Minister Joseph and Dame Enid Lyons were a unique couple. Joseph, 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.
The couple lovingly crafted, adapted and furnished the property, The property is testament to their tenacity and ingenuity. As the family grew (to an eventual eleven children), they expanded the house. Enid found creative ways to block off entries, turning former doorways into display cabinets. Enid’s work decorating the homestead is astonishing.
She made lamp-shades, lovingly restored and upholstered furniture, and hung and hand-painted wallpaper, all with her trademark elegant and eccentric style. One of the bedrooms has been hand-painted by Dame Enid with branches to hide cracks in the wall; a tendril from an outside plant had, rather appropriately, wound its way into the room, matching the wall paper beautifully.
Home Hill also houses the political and social memorabilia of the Lyons. Official 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, who was the first woman elected to the Australian Parliament, are tastefully displayed throughout the house. 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 and speak to the couple’s unshakable love.
Home Hill is a mere two minute drive from the centre of Devonport. Located just off the Bass Highway (heading towards Burnie) on busy Middle Road, it is no longer the secluded retreat that the Lyons once thought it. However, as you can see in the photos that you will be shown as part of the tour, it once was a good distance from the town of Devonport and it still has the airs and graces of a stately home.
Home Hill is open for guided tours at 2pm from Wednesday to Sunday and 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 the very romantic 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.
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