Though it is a very small dot on the map, and a tiny community in Tasmania's Central Highlands where Lyell Highway crosses the River Derwent, Derwent Bridge is the gateway both to Wild Rivers National Park and Lake St Clair (5 km).
There are several short walking trails that can be taken at the southern end of Lake St Clair, ranging from 30-40 minutes lakeside to a 7 hour round trip to Mt. Rufus.
After Derwent Bridge, Lyell Highway winds for 56 kilometres through the heart of the Wild Rivers National Park, which lies in the heart of the Franklin - Gordon Rivers Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It is a region of dramatic mountain peaks, beautiful rainforest, deep river valleys and spectacular gorges. There are several short walks and picnic stops along the way that will allow you to discover the grandeur and beauty of the Wild Rivers region. One of these is a short walk to Nelson Falls provides a welcome break from what can be a tedious drive through the mountains, depending on the weather conditions and traffic.
The Wall In The Wilderness, situated just outside Derwent Bridge, is Australia's most ambitious art project undertaken in recent years. Creator/designer, Greg Duncan has carved the history of the highlands in 100 metres of timber, most of which will be in our rare Huon Pine. The beautifully carved works set out in relief sculpture depict the history, hardship and perseverance of the people in the Central Highlands and pay homage to the individuals who settled and protected the area.
Duncan is already known for the uncanny realism he brings to his work and his pieces are sought after by collectors around the world. Each metre of the panels, including horses, thylacines and foresters represents a month's work. There is nothing like this anywhere else in Australia. The Wall is a world-class experience.
Opening Times: Daily. September to April: 0900 - 1700. May to August: 0900 - 1600. Closed Christmas Day, Good Friday and from 6 - 19 August.
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Lake Burbury is one of the largest hydro impoundments on the West Coast and is considered by many Tasmanian anglers as the jewel in the crown to rival the best known angling destinations in Tasmania. Lake Burbury is regulated as inland water where all legal forms of freshwater angling are permitted. It is open to fishing all year.
Lake Burbury is primarily a boat fishing lake, it is subject to regular water level fluctuations and during those periods some shores are accessible to fish. Trolling is the most preferred method using flatfish, cobra wobblers or deep trolling lures of various colours and patterns, accounts for most fish caught. Lake Burbury can be most productive on days when the weather conditions are overcast or during rain periods. The lake contains a very large population of rainbow and brown trout, most average between 500 grams and 2 kilograms with larger specimens sometimes caught.
The upper portion of the King River valley was first surveyed for damming in 1917 by the Mount Lyell company. It was not until after the Franklin Dam issue of the 1980s that Hydro Tasmania proceeded to dam the valley. Lake Burbury was the name of the subsequently created lake over the valley, named after the first Australian born Governor of Tasmania, Stanley Burbury. The small timber mill community adjacent to the old alignment of the Lyell Highway was submerged, as was a significant portion of the old railway alignment of the North Mount Lyell Railway between Linda and Pillinger. The site of the townsite of Crotty, and the smelters of Crotty were also submerged.
In the 1990s the townsite was inundated by Lake Burbury which was the result of the completed King River Power development scheme by the Hydro. Despite this, the Tasmanian 1:25000 Owen map still identifies the Proclaimed Town of Crotty. The land south of the Lyell Highway, and adjacent to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park on the eastern shores of Lake Burbury, is known as the Crotty Conservation Area.
Crotty had a smelter and railway connecting the town to the North Mount Lyell mine in the very early twentieth century. When the North Mount Lyell smelters failed, the company was absorbed by the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company. The townsite lost population, however the North Mount Lyell Railway which serviced Crotty's connections with Gormanston (and Linda) and Pillinger (Kelly Basin) remained in service for a couple of decades before closing.
Lake St Clair is at the southern end of Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, which is is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Carved out by ice during several glaciations over the last two million years, this is the deepest lake in Australia and the headwaters of the Derwent River, upon which the capital city of Tasmania is located.
The area around Lake St Clair offers a wealth of walks, ranging from leisurely strolls to overnight bushwalks, as well as beautiful forests to explore. Lake St Clair is also the end point of the famous Overland Track, a long-distance walk which runs from Cradle Mountain in the north to Cynthia Bay on the southern shore of Lake St Clair.
We suggest you start your visit to Lake St Clair by calling in to the impressive park centre. There, via innovative displays, you can take a trip through time that shows how the Lake St Clair area has developed from ancient times through to the present day. There are picnic facilities with barbecues at Cynthia Bay. Wheelchair accessible toilets are located at the park centre. The area also has a general store and restaurant, public telephone and outdoor seating facilities. Through a Private Operator, canoes, bicycles and motorised dingies are available for hire. Contact the Private Operator on (03) 6289 1137 for details.
Day visitors have a number of contrasting walks to choose from. Whether walking to an alpine lake, a mountain summit or an ancient rainforest, staff at the park centre will be able to assist you. A day walk map can also be purchased there if you want to go on one of the longer walks.
A passenger launch operates from Cynthia Bay to Narcissus Bay at the northern end of the lake. It provides a leisurely way to experience the lake and mountains of the Lake St Clair area. For the more energetic it is possible to walk back via part of the Overland Track. Launch bookings can be made at the general store or by phoning (03) 6289 1137.
Camping is available at Cynthia Bay. For further details please contact the concessionaire on ph (03) 6289 1137. A Backpacker/Travellers Hostel is also available at Cynthia Bay with 2 and 4 bunk rooms and refectory kitchen. Unique alpine-style units are also operated privately by the concessionaire - phone (03) 6289 1137. Accommodation is also available outside the park at Derwent Bridge.
Lake St Clair is 2 1/2 hours west of Hobart via the Lyell Highway (A10) and a similar distance from Launceston via Longford and Poatina. At Derwent Bridge turn right onto the 5 1/2km long access road to the lake at Cynthia Bay. From Queenstown the Lyell Highway is a winding and narrow 1 1/2 hour drive.
Both the Lyell Highway and the access road from Derwent Bridge may occasionally be closed by snow in winter. There is no direct road link through the Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park to join the two ends of the park. Visitors may most easily reach Cradle Mountain via the Cradle Link Road (C132) and the Murchison and Lyell Highways (A10).