Claredon

Traversing Claredon
Elms
Elms © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Claredon is, as our guide so accurately said, a “happy house”. The gardens are beautiful, the house is grand and the sun was shining brightly today through the leaves of the elm trees.

 

Claredon
Claredon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

So much love has gone into Claredon. The house was originally built in 1838 to celebrate the love of James Cox and his second wife, Eliza. They established a merino stud at Claredon. After land grants were split up and the property dwindled in size, the estate became harder to run as a farm. It was sold, first to the Boyes family and then to the Menzies family. The Menzies bred race horses, two of which won the Melbourne Cup. In 1962, Mrs. Menzies gave the property to the National Trust.

Sitting Room
Sitting Room © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Claredon has been lovingly restored from a derelict house by the National Trust. The house is currently in good hands. If you visit in the next month, you’ll have the privilege of seeing a private exhibition of paintings, including a painting by John Glover. You’ll also see antiques seated next to modern timber furniture from Launceston’s Design Centre. You’ll even get to sit on some of the precious furniture! Your guide will tell you of Dulux’s upcoming Claredon paint range, which will see the house’s walls restored and repainted. There are many stories of benefactors, such as the Sydney interior designer who refurbished the front two rooms for a private function. All this attention has resulted in a wonderful face-lift for a stately home.

Eliza's Piano
Eliza’s Piano © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

What I like about Claredon is that it is a mix of the old and the new. Eliza’s stunning upright piano sits in back room. The cellar, which was previously filled with sand to counteract poor foundations, smells as musty and old as a convict prison. The upstairs rooms, with their peeling paint and hole-riddled walls, display gorgeous bedroom linens. An upstairs room is also dedicated to ladies’ fashion from the 1830s through to the 1960s. New things grace the house too, such as Michael McWilliams’ painted table, depicting the history of the house and of Tasmania in a stunning and thought-provoking way. Pictures don’t do the intricacy of his work justice. Go and see if for yourself!

Walled Garden
Walled Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Claredon’s gardens are stunning. The walled garden is very peaceful and colourful. There is even a “Secret Garden”-like doorway to the back of the house and outbuildings. Have a look at the original items in the coach house and wool shed. The stone barn is also lovely, albeit dark. Between the stone barn and the wool shed is the Australian Fly Fishing Museum. It was closed when we visited (due to Easter).

Getting There

Michael McWilliams' Table
Michael McWilliams’ Table © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Claredon is ten minutes’ drive south of Launceston. Follow signs for Launceston Airport, Evandale and then Claredon. If you are heading to Hobart after visiting Claredon, drive to Nile and then on to the Midlands Highway. Evandale is a unique town and you should plan to spend a few hours here too, viewing the buildings, the stores and the art exhibitions. You can read about my day at the Evandale Village Fair and Penny Farthing National Championships here.

Cost

Fashion Collection (Clothes Rack by John Smith)
Fashion Collection (Clothes Rack by John Smith) © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Admission to view Claredon is $15 per adult, $10 per concession and free for children under 16. Admission costs include access to the house (with an introduction by a lovely guide), exhibitions, gardens, outbuildings and grounds. Ticket holders also have complimentary access to the Australian Fly Fishing Museum and the Norfolk Plains Heritage Centre. The property is open from 10am – 4pm on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. It is also open on Fridays during summer. For up-to-date opening hours, see the National Trust’s website. There is a tearoom onsite and the house is surrounded by the river (on two sides) and is, reportedly, a good spot for a fish. Bring a picnic lunch or your fishing rod and enjoy an afternoon at Claredon.

To read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s gorgeous Midlands, click here.

Brickendon

Traversing Brickendon
Brickendon Entry
Brickendon Entry © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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 UNESCO World Heritage Listed (one of 11 such listings in Australia) due to its convict heritage.

Pillar Granary
Pillar Granary © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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).

Brickendon Farm Village
Brickendon Farm Village © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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!

Shearing Shed
Shearing Shed © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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 to Woolmers Walk
Brickendon to Woolmers Walk © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Brickendon Homestead
Brickendon Homestead © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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 do the walk to Woolmers and to view the rest of the garden. I don’t mind; it’s an enchanting place!

Getting There

Brickendon
Brickendon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As I stated in my post on nearby Longford Berries and Cherries, there are several ways of reaching Longford (and therefore Brickendon). 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.

Cost

Brickendon Gardens
Brickendon Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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 the Brickendon website. There is also a small gift shop in the entrance 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.

Brickendon Animals
Brickendon Animals © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Read my other posts on Tasmania’s Midlands here.

Longford Berries and Cherries

So many strawberries!

Tucked away down a backstreet in Longford is Longford Berries and Cherries Berries and Cherries. Their strawberries are perhaps the best in Tasmania. No, I haven’t been to every berry farm in Tasmania to test this definitively but they are the best that I’ve found so far!

Strawberries
Strawberries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Sometimes, berry picking can be a little disappointing, particularly if you arrive later in the day. I arrived at Longford Berries and Cherries at about 2pm yesterday and there were so many berries that I could have picked until they closed! They are only open three days a week (Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday) which sounds inconvenient but it’s not. It ensures that everyone can enjoy a plentiful pick. The farm may be open on other days if there is an excess of berries. Keep an eye on their Facebook page.

Longford Berries and Cherries
Longford Berries and Cherries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Another thing that is fabulous about Longford Berries and Cherries is that the berries are organic. This means that you can bring your kids and not worry if someone stuffs a sneaky, unwashed berry into their mouth. Even though it’s always best to wash your fruit, at least they won’t be eating pesticides! Dennis also treats children very kindly. He even has a sandpit and play equipment set up for them.

Beautiful view
Beautiful view © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The farm is in a serene location. There is a lake (not accessible), a nearby farm to look up at while you pick berries and stands of gums surrounding the strawberry patch. Make sure that you have sunscreen, a hat and sturdy shoes and you’ll have a lovely time. Berry picking is also quite communal and you never know who you’ll meet. I found myself in very good company; thank you for the good conversation!

Getting There

Strawberry Patch
Strawberry Patch © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Longford is a beautiful, heritage town located approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Launceston. You can drive towards Hobart on the Midlands Highway, turning off to Longford at Perth. This is the least interesting way of getting to Longford. Instead, continue towards Hobart through Perth and take the next turn to Longford. This will take you through hedgerow lanes past the UNESCO World Heritage Listed properties, Woolmers Estate and Brickendon (add more travelling time though). You can read my post about Brickendon here. It is worth spending a full day in Longford to see these sites (and pick berries!). The other interesting way of getting to Longford is via the Bass Highway then the B52. This takes you past farming properties and stunning countryside! Once in Longford, follow signs towards Cressy and then turn right opposite the Longford Show Grounds (if the berry farm is open, a sign will be out on the road).

Cost

Pick your own berries © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Longford Berries and Cherries always has reasonable prices. Jars of jam cost approximately $4. If you’re in a hurry, there are often pre-picked berries in the refrigerator, often for the same price per kilo as to pick your own. Currently, pick your own strawberries are $10 per kg. There are also other berries available (raspberries, blackberries and red currants are my other favourites!) but these are now out of season. The cost includes the use of a picking bucket (small enough for littlies to hold). Have a fabulous time at Longford Berries and Cherries!

Read my other posts on Tasmania’s Midlands here.

Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships

Penny Farthing, Ingelside Bakery
Solomon Cottage, Evandale
Solomon Cottage © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Each February, Evandale, a small, historic town in Tasmania’s north, comes alive with the sights and sounds of yesteryear. A lady in a straw sun-hat plays honky-tonk on an antique piano, accompanied by a washboard player. A couple stroll down the street in their turn-of-the-century Sunday-best. A bearded gentleman wearing breeches sits astride a penny farthing and you’d best get out of his way!

Penny Farthing Relay
Penny Farthing Relay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Visiting the Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships is a must if you are in Tasmania in mid-February. The penny farthing is a bicycle that looks like a penny attached to a farthing, hence its name. These bikes are historic, rare and are very difficult to ride. They are also very difficult to stop so be mindful of where you walk.

Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships
National Penny Farthing Championships © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Watching people ride penny farthings might not seem like everyone’s cup of tea, but I promise that you’ll enjoy the day! The skill of the riders is phenomenal, particularly the children! Your “must watch” list includes the slow race, which rewards the slowest rider… a mean feat on a penny farthing! The obstacle course, which has riders run to their bikes, carry them (some over their heads!), push them and finally ride them, is a sight to behold. Most importantly, barrack for Tasmania! This year, we won the penny farthing relay, despite stiff competition from mainland states. For a good laugh, listen carefully to the commentator, who paid out just about everyone, in his own delightfully jovial way.  The day goes from 10am to 4pm.

Jarryd Roughead
Jarryd Roughead © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Aside from the penny farthing races, there are other events at the Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships. My favourites are the period costume parade and a charity race event involving a sprint leg, a (regular) bicycle leg and a wheelbarrow push! This year, the team from Hawthorn Football Club won but the other teams weren’t far behind!

The Rag Dolls, Evandale
The Rag Dolls © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Evandale Fair provides plenty of entertainment, food and market-stalls away from the track. You’ll find penny farthing souvenirs, handmade wares (including dog treats), Tasmanian goods (this year, there was a stall of lovely thick merino socks!) and plenty of local food vans. There’s a plethora of entertainment for the kids, including a jumping castle and face painting. One of my favourite things to do is to sit and listen to the country music band and watch the locals dancing and singing along (I may have been singing too!).

Statue, Evandale
Penny Farthing Statue © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Evandale itself is a picturesque town and has some must-see buildings (such as the water tower) and must-visit stores (look out for the historic cash register). If you’re feeling peckish, the Ingelside Bakery Cafe has a beautiful rose-filled courtyard area and tasty food, including gluten and dairy free options. For art lovers, local galleries house excellent artworks year-round. The prestigious Glover Prize art exhibition is also held in Falls Park pavilion on the March long weekend each year.

Getting There

Evandale is about a 20 minute drive from Launceston (2 minutes from Launceston Airport). Parking is easy if you arrive at 10am but becomes increasingly difficult throughout the day. My tip is to arrive on time as there are not-to-be-missed events that take place early on in the day (such as the slow race). If you need to arrive later in the day, you’ll have to walk quite a distance from your car to the main entrance (the start of Logan Road, opposite Solomon Cottage).

Cost

This year, the cost was $12 per adult for entry to the Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships and children were free. This is money well spent, in my opinion! You should also bring some cash with you for food, market goodies and to tip the buskers. If you’ve forgotten to do this beforehand, there is an ATM at 5 Russel Street.

Relay Preparation, National Penny Farthing Championships
Penny Farthing Relay Preparation © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you didn’t make it to the Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships today, don’t worry! You can see the penny farthings on the road tomorrow (Sunday) as they race 20 miles from Evandale towards Perth and then back through Evandale to Clarendon Homestead. And if you’re reading this post too late even for the 20 mile race, there’s always next year! Put it in your diary.

To read about other places that I’ve visited in northern Tasmania, click here or in the Midlands, click here.