Valley revealed

SAM Bradley knows when to talk and when to stay quiet. It’s a fine art in the business of being a tour guide and he knows it well.

And when your tours take in the highlights of the Derwent Valley, it’s the landscape itself – the flowing river and the fertile fields, the old buildings and new experiences – that do the talking.

To hear what the guests of Sam’s Derwent Experience are saying to each other, and to Sam, I went along to listen to some of their conversations.

This particular tour began with coffee, took in antique stores in New Norfolk, added a visit to Salmon Ponds and topped off with the rum producer, New Norfolk Distillery and for beer and cider sampling, Two Metre Tall Farmhouse at Hayes.  

The particular magic of the tour route is that it also incorporates the characters and craftspeople who make this place unique.

The demographic of the tour groups vary significantly, from 20-somethings to those in their middle years. Today is skewed towards the younger end of the spectrum.

“Sam does an awesome job, making it friendly and inclusive,” said Hartland, who’s here with his wife Judy.

“It was a good treat to start off with a coffee at the Black Swan and a wander around the antique shops,” said the Queenslander.

“We had a great time… a very informative tour with a small group of people.”

Another guest, Kaitlin, made good use of the exclamation point in her review. “Not just a wine tour!” she wrote. “We had such a great day out! Sam was very informative and was a wonderful host. Awesome day with lots of variety with wine, gin, beer, cider, rum and liqueurs! Highly recommend this tour!” 

Another guest said the Derwent Experience was not to be missed.

“A wonderful experience led by our knowledgeable and personable tour guide, Sam,” she said.

“Nice mix of wine, cider, and cheese snacks all put together in a six to seven hour ride through the Derwent River area.

“Just the right combination of interesting commentary while also allowing enough quiet time for our group to chat and get to enjoy each other’s company. Highly recommend.”

Sam also runs a weekly day trip from Hobart to Cradle Mountain.

“It’s beautiful, and it is simply the best way to experience Cradle Mountain from Hobart in a single day.”

Other tours weave together Coal Valley wineries on a boutique wine tasting trip from Hobart, while special itineraries accommodate food lovers and those headed to the mountain bike trails of Maydena.

While his Derwent Experience shows off the known highlights of southern Tasmania, as well as its hidden gems, Sam sticks pretty close to what he considers “the life-giving waters of the mighty River Derwent.”

A good example is the hour or so that visitors spend at the Two Metre Tall Farmhouse, upriver from New Norfolk, where co-owner Jane Huntington does the talking.

Her subject is the farm’s craft beer and ciders, and like so many of the food and beverage producers around the Derwent Valley, this former teacher knows it well.

“These places are close to our hearts,” says Sam. “We are happy to make you feel right at home too. As people say, our home is your home, and we are very happy to share it with you.

At Salmon Ponds, a camaraderie has developed between a group that includes Amy, Ashley, Nichola, Michaela and Rosie.

They’re an interesting bunch. Some of them have moved to Tasmania from Canberra for work.  Others are visiting friends, and still others enjoying the first stages of romance and new experiences together.  

The delight on their faces as they circle the 160-year-old waters and picturesque gardens are all the feedback that Sam needs.  

The man who calls himself the company’s Founder and Chief Explorer has been told everything he needs to know.