Discover Derwent Bridge & Lake St Clair

by Mike Fry

I have yet to see a more beautiful piece of water than Lake St Clair and I actually feel sorry for people, both visitors and locals, who roar through Derwent Bridge in a hurry to get to one end or the other of their journey in the quickest possible time.

Lake St Clair - Cradle Mountain National Park
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Lake St Clair: Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania

They have missed out on what I believe is one of the most integral parts of the Tasmanian holiday experience. We in Tasmania are blessed with some of the most exhilarating landscapes in Australia, and indeed the world, and yet we can still be quite blasé about what this wonderful state has to offer.

Lake St Clair: Trout Fishing

I have been fortunate to have fished Lake St Clair over past years and I can tell you without one word of contradiction that the trout in this lake are the tastiest I have experienced. I think it would be the pristine quality of the water and the environment that would contribute plus the natural food chain within the lake. The result is fish in excellent condition and I feel privileged to have been able to spend time there.

Lake St Clair - Trout Fishing
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Trout fishing: Lake St Clair (photo by Dan Fellow)

The enjoyment of this area is not the sole domain of fisher folk. Anyone who takes the time, in winter or in summer, to explore the lake and its environs will not hesitate to agree. In fact my visit earlier this week clearly showed me what a highland wilderness experience is all about.

Lake St Clair - Highland Wilderness
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Highland wilderness beauty: Lake St Clair (photo by Dan Fellow)

The Wombat: Derwent Bridge Chalets

I stayed at Derwent Bridge Chalets with hosts John and Louise who also clearly share a passion for this great location. Immediately on arrival we were shown to our chalet, Olympus, named after the massive mountain in the Cradle MountainLake St Clair National Park.

Lake St Clair - Derwent Bridge Chalets
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Accommodation at Derwent Bridge Chalets

The sun was low in the sky, the chalet was warm and cosy with a crackling fire and out on the grass was a wombat quietly munching on the damp grass and moss. John informed me he was their local wombat who would visit the Chalets during the afternoon at check in and then wander off and do what wombats do.

Lake St Clair - Wild Wombat
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Wombat in the wild (photo by Dan Fellow)

The Wall in The Wilderness: Derwent Bridge

During our stay we visited The Wall in the Wilderness and I have already written about this magnificent display of wood sculpting the like of which I doubt you will see anywhere else in the world. I do not use my adjective ‘Michelangelic’ lightly but I am at a loss to use any other descriptive. It is good to see that Greg Duncan and his family are extending their premises to accommodate more murals depicting life in the highlands.

To go into detail is pointless as you have to see these works of art to believe them. Suffice to say that everyday items such as gloves, coats and rope are brought to life in such a way that you cannot help but believe they are in fact real. Even photos do not do them justice and Greg has been very clever to show the carvings at various stages to demonstrate the painstaking effort and patience required to bring the timber to life.

Lake St Clair - The Wall in the Wilderness
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The Wall in the Wilderness, Derwent Bridge

A Hungry Wombat

As with most highland communities, food and hospitality is just as important as the crackling fires and frosty mornings. If you are passing through around lunchtime there is the Derwent Bridge Hotel or the Hungry Wombat Café until 5:00pm, each with its own fare and brand of warmth and ambience. The hotel also serves evening meals and has accommodation. At Lake St Clair there is a café next to the Parks & Wildlife complex, and lakeside accommodation.

Lake St Clair - Lakeside Cafe
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Lakeside Cafe, Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service

This is a national park of World Heritage significance so a parks pass is required. For visitors, ensure you get a pass for the duration of your holiday as the fees are used to maintain the walks, environment and facilities enjoyed by visitors. Locals would be crazy not to get an annual pass and while making a contribution to Tasmania it will also serve as a good excuse to get out and about each year and explore their home state.

By the way, the Lake St Clair region is also camera country. You will take home some magnificent images that you will remember and cherish for a lifetime.

Mike Fry is the owner of Ormiston House bed and breakfast accommodation in Strahan, Tasmania

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Map of Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania