It’s boom times for tourism in the Der­went Val­ley. Shaun McManus takes a look at some of the ma­jor play­ers

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE -

DER­WENT Val­ley Mayor Mar­tyn Evans says the open­ing of a deluxe “glamp­ing” re­sort on the banks of the River Der­went is the lat­est de­vel­op­ment in an un­fold­ing tourist boom in the re­gion.

Truf­fle Lodge, at Gretna, held its of­fi­cial open­ing last week, and own­ers Lau­relle and John Grim­ley are promis­ing a lux­ury ex­pe­ri­ence like no other.

The eco-friendly lodge, which took 10 years to de­velop, is po­si­tioned to show off the re­gion’s stun­ning wilder­ness and wildlife in com­fort and away from the built-up en­vi­ron­ment.

Guests can en­joy a range of out­doors ac­tiv­i­ties from kayak­ing and cy­cling through to fish­ing and wildlife spot­ting, while stay­ing in pri­vate, spa­cious African sa­fari tents.

Truf­fle Lodge is the lat­est in a long line of tourism de­vel­op­ments in the area that have ei­ther re­cently opened or are ex­pected to open soon.

The Agrar­ian Kitchen Eatery and Store, which opened in New Nor­folk in June, has been an in­stant suc­cess, and vis­i­tor num­bers at Mt Field Na­tional Park are grow­ing rapidly.

May­dena Bike Park is ex­pected to bring thou­sands of peo­ple to the re­gion when it opens in Jan­uary next year, and re­turn of trains to the Der­went Val­ley Rail­way ap­pears to be edg­ing closer.

While Truf­fle Lodge is marginally over the bor­der in the Cen­tral High­lands, Cr Evans said tourism is be­com­ing a “new driver” in the Der­went Val­ley.

“There’s been a change over the last 20 years [from] for­est and in­dus­try and in­sti­tu­tions that ba­si­cally looked af­ter the re­gion,” Cr Evans said.

“Now it’s all changed around to tourism, ad­ven­ture tourism, eco-tourism, her­itage tourism.

“Tourism is def­i­nitely on the rise, and I think it will be the back­bone go­ing for­ward for our Der­went Val­ley for years to come.”

Mrs Grim­ley, who also owns lux­ury New Nor­folk ho­tel Wood­bridge on the Der­went with her hus­band, said the River Der­went was the per­fect place for glamp­ing.

“John and I have trav­elled ev­ery year since 1969 ... and we com­mented to each other in 2003 that this val­ley is as beau­ti­ful as any­thing we’ve seen any­where in the world,” Mrs Grim­ley said.

“Not only is it vis­ually spec­tac­u­lar, but there are so many top destinations and ac­tiv­i­ties for guests to do.

“[They] can go to Mt Field and Rus­sell Falls, they can go up to can go up to Ratho [Farm], they can go across to dis­til­leries, they’ve got all the winer­ies, they’ve got Two Me­tre Tall Brew­ery, they’ve got the Salmon Ponds ... we’ve got kayak­ing on the river, there’s just so much for them to do.”

Cr Evans hopes the Der­went Val­ley can con­tinue to cap­i­talise on those ac­tiv­i­ties.

“I’ll call it Tas­ma­nia’s ad­ven­ture play­ground, it will be into the fu­ture,” he said.

“[Peo­ple can] come here and ex­pe­ri­ence the nat­u­ral at­trac­tions and ride bikes and hope­fully a train one day will be an­other add-on to that list of ex­pe­ri­ences.

“In­stead of a visit where you drive up to Na­tional Park or the Es­planade and stay for few hours, you’ll come here and stay for days, be­cause there’s that many things to do and see.”

Agrar­ian Kitchen owner Rod­ney Dunn said his eatery had been “con­sis­tently busy,” and is look­ing for­ward to a big sum­mer.

He said Truf­fle Lodge would be an­other draw­card for the re­gion, just like his eatery has al­ready be­come.

“It’s about giv­ing peo­ple rea­sons to come and rea­sons to stay, and that’s ex­actly what I think both busi­nesses are try­ing to do,” Mr Dunn said.

Mr Dunn said there was po­ten­tial for even more growth in tourism for the Der­went Val­ley go­ing for­ward.

“I think there’s loads of op­por­tu­ni­ties go­ing into the fu­ture for peo­ple to do tourism ven­tures in the Der­went Val­ley, I think it’s re­ally still un­der-utilised,” he said.

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