The Derwent Valley is a beautiful region of Tasmania taking in the many small towns North of Hobart on the upper stretches of the Derwent River and climbs up into the mountains to include remote Hydro towns such as Tarraleah and Maydena as well as the stunning Derwent Bridge on the edge of Lake St Clair.
Getting to the Derwent Valley is easy with a short 45 minute drive along the western side of the Derwent River. The largest town in the region is New Norfolk which is a perfect spot to start the day with a coffee and a popular spot for fishing on the Derwent River.
Further north you can find towns such as Westerway, Hamilton, Ouse, Bothwell, Kempton and Oatlands each with their own unique history and attractions. Many of these towns were part of the first European settlements in Tasmania and have some amazing stories to tell.
Closer to Mt Field you can find plenty of amazing forests to explore and some great walking with a number of great walks at both Mt Field and the small town of Maydena on the Gordon River Rd out to the lakes in the Western Wilderness Region and Hydro schemes.
On the Lyell highway heading towards the West Coast you can stop in at Tarraleah and Derwent Bridge. Tarraleah is an old Hydro electric town that is now a great spot to stay if you want to explore the high country or just need a break on the way to Queenstown and Strahan. Derwent Bridge is the last major stop before Queenstown and is situated on the edge of Lake St Clair which is absolutely stunning especially with the snows in winter.
A Brief History of the Derwent Valley and Central Highlands
The Derwent Valley was first settled by Europeans in the early 1800's with both farmers and convicts coming to the region to establish new properties and stations. The region has some of the best examples of Georgian and Victorian era architecture in Australia (have a look at the churches in Bothwell). The region is one of the primary sources of Barley used in brewing and has since become a bit of a hub for whisky production as well with both Nant and Redlands Estate located in the Valley.
In more recent times towns in the region have played an important part in Tasmania's industrial heritage. Tarraleah was established in the 1830's as a Hydro town for the workers on Australia's first Hydro Electric scheme and Maydena was once an important town in Tasmania's forestry industry.
Our Local Tips
- Visit the Salmon ponds and feed the fish.
- Head up into the mountains and grab a coffee at Tarraleah.
- Have lunch at the Possum Shed in Westerway.
- Check out Callington Mill at Oatlands.
- Do a whisky tasting at Nant Distillery and have lunch at the Atrium Restaurant.
- Take the short walk to magnificent Russell Falls in Mt Field National Park.
- Visit The Wall in the Wilderness near Derwent Bridge to see the progress of the 100m long wooden sculpture.
- Stop in for a hot drink at Jackson's Emporium, Hamilton, usually open til early evening, even in winter.
- Climb the stairs at Gretna to see the Gretna War Memorial and look out over the Derwent River.