Can you imagine a lobster the size of a small dog?
When it comes to freshwater crustaceans, the waterways of Tasmania hide the king of them all. The Giant Tasmanian Freshwater Lobster.
We visited these river giants, which are the largest freshwater lobster in the entire world at Lobster Ponds, located in Flowerdale, around 28 minutes drive from Burnie in north-west Tasmania.
Lobster Ponds Haven
The lobster Ponds was the brainchild of local Flowerdale farmer Don Bramich.
Like many local Tasmanian families, Don’s hunted the giant lobsters for food without realising the impact they were having until the species was classified as all but extinct.
Realising these unique animals needed a saviour, Don created the Lobster Ponds. Not just to create a safe haven for the species but to educate the public about this uniquely Tasmanian crustacean and the ecosystems they inhabit.
Don built the lobster haven in 2003 by diverting water from a nearby spring-fed dam into multiple ponds on his property and stocking them after getting permission from the government.
Created to resemble the lobster’s natural habitat as closely as possible, the ponds provide the perfect conditions the lobsters require. Such as ensuring the water remains under 18 degrees, which is accomplished by a chilling system supplied by the salmon farming company Tassal.
Don Bramich has sadly passed away, however, due to a team of dedicated volunteers, his legacy lives on.
Giant Tasmanian Lobster Info
Giant lobsters don’t start out a giant. In fact, the babies look remarkably like any other Australian yabby or American crawfish. The juveniles at the ponds look almost identical to yabbies many Australians would have caught as a child. But the giant potential is there.
Some previously measured lobsters have been as much as 1 metre in length and up to 6.5 kilograms in weight. Although these sorts of sizes are unheard of anymore, with specimens more commonly weighing around 2 or 3 kilograms.
Believed to live up to 60 years or more, the lobsters live on a diet of decaying wood, leaves and animal flesh and obtain a rather impressive size with powerful pincers to match.
The pincers were almost as large as my hand!
Declining Freshwater Lobster Numbers
Unfortunately, the numbers of giant Tasmanian lobsters are still declining. This decline is due to a combination of factors, which are mostly human-caused.
Giant lobsters were officially protected in 1998, and taking lobsters from the wild can incur a 10,000 AUD fine per animal, but lobster poaching is still a large problem.
Declining habitat is also a major problem as giant lobsters only inhabit a small region of Tasmania.
Giant lobsters are only be found in rivers and estuaries in the northern regions of Tasmania that feed into the Bass Strait and that sit around 20-400 metres above sea level.
Increasing urban development, farming and forestry are also reducing the lobster’s habitat by raising the levels of sediment in rivers.
The decline in number is exacerbated further by the limited number of large breeding sized adults and the mortality rate in babies.
Female lobsters need to be around 14 years old and males around 9 years old before they are mature enough to mate. And even though they produce approximately 2,000 eggs every second year, only around one per cent survives.
Listed as a vulnerable species, the giant lobsters future is looking bleak.
Viewing The Giant Lobsters
Lobster Ponds is a small complex featuring a small indoor and outdoor area.
The indoor area houses around eight aquariums of varying sizes and a large indoor pond with cascading waterfall.
In these ponds and aquariums, you’ll find lobsters of various ages and sizes, ranging from the bright blue juvenile lobster Charlie to the granddaddy of them all, the giant, almost black Lobby.
Educational posters located around the room have additional lobster facts and information.
The outdoors area features a short walking trail which leads up to four large outdoor ponds, which each house around 20 giant lobsters.
Located along the walking trail are information boards with details on how the ponds operate as well as information on the local frog and bird species.
For such large crustaceans, they can certainly camouflage themselves well. We spent ages trying to find one in the outdoor ponds, but trying to find them was half the fun.
Lobster Ponds Cafe
There is an onsite cafe that serves light meals and hot and cold drinks.
We had scones with jam and cream, and a white chocolate raspberry muffin, both of which were delicious!
The cafe also boasts some beautiful views over the countryside and local farms.
- Adult: 5 AUD
- Child: Free (Under 12 years)
Lobster Ponds is open Thursday-Sunday from 10:00-15:00.
Exceptions: Closed Christmas Day, New Years and Good Friday
Check the official website for up to date information.
- Car park
- Gift shop
Address: 241 Robin Hill Road, Flowerdale. Tasmania, Australia.
Click to view the map to Lobster Ponds.
- The last two kilometres of the road into the Lobster Ponds is gravel with a few potholes
We ended up spending over an hour at Lobster Ponds, and we loved every minute of it. It certainly exceeded our expectations.
Like the elusive platypus, seeing a giant lobster out in the wild is extremely difficult, which makes the Lobster Ponds the perfect place to experience this incredible animal.
If you have small children or just want to see the largest freshwater lobsters in the entire world, then plan a visit.
And at only 5 AUD per person, it’s a cheap, fun, educational and great value.
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