (due to other road users, not the vehicle itself) coupled with two ‘starving’ children in the back, we may well have reached the end of the road. But suffice to say we glimpsed enough of this picturesque coastline to ensure we will go back.

Along the way, however, we discovered some beautiful spots in which to rest and relax. A recommendation from a Facebook follower uncovered the Heritage Park at Geeveston, hidden away among the trees. This great little spot is equipped with barbecues and a multi-age group play area that would keep kids of all ages entertained for hours. I also noticed campers nearby taking advantage of the lush green grass and easy-access facilities, and when we popped in on our return journey in the afternoon, the nearby carpark adjacent to the Visitor Centre was being set up for what looked like an evening food market – and I made a mental note to return one day soon.

Keen to make the most of the stunning sunny weather, we pushed on to Hastings Caves, where the thermal springs feed a pool for public swimming. Again, excellent facilities included the café at the Visitors’ Centre, change rooms and barbecues, along with a walk to explore the springs and the chance to spot a platypus (not that any platypus in its right mind would pop up with all the noise we were making!). At only $12 for two adults and up to three children, the thermal springs and pool area is a great way to enjoy a day out. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the caves themselves for $60 for two adults and up to three children – again, another note for our next visit.

After the relaxing visit to the thermal springs, it was time to put the Equinox to more of a test. Keen to see the ‘end of the road’, we ventured forward onto gravel, taking our time in the unfamiliar conditions. The AWD of the Equinox was more than up to the task – even when we encountered speeding motorists on our side of the road coming from the other direction, not once did it falter. For which I was very grateful – the weight of responsibility of my passengers along with a borrowed vehicle did not leave me until we felt the smooth lines of bitumen again.

The Holden Equinox.

A stop at The Bears Went Over the Mountain at Geeveston on the way back uncovered another delight in this little town – which was just as well as my ‘under-fed’ children polished off chocolate scones and milk in a flash. More delight abounded upon the discovery that the cricket was on the telly – not very authentic but a welcome distraction as we waited for the hunger to be sated.

Unfortunately we ran out of time to do so many more things we would have liked – sample freshly picked apples from a roadside stall; accept the kind invitation of The Moorings at Lady Franklin to pop in for a meal; and walk among the treetops or try cable hang gliding at Tahune Forest Adventures to name a few. But there will be plenty more times and many more road trips to come – hopefully one day in something as classy and feature-packed as the Holden Equinox.

Holden Equinox priced from $27,990 drive away for the LS manual, up to $49,290 for the LTZ-V diesel.

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Hero image: The Huon River - Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.

Written by our Journeys Editor Paula Sward.