If you find yourself in Northern Tasmania, I highly recommend a visit to Brickendon. Run by the Archer family continuously since 1824, this property is a unique place. Parts of the property, such as the Farm Village, seem frozen in time. You can walk into buildings such as the smokehouse, the blacksmiths’ shop or the pillar granary and feel as if you could be right there, back in the 1800s, on a working farm. Brickendon is also a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Convict Site (one of 11 such listings in Australia).
Your first stop is the Farm Village. This is both a time capsule and a working farm. If you are there at 10:15am, you will be able to participate in feeding the animals. Even if you’re not there at 10:15am, there are plenty of animals to see. There are sheep in the paddock near the farm village. I was greeted (loudly!) by a turkey upon arrival and found a group of ducks sitting under the pillar granary. There are also geese, chickens and more ducks near the poultry shed (which has been set up as if it were a country kitchen).
The buildings have a few concise information panels and this brevity works very well, particularly if you have already seen the introductory DVD. I highly recommend viewing the DVD upon arrival. It is a first-rate production and gives you a lot of insight into the Archer family and Brickendon’s history (and future aspirations). You also get to sit in a Sussex barn while viewing it which is a lovely experience in and of itself!
As the farm is a working farm, some of the displays are actual work sites, such as the shearing shed and stables. Here, you’ll see beautiful timber walls and relics from times past alongside modern shearing machines. It is a privilege to see generations of hard work, progress and innovation preserved in one property.
The “working” aspect of the farm village extends to more than farming. You can stay at the Farm Village in the Farm Cottage. What an awesome experience that would be! While I was at Brickendon, a wedding was taking place in the gardens of the main house and one of the Sussex barns was set up as a reception venue. I accidentally had a sneak-peek and it looked gorgeous!
Brickendon and nearby Woolmers Estate are joined via family history and a walking track. Two Archer brothers, Thomas (Woolmers) and William (Brickendon), originally owned and ran the two farms. I plan on doing the walk between them later this year (when it’s not too hot or too muddy!). It is a 2.8km walk via a suspension bridge (closed between 5pm and 9am daily). Your entry fee to Woolmers Estate is reduced if you have come via Brickendon.
The actual Brickendon homestead is across Woolmers Lane and this is where the second part of your visit takes place. Simply drive across the road, up the gravel drive, and park near the homestead. You then have access to stunning gardens and a view of several heritage buildings. These are also used as accommodation so please be mindful of guests. When I was there, the wedding was in full swing in the garden so I took a couple of photos of the house and then left them to it. I think I’ll have to return to view the rest of the garden and to do the walk to Woolmers (which I did in December 2017 – read about it here). I don’t mind; it’s an enchanting place!
There are several ways of reaching Longford. My two preferred approaches are via the B52 with a view of farming countryside or via Woolmers Lane from the Midlands highway. These routes are both picturesque and allow you a glimpse of years gone by in the form of overhanging trees and hedgerows. If you are travelling via Woolmers Lane, Brickendon is clearly signposted with the carpark on the right. From Longford, turn left at the fork, following signs for Brickendon and Woolmers Estate.
Entry to Brickendon currently costs $12.50 per adult, $11.50 per concession, $5 per child and $38 per family. For up-to-date prices, see Brickendon’s website. There is also a small gift shop in the Sussex barn. The Farm Village and Heritage Gardens are open from 9:30am – 4pm year-round except for Mondays and Christmas Day. Opening hours are extended until 5pm in summer. The Main House is the reception during winter. Whenever you visit, you’re sure to be in for a treat as you walk through the lives of the convicts and experience the past and present of the Archer family.