derwent river and road

9 Derwent Valley Tasmania Views That (Almost Certainly) Inspired The Opera and Where To Find Them

Swansongs aren’t final performances – they can be first impressions, too. And there’s no finer first impression than the one encountered by famous Irish composer, William Vincent Wallace. It was 1838 and he was gazing over the Derwent River from his room at The Bush Inn. Suddenly, a flock of swans arrived before him and broke out into song. He was so moved by the scene that it’s thought to have inspired him to write the famous composition ‘Scenes That Are Brightest’. Don’t believe us? Well, best come and see these very views for yourself – as this we know to be Derwent Valley true.

1. Take in panoramic views from a lookout towering on a cliff edge, at Pulpit Rock Lookout, in New Norfolk

With views that will leave you lost for words – the Pulpit Rock Lookout is just a short walk from the carpark, but it will leave you feeling like you’ve trekked for hours. It’s a fantastic option for those after a light walk, with maximum reward. Bask in views of the New Norfolk township, undulating hills, open farmland and the bend in the Derwent River, before wandering back to the car.

Image credit: tassieswanaroo (IG) and Sam Volker Photography

Pulpit Rock Lookout is found just north of picturesque town New Norfolk and is around 38 kms (36 minutes) by car from Hobart. 

Stay at:
Explorers Lodge for a warm and welcoming B&B experience, with quaint touches of understated luxury.

Or Tynwald Willow Bend Estate to stay in a historic homestead accommodation with many stories to tell.

If you’re feeling indulgent – The Woodbridge Tasmania is a stunning luxury accommodation option situated along the Derwent River.

2.Freeze in your tracks while gazing at the terrifyingly beautiful Gordon River Dam, in Strathgordon

The Gordon River Dam will entrance you in a way that stops you in your tracks. But don’t let this stop you, this 140m high concrete dam is magnificent and holds 27 times the volume of water of Sydney Harbour. Completed in 1974, it is the tallest dam in Tasmania and a treasure trove of spectacular plants and animals. The drive there is also beautiful – taking you through the protected Tasmanian World Heritage Area and Franklin-Gordon Rivers National Park.

Image credits: lanexplore (IG), v.doublee (IG) and mingwrks (IG)

Strathgordon is around 156 km from Hobart (approx. 2.5 hours by car). Take the A10 to New Norfolk, B62 to Westerway and B61 to Strathgordon via National Park. Travel to the end of Gordon River Road and you’ll find the Gordan River Dam.

3. Feel like you’re on top of the world while overlooking stunning rock formations, known as The Needles.

In case you’re wondering how this place got its name – the intermediate hike takes you to a breathtaking series of jagged faced ridge line known as The Needles. Located on the northern fringe of the Southwest National Park, this hidden gem is one of Southern Tasmania’s most rewarding, yet seemingly unknown, short walks. The 3km (2 hour) return walk will take to uninterrupted panoramic views of rugged mountainous terrain – which are certainly fit for inspiring creativity or merely clearing the mind.

Image credits: jackrsutton (IG), kenjineering (IG) and mozoph (IG)

Also found on Gordon River Road, you will eventually come across a trailhead and carpark on the righthand side driving from Hobart.

4. Find out why they say ‘sometimes it’s all about the journey, not the destination’ when driving past the Sentinel Range, also in Strathgordon.

It will be hard not to get distracted by the breathtakingly beautiful Sentinel Range. But hey, road safety first. Pull over and take a proper look at one of the conveniently located stop off points along the main road. Standing at 974 metres above sea level, its appearance is deceiving due to the range being less than one kilometre wide and five kilometres long. If you happen to be driving past here at dusk, it’s a great spot to take in the sunset.

Image credits: Kenjineering (IG), Stu Gibson, Kenjineering (IG)

Heading back towards Hobart along the Gordon River Road, you will find Sentinel Range.

5. Take ‘the right’ wrong turn and stumble across the dramatic surrounds from Lake Seal Lookout, in Mount Field National Park.

The scenery you’ll encounter when hiking to Lake Seal Lookout could very well be fit for a scene out of a fantasy movie. Lake Seal Lookout can be found in Mount Field National Park. Hike through Eucalypt forests, glacier-carved tarns, lakes and valleys, before eventually finding yourself at a split track. Here you can decide whether to carry on to Lake Seal Lookout, or venture back. And trust us, you won’t regret making this turn! Lake Seal Lookout will reward you with amazing panoramic views of the Tarn Shelf to one side, and views of Lake Seal and Platypus Tarn on the other.

Image credits: samanthagibsonsmith (IG) and wanderingandalwayslost (IG)

Just over an hour’s drive from Hobart via New Norfolk and Westerway on the A10 or B62. From Westerway, it is a short drive to the entrance of Mount Field National Park.

Stay at:
Giants’ Table Cottages for a cosy, cost-effective accommodation option.

Or, Left of Field Caravan Park for the ultimate camping experience.

Eat at:
National Park Hotel for a fantastic pub meal.

6. Take in a stunning sunset while feasting at the Summit Gourmet BBQ, in Maydena Bike Park.

Nestled in the heart of the South West wilderness is Maydena Bike Park, offering 73 individual tracks that weave through untouched, natural rainforest. After a day full of adventuring, take in stunning views and some of the best sunsets you’ll ever see while feasting at the Summit Gourmet BBQ. At just $45 per adult or $35 per Child/Senior (<12, 65+), included is an uplift shuttle to the summit and a BBQ feast.

The shuttle bus departs from the base cafe at Maydena Bike Park at 5:00 – 5:30pm, for a 6.00pm Gourmet BBQ.
Head to their website to book or to find out more.

7. For #UnquestionablyDerwentValley views from the air with Above and Beyond Scenic Flights, leaving from Pedder Wilderness Lodge, in Strathgordon

What better way to take in our incredible region and its spectacular landscapes than from the air? Above and Beyond offer the rare opportunity to take in the Derwent Valley’s breathtaking beauty while aboard their seaplane. Flights depart from Hobart and transfer to Pedder Wilderness Lodge. You can return directly or add on a Meadowbank Wine Tasting & Winery Tour. They also offer other fantastic tour options. Head to the Above and Beyond website to see what’s on offer.

Image credits: Above and Beyond, Stu Gibson and Meadowbank.

Meadowbank Wine Tasting & Winery

Stay at:
Pedder Wilderness Lodge for a cosy wilderness experience.

Pedder Wilderness Lodge is located in Strathgordon, 156 km form Hobart (approx. 2.5 hrs by car). Take the A10 to New Norfolk, B62 to Westerway and B61 to Strathgordon via National Park.

8. Bask in tranquil views of mountainous ranges from Maydena Mountain Cabins & Alpacas, in Maydena.

Perched atop a hill in the alpine region of Derwent Valley is Maydena Cabins and Lodge. Let’s just say this place is a sight to behold with rolling hills and snow-capped mountainous views. What more could you ask for, really? So, if you’re looking to reconnect with nature, yourself or a significant other – this tranquil oasis will allow you all of this and more.

When driving from Hobart via New Norfolk and Westerway on the A10 or B62, Maydena is around 1.5 hours by car from Hobart, and 13kms past the entrance of Mount Field National Park.

9. Learn about the Derwent Valley’s poignant history, while overlooking stunning views of the Derwent River at Gretna War Memorial, in Gretna.

Perched on the side of the beautiful Derwent River is the Gretna War Memorial – a site built by locals to remember the 22 fallen soldiers who lost their lives in World War 2. At the time, unfortunately this equated to 50% of the male population in Gretna. This eerie, yet spectacular site is well worth a visit for the views alone – but also to pay your respect to the brave soldiers and remember a time less peaceful.

Gretna can be found in the Central Highlands part of the Derwent Valley – approx. 20 minutes by car from New Norfolk. The Gretna War Memorial is located near St Mary’s Church and also close to the entrance of Truffle Lodge.

Stay at:
Truffle Lodge to glamp under the stars, while still experiencing all the luxury amenities you could expect.

So, it’s safe to say these views are certainly worthy of Wallace’s genius. Whether you’re an artist, adventure seeker, or merely a lover of breathtaking views, The Derwent Valley Tasmania will be sure to please. To this day, the swans still come together in the very same way they did for Wallace – and ‘The Valley’ comes to life like a spectacular scene from the opera. So come? Bask in our views, hike our mountainous peaks, breathe in our fresh air. Come and see what makes our region so special – and maybe even Tasmania’s best-kept secret.

Be sure to share your experiences touring around our region by tagging @Derwent Valley Tasmania on Facebook or Instagram, or by using #DerwentValleyTasmania and #UnquestionablyDerwentValley.