Convict Farm Walk

Traversing the Convict Farm Walk
Suspension Bridge
Suspension Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Last weekend, we did the Convict Farm Walk between Woolmers and Brickendon estates in Longford. At 45 minutes one way, it’s a relatively short walk through fields with some interesting sights along the way. Being able to walk between the two estates was a treat as I really like both of them.

View from Woolmers
View from Woolmers © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We set out from Woolmers, out the back gate of the Main House, following signs for the Convict Farm Walk. Here, you’ll have sweeping views of the plains below and the mountains in the distance. You can see Brickendon Farm Village below as a small cluster of buildings. Even if you don’t have time to do the walk, stand on the hillside and take in the view!

Pump House
Pump House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At the bottom of the hill, you’ll reach and river and the suspension bridge that spans it. This is open from 9am – 5pm daily. You won’t be able to bring prams, wheelchairs, etc. over the bridge as it is very narrow. It was a lot of fun to walk across its two spans, swinging above the water. Look up and down the river as there are some great views to be had of the pump house from the bridge.

Through the fields
Through the fields © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From here, it’s about two and a half kilometres to Brickendon. You’ll pass a clay pit (now grassed over) and interpretive signs about the lives and work of the convicts. Take in the views of the Great Western Tiers to your left and the mountains (Ben Lomond, Mount Barrow, etc.) to your right. Walking through wheat stalks and watching the farm in operation was also intriguing. We passed a field of sheep bleating a constant chorus of “maaaaaa!!!” It is an amusing experience to be under surveillance by sheep!!

Jetty
Jetty © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Take the five-minute detour to the jetty. There’s a lot of serenity with the pump going… watch The Castle if you don’t know what I mean! It is a lovely feeling to be by the water though, watching it flowing past on its way to Longford. From here, it’s a short stroll to Brickendon Farm Village.

Lambs!
Lambs! © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At Brickendon Farm Village, you’ll find photogenic historic buildings and a whole lot of animals! We said hello to a white horse, large cows, turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, a pig and, best of all, Spring lambs!!! They were just gorgeous! It took us a long time to leave! One of the staff members spent some time with us, introducing us to the lambs, which was lovely. From the Farm, you can walk on to the homestead at Brickendon (which is a private residence) and surrounding gardens. We chose to head back to Woolmers.

What to Bring

Woolmers Estate
Woolmers Estate © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll need good walking shoes as, between the two estates and the walk, you’ll spend 3+ hours on your feet. The suspension bridge would also be difficult to cross in inappropriate footwear. Depending on the season, you’ll also need sun protection and/or waterproof clothing. Carry basic first aid supplies, a little bit of food and plenty of water with you. There is a café at Woolmers to relax in and plenty of places to sit down at both ends of the walk.

Getting There

Convict Farm Walk from Brickendon
Convict Farm Walk from Brickendon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can begin the Convict Farm Walk at either estate. Both are about a two-minute drive out of Longford or you can turn into Woolmers Lane directly from the Midlands Highway. You’ll find ample free, all-day parking at both sites. Ask staff at reception for directions to the start of the track.

Cost

White Horse
White Horse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you just wanted to do the Convict Farm Walk, and not look at either site, you could probably do the walk for free. I paid for a self-guided tour of the historic sites at both ends as I like to support local enterprises. Both are worth having a good look around, even if you’ve been before, as they are quite different in each season. Make sure that you tell the receptionist at the second site that you have come from the first as you’ll then get a discount. It cost us $24 per adult to visit both sites and do the Convict Farm Walk, which I think is very reasonable!

Enjoy your time at Woolmers and Brickendon! I’ve visited several places in Tasmania’s nearby midlands, north and central highlands if you’re interested in more ideas for your own adventures.

Woolmers Estate

Traversing Woolmers Estate
Verandah
Verandah © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If I could sit all day on the verandah beneath the wisteria at Woolmers Estate, I would. Winter is an excellent time to visit as the purple of the wisteria contrasts beautifully with the house. I thought that I had missed out this year but I managed to see a tiny patch of wisteria on the last weekend in Spring!

National Rose Garden
National Rose Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Also in bloom in Spring are the roses. Woolmers Estate is home to the magnificent National Rose Garden. If you don’t yet know your David Austins from your… well… other roses, you’ll find that a rose has many names and not all smell as sweet! The vast collection deserves a good half-hour stroll through. Old and young alike will also enjoy finding the flash of orange in the pond at the bottom of the garden.

The Wool Shed and the Cider Shed
The Wool Shed and the Cider Shed © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Woolmers Estate is a fabulous place to visit at any time of the year. Even if the flowers aren’t blooming, you could spend many hours exploring the grounds and historic buildings. These include the Blacksmith’s Shop, Stables and Servants’ Kitchen (now a café). You can even stay in some of the historic buildings. My favourite building is the picturesque Wool Shed. Treasures I’ve found around the property are the turret-like smoking room in the garden, a “twin thunder box” in the garden wall, a tiny vintage car and the wine cellar. Soon, Woolmers will also boast a first-rate function centre and restaurant.

Servants' Kitchen
Servants’ Kitchen © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Convict Site, Woolmers was once the home of six generations of Thomas Archer. Established in approximately 1817, the buildings show the fullness of the lives of the Archers. You’ll learn about their innovation, successes (one played golf in the Australian Open) and tragedies. Unlike nearby Brickendon, which was founded by Thomas Archer I’s brother, William, Woolmers is no longer a working farm. This is because Thomas Archer VI was a recluse who had no children, leaving the property as a time-capsule for future generations to enjoy. While I’m very thankful for this, it’s quite a poignant realisation that such an inventive line of the Archer family is no more.

The Main House
The Main House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You must tour the house. This will cost more, and your guide will most likely take you through very slowly (my husband can’t stand this!), but you won’t fully understand the family until you view their private quarters. You’ll notice many points of difference between this house and others like it. Keep an eye out for the crockery set with the family crest (a bear paw holding an arrow), the shutters to protect from bush-rangers, the camera collection, the servants’ bell and the lack of mid-ceiling electric lighting. The latter was so that the aesthetics of the rooms would not be marred by the newfangled invention of electricity. This was a family who paved their own way.

Getting There

Roses
Roses © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Woolmers is located just south of Longford. You can reach it from the Midlands Highway, about five minutes’ drive south of Perth (Woolmers Estate is well signposted). Alternatively, drive through Longford down Wellington Street and Woolmers Lane until you reach the estate. You’ll enjoy driving down the hedged country lanes.

Cost

Function Centre
Function Centre © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Current prices are $14 per adult or $32 for a family for self-guided tours. You’ll pay $20 per adult, $7 per child or $45 for a family. If this is your first visit to Woolmers, do the house tour. It’s well worth it! Opening hours are 9am – 4pm daily. Note that Woolmers Estate is closed on several public holidays (see their website for more details).

Today, we walked between Woomers and Brickendon. Read about our experience here. You can also explore other places in Tasmania’s midlands – it’s a wonderful part of Tasmania!

Poatina Power Station

Poatina Power Station
Poatina Power Station
Poatina Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Poatina Power Station. What an incredible experience! As you approach by road, marvel at the views of the Great Western Tiers. Board a bus. Descend to the power station through an underground tunnel. Find yourself in a 1960s time capsule. Admire the engineering, the monstrous turbines, and the feat of creating electricity.

Artwork
Artwork © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I was not expecting interior design in a power station. In the mid-1960s, when Poatina Power Station was built, aesthetics was clearly a priority! A myrtle bannister runs the length of the station. A commissioned artwork keeps time on the tiled back wall. The walls of the generators are painted bright red. Brass trim on the floor plates signals a time that was just a little bit classy. Some of the machines even have original control panels.

Traversing Poatina Power Station
Traversing Poatina Power Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It’s not all about the décor though. Step onto the floor plates near an operational turbine and you’ll feel the power of it as it turns below you. Study the original drawings of the turbines and of the station. Look three floors down to the water beneath you. Ask one of the staff about what it’s like to work on the turbines, just above the water, in a noisy cavern. Admire the parts on display, including a selection of giant spanners and a turbine.

Generators
Generators © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The wonderful thing about Poatina power station is that it takes advantage of the lie of the land. From a 5.6km headrace tunnel in Great Lake above, through 1.8km of giant above-ground pipes, water falls 150m to the Poatina Station Turbines. Gravity does a lot of the work. In simple terms, the water hitting the turbines at speed causes them to spin, which creates electricity through a series of energy conversions (potential to kinetic to mechanical to magnetic to electrical).

What to Bring

Turbine
Turbine © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Safety gear is provided by Hydro Tasmania but you’ll need to wear a long-sleeved top, long pants and sturdy, covered-in shoes. It was quite warm in the power station. When possible, it is kept at a constant temperature in order to keep the machinery running smoothly so you probably won’t need a jacket. You aren’t allowed to bring food, water or other personal belongings. You should bring your phone for photo-taking, however, there’s no phone reception down there.

Getting There

Entry tunnel
Entry tunnel © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Poatina Power Station is about a two-minute drive uphill from Poatina Village. From Launceston, head south through Longford and Cressy. Keep heading south, following signs for Poatina. I absolutely love driving on the road towards the Great Western Tiers. What a view! From Hobart, you can take the highway through Bothwell before descending to Poatina. You’ll have spectacular views of the midlands.

Cost

Control panels
Control panels © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The lovely thing about Tasmania is that there are many free community events. Hydro Tasmania’s tours of Poatina Power Station may only happen occasionally but they are free and good quality. Keep an eye on Hydro Tasmania’s website and social media pages for more information about upcoming open days at power stations across Tasmania.

Read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s midlands, north and south.

Government House Tasmania

Traversing Government House Tasmania
Government House Tasmania
Government House Tasmania © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I’ve always wanted to have a peek at Government House Tasmania. Driving past, looking up at the house from below, I was intrigued. What lay behind those fields dotted with trees and those elegant stone walls? In the past, I have read about the open days in the newspaper a day too late, which was always a bit of a letdown! Yesterday, my husband told me that Government House was open. Would I like to go? YES!

Lion's Court
Lion’s Court © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We arrived 15 minutes early and there was already quite a queue to get in. I was amazed by the preparation some people had gone to, carrying camp chairs, picnic rugs and baskets of food. Weren’t we were just touring the house? When I heard bagpipes playing, I realised that this wasn’t the case!

Rose Garden and Vineyard
Rose Garden and Vineyard © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There were Tasmanian societies everywhere: RSPCA Tasmania, Country Women’s Association of Tasmania, Girl Guides Tasmania, Scouts Tasmania, Surf Life Saving Tasmania (guarding the two ponds), and so on. I appreciated the free water and sunscreen available, thanks to TasWater and the Cancer Council Tasmania. Music played and the Rotary Club of Howrah had a large BBQ going. Children played in the gardens or on the tennis courts. It was a festival!

Ceiling
Ceiling © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The first thing to do, of course, is to join another queue – the queue to tour the house. You’ll view a small, roped off portion of the house. Most importantly, you’ll be greeted by the Governor, which was a lovely experience. The house is absolutely gorgeous. Who knew that we had such an historic gem on our own doorstep?

Dining Table
Dining Table © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Building of Government House Tasmania was finished in 1857 and it is a beautiful building. It also contains many remarkable artefacts. A table set for eighteen guests, a giant portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and stunning carpets and ceilings are but a portion of the sights you’ll see. A nearby reporter commented on how homely it looked, compared to previous setups. I have nothing to compare it to but I can say that I would not mind being a resident!

Quarry Pond
Quarry Pond © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The best thing about Government House Tasmania is the secret gardens. You’ll find access to the tennis courts through an archway in a hedge. Sidle past the tennis courts and you’ll find yourself in the rose garden, overlooking the vineyards. Glimpses of two ponds, both with their own waterfalls and one with its own sail boat, can be seen from the driveway. Visiting these is a must! On our way out, we found a garden with plaques beside three of the trees, indicating that these had been planted, some decades ago, by members of the royal family, including none other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Tasman Bridge
Tasman Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll enjoy the views. From the windows of Government House Tasmania, you can see the wharf at the Regatta Grounds. Ships pass, framed by ornate brickwork. Outside, the views from East Parklands of the Tasman Bridge are magnificent. It’s a special view for me – the reverse of what I’m used to seeing. Instead of whizzing past in a car, staring up at the house, I’m gazing at the bridge and the river from beneath shady trees. What a day!

Getting There

Garden
Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Government House Tasmania is next door to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. You can access this area via the Tasman Highway or via the Domain Highway. Parking is available at the Botanical Gardens or along the Lower Domain Road. If you’re late, there is a overflow car park for the Botanical Gardens or more roadside parking.

Cost

Government House Tasmania
Government House Tasmania © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Government House Tasmania open day is a free event. Tours of the state rooms, gardens and even the inner workings of the house are available once a month for a small price. Bring some money for the BBQ and for a jar of marmalade from the CWA and don’t forget to bring your camp chairs, picnic rug and basket of food!

Staying in southern Tasmania? Read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s south.

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement

Traversing the Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck
Eaglehawk Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Prior to my Three Capes Track experience, I visited the tiny isthmus joining the Forestier Peninsula and the Tasman Peninsula. This is the piece of land that protected the rest of Tasmania from Port Arthur’s escapee convicts in the 1800s. Eaglehawk Neck also boasts incredible natural beauty, such as the famous Tessellated Pavement.

Eaglehawk Neck

Dog Line
Dog Line © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

A strip of land that’s about 30m wide (at its narrowest) by 400m long, blink and you’ll miss Eaglehawk Neck! There’s a lovely loop walk that will take you past the 1832 Officers’ Quarters Museum. This is perhaps Australia’s oldest wooden military building. It was closed when we visited. Next, you’ll see a series of outbuildings and a statue of one of the eighteen guard dogs that were posted along the Neck to alert watchmen of escaped convicts trying to cross. Finally, you’ll reach the beach. Parks and Wildlife Tasmania have created an intriguing map of the historical landmarks in the area. The guard dogs were even posted on platforms to prevent convicts escaping by sea!

Tessellated Pavement

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Continue walking north along the beach and you’ll reach a flat, patterned rock shelf. The siltstone forms a beautiful, tile-like pattern. It is known as the Tessellated Pavement. You can view it from a platform above. Alternatively, walk along the rock shelf if the tide isn’t too high. The natural patterns make for stunning photographs.

Getting There

Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement are just over an hour’s drive east of Hobart. Allow extra time for stops on the way and for exploring the Tasman Peninsula. There is ample car-parking at both sites, including additional parking at the Eaglehawk Neck Community Hall.

Cost

Tessellated Pavement
Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’d think that you’d have to pay to visit a place that is so historically significant and such a natural wonder, but you don’t! You can even access the Officers’ Quarters Museum for free when it’s open. Enjoy your visit!

 

Staying for a while? Visit Tasman Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and the Blowhole. About half an hour’s drive away is the fantastic Port Arthur Historic Site. You’ll need to book and prepare beforehand, but I highly recommend the Three Capes Track walk.

Longford Show

Traversing Longford Show
Woodchopping
Woodchopping © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are several Tasmanian events that I really look forward to each year. One of them is the Longford Show. Why? Where else will you find woodchopping, show-jumping, alpacas, fairy-floss and a good dose of Australian humour all in the one place? Today, the Longford show did not disappoint, with its green grass, blue skies and stunning display of goodwill and talent.

Animal Nursery
Animal Nursery © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll be met by local Rotarians at the gate. When you enter, turn right for the woodchop. You’ll never want to leave! It’s my favourite sport! From here, work your way around the Showgrounds anticlockwise. The animal nursery and display by Tasmanian Fire Service were highlights for the little ones in our group today. Who doesn’t want to see a baby goat, sit in the driver’s seat of a fire truck or have a go at holding the fire hose?!

Fleeces
Fleeces © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From here, it seems like the show-bags, merry-go-rounds, junk food stalls and rides have taken over but don’t be fooled! If you look carefully, you’ll find the wool-classing shed, floral arrangements, an art display (of local children’s work) and pony rides. Besides, who doesn’t love a merry-go-round?

Blacksmith
Blacksmith © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After the exhaustion of side-show alley, grab a bite to eat and sit awhile by the show-jumping. It’s an elegant sport. From here, it’s a short walk to the snake display and the blacksmith’s shop, both of which are strangely fascinating. The craziest thing at the Longford Show, in my opinion, is the dog show. Have you ever seen people in suits prancing around with their pooches? It is hilarious, yet a very serious competition!

What to Bring

Show Jumping
Show Jumping © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Today was absolutely glorious. Blue skies and sunshine made the Longford Show delightful. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen or you’ll turn into a lobster! Also essential is a bottle of water and sturdy shoes. You’ll do quite a bit of walking so practicality beats fashion. Cash is a must for your entry fee. Today, the line at the local ATM was very long so get cash out before you head to the Show.

Getting There

Fire Fighting
Fire Fighting © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Longford is approximately 20 minutes’ drive south of Launceston, towards Hobart. From Launceston, you can reach Longford via Perth or via a turnoff from the Bass Highway onto Illawarra Road. The latter is a very pretty, country drive. There is ample street parking in Longford but be prepared for a short walk (5 – 10 minutes) to the Showgrounds.

Cost

Alpacas
Alpacas © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At $12 per adult, I think that entry to the Longford Show is a bargain. You’ll pay $6 for children and $30 for a family (two adults and two children). I’d pay that much just to see the woodchopping, but I am a bit of a woodchop-aholic! Please note that prices may vary from year to year. I was also impressed with the range of food (and food prices) inside.

If you have time, stay in Longford for a while and visit nearby Brickendon and Woolmers, both fabulous attractions! You can also read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s north and midlands.