Worlds Collide in Derwent Valley

Rainbows break out over Lake Pedder. Image credit: Graham Freeman & Tourism Australia

The great lakes of the Tasmanian mountains

Welcome to one of Tasmania’s great natural paradises; Derwent Valley. Here in the peaceful rural lands in the South of the largest island in Australia, two parallel worlds have come together to form one extroadinary region. This unique shire’s borders begin in the green and plentiful agricultural valley fed by Hobart’s iconic Derwent River, and extend West deep into the remote and mountainous forests that characterise great Southern island. Derwent Valley's wilderness lies immediately to the South of the Central Highlands, where the plateau that holds national treasures like Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair descends into a vast, rugged, and wild valley. Here, the great forest of the Southwest kneels at the banks of Tasmania’s largest and most beautiful lakes; Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder.

To access the the upper hills Derwent Valley, take a drive West from Bushy Park along the Gordon River Road, and soon you'll find yourself cresting a gentle ridge and watching the meadows and crop fields dissapear behind you. This road snakes alongside the trees, carving a path through the valley and lakes that culminates at the intimidating Gordon River Dam. From the trails and lookouts accesible from Gordon River Road, you can peer into a world of rough beauty; dramatic vistas of jagged cliffs and ridges looming over the tranquil blue waters.

The stark landscapes of Gordon River Road. Image credit: Stu Gibson

One of our favourite ways to get to know the landscape here in Derwent Valley is at the Maydena Bike Park. This impressive complex in the quaint and picturesque town of Maydena was designed and built by globally acclaimed trail designers, Dirt Art, and is home to without a doubt the best downhill mountain biking facilities in Tasmania, and some of the best anywhere in Australia. Take the shuttle bus to the iconic 'The Summit' peak house, and enjoy thrills and stunning views as you traverse an array of winding trails that plummet down the gladed slopes watching over Maydena. This is one of the best mountain attractions in the country, and will have the keen pedaller coming back for more and more.

The slopes of Maydena Bike Park and the town of Maydena. Image credit: Simon McLaine & Stu Gibson

Hobart's valley of plenty

Tasmania's jewel and capital city is spread up against the wide channel formed on South coast by the mouth of the islands greatest river; the Derwent, but a riverbend beyond the bustle of Hobart, lies Derwent Valley's agricultural heart; a postcard ready paradise of rolling green hills with a mighty stream of moutain water coursing through its centre. The capital of this shire and Tasmania's third oldest settlement is New Norfolk, a riverside village in the Southern corner of the valley. It was given its name by the 163 of the initial 400 or so settlers who had been sent in search of a new home after the closing of the first Norfolk Island settlement, and find one they did. Today New Norfolk is a haven and bucket list spot for history buffs, foodies, and the antiquing inclined, and visitors will find themselves a welcoming and calming atmosphere. Here in this valley where acres of green pastures nestle amongst the foothills of the Tasmanian mountains and the morning fog looms over a crystal blue river, this town is esconsed in a truly captivating natural setting.

The town of New Norfolk and the enchanting trail of the Derwent River. Image credit: Stu Gibson, Rob Burnett, & Tourism Tasmania

The agricultural tradition here is has largely been split into two groups throughout Derwent Valley's history, as both crops and livestock are farmed here. The conditions are ideal for the raising of cattle and sheep and throughout the valley you can see pastures where livestock frolick freely, many that have been in operation for upwards of a century. The other main agriculture industry made its start in Derwent Valley as early as the 1840s with the founding of the Shoobridge family farm in Bushy Park; that is the growing of hops. Their farm operated for 7 decades and their success was such that at one point Derwent Valley was the most productive hops growing region in the Southern Hemisphere. The crop remains a key part of the regions agricultural output today.

The livestock and hop fields of Derwent Valley. Image credit: Adam Gibson, Rob Burnett, & Tourism Tasmania

Health and amenities in Derwent Valley

Health services in Derwent Valley shire are administered by the Tasmania Department of Health and Human Services, and this is primarily accomplished through the New Norfolk District Hospital & Community Centre, opposite the Derwent Valley Council building in New Norfolk, a medium sized facility that maintains 4 beds and offers services including radiology, physiotherapy, and mental health care. There is also the Derwent Valley Medical Centre, which is also located in New Norfolk, and this private clinic offers a variety of additional services including paediatric care, surgical procedures, and expert dietician plans. 

The diverse environments of Derwent Valley. Image credit: Stu Gibson, Rob Burnett, & Tourism Tasmania

There are three main options for secondary schooling in the Shire of Derwent Valley. One is located in New Norfolk; New Norfolk High School, while Glenora District School is found in the small town of Glenora north of Bushy Park. In addition, there are a wide variety of options for primary school aged children, such as New Norfolk Primary School, St Bridgids Catholic School, and Westerway Primary School which is the most conveniently located for families living in the small towns in the wilderness region of Derwent Valley.

By road, the shire is easily accesible from the North, East, and South, but the wilderness region in the West is not accesible except by the Gordon River Road from within Derwent Valley Shire, as there is a largely undisturbed extent of wilderness all the way from the Western border to the coast of Tasmania. While there are no public bus services within Derwent Valley, the family owned Derwent Valley Link operates both school bus services within the shire and general access services running between Derwent Valley and Hobart, and in addition they have buses available for charter.

Panorama of Lake Pedder, Scott's Peak, and Mt Solitary. Image credit: Alan Long & Tourism Tasmania

For further information

If you're interested in visiting or relocating to the Derwent Valley region find more information on the Derwent Valley's council website, or contact them at (03) 6261 8500 or dvcouncil@dvc.tas.gov.au. 

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