Into the Wild for a Weekend

western wilds hero drive

Image credit: tassie_heights

A Step by Step Guide to Planning the Ultimate 3-day Tasmanian Wilderness Road Trip.

Need a short break without dipping into your annual leave? 

 

Head less than 30 minutes northwest from Hobart and you’ll find yourself at the beginning of one of the most accessible wilderness journeys in Australia: Derwent Valley’s Western Wilds. Whether you’re up for a total escape, browsing antiques and markets, sampling local produce, or up for a semi-challenging adventure experience the Derwent Valley has it all.

 

Here’s our local guide and itinerary suggestions on how to escape from the everyday and plan your ultimate road trip long weekend in Derwent Valley Tasmania.

Itinerary 1: The Best of the Wild Southwest – Self-drive journey and the Road Less Travelled for the Spirited Adventurers (Moderate to Active)

Highlights: 

  • Visit Mount Field National Park and the most photographed waterfalls in Australia.
  • Explore the Derwent Valley region by kayak, mountain bike or by foot.

Day One: Hobart to New Norfolk to Mount Field to Maydena - 82Km

On arrival in Hobart pick up your self-drive car and begin your journey.

Stop 1: New Norfolk 

ww-new norfolk esplanade

New Norfolk is located approximately 30 minutes Northwest of Hobart and is simply navigated following the National Highway 1, north, before turning west to the A10 and into the town of New Norfolk. You’ll know you’re on the Western Wilds route when you see the trail markers after the main roundabout after the A10 turnoff.

 

New Norfolk’s main attraction is the mighty Derwent River and it’s a perfect place to stretch the legs and get your bearings. You can either book a paddle board lesson from the Derwent Valley SUP school, hike the Pulpit Rock Lookout or follow the river banks along the Derwent Cliffs Walk from the Esplanade. If you’re lucky enough to pass through on a Saturday be sure to pop over to High Street and check out Banjo’s New Norfolk market.

Stop 2: Westerway Raspberry Farm and lunch on the Tyenna River at the Possum Shed Café

raspberry picking

Image credit: michelle_elizabeth_   IG

From New Norfolk take Glenora Road and head west and meander through the lush and fertile river valley. The Westerway Berry farm is located 25 minutes/ 30 km from New Norfolk and has a farm gate supplying the freshest of berries. Choose to pick your own or buy already picked produce straight from the canes from December to April.

 

Save room for lunch and keep your tummy grumbling as just 650m from the farm you’ll find The Possum Shed Café on the banks of the Tyenna River. Enjoy a delicious lunch made from local produce by local people and admire the scenery from the deck and gardens. If you are among the lucky ones, you may even spot Flossy, the resident platypus. We recommend you fill your tank here at Westerway Roadhouse as it’s the last fuel stop for your onwards journey.

Stop 3: 3 Waterfalls Circuit at Mount Field National Park

western wilds russell falls

Image credit: https://www.instagram.com/carmelboyd_

There are more short trails to hike at Mount Field National Park than you can shake a stick at, but our favourite is the Russell Falls or the Three Waterfalls Circuit. Both hikes are well protected in all weather and are located at the base of the mountain and begin behind the visitor information centre.

The Russell Falls Walk often tops the list for family-friendly short walks and rightly so. The beautiful waterfall is an easy 15 mins walk from the Mount Field National Park Visitor Centre, through a luscious rainforest setting. Visit after dark and you might even see the local glow worms putting on a show in the ‘Glow Worm Grotto’. Upon your return to the Visitor Centre, stop in for a hot chocolate at Waterfalls Café at the Visitor Centre.

Russell Falls – 25 mins return, 1.4km, Easy walk – flat grade and highly accessible.

If you want some more waterfall action and challenge, continue from Russell Falls on the 6km Three Falls Circuit which will take you Horseshoe Falls and Lady Barron Falls. The track will take you through magnificent forests of swamp gums (the worlds’ tallest flowering plant) and you will be able to glimpse the incredible underlying geology of marine Permian siltstone. Once finished your hike, stop in at the National Park Hotel, just 5 minutes from the Visitor Centre, for a well-deserved beverage.

Three Falls Circuit – 2-2.5 hours return, 6km, Medium walk – some steps and hills.

Where to Stay Day 1

or camp at Left of Field Campground

Options on where to eat

or for something special book in at the summit BBQ at Maydena Bike Park on Saturdays

Day Two: Maydena to Strathgordon - 72 km

western wilds gordon damn wall

Image credit: @alexjweir_

Stop 1: 13 kms beyond the entrance to Mount Field National Park is Maydena located by the Tyenna River.

The town is home to the year round Maydena mountain bike park which operates a commercial uplift service and largest gravity trails in Australia. You can book a Bike Park Intro session or hire an ebike direct from the park and explore the trails for the morning. Or if waterfalls are more your thing hiking Marriotts Falls or a leisurely stroll to Junee Cave come highly recommended.

Stop 2: Twisted Sister Track/ The Timbs Track Carpark 21 kms from Maydena

Pack a picnic and explore Twisted Sister Track in the Upper Florentine Valley. An easy 1.5 km loop track through deep rainforest, towering eucalypts, and mossy underfloor, an excellent place to hunt for fungi in the autumn. The walk also passes through ‘Camp Flozza’ the site of a conservation camp and Australia’s longest standing forest blockade. You can find more information about the site at the Timbs Track entrance on the information boards. 

camp flozza

 ‘Camp Flozza’ circa 2011

Stop 3: Travel to the end of Gordon River Road and you’ll find the Gordon Dam.

The 140 m high concrete arch dam is located 12 km beyond Strathgordon and the Pedder Wilderness Lodge. Holding back 27 times the volume of water in Sydney Harbour and you can walk the entire 192 metre length of the wall on foot.

Stop 4: Pedder Wilderness Lodge

The restaurant and bar at Pedder Wilderness Lodge offers spectacular views of Lake Pedder, the Twelve Trees and Frankland mountain ranges. Dinner watching the sunset over Lake Pedder is a real treat and you certainly deserve it!

western wilds lake pedder lodge

Where to Stay Day 2

or camp at Ted’s Beach

Day 3. Strathgordon to Hobart via Lyell Highway

Stop 1: Lake Pedder

western wilds lake pedder

Image credit: @alexjweir_

Lake Pedder was once a 10 sq km glacial lake at the foot of the Frankland mountain ranges and was flooded in 1972 for Tasmania’s Middle Gordon Hydro Power scheme. Lake Pedder combined with Lake Gordon make up the largest water storage system in Australia. At the time of flooding there was worldwide opposition and although unsuccessful the fight to save Lake Pedder laid the foundation for the success of the Franklin ‘no dams’ campaign in the early 1980s and inspired many environmental activists – some of whom, held seats in Parliament and only recently retired from their parliamentary roles.

 

Lake Pedder is now 242 sq kms and there is no better way to explore than by a seat of kayak. Join a morning Tassie Bound kayak tour and discover the hidden islands and hear the history of Lake Pedder from a local guide.

Stop 2: Sentinel Range

Heading back towards Hobart along the Gordon River Road stands the Sentinel Range. Turning around the bend in the road, this amazing quartzite range shoots up suddenly and you can be easily distracted by it’s beauty. Standing at only 974 metres above sea level, its appearance is deceiving due to the range being less than 1 kilometre wide and 5 kilometres long. There are a few convenient places to stop off the main road to take a selfie or two.

Image credit: @alexjweir

Stop 3: Two Metre Tall brewery and farm.

Located off the Lyell Highway at Hayes by the River Derwent you will find Two Metre Tall brewery and farm bar. Almost 15 years ago Two Metre Tall set out to produce farmhouse ale and cider, specifically with a mission to develop a genuine estate ale using local River Derwent water, grain and hops grown on the farm and fermented with whatever yeasts and bacteria call the Derwent Valley home. Now open to the public from 12 noon to 4:30 pm Thursday to Monday you can enjoy an ale or cider straight from the bar’s hand pumps. BYO snacks.

Side note: optional route:

Styx Valley. Two kms past the Maydena town boundary you will find the Styx Valley Tall Trees Reserve turn off. A fork in the road is immediately encountered, the left fork leads to the Florentine Valley, the right fork turns back under the main road and leads to the Styx Valley.

 

The drive in is through forestry coupes and provides excellent views of the surrounding mountains. 14 kms on is the Styx Valley Tall Trees walk. Giant Swamp Gums (Eucalyptus Regnans) in this small reserve are up to 87 metres tall and some of the tallest flowering hard wood trees on earth. Return back along same route. Note that mobile phone reception is unreliable.

If you make it to all of that, great. If not, that’s perfectly fine too. Wherever you end up, even if you take a wrong turn, embrace it. Enjoy the buzz from the freedom that awaits you, the freedom that can only derive from this awesome form of travel.
Allow time to make detours – because those are the things you’re going to remember most.

 

We’d also love to hear all about it. What was your most epic #DerwentValleyTasmania memory or discovery?

 

Please let us know and share your trip with us.

western wilds
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