You’d be hard pushed to find many people more passionate about what they do than Fiona and Liam Weaver. Watching them play in their kayaks in the Tyenna River at the bottom of their garden, Liam calls, “Work? Nah mate, this is the best office in the world!”

A property hunt across his local stomping ground some twenty years ago saw a cash strapped Liam snap up a bargain. “I approached the owner and explained I’d just got back from Europe and didn’t have that much money. Lucky for me, they called back the next day and accepted my offer.” Liam continues, “We’re on a real winner here, just take a look around.”

Home is a rambling couple of acres of gently sloping pasture nestled between dry eucalypt forest and the flowing river below. The rundown 1940s cabin that came with the land has been lovingly restored into a comfortable home, all whilst maintaining its rustic country charm. With floors and walls carved from local timbers, the couple are sheltered from the icy winter snowfalls whilst provided with an ongoing reminder of the region’s rich heritage.

Just a stone’s throw from spectacular Mount Field National Park, Fiona explains how their location is just perfect, “We’re right on a tourist route here and have everything we could need on our doorstep. We’ve really adapted our business to our surroundings and are so lucky to be sharing it with others.”

Fiona and Liam from Tassie Bound Tours in doorway

The pair founded Tassie Bound in 2011, an adventure kayaking operation specialising in tours on the Derwent and Huon Rivers, and on Lake Pedder in the nearby Southwest National Park. “When we first started here everyone was sceptical,” Liam recalls. “There were lots of log trucks on the road then and everyone thought we were crazy.” He considers the change that has occurred in recent years, “Now our kayak trailers are a common sight on those same roads and we’ve been really accepted into the community.”

Initially offering 50 tours each year, demand has soared as the market has embraced Fiona and Liam’s infectious warmth. “We’re doing about 200 tours a year now,” says Fiona. “Things are definitely getting busier but we’ve also done a lot of research into what people are looking for. You have to keep ahead of the trends.”

Liam From Tassie Bound Tours in front of vehicle

Tasmanians are faced with unique challenges when it comes to attracting tourists. “We’re off the main tourist route down here in Tassie, so that makes things a little more expensive for a start,” says Fiona. “We don’t get the same numbers of backpackers as the mainland so we’ve had to craft our offerings based on quality, but what’s coming out of that all over the state is really exciting.”

It’s funny how it came about,” says Liam. “We had friends staying one time and they came up with the idea of floating down the river on an old air mattress.” He smiles as he remembers, “We threw them in one afternoon and when we picked them up further down the river they were just ecstatic, despite the mattress having deflated on them. They’d seen about 20 platypus and had just had the time of their lives.”

Sign up for a paddle with these two and you’ll plunge into a world like no other. Half the battle is making a decision as to how to spend the day. Explore the breathtaking beauty that defines Lake Pedder, take on the rapids of the upper Derwent, or go for a glide past local hop fields and join the small club that has spotted one of the world’s most elusive creatures in the wild. “It’s not uncommon for us to see five or ten platypus in a single trip,” says Liam. “Despite being extremely secretive animals, we’ve got a stretch of river here where they’re really active in the warmer months. Even the locals are totally blown away when they come out for a paddle with me.”

Kayaking in the Derwent Valley Tasmania

Tassie Bound takes guests far beyond the surface. Once you’ve taken in the picture perfect riverbanks, crystal clear waters and various birdcalls, you’ll come to understand the notion of sharing, rather than tourism. “We’re about absorbing our guests into local culture,” explains Fiona. “We try to show them all the unique things about the area and pass on local stories. It’s about having an experience that you can’t get anywhere else.” She goes on to point out that just about everyone is catered for, “Beginners…kids…you don’t need to be a paddler. We’ve even had people with prosthetic limbs and fused discs. We just adapt to suit our guests and the conditions.”

Feedback from visitors fuels this dynamic pair. “We’ve had people break down in tears on Lake Pedder, they get so overwhelmed with its beauty. One guest couldn’t believe he was finally in a place with no man made noise or structures in sight.” Liam continues, “It’s such a special place to work. You can be swimming and basking in the sun one day and the next it’s sleeting and the wind is causing havoc. Either way I love it…it’s memorable both ways and it’s the real Tassie.”

Liam from Tassie Bound Tours in Kayak on upper Derwent River

Fiona’s dedication to the community is palpable, “We’re really passionate about growing our industry in a smart way. Tourism in this area is pretty new. Forestry has been the key industry supporting this community for generations, however there’s real change about now. We have to consider sustainable ways to provide jobs and also to support our young people to stay in the area.”

The conversation around the future of the Derwent Valley is an intriguing one. “There are so many amazing stories around here,” says Liam. “Guys that have been in forestry their whole lives, and their fathers and grandfathers before them…they know this place like the back of their hands.” He goes on to explain his own connection, “I’ve spent years in the industry too and understand the mindset of many of the workers. It’s not all about chopping down trees either – most of us all want the same thing and that’s sustainable industries and healthy communities. It’s a really interesting time here in the valley as we recreate a new identity now that the face of forestry has changed. How we diversify and reshape the future is going to be the question.”

Liam and Fiona from Tassie Bound tours carrying a kayak along the railway track to the river

Fiona and Liam mull over the internal battle that many locals face. “I’ve been there myself,” says Liam. “I learnt the old ways in the forest, the logging…I loved the forest but I also needed a job. Even now, I talk to mates who find it really hard to fell a 50 or 60 year old tree, but out of that comes a lot of great conversations and creativity about how we can move forward and find a balance. I find it encouraging that as a state we are getting stronger all the time and better at protecting our wild places.”

Fiona motions to the quiet road that borders their property, “Just up the road at Maydena we’ve got a little town that’s gone from being a busy forestry hub to having the world’s biggest mountain bike track move in. That’s a huge change and one the community are still wrestling with.” Like many other Tasmanian towns, Maydena’s infrastructure is still to catch up with visitor demand. “As a community we’ve got to consider things like accommodation, meals, transport, schools…such a change has a huge impact on how we operate as a region. It’s not just the infrastructure either, change also challenges community pride and family traditions. There’s a lot going on here.”

a portrait of Fiona Weaver from Tassie bound

Sitting on her deck cradling a cup of tea in her hands, Fiona considers their involvement in the community. Her genuine passion for the future is very clear, “We both love the serenity here, the freedom, and the time we have. We also love that education has become a huge part of our business. Passing on local knowledge to our guests is a privilege and it helps them enjoy a much more authentic experience.”

Having grown up in the area, Liam shares many stories with visitors. “I know a lot of old guys around here and often call them up if I come across something new. Usually they can give me an answer…it’s so important those stories aren’t lost.” Thoughtfully he adds, “It’s also a way I can create a real connection to this area for my guests. The more people who love this place, the more likely it will be protected in the future.”

“We’re in a really exciting phase as a business,” says Fiona. “The beauty of our tours are that we are local. You’re on the water with a local. You’ll share in some local secrets. All the money stays with the locals. We want to support and train locals too…to show the kids there is an exciting future in the Derwent Valley and real opportunities to create pathways for themselves.” She goes on to explain, “Tassie Bound is seasonal – the weather and the environment dictate what we do and when. The challenge for us is to manage that, but also control our growth and to maintain our individuality. It’s all about quality, not quantity.”

Moving forward Liam and Fiona plan to stick with their philosophy. “We’ve really listened to our guests,” explains Fiona. “The market is demanding more last minute bookings, softer adventures and people are generally less fit than what we’ve seen in the past.” She considers how it was back when they first started, “We had more people who were hard core kayakers then and we did a lot more multi-day trips. Now those guys tend to do their own thing with their own gear, so we’re about providing a quality experience for those who are new to these rivers and new to kayaking.”

Liam continues, “Being the size we are means we can adapt to what the market wants. That agility is great here in Tassie and it’s really helped us carve our niche here. We’ve never lived the same year twice, we’re always trying new things to see what works best for our guests and the community.” Liam clearly thrives off the happiness of others. His eyes light up when he explains, “When someone tells me at the end of a tour that it was the best thing they’ve ever done and they’re off to buy a kayak, I know I’m doing something of value.”

Wild Island Women is a new concept born out of Fiona and Liam’s shared experience. “We were seeing lots of men active in the outdoors but hardly any women. We’ve worked hard to identify those barriers for women and really break them down…children, work, motherhood guilt, time, convenience…we’ve taken all that into account.” Wild Island Women offers an easy solution to getting outdoors and slowing life down. “Guests just book with us and we do the rest. Those groups are about making women comfortable, easing them back into it, slowing down the pace and sharing a glass of wine with friends. We take away the intimidation and women can just enjoy some time together outdoors, have a laugh and be themselves. It seems to be really taking off.”

Fiona Weaver kayaking down the river

Tassie Bound is guided by a complex array of regulations but none of them seems to phase this energetic duo. “It’s good the industry is regulated,” says Fiona. “We have 20 different accreditations to meet but we’re proud that we’ve had no issues and that what we offer is second to none, both in terms of quality of experience and safety.”

Surveying the babbling river before him, Liam nods in agreeance, adding, “I often have guests that are speechless after doing a platypus tour. They haven’t seen one in the wild their entire lives and we just glided by half a dozen in the last hour.” He grins as he says thoughtfully, “It’s pretty special to be able to give someone a life changing experience. You can’t get much better than that.”

Liam from Tassie Bound kayaking down the river, Derwent Valley Tasmania

Tassie Bound operates a number of signature kayak tours between September and May each year. Book your paddle by visiting