Minister Joseph and Dame Enid Lyons were a unique couple. Joseph, currently the only Tasmanian to become Prime Minister of Australia, wrote a love letter to Enid as his first act as Prime Minister. He also placed all of their property in her name as he believed in equality between men and women. Their love story is told through Home Hill, the homestead built for the couple in 1916 on property that Joseph gifted to Enid.
I highly recommend a visit to Home Hill. It is a unique place, which has been lovingly crafted, adapted and furnished. As the family grew to an eventual eleven children, the Lyons expanded the house. Enid found astonishingly creative ways to block off entries, such as turning doorways into display cabinets.
As you walk through the house, make note of Enid’s handiwork. She made lamp-shades, upholstered furniture, and hung and hand-painted wallpaper. One of the bedrooms has been hand-painted with branches to hide cracks in the wall. When we visited, a tendril from an outside plant had, rather appropriately, wound its way into the room, matching the wall paper beautifully.
You will also have the opportunity to view the political and social memorabilia of the Lyons. Throughout the house, you will find photographs of members of the royal family, formal invitation plaques, royal crockery, a one-of-a-kind Royal Doulton figurine and the hansard files for both Joseph and Enid. She was the first woman elected to the Australian Parliament. It is a fascinating collection and speaks to the popularity of the couple.
Sadly, Joseph Lyons also has the honour of being the first Australian Prime Minister to die in office. He passed away at the age of 59 on Good Friday, 1939. Dame Enid Lyons’s ongoing care of Home Hill, her meticulous preservation of Joseph’s political memorabilia and her subsequent political career all honour him.
Home Hill is a two minute drive from the centre of Devonport. You’ll find it just off the Bass Highway (heading towards Burnie) on busy Middle Road. Now a short distance from town, it is no longer the secluded retreat that the Lyons created. However, it still has the airs and graces of a stately home.
Visit Home Hill for guided tours at 2pm from Wednesday to Sunday. It is best to book your place, which can be done via the National Trust’s Home Hill webpage. Tours cost $15 for adults, $10 for concession and $40 for families. Upcoming events include Valentine’s Day drinks and nibbles, a High Tea, an Easter Egg hunt and a film night. Keep an eye on Home Hill Devonport’s Facebook page for more details. Enjoy your visit to a truly one-of-a-kind property, crafted by a remarkable couple.
To read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s north-west, click here.