Derwent Valley Tasmania Road Trip Guide

Highlights | Accommodation | Road Trip Essentials

Rolling farmland, quirky hop fields, cascading waterfalls and on the doorstep of Tasmania’s vast, untouched South West wilderness – make sure you include a Derwent Valley road trip in your Tasmania itinerary! 

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Highlights of a Derwent Valley road trip

New Norfolk

Enjoy the autumn colours on your Derwent Valley Road Trip in Tasmania
Derwent Valley, New Norfolk | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Spanning the leafy banks of the Derwent River, New Norfolk is a bustling town rich in pioneer and convict history. 

Highlights include its eclectic collection of antiques, arts and crafts shops such as The Drill Hall Emporium, Flywheel, Black Swan Tasmania, and Miss Arthur, while history buffs will be rewarded with visits to Tasmania’s oldest Anglican church St Matthews (c1823), a tour of the fascinating Willow Court Asylum, or a cold pint at Australia’s longest continuously licenced pub, the Bush Inn (c1815).

The river will be central to your New Norfolk experience, and a great way to get out on the water is on a hydrobike with Pedalmore, or for the more adventurous a stand-up paddle board tour with Derwent Valley Stand Up Paddle.

Honestly, I cold write pages and pages about this wonderful town… so don’t whizz through on your way to Mt Field. Stop by, stretch your legs, and discover the hidden gems and friendly faces of New Norfolk for yourself!

Salmon Ponds Heritage Hatchery and Gardens

Enjoy the still water of the Salmon Ponds on your Derwent Valley Road Trip in Tasmania
Spy platypus at the Salmon Ponds | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett
No road trip up the Derwent Valley is complete without a pit stop at the Salmon Ponds. Did you know that every single rainbow trout in the southern hemisphere can be traced back to these very ponds? Keep your eyes peeled as you picnic in the gardens – you may spot one of the resident platypuses frolicking in the ponds!

Read More: 7 Best Derwent Valley Accommodation Options

Mt Field National Park

Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls in Mt Field National Park | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Lee Henley

Standing on soft, tannin-stained soil, surrounded by vibrant mosses, ferns and fungi – the sound of waterfalls and currawongs in your ears – exploring Mt Field National Park is like stepping back to prehistoric times.

Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls are two of Tasmania’s most iconic natural wonders, and Lake Dobson is your gateway to the spectacular Tarn Shelf and Pandani Grove walking trails. In autumn you can witness the spectacular colours of Australia’s only cold-climate deciduous tree, the fagus!

It isn’t only the natural wonders of Mt Field that you can look forward to. Waterfalls Cafe and Gallery is also one of the best places in Tasmania to browse locally made handicrafts, artworks, and stunning wilderness photography – while also enjoying a delicious post-bushwalk meal or mug of hot coffee!

🎁 Special Offer!

Use our LAPOFTAS code and receive 10% OFF gift cards at Waterfalls Cafe & Gallery!

These gift cards make the perfect present, and can be used for all products across the entire Gallery and Cafe.

Shop Now

Gretna, Hamilton and Ouse

Antique store on the Lap of Tasmania road trip
Antique Stores | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Veronica Youd

As you follow the Derwent River north you’ll pass through the tiny towns of Gretna, Hamilton and Ouse. It’s a lovely part of the Derwent Valley – perfect for a lazy road trip with the top down

The barley fields, gardens, and award-winning whiskies of Lawrenny Estate in Ouse will catch your eye as you drive between Mt Field or New Norfolk and Derwent Bridge – their cellar door is open daily for tastings and to learn more about their ‘paddock to bottle’ whisky distilling philosophy.

🤔 Did you know…?

The Derwent River was first named ‘Rivière du Nord’ by French explorer Antoine Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, but only 2 months later was officially named the Derwent River by English explorer Lt. John Hayes. 

That didn’t last long! 😀

Derwent Bridge and Lake St Clair

Autumn fagus in Mt Field National Park
Autumn fagus in Mt Field National Park | 📷: Tourism Tasmania and Arwen Dyer

Your Derwent Valley road trip ends at Derwent Bridge and the magnificent Lake St Clair. Carved from rock by ancient glaciers – it’s no wonder the palawa call the lake leeawuleena or ‘sleeping water’.

Lake St Clair hiking options are plentiful, or visit the nearby Wall in the Wilderness – a labour of love by local craftsman Greg Duncan revealing the spirit of Tasmania through hammer, chisel and precious Tasmanian timber.

Read More: 12 Must-Pack Items for Your Tasmania Holiday

🌿 See the Central Highlands!

If you have an extra couple of days available, or if you would like to explore one of Tasmania’s less-visited regions, why not head inland and see the beautiful Central Highlands?

Lakes, forests and fields abound across this alpine wonderland. At its southern edge is historic Bothwell and the wonderful Ratho Farm (my recommendation for the perfect place to stay for a couple of nights), while in the far north you will find the ancient shores of beautiful Pine Lake. Fishing opportunities abound near Miena and Arthurs Lake, while the hydro hub of Waddamana is a big hit with anyone wanting learn more about Tasmania’s extensive and world-leading hydroelectric experience.

Once you’re finished, it is easy to re-join the ‘Lap’ by heading up through Bronte Park to Derwent Bridge, Queenstown, and beyond!

Where to Eat in the Derwent Valley

Food at The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery and Store on your Derwent Valley Road Trip in Tasmania
The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery and Store | 📷: Adam Gibson

The Derwent Valley is blessed with sunshine and its tumbled hills are a paradise for farmers, growers, brewers and distillers.

The toughest choice you’ll face is whether to enjoy lunch at Osteria Vista at Stefano Lubiana winery in Granton or the globally acclaimed Agrarian Kitchen in New Norfolk – both are exceptional!

The terroir of the lower Derwent Valley is well suited to vineyards specialising in cool-climate Chardonnays and Pinots – Stefano Lubiana and Derwent Estate wineries both have inviting cellar doors. 

In recent years it has been very exciting to see new micro-breweries popping up all over the valley. If you prefer a pint then why not visit Two Metre Tall Brewery, Welcome Swallow, or The Eleventh Order Brewery for a cold beer or cider?

Read More: The best wine tours from Hobart

Cook up a storm at Sally Wise Cooking School on your Derwent Valley Road Trip in Tasmania
Sally Wise Cooking School | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Chris Crerar

The Salmon Ponds north of New Norfolk are an excellent option for a picnic or delicious light lunch in beautiful surrounds, Glen Derwent Estate are renowned for their scrumptious Devonshire Teas, and you can pick your own raspberries at Westerway Raspberry Farm on your way to Mt Field. 

Waterfalls Cafe & Gallery at Mt Field is easily the best and most convenient food option for walkers planning on tackling Russell Falls and other nearby trails.

Cruising up to the Tasmanian highlands you’ll feel a refreshing edge to every breath. The peaty soil, pure rushing streams and brooding skies are the perfect match for a glass of smooth Tasmanian whisky from the Highlander Arms bar and restaurant in Tarraleah (check their opening days/times before you go though, as they vary with the seasons).

Derwent Valley Events

Derwent Valley Autumn Festival

Stop and see the reflections on the River Derwent on your Derwent Valley Road Trip in Tasmania
Reflections on the River Derwent | 📷: Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Autumn transforms New Norfolk and the Derwent Valley into a riot of golden colours, and the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival is the perfect celebration of this special time of year. There’s music and entertainment for the whole family, and delicious locally sourced foodie options.

Banjo's New Norfolk Market

Banjos New Norfolk Market
Banjos New Norfolk Market

The ‘friendliest market in Tasmania‘, Banjos New Norfolk Market is always a fun way to start your weekend.

Held every Saturday morning between 8am and 2pm on High Street, you will lose yourself in the delicious food, unique handmade arts and crafts (great as a Tassie souvenir!), and toe-tapping entertainment for the whole family.

Maydena Gravity Fest

Every year the world-famous Maydena Bike Park holds its Gravity Fest. Four days of exciting mountain biking events across all disciplines and for all abilities. It’s one of Australia’s biggest MTB festivals and if you love your mountain biking you won’t want to miss it!

Derwent Valley Accommodation

Whether you’re looking for a luxury retreat with views to die for, a cosy bed and breakfast, or a quirky camp ground, the Derwent Valley has plenty of accommodation options to suit your style of Tasmanian road trip.

Read More: 7 Best Derwent Valley Accommodation Options

Explorers Lodge - New Norfolk - front facade
Explorers Lodge - New Norfolk

New Norfolk

In New Norfolk I always recommend Explorers Lodge to travellers. It is easily one of Tassie’s best B&Bs, and I know you will fall in love with its sprawling gardens, gorgeous rooms, and cracking cooked breakfasts!

Glen Derwent Heritage Retreat is also a lovely place to relax (their Devonshire Teas are renowned around the region), or the Old Colony Inn is a good budget option.

Want to splash out? Have a closer look at The Woodbridge Tasmania and spend a night or two immersed in the history, comfort, and serenity of one of Tasmania’s most recognised luxury hotels.

🥂 Special Offer!

Use my LAPOFTAS code when booking your valley retreat at Explorers Lodge B&B and receive:

Guest Rooms

  • 5% OFF (stays of 2 nights or longer)
  • Complimentary bottle of wine 🍾
  • FREE cooked breakfast daily 🍳
  • Either an early check-in (from 12:30pm) – OR – late checkout (to 11:30am)

Self-contained Apartment (minimum 2-night stay)

  • 5% OFF
  • Complimentary bottle of wine 🍾

Valid for direct bookings only, and not available in combination with other offers.

Mt Field

As your road trip takes you up the Derwent Valley and past glamping gem Truffle Lodge, you’ll appreciate a relaxing night in Westerway at Blue Wren Riverside Cottage – and yes, you might see a platypus from your bedroom door!

Derwent Bridge and Tarraleah

In the upper reaches of the Derwent Valley you’ll be wanting a soft bed and a warm fire. Tarraleah Lodge is one of Tasmania’s finest hotels, and can you believe Pumphouse Point has rooms sitting above the lake?!

Or for a more budget-friendly option that is closer to the walking trails I recommend staying at Lake St Clair Lodge.

Enjoy the outdoor bath at Pumphouse Point on your Derwent Valley Road Trip in Tasmania
Pumphouse Point | 📷: Jarrad Seng

Central Highlands

Too many visitors ignore this beautiful part of Tasmania – just a short deviation inland from the Derwent Valley – but on the upside it means you can enjoy the peace, solitude, and serenity of its broad lakes, alpine forests, and colonial history all to yourself!

There are many little towns and homesteads from which to explore the area, but in all my travels the one place that truly represents this unique part of the world is Ratho Farm, just outside Bothwell.

This stunning hosted B&B is a welcome oasis of comfort and warmth after a day of exploration!

⛳ Special Offer!

Mention the Lap of Tasmania when booking your escape to Ratho Farm in the beautiful Central Highlands, or on arrival, and receive your choice of either:

  • Your second round of golf FREE at Australia’s oldest golf course; ⛳ – OR –

  • Your second cooked breakfast FREE🍳

Valid for direct bookings only.

Derwent Valley Caravan Parks

There are some fantastic camping options in the Derwent Valley. 

New Norfolk Caravan Park is positioned beautifully on the banks of the river and has everything you could possibly need. Left of Field Caravan Park is a quirky option right on the doorstep of Mt Field National Park and has been getting rave reviews from fellow campers – check out the open-air bathtub! While in Derwent Bridge you’ll love Lake St Clair Tourist Park for how close it is to the native flora and fauna.

Derwent Valley Weather

Four seasons in one day” – That’s Tasmania!

The Derwent Valley is generally the warmest Tasmanian region in summer, with average temperatures ranging from 10°C at night up to 22°C during the day. They don’t happen often, but temperatures can exceed 40°C!

In winter you can expect average temperatures from 2°C up to 11°C.

The altitude of the highlands results in colder conditions, with summer temperatures ranging from 6°C up to 18°C and winter temperatures from 0°C to 8°C.

Read: The Best Time to Visit Tasmania

Derwent Valley Road Trip Essentials

Next destination on your Lap of Tasmania?

If you’re travelling clockwise, your next destination is the bracing West Coast wilds.

Travelling anti-clockwise, your next destination is Hobart – the best small city in the world!