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Six Reasons to Explore the Derwent Valley & Central Highlands

Are you dreaming of adventure? Take a scenic drive through the Derwent Valley and onwards right to the very heart of Tasmania. Along the way, enjoy food and wine, wilderness and wildlife, fascinating heritage, and lots of adventure! Here are six very good reasons to explore this spectacular region.

1. Divine food & wine

Fuel up for your adventure at the local eateries. Grab some lunch (and baked treats) at The Possum Shed Café, near Mt Field National Park—you might even glimpse a resident platypus frolicking in the river below! Jackson’s Emporium in Hamilton has a lovely café offering home-cooked meals, baked goods, jams, relish, and other local products. The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery at New Norfolk celebrates local, seasonal produce. Visit Lazy Teas’ traditional tea room at Hawthorn Lodge, Bushy Park, for homemade scones with raspberry jam and Tasmanian clotted cream.

If you’re partial to a tipple, you’ll be in seventh heaven—the region boasts some amazing wineries, such as Meadowbank. Ageing Barrel Wine Tours offer a wonderful Derwent Valley Wine and Food Experience.

bow_a_pinya Possum Shed
Image (The Possum Shed): @bow_a_pinya/Instagram

2. Wonderful wilderness & wildlife

There is a diverse range of landscapes to explore throughout the region. Take in sweeping vistas and snow capped peaks, find a cave, admire stunning waterways, and walk in national parkland and reserves.

Chase waterfalls in Mt Field National Park, with star attraction Russell Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Lady Barron Falls, and more. Enjoy the walking tracks, and spot birdlife and wildlife (including the elusive platypus). Find a cave in the nearby Junee State Reserve.

Discover Strathgordon and the rugged mountain ranges of the Southwest National Park. Together, the impressive Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon make up the largest inland freshwater storage in Australia.

In the heart of the Central Highlands (a favourite old haunt of the Tasmanian tiger), take in the beauty of Lake St Clair and choose from a great range of walks. There is also fantastic trout fishing at Lake St Clair, St Clair Lagoon, and nearby Lake King William.

tom.ella.moments Russell Falls
Image (Russell Falls): @tom.ella.moments/Instagram

3. Fascinating heritage

At Plenty, visit the scenic Salmon Ponds heritage hatchery and gardens, where the first live salmon and trout eggs arrived in May 1864. At Derwent Bridge, see the stories of settlers beautifully carved into Huon pine.

Visit Hamilton and admire the colonial architecture, with historic buildings including St Peters Church (c. 1838), the Old Schoolhouse (c. 1856) and Prospect Villa (c. 1834). Pop into Glen Clyde House, a restored, convict-built 1840s coaching inn, now operating as a gallery and café. Visit Jackson’s Emporium (c. 1856, the original Hamilton Centre of Commerce) to browse Derwent Valley products, find visitor information, and book heritage accommodation.

Heritage accommodation includes: luxury riverfront accommodation at Woodbridge on the Derwent (c. 1825); bed and breakfast accommodation at Glen Derwent, a 200 year old farmhouse; and accommodation in the 1820s Rathmore homestead, revived Shearer’s Quarters, or cottage.

woodbridgenn Woodbridge on the Derwent
Image (Woodbridge on the Derwent): @woodbridgenn/Instagram

4. Awesome adventure

Kick your adventure up a notch with some fun activities! If you love kayaking, spend a memorable day exploring the Derwent Valley and southwest regions, including Lake Pedder and Strathgordon, with Tassie Bound. Thrill seekers, abseil the 140m high Gordon Dam—one of the highest commercial abseils in the world. Mountain bikers, tear it up at the Maydena Bike Park, Australia’s biggest gravity-based mountain bike park, with access to over 820m vertical elevation and stunning wilderness.

digitalhippie67 Maydena Bike Park
Image (Maydena Bike Park): @digitalhippie67/Instagram

5. Fun festivals

Autumn is a spectacular time of year in the Derwent Valley, so a festival celebrating the season offers a fantastic day out for the whole family. Local goods are on show, with fine food, wine and beer, plus music and entertainment. The next Derwent Valley Autumn Festival is pencilled in for Sunday 14 April 2019.

For the last few years in October, brave knights, fair ladies, jesters and fools have gathered in the valley to share stories and indulge in some merrymaking. The Derwent Valley Medieval Festival is a fun community event celebrating the region with great food and ales, local products, music, and entertainment.

vertigrator DV Medieval Festival
Image (Derwent Valley Medieval Festival): @vertigrator/Instagram

6. Fantastic farmstays

Breathe in that fresh country air and live the good farm life at one of the region’s memorable farmstays. At Heimat Chalets, feed and pat friendly alpacas, sheep, miniature donkeys and goats, and meet Jack the border collie. 28 Gates Luxury Farmstay and Fishery offers luxury accommodation—try your luck at fly fishing, feed the farm animals, play cards, walk in the wilderness, and spot wildlife. Curringa Farm, a 750 acre sheep and cropping farm, offers secluded cottage accommodation, plus pre-booked farm tours featuring sheep shearing, working farm dogs, forest walks and river views.

Image (Curringa Farm): @natalie_mendham/Instagram

We love it when you share your adventures with us! Share your snaps by tagging @hobartandbeyond and using #HobartandBeyond on Instagram and Facebook – we’ll share our favourite pics on social media and in the blog.

Related posts:
15 Fun Spots to Stay in the Derwent Valley & Central Highlands
Four Fave Photo Spots in the Derwent Valley & Central Highlands
24 Waterfalls to Gush About in Southern Tasmania
River Life: Five Things To Do Around Scenic New Norfolk
Big Pipes, Big Trees & Kangaroos: Three Reasons to Visit Tarraleah
Winery Tastings & Tours: Cellar Doors of Southern Tasmania

Header image:
Gordon Dam, @hard_e83/Instagram

Isabel Galloway

For more great events in southern Tasmania, be sure to visit our Events page.

We love it when you share your adventures with us! Share your snaps by tagging @hobartandbeyond and using #HobartandBeyond on Instagram and Facebook – we’ll share our favourite pics on social media and in the blog.

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