local government area in Tasmania

Derwent Valley is a region in Southern Tasmania and a great place to visit for a few days. If your interests are bird watching, bushwalking, golf,trying out local produce, wine or meeting the friendly locals, then you should plan to spend a few days in this region.

Russell Falls is the icon of not just Mt Field, but Derwent Valley as a whole.

Cities

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Map of Derwent Valley

  • 1 New Norfolk is a town with a lot of heritage experiences to offer and is the gateway to the Derwent Valley if traveling from Hobart.
  • 2 Maydena – a waypoint town along the way to Southwest National Park, home to Australia's only pedal railway
  • 3 National Park   – a locality of 73 with a very unoriginal name outside Mount Field National Park. Its main purpose is to serve as a tourist town for Mt Field National Park.

Other destinations

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  • 1 Mount Field National Park – frequently touted as one of Tasmania's "must-sees", only an hour away from Hobart. Its main highlight is Russell Falls, which can make for an interesting photo, as well as some of the world's tallest trees (second to sequoia sempervirens found in Redwood National Park, California).
    • 2 Three Falls Circuit – a 7.5-kilometer trail in Mt Field National Park that passes through the park's three most important waterfalls
  • 3 Southwest National Park – Tasmania's wilderness haven. Accounting for over 10 percent of the state, Australia's most dramatic mountains (and some may argue even Oceania's) and photogenic locations lie in this park, waiting to be discovered.

Understand

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The Derwent Valley is the largest drainage basin in Tasmania. It contains more differing ecosystems than any other area of Australia, from alpine to temperate rainforest to riverine reed beds. The area is scenically beautiful, with tumbling streams, mirror lakes, poplars, rolling green hills and snow capped mountains in winter. Must sees include New Norfolk - the third oldest town in Australia with its history, Mt Field National Park, Salmon Ponds where trout were first hatched in the southern hemisphere, the Tall Trees Walk and Styx Valley with the tallest hardwood trees in the world (and the second tallest species of trees), the oldest golf course outside of Scotland at Ratho.

Get in

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The Derwent Valley is only accessible via road – the only road connecting much of the region to the rest of Tasmania is the Gordon River Road (B61), connecting the Lyell Highway to its various parks. There are a few spur routes off B61 as well, such as B62 connecting B61 to New Norfolk and (indirectly) Hobart, or C608 from Ouse to Westerway.

Daily bus services also operate to New Norfolk and beyond, departing from Hobart.

Get around

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The major roads are sealed to allow convenient moving from point A to point B, but if you really want to explore you need to get off the beaten track up some of the gravel roads and get our of the vehicle and walk. Most of the Derwent Valley's breathtaking scenery is kilometers away from any road, and sometimes you may even need to go on multi-day hikes to visit these places.

Do not underestimate travel times in the Derwent Valley. It takes more than 2 hours to get to Gordon Dam or Scotts Peak Dam from New Norfolk (i.e. one end of the Derwent to the other), and about 3 from Hobart. The roads are just as windy as they are in the central and western parts of the state, and although the signposted speed limit may be "100 km/h changing road conditions", the road conditions don't support this for first-time drivers to the region.

 
Some of these trees are over 100 m

Rolling hills, waterfalls, bushwalking, fishing, golfing, national parks, and historic icons – these are what truly characterise the Derwent Valley.

Woodbridge on the Derwent is a boutique luxury hotel in an 1825 heritage listed convict built Georgian mansion. It is on the banks of the Derwent River, and won the Australian HIA Renovation of the Year award for its sympathetic and successful restoration.

There are two places where you can see the world's second-tallest species of trees. The first is the Styx Tall Trees Forest Reserve – mountain ash trees are more abundant here, but the area is difficult to access. The second is the more popular Tall Trees Walk in Mt Field National Park. It's a 1-kilometer loop track (a spur off the Three Falls Track), is more tourist-friendly and has tools detailed enough for you to measure each individual tree (some even 100 meters), but there are fewer trees. If you're unsure or time-restricted, then the Tall Trees Walk may be better suited for you.

The region's main waterfalls are found in Mount Field National Park, most of which can be seen along the 7-km Three Falls Track. The most famous of which, Russell Falls (pictured above, is only a short 20-minute walk from the region's only Parks and Wildlife Service visitor centre.

There are also many lakes and Hydro Tasmania dams in the Derwent Valley, particularly in Southwest National Park. These are among the few POIs in Southwest National Park to have road access, so if hiking is not your gist, need not worry. Some of these dams are engineering marvels, including Tasmania's tallest, Gordon Dam, with a concrete arch of over 140 meters.

Fly fishing some of the best in the world, golfing, wine tours, sampling the cherries, stone fruit, berries apples.

Great cycling, rafting, canoeing, driving and walking. Maydena also has Australia's first and only pedal railway.

Most restaurants and eateries in general tend to specialise in organic coffee, local wines, local produce. Lunches are similar to what you would find in other small rural towns on the mainland.

Drink

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  • Wineries – Stefano Lubiana, Laurel Bank, Derwent Estate, Meadowbank, Kinvarra Estate, producing the best Pinot, Sauv Blanc and sparkling.
  • Beers – There are two metre tall Brewery brewing real ales from local heritage hops and organic barley.
  • Whiskey is popular in the region. If you're unsure of what to try, try visiting the single malt whiskey from Nant Distillery

Stay safe

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The Derwent Valley is like most other Tasmanian regions, but safety precautions should be taken more seriously here.

  • Travel times are longer than you expect (and don't trust your beloved Google Maps for travel times).
  • Don't underestimate the cold. Sub-zero temperatures are very common in the Derwent – see Tasmanian national parks for some advice on how to handle Tasmanian weather.
  • Mobile coverage is non-existent west of Maydena and Hydro Tasmania locations. Even Telstra only has 4G in this region with some parts of Gordon River Rd only having 3G coverage. Bring all the appropriate equipment with you.

Go next

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This region travel guide to Derwent Valley is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.