10 December, 2019

New Norfolk: a window on the Old Country and legendary New World food

Make a date with Tassie’s unofficial antiques capital that’s also home to its best restaurant.

About 30 kilometres north-west of Hobart, New Norfolk is great for daytrips – or even better for longer stays, so you can really enjoy this Tasmanian town’s historic rural charm, antique shops and the celebrated Agrarian Kitchen Eatery.

What to see and do

When Britain’s Norfolk Island colony was abandoned in the early 19th century, its pioneers resettled here in the Derwent Valley – thus the name New Norfolk. Hops became the principal crop, so look out for remnant ‘oust houses’ where this beer-making ingredient was hung up to dry.

Grander heritage structures to watch for on a wander around town include Australia’s oldest church, St Matthew’s, built in 1823. The former Willow Court asylum complex, which opened in 1827 and expanded over many years, is well worth exploring. Pause to eat or shop at buildings that have found new uses (there’s a distillery and arts hub coming too) ... or take a paranormal tour!

Check out the Derwent Valley Railway’s old trains, play a round at the New Norfolk Golf Club, or admire fertile fields, the Derwent River and nearby hills from the Pulpit Rock and Peppermint Hill lookouts. There’s also food, wine and entertainment at the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival, back for its 20th outing on 19 April 2020.

Where to eat and drink

Gourmets far and wide visit New Norfolk for one reason: to dine at The Agrarian Kitchen Eatery, consistently rated Tasmania’s best restaurant. The Willow Court precinct’s most admired tenant, it’s an offshoot of The Agrarian Kitchen cooking school a few minutes’ drive out of town (but destined to relocate to the restaurant building around late 2020). Steps away in Willow Court’s wooden chapel is Patchwork Cafe, a peaceful spot for casual daytime fare.

The Agrarian Kitchen (Image: Adam Gibson)
The Agrarian Kitchen (Image: Adam Gibson)

Some of New Norfolk’s heritage accommodation offer refreshments to the public, including Glen Derwent, an estate established in 1807 that’s now a B&B with gorgeous tea rooms, and the grand 1830s mansion Tynwald, reborn as a B&B and restaurant. Enjoy a counter meal, beer and maybe a night or two at one of Australia’s oldest continuously operating pubs, the Bush Inn. Prefer private splendour? Check into The Woodbridge, an 1825 stately home that’s with dining strictly for guests.

The Woodbridge (Image: Loic Le Guilly)
The Woodbridge (Image: Loic le Guilly)

Where to shop

Tasmania’s unofficial antique epicentre, New Norfolk boasts several antique shops, plus purveyors of vintage, upcycled treasures and bric-a-brac. Willow Court Antique Centre in the asylum’s old Olga ward is the largest, with everything from Wedgewood china to restoration-ready trucks. Ring Road Antique Centre’s 15 dealers also offer plenty of old-timey potential, while you might find art deco jewellery or Mad Men-era furniture at 20th Century Artifacts.

Willow Court Antique Centre (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Kathryn Leahy)
Willow Court Antique Centre (Image: Tourism Tasmania & Kathryn Leahy)

The Drill Hall Emporium’s decorative and practical items, including copper pots and garden urns, are arranged with tempting artistry in a former army building. Close by is the spin-off stationery store and letterpress studio, Flywheel. Buy elegant items inspired by the past like journals and wax seals, or even order fine custom printing.

Look for pre-loved goods, as well as fresh offerings such as homemade cakes and relishes, at the indoor-outdoor Derwent Valley Community Market, usually on the third Sunday of each month.

Drill Hall Emporium (Image: Drill Hall Emporium)
Drill Hall Emporium (Image: Drill Hall Emporium)

What’s nearby?

Raise a glass at the much admired Stefano Lubiana Wines or Two Metre Tall brewery and cidery. At Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, see Aussie animals including Tassie Devils and eastern quolls, or spot native critters in their natural state at Mount Field National Park. It’s also home to Tasmania’s most photographed waterfall, Russell Falls.


Information included in this blog is correct at the time of publishing. Please contact individual operators for further information.

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