Tasmania is now world-famous for its pure breed of brown trout as well as an abundance of rainbow trout, but that was not always the case. There were no trout in the crystal clear waters of Australia's island state when European settlers began to arrive in the early 1800's. And thus the Salmon Ponds were born. The base stock for all the streams and lakes in Australia and New Zealand were first raised here in 1864.
But why not salmon, you ask? Well, attempts to bring salmon to Tasmania failed as the fish fled the waters of Tasmania after being introduced to the wild. After all, salmon have a primal compulsion to swim thousands of miles to get back to their spawning grounds. Now these trout breeding grounds, with two massive pools full of fish (and some of the original building), are here for you to enjoy in New Norfolk, Tasmania.
The Salmon Ponds are found just north of New Norfolk on the road to Mount Field National Park. The drive from Hobart is only 44 kilometres which takes a quick 42 minutes. Launceston sits 206 kilometres to the north and that drive should take you about 2.5 hours while Devonport, Tasmania's north coast port town, is about 3 hours 15 minutes away. You'll find the Salmon Ponds on the western banks of the Derwent River after driving through a hallway of trees on Glenora Road. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.
Lunchtime is perfect for a visit to the Salmon Ponds as you can enjoy Pancakes by the River. The café offers up a variety of savoury foods which are mostly pancakes alongside a rotating daily burger and salad. And there's nothing more relaxing than enjoying a Cooper's on the banks of the river when the weather is nice. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.
Once you're done with your lunch, head on over to the Salmon Ponds. One of the Ponds holds brown, Tiger, albino and rainbow trout while the other holds salmon. You can buy a small plastic tub filled with pellet fish food to throw into the pond. If you're lucky, a punter will holler to the fish to get their attention for this daily ritual. You'll then have mobs of fish to feed which will delight any child or child at heart. And marvel at their size. These well-fed fish can weigh up to 8 kilograms.
The original cottage for the superintendent of the Salmon Ponds was built in 1865 and that's where you'll find the Trout Fishing Museum, Hall of Fame and Hatchery. You'll learn how the Salmon sent over from England were too smart to stick around when they were let out of the Salmon Ponds which led to the breeding of trout. Now trout fishing is one of the most popular sports in Tasmania and it can all be traced back to the disastrous experiment with salmon here at the Ponds. You can see the history of trout fishing as you meander through this museum and you can pay homage to the greats of the sport in the Hall of Fame. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Shane Mensforth.
The Hatchery can also be accessed via the cottage. You'll learn about the involved process that keeps these ponds stocked with healthy fish. You'll learn how the fish are bred, tanked and how caretakers sort eggs with special tools.
If you're really keen on English gardening then you'll love the Salmon Ponds. The well-kept lawns are hedged with different species of trees in an Old English tradition. Some of the trees in the area are more than 140 years old. If you're an English gardening buff then ask for a brochure highlighting the placement of each tree when you arrive at the Salmon Ponds. Then take a self-guided stroll. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.
The Plenty River meanders its way through the Salmon Pond grounds and you can walk along its banks on a well-manicured gravel track. Take your time to read the many informative signs along the walk to learn more about the area. Image thanks to Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett.
At dusk, you may be lucky enough to spot the elusive platypus in the slow running waters. Take a closer look and you may be able to spot an eel. Fishing is only allowed on the property by people with disabilities on the specially built platform over the river.
You'll come across a hut during your Plenty River Walk. This re-creation of the accommodation that Tasmanian pioneers would use during their trout fishing trips is utilitarian and sparse. Nearby, you'll find picnic and barbecue facilities where you are welcome to bring your own food for the afternoon. And all around are cricket pitches where you're likely to see a game during your visit. Essentially, the Salmon Ponds is a wonderful place to spend a carefree day.