Couple bounce back from tough year

EMERGING from the downturn of 2020, Veronica and John Youd are riding the wave of development in the Valley. The couple own and operate The Shingles Riverside Cottages and New Norfolk Apartments in the town as well as two chic cottages deep in the Derwent Valley.

Despite a difficult 2020, Veronica, pictured, said the rebound in bookings has been great, and they have even expanded their operations.
“We opened Humboldt Cottage on the February 1 and the months of February and March of this year were as good as ever for us, especially with the Maydena Bike Park competitions going on,” Ms Youd said.

The Youds’ newest cottage sits on the Humbodt River, just beyond their older cottage in Tyenna.
“We have found a big percentage of visitors want to have a truly boutique Tasmanian experience,” Ms Youd said.
However, she said the closure of the Visitor Information Centre in New Norfolk has been negatively impacting her business.

Valley marks Winter Solstice

THE Winter Solstice celebrations made their way to New Norfolk last weekend at Glen Derwent’s “Dark Derwent”.
Liz Virtue, owner of Glen Derwent said her event “exceeded all expectations”, selling almost 500 tickets.
“It was a real family event, it was the biggest event that we’ve had in our courtyard, people definitely are ready to come out again,” Ms Virtue said.

Just as Dark Mofo is a showcase for Tasmanian creators, Dark Derwent was an opportunity to show the creations of Derwent Valley, with local breweries and vineyards supplying the drinks. The Lions Club also took up the tongs to supply food for those who braved the mid-winter night, and live music from local bands kept the event goers entertained.

Starting in the late afternoon and continuing up until midnight, the event brought in a diverse mix of families and visitors through the gates.
“We had 478 tickets sold, 344 adults, 101 children, 24 teenagers and nine babies, so it was a real family event,” Ms Virtue said.
The reach extended well beyond the Valley too, with guests making their way to the event from far afield. The appeals of the Valley and the reach of the Mona event in Hobart combined to build Glen Derwent and Derwent Valley tourism.
“It brought in people from all over, it was a great evening.”

Council seeks to connect

Martine Haley

THE Derwent Valley community will be asked to take part in a survey which will be used to improve the way the local council communicates to ratepayers and residents. This week’s council meeting will vote on whether to support a Communications and Engagement Policy and Framework, plus revised communications strategy.
It will be the first formal communications policy and engagement framework for the council which in the agenda concedes it often has an “ad-hoc and inconsistent’’ approach to community consultation.

The State Government is in the process of reviewing the Local Government Act and has proposed reform so that “all councils will develop and adopt a community engagement strategy that outlines how councils will engage, involve, consult and inform their communities on plans, projects and policies.” To date, the Derwent Valley Council has not had a policy or standard procedure to conduct community engagement. The lack of a policy has put limits on “the ability for councillors to make fully informed decisions that consider diverse stakeholder and community views and exposes the council to reputational risk.“

Mayor Ben Shaw welcomed the communications strategy going out for public comment.
“Councils are regularly criticised for not communicating or poor communication, most of the time the problem of misunderstanding or lack of understanding around process is the issue here,’’ Mr Shaw said.“
So it’s very important that we consult with our community around the best ways to communicate between council and its stakeholders and once we’ve done that set the expectations, acknowledge them and love them.
“I must admit since my time on council I think we’ve gotten so much better in outwardly telling the community what we are doing, with a new website, social media and employing our own communications team.
“It’s certainly the best communication I’ve ever seen in this community, but we can always do more and generally we can do better and should to keep our ratepayers informed.“ I’m looking forward to the results and implementation of our strategy.’

If supported, the survey will open later this week and close on July 18.This week’s council agenda said a Community Engagement Policy and Framework would provide the basis for communicating decisions, sharing perspectives, improving transparency and building trust between the council the community and other partners’’.
“As a first step in developing the policy and framework, a ‘Communications and Engagement Survey’ will be conducted to understand how council can best communicate and engage with residents and stakeholders on projects, plans and strategies that affect their lives. “The upcoming ‘communications and engagement survey’ will be a key opportunity for community members to tell us how they would like to be informed and consulted.“

This feedback will help inform the policy and framework, as well as a revised communications strategy.“Councillor support to promote the upcoming survey will help to ensure a robust policy and framework is developed that will better serve Council and the community.

Big plans for Park pub

Josh Harris

NEW owners have brought with them big plans for the National Park Hotel.

Ami and Tony Besson are just over a month into life as the new proprietors of the Hotel, just past Mt. Field, and they are already creating big waves. With Ami from a background of psychotherapy and Tony working as a shot blaster, the running of a regional pub and hotel is a new experience for the couple.

Opening the doors to the pub on May 7 after taking over just a week before, the change of scenery was a big draw for the couple. Having made the move from Queensland, via a three-year stint in Melbourne, the opportunity to get closer to nature became a greater priority when the couple were caught up in the COVID lockdowns.
“With everything going on in Melbourne last year, it propelled us to revaluating our value systems, what is it that we wanted with our life, and what we wanted to create for ourselves,” Ms Besson said.
“We had lived in the city, but we wanted to be closer to nature, we had always loved Tasmania and always thought we would end up here, but with all the stuff going on, it pushed our plans forward ten years.”

Ami and Tony are already implementing their plans to redevelop their pub to their own vision, as a vibrant local meeting point. Renovations on bathrooms are underway, plans are drawn for a redeveloped dining room and the rooms are getting a deserved touch up, but the community is the real draw for the redevelopment.
“As I see it, we are just custodians of this pub, we want to make it the best we can while we are in control and keep it as an important hub for the community,” Ms Besson said.

The National Park Hotel is open again and ready for the winter, with Sunday Sessions, live music and meals back up and running.