Bring Your Gold Pan And Your Bike
If you're taking the family to the North East of Tasmania, be sure to include the small town of Derby in your itinerary. Built around the early tin mining industry, this quaint little town is now home to one of Australia's biggest mountain bike trails - Blue Derby. Suitable for the whole family, the trails of Blue Derby offer adventures through enchanting temperate rainforests, past beautiful rivers and streams and along hill sides and up onto mountains tops; all showcasing the regions amazing landscape.
Bike riding is not all you can do in Derby. There are many great family based activities in the town and surrounding areas that don' t require a bike or getting dirty! We recently caught up with one of our Tassie4Kids Members; Gareth, who manages Derby Forest Cabins. Gareth is a wealth of information, and has provided some of the best tips for families in Derby, where you should visit in the region, and why Derby Forest Cabins is the perfect location to base the family for a few days while you explore.
TASSIE4KIDS: Introduce yourself! Gareth: Hi, my name is Gareth. I manage and live on site at the Derby Forest Cabins which is a family business located in the beautiful Mutual Valley 5kms from Derby.
Derby is a great little town, tell us about it: Derby is an historic tin mining town which reached its peak late in the 19th century when its population surpassed 3,000. Following the end of mining activities, Derby was revived over the following decades with forest logging operations and local farming providing the backbone of the local economy. The development of world class mountain bike trails in the Derby area has re-energized this part of Tasmania drawing visitors from far & wide.
You live right in the heart of mountain bike country. Are there any tracks near Derby Forest Cabins that are suitable for families: The trail head is located 5 kms from our cabins and the trails are graded to accommodate varying ability and experience. I regularly see family groups at the trailhead and riding around Derby.
The most recent Blue Derby development is the construction of walking and riding tracks around the Briseis Mine Hole Lake. These will be suitable for beginner riders and we look forward to them opening in the near future. The cabins are on Mutual Road which is quiet and a pleasant ride in itself.
You have an amazing view here. Why did you choose this spot for the cabins? Early 2016 we saw the need for quality accommodation in the Derby area where you can also enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Tasmanian bush. Our cabins provide high quality self contained family or group accommodation close to the trail network in the peaceful and scenic surrounds of the Mutual Valley and Ringarooma River. It is also a great base to explore the surrounding forests, creeks and waterfalls. Each cabin has it’s own private deck with uninterrupted views of the lush valley.
A stay here is the perfect antidote to busy family life, where children can ride, run & explore by day and enjoy the fire pit and visiting wildlife at night. Derby Forest Cabins is perfect for groups up to 12, families, friends, and anyone seeking a peaceful slice of Tasmanian forest to relax in.
What makes them so great for families? We have three two bedroom self contained cabins -Currawong, Kookaburra & Wedgetail, named after our local bird life. The cabins comfortably accommodate families and are set up for four people. We have portable beds available for larger families at no extra cost. The split system Air Conditioner will keep you warm in the winter, and cool in the warmer months while you relax inside watching a movie on Foxtel or plan the next days adventure together. There is a bike wash down area and secure storage for bike riding families. The central gazebo has a BBQ , extra cooking facilities , Foxtel and family games. All guests are invited to enjoy the gazebo that looks out into the heart of the Mutual valley. It’s are great place to sit around the fire pit and………talk, sing….relax!
Would you say they are suitable for all ages of kids? A family with an infant or a teenager? Yes, the cabins are suitable for all ages. We have a porta cot and high chair.
Do you cater for kids with special needs? Our cabins have ramps for easy access and walk in showers.
How long do you recommend families stay in Derby for? 3-4 days for families with older children that may want to spend more time enjoying the trails. 2-3 days for families with younger children.
What will families with younger children love while staying at Derby Forest Cabins?
- Watch the visiting wildlife- wallabies (3 types), possums & if you are lucky, a Quoll or wombat from your cabin deck each night,
- The fresh air and space to run,
- Riding the easy trails with Mum or Dad,
- Roasting marshmallows ( with supervision) on the fire,
- Playing in the creeks and panning for ‘gold’ and gemstones, and looking for platypus- sshh.
The older kids will love…
- Riding the easier Blue Derby bike trails,
- Spotlighting at night with torches, finding the visiting wildlife- wallabies, possums, quolls or if you are lucky a wombat,
- Exploring our onsite forest tracks, and ‘discovering’ the giant hollow tree on the way to the creek,
- Panning for gemstones in the creek,
- Trying to catch a trout for dinner in the Ringarooma River,
- On a clear night use the Night Sky app to identify stars, planets, constellations,
- Collect sticks, build and light a fire (pit) with appropriate supervision . Thicker firewood is supplied,
- Roasting marshmallows on the fire.
Wow! Sounds like you'll have the whole family entertained - they don't even need to leave the cabins! For those who want to explore the area what are your recommended top ten activities or places of interest?
- Ride & explore the family friendly bike trails of Blue Derby,
- Have a go at fossicking for gemstones. Borrow the gear you need from Derby Forest Cabins & follow the track down to Main Creek.
- See the glow worms in the Derby Tunnel,
- Visit St Columba Falls for a short walk through the amazing forest to the waterfalls. Have a picnic there.
- Stop in at the Holy Cow Café at the Pyengana Dairy. Taste the yummy cheese or enjoy a freshly made icecream,
- Visit the old Derby School Museum & see what school was like in the ‘old’days.
- Visit the pristine beaches of North East Tasmania.
- Swim, build sandcastles & picnic at the beautiful remote Tomahawk, a 40 minute drive from Derby.
- Enjoy fish & chips in the fishing town of Bridport,
- Venture to the famous Bay of Fires near St Helens.
Every family wants a selfie, where is the best place to take a family photo in Derby? In front of the Derby Post Office. A great place to buy an icecream & watch the world go by- picnic table/ benches supplied.
For the mum's and dads that need their caffeine hit: Either the Crank It Cafe or Two Doors Down Cafe
Top 5 tips for families travelling throughout the North East Coast?
- Be prepared for changeable weather: keep a hat, sunscreen and raincoat handy,
- Wear sturdy footwear if out in the bush,
- Be mindful of the wildlife. The warmer weather brings the pesky European wasps and tiger snakes – shy but venomous.
- Always have lunch or healthy snacks with you, so you can make the most of unexpected beauty spots, walking trails or parks/playgrounds for a picnic lunch.
- Come prepared to have a fun filled adventure holiday. Where possible, pack your bikes, fishing gear, beach toys, canoe, bats/ball, frisbee etc.
Thanks so much for all that great info, Gareth! You can check them out on Facebook and Instagram as Derby Forest Cabins. All photos within this artcile were supplied by Derby Forest Cabins.