Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stay at Woodbridge on the Derwent to discover the secrets of Hobart’s hidden valley.

Woodbridge on the Derwent from Tasmanian Air Adventures' seaplane ©AP
Serendipitous or immaculate, the timing couldn’t be better for Laurelle and John Grimley to have re-opened the doors of their elegant Woodbridge on the Derwent, an historic property transformed from dilapidated ruin to smart-wired, relaxing luxury retreat.
Woodbridge on the Derwent, Tasmania's only member of Small Luxury Hotels ©AP

A labour of love with large helpings of vision and the need for ever deeper pockets, Woodbridge in New Norfolk is best viewed from across the river or from the bridge to appreciate the full impact of this house and the lovely gardens flowing down the hillside in front. It also looks great from the air – Tasmanian seaplane adventures will pick you up from the private jetty for a scenic flight or expedition into Tasmania’s South West Wilderness.
The Derwent Valley from the air. ©AP
Low-key décor and plenty of indulgent living spaces mean guests can use the house as their own and dining is in the Pavilion, a short walk from the main entrance with lodge-style dining which means a menu for the day, but of course you will be asked if it suits ahead of time. (Bookings/packages:

New Norfolk has a colourful past and Woodbridge was built by its first Chief Constable, Thomas Roadknight, in 1825 – the history is on the Woodbridge website and the restoration is fully documented in a photographic record in the Reading Room at Woodbridge.

Beguiled by Hobart's many attractions I had never have considered what lies upstream along the Derwent, apart from wonderful MONA, the museum of old and new art. MONA is a must as anyone who is anyone will tell you (although it still feels to me like being lost in a human brain in the middle of multiple nightmares in a totally addictive way. I just can't wait to go back for more!).

In fact MONA highlights the delicious point of a stay at Woodbridge – relaxing and comfortable accommodation with culture on the doorstep in a valley full of artisan local produce, excellent wine, whisky, beer, truffles, antiques and access to fantastic scenery, fishing, white water rafting and more indulgent pleasures.

Redlands Estate whisky in the making©AP
Things To Do From Woodbridge:

Single Malt/ whisky making – be chauffeur-driven or self-drive from Woodbridge to nearby historic Redlands Estate for a full whisky experience, including being helicoptered to the highlands to dig peat, mash, steeping, distilling and preparing the barrel for some of the world’s finest whisky, returning nightly to the comfort of Woodbridge. The whisky can then be bottled with your own private label to be sent on maturation. 

Alternatively, Redlands Estate can offer short tours and private tastings of each of Tasmania’s premium labels of whisky and will next year launch its own first release, fully produced on the estate, which also includes a series of historic original Georgian buildings with its own beautiful gardens.

Redlands Estate's Phil Fitzsimons © AP
Stefano Lubiana, one of Tasmania’s leading winemakers and its only certified biodynamic wine producer, is opening a new vineyard café and tasting ‘interpretation’ centre nearby in a truly spectacular riverfront vineyard setting, soon to become a full tasting and dining facility.

Just ten minutes from Woodbridge and open to private tastings for their guests, Stefano’s wines also feature on the Woodbridge wine-list, with their cellar boasting the only remaining stock of his legendary 2006 Sasso super pinot.

Derwent Estate – also near Woodbridge, family-owned and farmed since 1913, ‘Mt Nassau’ is now home to the fifth generation of the Hanigans who have turned it into a successful vineyard. Derwent Estate produces world-class pinot, riesling and pinot gris. The new tasting facility and straw bale winery, due for completion soon, will offer jaw-dropping views of the Derwent River.
Limestone fossil in the hands of Derwent winemaker John Schuts ©AP

Fly-fishing - rainbow and brown trout can be caught from the property’s own picturesque riverfront location, or guests can be flown by seaplane or helicopter to some of the area’s most spectacular spots with expert fishing guides.

Fishing museum at the Salmon Ponds ©AP

The Salmon Ponds – aside from ponds of huge leaping salmon (for fish food you buy) in grounds reminiscent of an English estate, dotted with ancient trees such as Himalayan Cedars and Flowering Cherries, this peaceful park setting has a traditional fishing museum which tells the incredible survival story of the first hatchlings brought over from Britain in the mid-1880s, which eventually spawned every trout caught today in the Southern hemisphere.

Salmon Ponds ©AP

Salmon Ponds © AP
Truffle hunting – Woodbridge on the Derwent has its own truffle orchard, one of the first established in Australia, on a spectacular riverfront location nearby, which also has some of the region’s best trout fishing.

John and Laurelle Grimley's beautiful truffle orchard on the Derwent ©AP

Two Metres Tall – borrowing its name from the very tall and talented brewer Ashley Huntington, a Churchill Scholar who trained in France‘s wine industry, this micro brewery offers his artisanal range of ales and ciders, such as Derwent Aromatic Spelt Ale, Barilla Bay Oyster Stout and a delicious Poire Apple Cider.  Music and food often flow with the ales to regular locals and visitors who stumble on this pretty part of the Valley.

Two Metres Tall ©AP
Stout made with Barilla Oysters ©AP

Tasmanian Air Adventures

Derwent Valley ©AP

The seaplane coming in to land (er, water!) ©AP

The Drill Hall Emporium
Antiques and collectables feature strongly in several shops and galleries in New Norfolk, making it a place to browse and buy. The Drill Hall Emporium is styled and curated with local and overseas pieces (especially from France).

Traveling right ©AP

Attention to detail at The Drill Hall Emporium ©AP

Beautiful shop with a vintage printing theme, its own printing presses and must-have stationery...
Beautiful things at Flywheel ©AP

Maps and posters ©AP

Cooking classes with renowned ABC chef and best-selling author of Slow cooking and A Year in a Bottle, Sally Wise, exploring traditional dishes using fresh local produce.  Based in nearby Molesworth, Sally’s school includes classes in Convict and Colonial Cooking.

The Agrarian Kitchen – run by chef and Gourmet Traveller contributor Rodney Dunn as a “paddock to plate” cooking experience, where his authentic approach to produce is attracting foodies from around the world. This local institution is just a scenic ten-minute drive from Woodbridge. The Agrarian Kitchen is Rodney's book published by Lantern, $59.99 with photography by Luke Burgess.

Annie Ashbolt – while the unassuming local keeps a low profile working on her premium elderflower and olive oil products, her range is now seen on shelves throughout Australia, another talent from the Derwent Valley creating magic from this sublime, fertile region.


Woodbridge on the Derwent is offering a new Dinner, Bed and Breakfast including daily:
-  breakfast worth waiting for (you may spot the resident platypus from the waterfront pavilion) 
- candlelit dinner featuring local produce in The Pavilion overlooking the river
- a $30 daily credit applied to each massage booked with reservation 
- complimentary use of all facilities such as bikes, kayaks and the sauna/hot tub/mini gym facility

from AUD $590.00/night/double


Woodbridge on the Derwent has a special Whisky package including:

- dinner, bed and breakfast daily
- a whisky tour (45 mins) for each person at Redlands Estate
- candlelit dinner in the Pavilion featuring local produce
- a $30 daily credit applied to each massage booked with reservation
- complimentary use of all facilities such as bikes, kayaks, and the sauna/hot tub/mini gym facility

from AUD $625.00/night/double
three day Whisky package price for group bookings on request


Waterfall Mt Fields National Park ©AP

(Once was a) Eucalyptus regnans Mt Fields National Park ©AP

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