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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.