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Currawong Lakes, in Tasmania’s east coast highlands | Adem

Fly fishing is just the beginning of your adventure

Tasmania is blessed with thousands of pristine waterways, teeming with healthy brown and rainbow trout, much to the delight of fly fishing visitors the world over. Hitting the open road and exploring them is one option, as highlighted in the Tasmanian Trout Trail. If you’re looking for a little more seclusion and a family friendly alternative that provides scope for a wider range of activities and interests, here are a few destinations you might want to put on your shortlist of unique places to ‘stay and play’ in Tasmania.


The Lake House overlooking Long Marsh Lake | Adem

Currawong Lakes

Currawong Lakes is an exclusive 2000 acre estate in the east coast highlands of Tasmania. The moment you turn off the Midland Highway, a gentle climb into the forested surrounds of the highlands gives you a sense of being off the beaten trail.

Richard and Meryn Krimmer are the owners of Currawong Lakes and they welcome us warmly. The Krimmers moved here on a whim from Brisbane, after they fell in love with the serenity of the property – love at first sight you might say – and it’s easy to see why.

Meryn takes us down to The Lake House where we’ll be staying, a stunning house with a deck perched over the lake. The house is well appointed and I can see my wife Meg’s delight at the prospect of relaxing here. Our son, Max who’s six, has already headed out onto the deck where cruising trout are immediately visible directly below. “This is awesome,” he beams as he races off to check out his room.

Half an hour later Richard shows at the door as promised, waders on and ready to go. We head off to explore Long Marsh Lake, one of three lakes on the property. The lakes are all full coming out of winter and it doesn’t take long stalking the margins before we find some decent sized trout mooching in less than a foot of water, searching for frogs and other aquatic meals. Fly anglers often associate private waters with stocked dams full of silly rainbows and easy fishing. There is nothing easy about these browns though. They are wild fish that spawn in the creek beds linking the lakes and they are not tempted by the first object that lands in front of them.

The fishing is exciting, polaroiding cruising trout within comfortable casting range. Their condition is perfect, and it’s hard to fathom that we have this entire place to ourselves!

Later, a tour of the property with Meryn reveals the expansive delights of Currawong, including a world class clay shooting range. There is also a range of other cabins and accommodation options, all thoughtfully appointed with Meryn’s clear sense of style. Currawong limits the number of guests at any one time, to ensure everyone enjoys the tranquil isolation without interruption. As we roam the property we spot a mother wombat and her baby chasing at her heels and there are deer everywhere grazing the hillsides.

With the sun rapidly sinking, the lake starts to boil with midging trout that are visible from the deck of The Lake House. Right on cue Richard turns up and we take advantage of this short but intense event, with local knowledge taking the day and Richard landing several very nice browns in the fading light. We won’t mention the three that I hooked and promptly dropped. Richard assures me that side striking is the only way to ensure a solid connection and he proves it so.

The Lake House is aglow when we return and with a glass of pinot in hand, we relax into the comfortable surrounds for the evening.

Richard Krimmer with a wild Currawong brown trout | Adem

The next morning the valley is blanketed in a thick mist before the chilly start quickly gives way to a stunning sunny day and clear blue skies. We head off in the mist to explore Lake Macquarie, the bottom lake. The partially submerged grey gums among the mist and the mirror-like water remind me of a Frederick McCubbin painting, with soft greys and greens everywhere. There are some very large trout in this lake and we spot a few ghostly shapes but, with the crisp start, the fish are clearly having a sleep in, so we return to Long Marsh Lake just as the sun hits it.

Trout are promptly visible again working the margins and we spend the rest of the morning teasing them into taking the fly. Sometimes there are several fish within a few metres of each other and a stealthy methodical approach lets us have a shot at each of them.

Our stay is only short, but by the time we say goodbye we feel like we’ve known Currawong Lakes and its hosts for a lot longer. Meryn reassures us that we are now “friends of Currawong” and welcome back any time. Next time we’ll bring some close friends for a longer stay to share this magical property.

Lake Macquarie early morning, a scene reminiscent of a McCubbin painting | Adem

28 gates

28 gates is a charming farm-stay in a valley of the 5000-acre property “Bloomfield”, owned by the Parsons family and run by Susie Parsons. On the drive in we can see the snow-capped peaks of Mount Field to one side, and the rolling pastures of Gretna on the other. We are greeted at 28 gates by a note welcoming us, some of Susie’s wonderful home baking and a range of Tasmanian goodies in the fridge including local apple juice, milk and bacon. Max is immediately captivated and insists we visit the chickens first. The hens do not disappoint with three brown eggs, still warm, for us to collect.

Built in 1936 as stables and grain lofts, our accommodation is charming and cosy with a wonderful wood heater, an extremely well stocked wine fridge, and an array of family spaces making this a great place to share. Water is sourced from a spring on their property, and it is wonderful to drink (we suggest they should bottle it!)

Within minutes Susie drives up from the main homestead to welcome us to the farm, and takes us for a tour. It is lambing season and Max is delighted by the lambs feeding while wagging their snowy tails. There’s plenty of activity on the farm, especially as the Parsons are getting ready for shearing.

Bloomfield has been in the Parsons family since 1862, and as we tour the property the thought of six generations toiling through the seasons sets the imagination firing.

Riding shotgun on our tour, I quickly learn first-hand why our farm-stay was named 28 gates as I open and close each gate ahead of us. Susie laughs at my moaning and reminds me that there are actually 168 gates on the property, but there are 28 gates on the boundary and it has a nicer ring to it.

Susie stops directly above Piccadilly, their highest lake, a fairly new addition, explaining the challenges involved in ensuring the water security of their property. I’m half listening, but fairly distracted by the rainbow trout I can see working a beat in the far corner.

We move on down the valley and pull up by the bank of Circus Lake. My distraction is only further reinforced as several trout cruise straight past, picking off the surface here and there and circling back again.

Feeding Poppy & Nibbles with the farm-stay just up the hill | Adem

Standing in the shearing shed later, the floorboards waxed to a polish, we are reminded that this is a working property as Susie describes scenes of frenetic activity during shearing. We head over to the family house to meet Poppy-the-horse and Nibbles-the-sheep. They run straight over as soon as Susie lets out a shrill call. Susie’s daughters bring out a seed and grain mix that the animals get very excited about. Max can only just keep up with feeding them their share. The pet rabbit is a real hit too.

With the sun sinking lower in the sky we have a date with the trout we spotted back at Circus Lake. There are five large lakes on the property interconnected down the valley, and Circus is idyllic, with a willow crowned island in the middle and lush green pastures rolling in on all sides. Sheep and their lambs pause occasionally for a drink, but there are no distractions other than rising browns, rainbows and even a few tiger trout.

Polaroiding fish is not hard in the clear waters, but enticing the trout ain’t no walk in the park. It takes a few fly changes and varied retrieves before I watch a healthy brown trout turn on a slowly retrieved nymph, inspect, follow, twitch, follow, speed up and eat the fly, all in plain sight.

Michael, Susie’s husband, has been sowing a paddock over the other side of the property and, like all farmers, is not short of jobs. But he barely applies the hand brake to his 4WD before he has fly rod in hand, line stripped out and throws a cast at a rising trout – my kinda guy.

We exchange g’days and names across the banks as we continue to fish. Eventually we work our way into the middle and greet each other properly. It takes a while though, with several trout between us to cast at first.

Michael clearly loves the meditative nature of throwing a line after work and we exchange stories about our favourite Tassie waters as we methodically work our way around the bank. The trout are all stocked, and have clearly been well managed over the generations with both size and quantity in excellent proportion. There are no give-mes here and we have to put in our time to figure out what the trout want and how they want it. We fish until dusk and the cloudless blue sky gives way to a sunset that makes the entire valley glow a deep emerald.

Rising trout on the picturesque Circus Lake | Adem

We wake early the next morning, to perfect weather and grazing sheep peering in at us eating our breakfast. Max is keen to head down to feed the chooks our scraps and check on the eggs again. From there we head over to say good morning to Poppy, Nibbles and the other animals. They welcome the handfuls of fresh grass we offer them.

Susie greets us with a bright smile, polarised sunnies on and ready to go fishing. “C’mon, are we going or what,” calls Michael from the machinery shed, clearly eager to get back on the water despite having plenty to do on the farm.

Before we even pull up at Circus Lake, rises are visible all along the nearest bank. There are midge larvae and emerging adults all over the lake. The water is crystal clear again and we can watch each fish cruise just below the surface, then, with that all too familiar swirly midge rise, pick off a morsel before moving onto the next. The fish are right in front of us, but the combination of still water and snow flake in a snow storm effect combine to make fooling a trout very challenging.

While I go through fly change after fly change, Susie happily works on her casting. She’s relatively new to fly fishing and has the bug alright. It’s delightful to watch her and Michael sharing their passion in their little patch of rural paradise.

We are sad to say goodbye to the Parsons, but we’ll be back. My family is heading back to the mainland ahead of me, and I have a date with the Central Highlands.

Michael & Susie Parsons sharing their passion for fly fishing | Adem

Central Highlands Lodge

The easiest drive to Tasmania’s Central Highlands is coming from the south through Bothwell, where the gradient is barely noticeable though the climb from Hobart is almost 1100 metres. From the north the drive is a lot more dramatic, winding past spectacular rock faces and crags towering over the sweeping green valleys below. Either way you’re up fairly high by the time you arrive in Miena on Great Lake.

The largest natural fresh water lake in Australia at 1,040 square kilometres, Great Lake is aptly named. First dammed in 1912, the lake was harnessed for hydro electricity generation and subsequently had several additional dams added through to 1967.

Its size and exposure can be daunting to first time visitors, but there are some key moods and methods to look out for, not all of which are obvious. While not necessary, a boat will provide you with the mobility to relocate easily and take advantage of broader areas of the lake.

Techniques that work well include fishing a team of three ‘pulling’ flies, midge imitations, polaroiding and wind lane fishing. Try not to be intimidated by the lake when there is a decent wind chop about. It can be disconcerting, but these conditions often produce great fishing, as the waves provide cover for the fish and they rise more confidently. If you are after tips on how to fish Great Lake with a fly, check out Simon Taylor’s article in FlyLife Issue 49.

Central Highlands Lodge (and the pub) are located in the heart of Miena, providing immediate access to Great Lake. It’s also conveniently close to the 19 Lagoons area and other popular highland lakes such as Bronte Lagoon, Little Pine Lagoon, and Penstock and Woods lakes. The conditions in the highlands can shift quickly and changing waters are often your best bet to optimise your fishing opportunities. On the day I arrive the weather changes from rain to sun to a small snow shower - with the sun out, finishing with a calm sunny end to the day. This is part of the charm of the highlands and its genuine rugged beauty.

Simon Taylor on Great Lake, exploring likely water for signs of feeding fish | Harris

Helen Monks and Michael Cousins are the owners of Central Highlands Lodge and Miena Hotel. Helen greets me at the bar and we chat while she attends to thirsty locals and changes hats to work the local post office desk. I’ve spent many a night over the years at the lodge, winding back the evening after a long day on the water with several cold Boags and a hearty pub meal that never leaves me disappointed.

I have arrived in time to see the finishing touches to their new renovation, which enhances the captivating view of Great Lake on their doorstep. A big glass atrium right across the front provides the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view, while a new open fireplace crackles away keeping patrons warm from the changeable highlands weather outside.

The cabins have also been refurbished this season providing neat and presentable accommodation at sensible prices. There are a range of room configurations to suit singles, fishing mates or families. For families and novice anglers, Central Highlands Lodge has its own private lake stocked with trout, right on the doorstep of the cabins, a great place to practise before heading out to some of the wilder fishing options. I ask Helen if they charge for access to their lake. “Nope,” she says with a grin. “People just need to ask nicely.”

A quality Great Lake brown trout | Harris

Thousand Lakes Lodge

Thousand Lakes Lodge takes its name from its proximity to the Western Lakes in Tasmania and the thousands of water ways it holds. The 19 Lagoons is the most accessible group of lakes in the region and the lodge is situated at the edge of Lake Augusta. If it’s access to some of Tasmania’s most unusual terrain and fly fishing you are after, then it’s hard to go past a stay at Thousand Lakes Lodge.

The lodge itself is as unique as its surrounds. Former racing car driver Marcos Ambrose and his associates took a derelict Antarctic expedition training facility and turned it into a luxurious place to stay with vast outdoor activity opportunities in the region including hiking, mountain biking and, of course, fly fishing.

Turning off Highland Lakes Rd, the drive in just before dusk reveals terrain that is unlike any I have seen, with low scrub across the plateau for miles and wallabies and wombats around every bend (a good reason to take it easy and enjoy it). The Liawenee Canal and River Ouse sparkle beside the road as they meander between Lake Augusta and Great Lake, with the odd trout rising just to make the drive even more distracting.

The lodge is aglow as I arrive, a perfect place to rest up before embarking on the 19 Lagoons tomorrow. Bebe greets me at the door with a cheery smile and shows me through the lodge. The lounge and dining spaces are communal, yet it’s easy to find a corner to yourself. There is a dining area, a lounge, and a self-service bar full of boutique wines, beers and whiskey, and couches in front of a large open fire.

After a three course meal, that includes melt in your mouth lamb shanks, and blueberry crumble, I pop a record on in the lounge – a vinyl long play record, remember those? I manage to get Rodriguez playing without a scratch and thumb my way through the eclectic mix of books, FlyLife collection (of course) and there’s even a stocked fly tying desk.

Thousand Lakes Lodge

I awake to a bluebird morning, with the sun just cracking the horizon and Lake Augusta looking like a mirror. The ground and bushes are covered in a dazzling early morning frost from the clear skies of the evening and I can’t wait to get out on the lakes.

The gates to the 19 Lagoons opened yesterday, so I am among the first to drive in for the season, after a couple of die-hards ahead of me. There are so many options on fly out here, some just a short drive, while others require a hike to get to. Lake Botsford looks like a postcard when I pull up on the shore and I have my rod rigged and ready to go in no time.

A bluebird morning on Lake Botsford | Adem

While the fishing is quiet, with the cold morning start, stalking the edges on such a perfect morning is reward in itself, and I have the entire place to myself. I have to keep taking off my glasses, just to check if the magic light is not some trick of polarisation. It’s not.

With its uniform bottom, Botsford is a polaroiding paradise. It’s a popular spot, so although fish can be easy to spot, they’re not necessarily easy to fool. The reward for effort and patience, though, might just be the fish of a lifetime.

Fishing below the lodge on River Ouse