The Salmon Ponds Heritage Hatchery and Gardens in Tasmania are the oldest trout hatchery in the southern hemisphere, and it is a magic place to explore. Feeding the hungry trout and salmon is a fun family activity, gardeners will love the beautiful grounds and fishers will find the Museum of Trout Fishing fascinating. There’s a yummy café and you might even spot a platypus in the Plenty River.
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Getting to the Salmon Ponds
The Salmon Ponds are in Plenty, 45 minutes from Hobart and 10 minutes from New Norfolk on the way to Mount Field National Park.
It is a lovely drive from Hobart through the Derwent Valley. It is worth crossing the bridge at Bridgewater so you can take in the views from Pulpit Rock Lookout, then cross back over the Derwent at New Norfolk and continuing to Plenty. The views from the lookout along the Derwent Valley are beautiful.
Salmon Ponds FAQ’s
Salmon Ponds Hatchery History
The Salmon Ponds were established in 1864 to introduce salmon to Tasmania. When that didn’t go so well, attention turned to the trout that were also brought out from England. The brown trout thrived and the rest, as they say, is history. The hatchery was the basis of trout hatcheries throughout Australia and New Zealand. The Salmon Ponds still provide trout stock for Tasmania’s lakes and rivers today.
Things to do at the Salmon Ponds
There is a lot more to do at the Salmon Ponds than meets the eye. After you have paid a very reasonable admission fee you enter a magic world of manicured gardens, ponds and historic buildings.
Salmon Ponds Fish Feeding
There are up to half a dozen different species of trout and salmon in separate ponds around the hatchery including Atlantic salmon, brown and rainbow trout and the spectacular tiger trout. Just inside the park there is a vending machine that for $2 dispenses a generous cup of fish food. Kids will love the enthusiastic reaction they get when they throw the pellets in the water. It is great fun for the young and young at heart.
Don’t worry if you can’t see the fish in the water. You only need to throw in a couple of pellets and the feeding frenzy begins. The first time you see it happen, the ferocity and splashing and flashes of colour can be a little startling. Rainbow trout the size of your arm throw themselves at the food and each other. It’s an amazing sight
Be aware that in summer if it is hot and the water flow through the ponds is low, fish feeding might not be allowed.
Explore the Museum of Trout Fishing
Anyone who has ever cast a line will enjoy walking through the trout fishing museum. Even if the history of trout fishing isn’t your thing, the displays of rods, reels and fishing gear are fascinating.
The museum is set up in the original cottage of the first superintendent of the Salmon Ponds. Each room has well organised displays where you can view how fishing gear has changed over the years.
Displays and honour boards show the details of record catches over the years and the Angling Hall of Fame. The importance of trout fishing to the area is also captured in several of the displays.
Next door to the museum is the building that housed the original trout hatchery which is also quite interesting to have a quick look through.
Salmon Ponds Gardens
When you walk through the gates you can be forgiven for thinking you are visiting an arboretum. The immaculate grounds, mature trees and hedges are a delight to walk through and in autumn the golden yellow of the Ash trees are amazing.
The gardens were designed in the 1860’s in the tradition of the public open spaces in England. Many of the 60 mature trees date back to the original planting and are over 150 years old. Something we take for granted today – open grassed areas – was uncommon at the time and features significantly in the gardens.
Of course, the ponds are also an integral part of the garden’s design and today their curving grassy banks draw your eye to distant trees or frame lovely views. The Hawthorn Hedge that rings the Salmon Ponds is also an original feature of the garden, the Hawthorn arch is the original entrance to the Salmon Ponds.
Plenty River Walk
The Salmon Ponds are set alongside the Plenty River. From near the museum, you can walk down to the river and follow the Hawthorn Hedge along its banks. There is a viewing platform where you can stop and try spotting some the creatures in the water.
You might see some small fish that are probably black fish or Galaxias, you might even see a freshwater crayfish. We spotted several short-finned eels as we walked along the river. If you are lucky, you might spot a platypus. Not only are they in the river, but they have also been known to make into the ponds.
There are picnic tables, BBQs, shelters and toilets along the river so if you have brought your own lunch or morning or afternoon tea it is a great spot to sit and relax.
Read More: Best Places to See Wildlife in Tasmania
Pancakes by the Ponds
If you haven’t brought your own food and you feel like a snack you must the Salmon Ponds Café – Pancakes by the Ponds. It features a big range of savoury and sweet pancake/crepes. The savoury dishes come with a salad, the sweet ones include some ice cream and cream. We went for the honey lemon and blueberry pancakes, and they were delicious.
There is also a full drinks menu with everything from tea and coffee to local beer, wines and ciders. It is the perfect relaxing finish way to your visit. The Salmon Ponds in Tasmania is a delightful place, make sure you have it on your itinerary whether you are doing a day trip from Hobart or the road trip from Hobart to Strahan.
Things to do near the Salmon Ponds
Make the most of your day and visit one of these other great attractions all less than 60 minutes from Salmon Ponds:
Salmon Ponds to Mount Field National Park – 45 min
- Explore Tasmania’s oldest National Park. It is an easy walk to the iconic Russell Falls or head up to the beautiful sub alpine landscape around Lake Dobson
Salmon Ponds to New Norfolk – 10 mins
- New Norfolk is full of history, antique shops and cafes. You can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around or taking in the colour during autumn along the Derwent River
Salmon Ponds to MONA – 30 mins
- Pop in either on your way to or from the Salmon Ponds to see one of Australia’s most exciting galleries. Whether you find the art in there stunning or just plain weird, it is an unforgettable experience.
Salmon Ponds to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary – 30 mins
- Spend a couple of hours with some of Tasmania’s and Australia’s cutest animals. Feed kangaroos and wallabies and get up close to some Tassie devils
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