The Hobart

Photographic Picnic by the Salmon Ponds

by Peta Hen
Photographic Picnic by the Salmon Ponds

Around this time every year, I try and think about where to take mum for her birthday. It’s cold, it’s wet and it’s usually gloomy, but I’m always determined to get her out of the house, even for just a few hours. And while I sit and rack my brain for somewhere new to take her, an old faithful always pops up and to this day, continues to always put a smile on my mum’s face.

The Salmon Ponds, just ten minutes outside of New Norfolk, is becoming a bit of a birthday classic. It’s hard to blame us when the winding drive along the Derwent River rapids is so scenic, especially when the river banks are lined by poplar trees, all turning golden.

As you turn into the road toward the Salmon Ponds, the tunnel of leaves envelops you, transporting you back in time. Dating back to 1861, the Salmon Ponds is the oldest trout hatchery in the southern hemisphere and the birthplace of Tasmania’s love for trout fishing.  What’s funny is while the Salmon Ponds were originally meant to breed and hatch salmon, the sneaky suckers all swam off without a trace, never to be seen again. The trout however, which were actually stowaways and not intended for the ponds, loved the place and took up permanent residence.

Magical mushrooms at the Salmon Ponds

The Salmon Ponds has a cafe that serves up some pretty fantastic pancakes. However, we pack a picnic and find a scenic spot in the sprawling heritage gardens by the ponds, as long as the weather approves. This time, the weather favoured us, and after buying some fish pellets that would make sure I could get a great action shot of the fish, we headed down the path towards the main trout ponds.

After many ponds, pellets and photos, I let Mum take the lead as we ventured into the historical fishing museums. While we’re not huge colonial history buffs, we both really appreciate Tasmanian heritage houses and cottage-style gardens.

We set up our picnic under a golden tree by a little iron bench and watched other families do the same. The gardens are the perfect place for kids to run around amongst the leaves, yet large enough to have your own private little spot to yourselves.

The hills of Plenty

After lunch, we had to check out the river behind the ponds with views of the rolling Plenty fields, as is tradition for us. The river was calm today, a stark contrast to the raging torrent that had burst its banks when we came the year before. This year, we didn’t have as much rain, so the river was its usual peaceful self. We did discover one surprise we hadn’t encountered before. Brilliant red and white-spotted toadstools dotted the lawn behind the back hedge. Mum was delighted as she’d never seen them before, only in books from her childhood.

After meandering back to the ponds to deposit the remaining fish pellets to some hungry brown trout, we bid farewell to the Salmon Ponds, knowing full well we would be back this time next year; back to our old faithful.

You can find the Salmon Ponds at 70 Salmon Ponds Road, New Norfolk.

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June 2024

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