The Salmon Ponds in the Derwent Valley region might just be my new favourite place to send tourists on holiday in Tasmania. We went there for the first time a fortnight ago, and had the best day. We managed to arrange some magnificent weather just for the occasion, which always helps. And with some great company, it was perfect for a relaxing day in the great outdoors. Really, truly, perfect.
Salmon Ponds: Lunch in the Derwent Valley
The picturesque drive to the Salmon Ponds from Hobart takes about 40 minutes. From New Norfolk, you follow Glenora Road on the western bank of the Derwent River, heading towards Mt Field National Park. There’s a sign on the road marking the way to the entrance. Through an avenue of trees, you will emerge at the carpark outside reception.
Our first duty was to sample the lunch menu. The Salmon Ponds has a casual, fully-licensed cafe. The selection features mostly pancakes, but with a special burger and salad of the day. The young ladies in control of the dining area were run off their feet, but did an exemplary job. Our group ordered a variety of food (salmon salad, beef burger, chicken curry pancakes) and drinks, and everyone was happy with their choice. I would definitely plan any future visits to coincide with lunch.
Feeding Trout in the Salmon Ponds
Once we were fed, it was time to head to the salmon ponds and feed the fish. This was the highlight of the day! For $2-00, you can purchase a plastic tub filled with pellets, and the fish are well aware of the routine. A punter at the edge of the pond clearly screams “food coming”.
Breeds of trout (Rainbow, Brown, Tiger and Albino) and Atlantic Salmon are separated into their own large ponds, and frequently jump right out of the water when you’re feeding them. They’re obviously well cared for, as some of them are huge fish. Apparently they can weigh up to eight kilograms.
Tasmanian Museum: Trout Fishing and Hatchery
The feeding of humans and fish is not the only attraction. A cottage built in 1865, originally for the superintendent of the Salmon Ponds, is now the Tasmanian Museum of Trout Fishing. Okay, so trout fishing. Not salmon? Yes, that’s correct.
In the beginning, the idea was to hatch and breed salmon sent over from England. But the salmon released in Tasmania were way too smart to hang around, so the angling folk had to resort to trout. Hence the popular sport was launched and eventually became the booming industry we have in the state today.
If you’re interested in the fish-breeding process, you can also access the Hatchery at the Salmon Ponds. There’s clearly a complicated process involved in keeping Tasmanian lakes and rivers stocked with enough healthy trout to go around. Some of the history of angling in Tasmania is also revealed in this heritage building, along with big tanks and egg-sorting paraphernalia.
Heritage Trees and English Gardens
You don’t necessarily have to be mad-keen on fishing to appreciate the Salmon Ponds. I can vouch for that! Gardeners will be mesmerised by the trees, lawns and hedges surrounding the waterways. Huge expanses of lush, green lawn are edged by mature trees in the fashion of 19th Century England. Obviously the people responsible for the planting knew exactly what they were doing, because the significant trees are up to 140 years old. When we arrived, we were given a brochure outlining the placement of each different species of tree.
Plenty River Walk
There’s also a walking path alongside the Plenty River, where you can search for the elusive platypus and spot the occasional eel. And while there’s no angling opportunities within the Salmon Ponds, a platform on the River Walk has been built to allow people with disabilities to fish for trout.
Also along the Plenty River Walk, there’s a hut (called The Sanctuary), which is a re-creation of the accommodation available to Tasmanian pioneers as they enjoyed their trout fishing. Nearby, there are terrific picnic and bbq facilities if you choose to pass on the Pancakes by the Pond.
Vigorous cricket matches were in progress around the grounds on the day of our visit. And rounding out the things to do and see at the Salmon Ponds… the Tasmanian Angling Hall of Fame is housed in another outbuilding.
Youl be Proud
Sir James Arndell Youl would be very proud to see that his “bold thinking and careful experimentation” has evolved into this wonderful heritage attraction. And I’m pretty happy that we’ve been to see the Salmon Ponds in person, and can now confidently recommend it to you.
For information regarding opening times and entrance fees (which include all-day access to the entire grounds) visit the Salmon Ponds website.
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