Derwent Valley Day Drive
Day Drive to the Derwent Valley, Russell Falls and Hamilton from Hobart
A very pleasant day of historic villages, wilderness rainforest, spectacular waterfalls and rural scenery make a self drive trip from Hobart through the Derwent Valley to Russell Falls an essential part of your Tasmania itinerary. This drive will get you off the main roads, and take you in a loop through the contrasts that are the essence of rural Tasmania.
The area was settled in 1807 when the first of the 544 migrants resettled from Norfolk Island arrived in Tasmania. Contact with the Derwent Valley was by ferry until the first road connecting New Norfolk to Hobart was built in 1818. It is along this very scenic riverside road you will travel as you drive into the valley.
New Norfolk is a most historic village, claiming Tasmania's oldest Anglican Church (St Matthews) and also the Bush Inn Hotel, claiming to be Australia's oldest hotel serving in the same building. The Bush Inn first opened in 1815 and has been continuously using the same license to serve liquor since 1825.
Derwent Valley Day Drive Directions
Drive north from Hobart on the A1, and at Granton stay on the west side of the river and follow it on the A10 towards New Norfolk and Queenstown. The road runs right beside the River, and on a still day, the reflections are quite beautiful. At New Norfolk, do not cross the river, but instead take the B62 road as it winds along the west bank of the Derwent. If interested, the Salmon Ponds (on your left) provide an excellent look at the introduction of trout and salmon to Tasmanian waterways. When the road T-joins the B61 at Bushy Park, turn left and follow the Gordon River Road (B61) as the scenery changes from farmland to bush between Glenora and Westerway.
At Westerway, the B61 takes a left hand turn through the village. Stay on the B61 as it winds its way along the banks of the Tyenna River, through the gorge and out onto the flatland at National Park. Watch for the turnoff to the right onto the Lake Dobson Rd. and drive over the bridge over the Tyenna River and enter Mt Field National Park, along with Freycinet National Park the oldest declared National Park in Australia (1916). Russell Falls was set aside as Tasmania's first nature reserve in 1885.
The Visitor Centre at the gates of the Park is excellent, and there are barbecue and picnic facilities for public use. Take the walks in to Russell Falls (handicap access), and if you really want to make a hike of it, go on to Lady Barron and Horsehoe Falls. You can walk as little as half an hour, or as long as three or four hours on the well maintained tracks. This is a wonderful rainforest experience just 90 minutes from Hobart, and arguably the best forest walk in Tasmania.
For some excellent alpine walking, drive up the Lake Dobson Road. There are wonderful walks in the area at the end of the road, from the Lake Dobson circuit walk to the longer trek to Tarn Shelf. We strongly suggest you register at the Visitor Centre before doing so.
Leaving National Park, retrace your route to Westerway, turning left onto the Ellendale Road. Stay on the Ellendale Road as it winds through farmland and forest and cross Meadowbank Lake before joining the A10 Lyell Highway. turn right onto the A10 and drive into Hamilton. A great place for lunch, morning or afternoon tea is the Glen Clyde House in Hamilton. Their gift shop and craft gallery has some excellent, individually crafted unique items.
From Hamilton, stay on the A10 through Gretna and Rosegarland. The road runs beside the Derwent River into New Norfolk and is very picturesque. Stay on the east side of the river and take the B10 road back to Bridgewater. Make a stop at Pulpit Rock Lookout for great views - watch for the turnoff to the left about 1 Km from the Bridge, just as you head out of New Norfolk. At Bridgewater take a right turn, cross the causeway and follow the A1 into Hobart.
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