The Derwent Estuary – what do the people of Hobart really think of it?

Ursula Taylor1

1Manager, Partnerships & Governance, Derwent Estuary Program


The Derwent Estuary flows through the heart of Hobart where 40% of Tasmania’s population resides. It has a reputation for two extremes: natural beauty and pollution. There is a great deal of scientific information about the Derwent because of high heavy metal levels due to past industrial practices, however, as the clean-up is well underway and continues, how does the community view and interact with the Derwent? Do they care? If not, why not? And for our organisation, have they heard of the Derwent Estuary Program and the messages we promote around beach water quality, seafood safety and walking track access? In comparing results from community surveys of Hobart residents in 2007 and 2013, changes in the community’s value of the Derwent were observed. There is greater use and enjoyment of the estuary as well as differences in concerns for its wellbeing. This repeated evaluation informs the communications of the Derwent Estuary Program – messages as well as communication avenues. Our aim is to increase awareness of the benefits of environmental management for the estuary, as well as for the people who live by it or visit it.


Ursula Taylor is a long-standing member of the Derwent Estuary Program and has been a coordinator, communicator and manager with the Program. She loves the Derwent estuary in Hobart and the people she works with to improve its health and keenly communicates the science and management of the estuary to the community, who use it for swimming, walking, boating and fishing.