Derwent Bridge. The sort of town that trips up unsuspecting Tasmanian tourists. It looks like just an insignificant dot on the map, but really… the place deserves more respect.

Derwent Bridge - History
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History display: Lake St Clair

Hitting the Wall: Derwent Bridge

Like the customer we overheard at the Visitor Information Centre in St Helens in north east Tasmania (he was planning to drive to Hobart AND visit all the east coast’s attractions in a single afternoon) a novice might be completely unaware of the worth of Derwent Bridge.

We’ve published several articles already about the small town on the Lyell Highway, the main route from Hobart to west coast Tasmania. Derwent Bridge really is the central point of Tassie, a consistent 2.5 hour drive from the well-known tourism destinations of Hobart, Launceston and Strahan.

Derwent Bridge - Lake St Clair Bushwalk
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Bush walk: Lake St Clair National Park

Derwent Bridge - Lake St Clair Visitor Centre
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Visitor centre: Lake St Clair National Park

At the southern edge of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Derwent Bridge is the gateway to this World Heritage Wilderness. A ferry plies the waters of Australia’s deepest freshwater lake offering a scenic cruise. The views from the lake, with mountain peaks surrounding the water would be spectacular. It was a little (lot!) choppy for my liking on the day of our visit, but maybe next time. Serious bushwalkers sometimes use the ferry for transport into the wilderness, before returning on foot via the national park’s trails.

Derwent Bridge - Pumphouse Point
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Lake St Clair: distant Pumphouse Point

Derwent Bridge - Overland Track
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Overland Track from Cradle Mountain

Derwent Bridge - Lake St Clair Ferry
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Wilderness-walkers ferry: Lake St Clair

Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park

The feature attraction of Derwent Bridge is undoubtedly the national park, but Lake King William is also in the vicinity if you’re after a popular location for trout fishing. Then of course, there’s The Wall in the Wilderness. Or The Wall, for short.

Owner Greg Duncan strictly prohibits amateur photography within the walls of the ginormous, self-funded shed housing his unique and amazing carvings. That’s his absolute prerogative, and he mentions broken cameras and fisticuffs on a “welcome” sign at the door to prove his determination to that end. With the current trend of rampant social media sharing, where a business could garner so much free publicity from a customer’s photos, it’s not something we encounter very often. But we’re happy to play by the rules. If you want to see what we saw, you’ll just have to visit Derwent Bridge in person.

Derwent Bridge - The Wall in the Wilderness
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Entrance: The Wall in the Wilderness

Derwent Bridge - The Wall, Tasmania
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Eagle sculpture: The Wall in the Wilderness

Derwent Bridge - The Wall
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REALLY big shed housing the carvings

To purely break the drive from one major destination to another, there’s a choice of dining options. Besides the restaurant at the Lake St Clair Visitor Centre, the town also boasts a pub if that’s more your thing. And we’ve already mentioned the huge burgers and steak sandwiches from the Hungry Wombat Cafe attached to the service station.

Derwent Bridge - Snow
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Snow on the ground: Derwent Bridge

Derwent Bridge - Hamburger with the Lot
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Hamburger: Hungry Wombat, Derwent Bridge

Derwent Bridge - Hungry Wombat Hamburger
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Old-fashioned hamburger with chips

Derwent Bridge - Steak Sandwich
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Steak sandwich: Hungry Wombat

So you see, there’s more to Derwent Bridge than meets the eye of the traveller merely passing through. We’d be inclined to stay overnight next time for a more thorough discovery. And that may be an option in the future, as we have only one more planned article to publish in our epic series from Queenstown. Whatever will we do from now on? Don’t panic just yet though; stay tuned for photos from the iconic gravel oval… that’s a doozy!

Derwent Bridge - Wild Wombat
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Wombat: Lake St Clair (photo by Dan Fellow)

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