new norfolk aerial view

Tassie’s Top Tourism Town – Winner 2021: New Norfolk

Picturesque vistas, a food lover’s delight, an adventurer’s playground – although New Norfolk, at the start of the Derwent Valley, is only 40-minutes from Hobart, it feels a world away from everywhere.

A region full of surprises, wilderness and magic. With produce so abundant, you could say it feels too good to be true – but true it is.

Much of what makes New Norfolk so special comes from the wondrous Derwent River. Aside from being picturesque, the locals also claim it has magical powers: like a calming energy mesmerising those brave enough to explore it, or an ability to change the direction of the wind at any given time. Not to mention, it’s home to some of the biggest platypus in the world. Explore the depths of the Derwent River aboard a kayak, paddle board or hydro bike – your tour guides will happily translate the river’s many mysteries.

Views around here are said to have inspired Irish composer, William Vincent Wallace, to write his operatic masterpiece ‘Scenes that are Brightest’. A short drive from the town centre that will provide you with maximum reward is the Pulpit Rock Lookout. Simply meander a few steps from your car and you will find yourself overlooking stunning views of the New Norfolk township, rolling hills and the Derwent River. 

While New Norfolk is glorious in Summer, it is stunning in every season. When exploring the backroads in Spring, witness lambs gambolling in the fields and calves stumbling as they learn to walk. In Autumn, this is when the gardens at the many heritage listed Bed & Breakfasts put on a spectacular colour show – showcasing shades of orange, red and yellow. In the cooler months, a dusting of snow will coat the surrounding hills and allow visitors to take in ‘The Valley’ in a completely different light.

Delicious produce is also abundant in New Norfolk, thanks to the many passionate and caring primary producers. Glossy, plump cherries are just one of the many claims to fame, as well as top-notch wines and world-class brews. If you’re a foodie, dine at one of Tasmania’s few hatted restaurants, where chefs source their produce seasonally and locally.

Perhaps you’d like to spend Saturday morning exploring Banjo’s New Norfolk Market to find the crème de la crème of local produce or browse the many unique shops on High Street for trinkets, collectables and antiques.

Trash or treasure? It’s for you to decide.

Another option might be to book a cooking or ceramics class to learn a new skill. Any one of these unquestionably Derwent Valley experiences will be sure to please.

It’s the personalities behind New Norfolk that make this place so special. The faces behind the businesses, attractions and activities who are willing to give you their time and impart their local knowledge. Things in New Norfolk are just that little bit sweeter, bigger, deeper, fresher, wilder and weirder. It’s what makes it so unquestionably Derwent Valley.

New Norfolk & The Western Wilds of Derwent Valley Tasmania itinerary.

Bigger, deeper, wilder, weirder – that’s just the way it is in New Norfolk and the Derwent Valley. The region you’re about to step foot in is pretty, well, different. Although it’s only 40 minutes from Hobart, it feels like a world away from everywhere. The trees are taller, the air is fresher, the platypus are bigger, the trout are plumper, the produce is tastier, the people are friendlier – it probably sounds too unbelievable to be true… yet true it is.

Best not spoil it for you though. The following four-day itinerary will give you a glimpse into the fantastic activities, attractions and businesses that have turned ‘The Valley’ into something of a legend. And the best part about basing yourself in New Norfolk is that you will have endless produce, adventure activities and natural wonders at your doorstep. It is also home to an army of passionate locals who are the region’s biggest advocates. They are always willing to tell their tales, share their secret recommendations and teach you about the many mysterious ways of ‘The Valley’, as it’s colloquially known.

Below is a self-drive, tour for couples staying in Tasmania for three or more days who love food, wine and brews, as well as exploring nature through a mix of walking and adventure activities.

NOTE: This itinerary has been created for active souls and is pretty action-packed. However, it can be tailored to different interests and ability levels. Contact the local operators for their recommendations, opening hours, and more information.

Wine, Ferments & Distilleries

Start your Western Wilds adventure by visiting the sublime vineyards en route to the Derwent Valley, before exploring the magical township of New Norfolk, where you will be based.

Highlights:
• Museum of Modern Art (MONA)
• Wine tasting & lunch at Stefano Lubiana
• Wine tasting at Derwent Estate
• Arrive at New Norfolk
• New Norfolk Antiques Trail
• Sunset over Pulpit Lookout.

Museum of Modern Art (MONA)

Directions: Departing from Hobart in Tasmania’s south, MONA is approx. 21 minutes (12.6 km) by car via the National Highway 1, and Domain Highway/B36.

Just a stone’s throw away from the Derwent Valley and New Norfolk is MONA – a great place to set the tone for the endless exploring ahead. This museum is filled with weird and wonderful artwork displays from local and international artists. It will be easy to get lost in the alluring walls of MONA, however, do keep track of time, the Derwent Valley awaits you.

Wine tasting & lunch at Stefano Lubiana

Directions: Follow National Highway 1, north of Hobart, before turning west onto the A10. Turn off the Lyell Highway onto Rowbottoms Road and you will find the Stefano Lubiana entrance after a few minutes.

Stefano Lubiana has been growing biodynamic, natural wines before they were even a thing. As a fifth-generation winemaker, they have carved out a niche in the Tasmanian wine industry. You may come for the wine, but you’ll want to stick around for the food. Their Italian-inspired fresh, seasonal menu is based around what comes out of the property’s biodynamic garden and baked in a wood-fired oven for extra flavour. You will soon find out why they were recently voted the best food in Southern Tasmania, by Gourmet Traveller Wine.

Wine tasting at Derwent Estate

Directions: Also in Granton, you will find Derwent Estate along the Lyell Highway just a few minutes past the Bridgewater Bridge.
The rustic-style cellar door is located within the original farmhouse and overlooks the wondrous Derwent River, which is the perfect setting to sample their fresh and energetic wines.

True-ish fact: Legend has it, the Derwent Estate vines are planted on fossilised dinosaur bones.

Arrive at New Norfolk township

Directions: Continue along the Lyell Highway for another 15 minutes and you will arrive in New Norfolk.

In true Derwent Valley fashion, New Norfolk isn’t actually that new. In fact, New Norfolk is old. The town was originally home to the Leenowwenne people, and then later established by early settlers in 1807. The town now serves as the agricultural, tourism and commercial hub for the region. Drop your bags off at your accommodation and get ready to explore this alluring town and its surrounds.

New Norfolk Antiques Trail

Directions: New Norfolk’s main shopping area can be found on High Street.

New Norfolk is widely regarded as the ‘Antiques Capital of Tasmania’. With numerous vintage, collectible and antique stores to choose from (eight in fact), old will always be the new on the New Norfolk Antiques Trail. Visit The Drill Hall Emporium – a 19th Century department store filled with high-end antiques, or Flywheel, a small letterpress store and pre-digital haven. Finish off your unquestionably Derwent Valley shopping experience by visiting The Quilted Teapot for patchwork and quilting supplies, as well as coffee.

Sunset Over Pulpit Rock Lookout

Directions: Turn right after crossing the New Norfolk Bridge and drive along the northern shore of the Derwent River, on Boyer Road/B10. Around 60 to 90 seconds later, you will see a signpost that says Pulpit Rock Road – turn off there.

By this time, the sun will be setting over the glorious Derwent Valley and Pulpit Rock Lookout is the perfect spot to take it all in. A short stroll from the carpark will take you to views of the New Norfolk township, rolling hills and a bend in the Derwent River. If you would like a longer walk, try the Derwent Valley Cliffs walkway that loops around Tynwald Park.

True-ish fact: These very views are said to have inspired Irish composer, William Vincent Wallace, to write his operatic masterpiece ‘Scenes that are Brightest’.

Where to stay?

  • Explorers Lodge is a warm and welcoming Bed & Breakfast (B&B) experience, with quaint touches of understated luxury.

  • Tynwald Willow Bend Estate is a historic homestead accommodation with many stories to tell.

  • Glen Derwent is another beautiful, historic homestead and B&B, situated on five hectares of gardens. Enjoy their renowned High Tea or Devonshire Tea on weekends.

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

Today will be a more relaxed day spent exploring the quaint township of New Norfolk and its surrounds. You will also be getting up close and personal with the Derwent River – so get ready for its babbling gossip.

Markets, Adventure & Nature

Highlights:

• Banjo’s New Norfolk Market
• Paddle board or hydro bike tours of the Derwent River
• Lunch at Agrarian Kitchen Eatery
• The Salmon Ponds Hatchery and Gardens
• Clay play session at Leap and Wander Studio
• Pub meal at New Norfolk Hotel.

Banjo’s New Norfolk Market

Directions: The Banjo’s New Norfolk Market can be found along High Street on Saturday mornings, from 8am.

Get up close and personal with the many fantastic producers and businesses behind the Derwent Valley. Choose from honey, seasonal produce, baked goods, chutneys and jams. Or, in true Derwent Valley fashion, you will also find items a touch weirder like reptile displays and galahs.

Paddle board & hydro bike tours of the Derwent River

Directions: Both tour companies meet at the Derwent River esplanade in New Norfolk, outside the rowing club.

Explore the Derwent River from a new perspective, standing atop a paddleboard with Derwent Valley SUP School. Although there’s a small chance you might fall in, beginners will gain confidence in no time.

Or, why not try your hand (or your legs) at pedalling a hydro bike with Pedalmore – a softer introduction to water spots and guaranteed to be a lot of fun.

Food & Craft

Lunch at Agrarian Kitchen Eatery

Directions: The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery can be found at 11a The Avenue, in New Norfolk and is set in one of the historic buildings that were formerly part of Willow Court Mental Asylum.

The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery is one of Tasmania’s few hatted restaurants, so quite frankly, it will be one of the best meals you’ve ever eaten. All produce is sourced locally, with a frequently changing menu, to showcase the best of what the Derwent Valley has to offer.

Or, book ahead for the Agrarian Kitchen Cooking School and be shown all the tricks of the trade by the renowned Agrarian Kitchen Eatery chef and owner, Rodney.

The Salmon Ponds Hatchery and Gardens

Directions: You will find this place en route to Mount Field National Park, via Glenora Road, (B62) along the western side of the Derwent River.

As the oldest hatchery in the Southern Hemisphere and the birthplace of Tasmania’s legendary salmon and trout fisheries, it’s safe to say the Derwent Valley is famous for its fish. This isn’t the only reason to visit the Salmon Ponds Hatchery and Gardens. You will also love exploring the magical 19th century English gardens.

Clay play session at Leap and Wander Studio

Directions: Leap and Wander Studios can be found at Stanton Farmhouse, just outside of New Norfolk at 504 Back River Road, in Magra.

Step back in time and have a crack at ceramics for an unquestionably Derwent Valley experience. There’s something quite therapeutic about kneading clay and letting your creative side loose. At Leap and Wander Studio, you will be taught how to make anything from rustic ceramic bowls, cups and plates, to more substantial items like platters.

Pub meal at New Norfolk Hotel

Directions: Heading back to the New Norfolk township, the New Norfolk Hotel can be found at 79 High Street.

After a day full of exploring, you can’t beat a comfortable and hearty pub meal. At the New Norfolk Hotel, you will be surrounded by local characters – so you know you’re going to get a good feed, along with a yarn or two.

Today you’ll travel to the more remote areas of this weird and wonderful region. As you’ll be covering some kilometres, be sure to fill up with petrol at New Norfolk and get ready for your adventuring.

Adventure & Farm Gates

Highlights:

• Kayak Lake Pedder
• Walk or abseil the Gordon Dam
• Styx Big Tree Reserve
• Descend at Maydena Bike Park
• Hike Russell Falls
• National Park Pub meal.

Kayak Lake Pedder

Directions: From New Norfolk, take Glenora Road and head west through the lush and fertile river valley. Follow signage towards Westerway on the A10 or B62. Take the B61 from Maydena to Strathgordon.

Once a glacial lake, Lake Pedder was flooded in 1972 by Tasmania’s Middle Gordon Hydro Power scheme and is a sight to behold. Join a Tassie Bound Kayak Tour to discover hidden islands and hear about the fascinating history of Lake Pedder.

Walk or abseil the Gordon Dam.

Directions: Travelling along Gordon River Road, the Gordon Dam is 12km beyond Strathgordon and the Pedder Wilderness Lodge.

The terrifyingly beautiful Gordon Dam is 140 metres high and holds back 27 times the volume of water in Sydney Harbour (but hey, who’s counting?). So obviously it’s a wise idea to abseil it with Aardvark Adventures. However, if this isn’t your thing, you can also casually walk around the area.

Styx Big Tree Reserve

Directions: Heading back towards Maydena (around two-minutes outside of the town’s borders) you will arrive at a fork in the road, follow the fork to the left side towards Styx Valley.

As ‘The Valley’ is home to some of the tallest flowering plants in the Southern Hemisphere, you can find giant Swamp Gums (Eucalyptus regnans) known to grow over 100m tall in the Styx Big Tree Reserve.

True-ish fact: Mount Field National Park and Maydena have been known as hotspots for UFO sightings in years gone by (check out the newspaper articles on the wall at tonight’s dinner stop). This may be because trees have been known to grow so tall, they’ve reached out and plucked things from the sky.

Descend at Maydena Bike Park

Directions: Once you arrive back in Maydena from the Styx Valley, Maydena Bike Park will be on the right-hand side.

Maydena Bike Park offers 73 individual tracks and a renowned gravity-focused mountain biking experience. Weave through an untouched, natural rainforest, that is home to some of the tallest trees in the Southern Hemisphere.

After all that action, rest your legs at the Summit Café for some lunch and a beverage or two.

Hike to Russell Falls

Directions: The entrance to Mount Field National Park is only a short drive from Maydena Bike Park, heading back towards New Norfolk.

Walking through majestic rainforests in pursuit of breathtaking waterfalls is some seriously soul-cleansing kind of stuff. There’s a reason why Russell Falls is arguably one of the most photographed waterfalls in Australia, too. The hike to Russell Falls is 25 minutes return (1.4km) and has easy wheelchair access. Visit the Mount Field National Park Visitor Centre for more information and park passes.

National Park Pub meal

Directions: On the Mount Field National Park doorstep, you’ll find the National Park Pub – a fantastic place to stop for a bite to eat

Putting a contemporary twist on your standard pub meal, the National Park Pub offers vegan and gluten-free alternatives, as well as great local brews and a fantastic atmosphere.

  • Today you will be touring the furthest points of the Derwent Valley, the Central Highlands, for some juicy berries and boozy delights.

    Farm Gates, Distilleries & Wineries

    Highlights

    • Westerway Raspberry Farm
    • Coffee and early lunch at the Possum Shed
    • Lawrenny Estate Distilling
    • Two Metre Tall Brewery Ale & Cider.

    Westerway Raspberry Farm

    Directions: From New Norfolk, take Glenora Road and head west through the lush and fertile river valley. Westerway Raspberry Farm is located approx. thirty-minutes by car from New Norfolk.

    If it’s going to grow anywhere, chances are the Derwent Valley is the place for it. The berries in ‘The Valley’ really are the juiciest going around. Pick your very own delicious raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and red currents at the Westerway Raspberry Farm.

    Coffee and early lunch at the Possum Shed

    Directions: Only a few minutes down the road from Westerway Raspberry Farm, the Possum Shed can be found perched along the river, at 1654 Gordon River Road.

    If their famous carrot cakes and scones aren’t enough to get you there, the stunning river views will. Pull up a chair on their beautiful outdoor deck, where you will likely spot an array of unique birds and the resident platypus Flossy.

    Lawrenny Estate Distilling

    Directions: Now entering the Central Highlands part of the Derwent Valley, continue along the windy road next to the Derwent River, you will find Lawrenny Estate at 6485 Lyell Highway, Ouse.

    Offering a ‘paddock to bottle’ experience, the Estate Whisky here has been produced using barley from its very own fields. Lawrenny Estate also has a delicious gin to sample, which features fresh citrus, fennel and vanilla characteristics.

    Two Metre Tall Brewery Ale & Cider

    Directions: Further down the Lyell Highway is Two Metre Tall Ale & Cider, at 2862 Lyell Hwy, Hayes.

    ’The Valley’ prides themselves on their hops and the brews at Two Metre Tall will be sure to impress the beer lovers out there. As a genuine estate ale that uses the local Derwent River water, enjoy ale or cider straight from the bar’s hand pumps for an authentic experience.

    This is the final stop on your Wild Southwest tour of New Norfolk and the Derwent Valley. The drive back to New Norfolk should take approx. 10 minutes.

    If you make it all the way to the end of this itinerary, great. If not, that’s perfectly fine, too. Wherever you end up, even if you take a wrong turn, embrace it.

    When visiting this part of the state, dig a little deeper, explore the back roads and where possible, chat with the locals – they’re always willing to share their tales and advice (some true, others, true-ish). One thing that’s for certain though, is that you’re bound to have an unquestionably Derwent Valley experience full of surprises, magic, wilderness, adventure and amazing produce.

This is a self-drive, tour for couples staying in Tasmania for three or more days who love food, wine and brews, as well as exploring nature through a mix of walking and adventure activities.

Be sure to share your experiences with us by tagging @Derwent Valley Tasmania on Facebook or Instagram, or by using #DerwentValleyTasmania and #UnquestionablyDerwentValley.