Why The Derwent Is The Beating Heart Of Hobart City

A city is inseparable from its rivers. These waterways seamlessly flow into conversations, even those remotely connected to the city, define the way of life for the citizens, often stealing the central spotlight in articles about the city.  In fact, this relationship runs so deep that even thinking about the city feels incomplete without thinking about the river as well. Such is the connection between the Derwent River and Hobart. Like a beating heart, the mighty river has become the life-sustaining force of the city.

The Derwent River is not merely a geographical feature; it's the driving force of Hobart. In this blog, let us explore the interesting facts about this majestic waterway.

A River Blessed With Nature’s Bounty
Derwent river in hobart

Derwent River effortlessly tops the list of places to visit in Hobart, and for good reason too. If you have ever been on one of the iconic Hobart Boat tours, you will know what we are talking about.

The river is a visual treat to one’s eyes! Be warned, though, for the Aussie sun makes the crystal clear water sparkle like a blanket studded with diamonds, and it is bound to make you fall in love with the river.

The lush, rolling hills surrounding the river, the snow-capped majesty of Mount Wellington, and the vibrant city of Hobart, all harmoniously come together to set a gorgeous backdrop for the river, one that reminds you of a living painting.

The estuary of this river is truly a picturesque sight. You'll discover it in the southern part of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, where Lake St. Clair, Narcissus Bay, and the Cuvier River come together.

Historical Significance

Like we already discussed, Hobart’s very foundation is rooted in the Derwent River. To understand how Hobart became the river city it is today, it is vital to examine Derwent River’s history. So come on, let us go back in time.

Before the European vessels docked at the Derwent River valley, it was the home of Mouheneener people. The first to map the river was a French explorer Bruni d'Entrecasteaux. He gave it the name Rivière du Nord.

Then, how did it become the River Derwent? In the very year when Bruni d'Entrecasteaux chartered the river, an English Marine officer, John Hayes, ventured along its course. He chose to name the river after England's River Derwent, which flows through his hometown of Bridekirk, Cumberland.

Now let us fast forward a little to the year 1803. Lieutenant John Bowen was bestowed with the task of establishing a British settlement in the erstwhile Van Diemen's Land (today’s Tasmania). He chose the Risdon Cove for the same, but soon realised that the site, with its poor soil and low rainfall, was not a great choice.

When Captain David Collins showed up in 1804, they decided to shift the location for a permanent settlement from Risdon Cove to where Hobart stands today, in Sullivan's Cove. Here, the land is evidently more fertile, thanks to the Derwent River. The city was initially called Hobarton or the town of Hobart, named after Lord Hobart, the British Secretary of State for war and the colonies.

That is how, my friends, the city of Hobart came into being.

Engine of Economy

The derwent river in hobart

River Derwent soon became one of Australia’s finest deepwater ports, and it was the centre for activities like whaling and sealing in the South Seas. It turned our little settlement into a bustling port, luring in industries like shipbuilding.

Derwent River serves as a water gateway, facilitating shipping and trade. The river's role in the import and export of goods has a profound impact on Hobart's prosperity.

In the middle of the 20th century, both state and local governments put their money into making Hobart a hot spot for tourists. And of course, Derwent River has become a major draw for visitors. It has become an active recreation hub with kayaking, fishing, or a mesmerising bridge drive/visit.

You can find 5 bridges in the greater Hobart area, the biggest being the famous Tasman Bridge. Oh, and the  Derwent River cruises are just enchanting. It is safe to say that the river has something for everyone.

The Derwent River breathes life into Hobart's culture, history, and economy. It's a majestic miracle of nature that continues to enchant all who come to experience its magic. So, if you haven't explored the beauty of the Derwent River and the city of Hobart, it's high time you set sail and discovered the wonders it holds.