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