Two fortifications that once guarded the Derwent River sit as reminders of times gone by. Both are excellent places to visit for a dose of history, exploration and stunning scenery. On the eastern shore is Kangaroo Bluff Battery. Opposite it is Alexandra Battery. I remember vividly when I first explored its ruins.
I’ve always been fascinated by tunnels, hidden passageways and fortresses. Alexandra Battery is small but impressive. As a child, I relished racing around inside its towering rock walls, darkened rooms and long passageway up the hillside. While I was there this week, a father was teaching his children about the ships that used to sail up the river and the need for large cannons to defend Hobart Town. I know why his children were so excited!
In addition to its appeal to adventurers, young and old, the reserve is a fantastic place to take a photograph and relax. The view is sensational. From the top of the reserve, you can see up river to the Tasman Bridge and down river to Opossum Bay. Take a moment to sit and drink it all in. You can even have beautiful wedding photos taken here, like my brother- and sister-in-law did.
The fortress is part of a larger network of batteries that was designed to protect Hobart Town. Built in 1871, the battery is a barbette battcry (cannons fire over parapets). These round areas are fascinating. Incredibly, Alexandra Battery was constructed in a hurry due to fears that Russian forces would invade! You can find more details in this 1922 article from The Mercury.
Alexandra Battery is approximately 15 minutes’ drive from Hobart CBD along Sandy Bay Road. After you have passed Nutgrove Beach, the road climbs up. Shortly after this, turn right onto Churchill Avenue to use the reserve’s car park. If you prefer, you can park on Sandy Bay Road and access the reserve from below the fortifications.
Access to the reserve is free and it is open night and day, year-round. Take a picnic lunch, a sturdy pair of shoes and a camera and enjoy a slice of old Hobart Town’s history.
While you’re in the area, why not visit The Shot Tower? My grandparents used to be caretakers there. To read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s south, click here.
Rainy day in Hobart? Head to the cinema! I’m not talking about the place where you fight through queues to purchases tickets and prepackaged goodies, all the while wondering why the carpet is so sticky. I’m talking about a REAL cinema: The State Cinema. Today, we saw The Zoo Keeper’s Wife, a film about the Warsaw Zoo during World War II, starring the gutsy heroine of Zero Dark Thirty. I highly recommend the film and I highly recommend the cinema.
The State Cinema in Hobart is indeed very stately. The building itself is a work of art, with a beautiful glass wing joining the original cinema with the sandstone bookshop next door. It houses a large café, a bar, ten cinemas – one a summer roof-top cinema – and a bookshop. Ride the glass elevator to the downstairs cinema or up to the second floor of the café. The café has a lovely view of a deciduous tree and, if you know where to look, Hobart’s eastern shore. If you’re sitting with an inside view instead, this isn’t a problem as the building itself is just gorgeous and contains several pieces of intriguing film memorabilia.
How delightful it is to order a drink and take it with you, in its original glass or cup, into the cinema. You can also take food in, on a proper plate. This reduces waste and increases your sense of dignity! The chairs are comfortable (one cinema contains only couches, for example), the cinemas are small and there are only a few advertisements before the main feature. Bliss! The book shop is well stocked and contains several interesting film-related titles. The café caters for dietary requirements and the food is delicious!
The State Cinema has been part of the city’s social scene from 1913. It specialises in high-quality international films and hosts several festivals each year, such as its recent Spanish film festival. It is well-located near the eateries of North Hobart, giving you a lot of choice for a meal before or after.
North Hobart is about 5 minutes’ drive and about 20 minutes’ walk from Hobart’s CBD. Follow Elizabeth Street through North Hobart and you’ll see the cinema on the right. Parking is a bit of a pain as there is primarily street parking. Walking or catching a bus is a good option. If you need to drive, leave yourself plenty of time for parking.
Tickets to a session at the State Cinema cost $19.50 for adults, $17.50 for concession and $15.50 for children and seniors. There is a $2.50 surcharge for 3D movies and ticket prices may vary for special events. Discounted prices apply on Tuesdays and multi-passes are available. Included in the cost of your ticket is a very comfortable chair, a guarantee (leave within the first 20 minutes of a film starting and you’ll get your money back), a glimpse into Hobart’s film history and a quietly elegant atmosphere.
For more posts on places I’ve visited in Tasmania’s south, click here.
I visited the Richmond Gaol as a child and all I remember are the dark, musty solitary confinement cells. What a surprise I got on my return visit today! Richmond Gaol is a beautiful, albeit sad, place. The almond tree in the courtyard, the sandstone bricks and the sparse but effective displays of artefacts are all stunning. The deciduous trees, in their Autumn colours, only added to this beauty.
The gaol buildings hold many treasures. Look for pictures drawn on the window shutters by convicts and for a pair of boots underneath the floorboards. There are also lists of convicts held who have been held at the gaol. You can check if one of your ancestors was imprisoned there, if you know your family tree.
I was surprised by how well presented and interactive the displays at Richmond Gaol are. You can shut yourself into a solitary cell, feel the weight of the leg irons and hear the voices of the convicts. There’s even a model of the gaol to view. You’ll learn about the personal stories of several of the staff and inmates. Read about the exploits of bushrangers, convicts, escapists and the gaolers. Who knew that a gaoler could end up imprisoned inside his own gaol?
The Richmond Gaol was an essential part of the convict system under Governor Arthur, particularly as a “half way” point between Hobart and Port Arthur. It was built between 1825 and 1840, with extensions added to stop overcrowding and escape attempts. You’ll learn about the gaol’s famous prisoners such as the hangman, Solomon Bleay, and the criminal Isaac “Ikey” Solomons, who is supposedly the inspiration for Dicken’s character Faigan in Oliver Twist.
Follow my directions to Richmond in my general post about Richmond. Once you’re in Richmond, park in the carpark on the edge of the village green or at the front of the gaol. If you’re walking, find the village green and walk across it to the gaol. The site is open from 9am – 5pm every day.
Admission to the Richmond Gaol is $9 for adults, $4 for children and $22 for families. Tours are self-guided. Short of time? You can enter the gift shop without paying for admission to the gaol. It is well stocked with Tasmanian gifts, including a storybook for children about convicts and my favourite Tasmanian Devil oven mitts! You’ll understand what I mean when you see them! You can also purchase a certificate for $2.95 as a memento of your visit.
Read more posts about Richmond here or read more about Tasmania’s south here.
Richmond is a charming historic village in the south of Tasmania. It is particularly beautiful in autumn, when its many deciduous trees transform into living artworks. The locals love to wander its streets, picnic on the banks of the river and feed the ducks. Except, of course, when the ducks and a giant goose surround you and demand more bread than you want to give them! (Vegetable scraps are better for the ducks than bread if you’re planning to give them a treat).
Richmond has a rich history. You can walk across and underneath its 1823 convict-built bridge (do be careful as the bridge is used frequently by traffic). Its gaol, built from 1825 – 1840, is a very interesting place to visit (read about my experience here). I attended a wedding in St Lukes church, many years ago. It is recognisable by its distinct clock face. It seems that every café, gift shop and gallery is in a historic building. It’s a lovely atmosphere.
The appeal of Richmond lies in both its history and its food. The historic Richmond Bakery is a popular place to have a hearty breakfast or lunch. The Richmond Lolly Shop has been a local institution for as long as I can remember and is now a larger, modern version of its former self. Newer establishments are making their mark too, such as the scrumptious Czegs Café. When we visited, a special session of the local market was on for Mother’s Day, which was lovely! Usually, the market is open from 9am – 3pm on Saturdays only. There are many wineries to visit in the Coal River valley, in which the village is situated.
Some people visit Richmond just to shop. You’ll find wooden crafts, art galleries, gift shops and lots and lots of Tasmanian goodies. When you’re tired of shopping, you can visit the model village of Old Hobart Town or just sit on the grassed green or riverbank and soak in your surroundings. If you want to stay overnight in Richmond, you have the choice of several historic cottages.
Richmond is approximately 25 minutes’ drive from Hobart CBD. From Hobart, drive towards Cambridge (follow signs for the airport). Once you’re in Cambridge, you’ll follow signs for Richmond. Keep driving for about 10 – 15 minutes and you’ll arrive in the village! If you can’t find parking in/near the village centre, cross the bridge and turn left. You should find a space there. Allow for extra travel time to Richmond as there are many excellent attractions to visit on the way. The village is in full swing seven days a week. The hours of individual businesses vary but major attractions, such as the Richmond Gaol, Bakery and Lolly Shop, are open seven days a week.
You can spend as little or as much as you like on a visit to Richmond. Attractions and purchases obviously attract fees but wandering along the riverbank, taking fabulous photos and using the picnic facilities (including gas barbecues) can all be done for free. There is no charge for parking which is also appealing! As a child, highlights were feeding the ducks, playing with my family by the riverbanks and walking under and over the bridge. As an adult, I enjoyed the scenery and the history (but I still walked under the bridge!). It is a beautiful place to visit!
Read more posts about Richmond here or read more about Tasmania’s south here.
While camping on Bruny Island, which you can read about here, we went for a bushwalk. Our destination was Cape Queen Elizabeth and I wasn’t sure what to expect. By chance, we timed our walk at low tide which turned out to be a very good thing!
The walk to Cape Queen Elizabeth begins with a car park and a 4WD track. Although it’s not the most scenic part of the walk, do take the time to admire the flora. It’s beautiful! The 4WD track takes you past the aptly named Big Lagoon which is, well, big! It’s also visible from the tip of Cape Queen Elizabeth so be sure to look out for it. After big lagoon, you’ll continue down the track for a few hundred metres before having a choice to make: beach or bluff? You can only make it across the beach during low tide. We had a quick look at this website to see if it was low tide in Adventure Bay and fortunately it was! We took the walk along the beach.
If you can’t quite manage the whole 3 – 4 hour walk to the point of Cape Queen Elizabeth, a good second would be to at least make it to Mars Bluff via Neck Beach at low tide. The rock formations are exceptionally beautiful from the beach! You’ll also have views of Cape Queen Elizabeth from the beach, framed by towering cliffs. Round the first cliff and you’ll find a crevice to explore. This takes you through to another beach. There are caves to explore here, including one that is uniquely rectangular! The water reaches into these caves at high tide so please make sure that you’re well out of the way by then. Rock formations can collapse at any time and you do explore these areas at your own risk.
Another highlight of Mars Bluff, which you’ll find around the next cliff, is the arch. I walked past it without even noticing it at first as it is so huge! It is an imposing natural structure. My husband climbed on top of it. I was content just to walk through it and photograph it! Make sure that you time your walk to coincide with low tide as the arch is unique and worth making the extra effort to see.
From the arch, walk to Miles Beach. I didn’t know this at the time, but there is a fisherman’s shack to be seen in the dunes at the eastern end of the beach. While at the eastern end of Miles Beach, take note of the location of a white pole. This is where you’ll need to go if the tide is too high for you to return via the shore. When we walked across it, Miles Beach was littered with crab shells and the sand had been shaped into intriguing patterns by the wind and waves. At the end of Miles Beach, there is another white pole, signalling the start of the walking track to Cape Queen Elizabeth.
The walking track again leads you through native flora. This time, you’ll see stunning white gums, stands of tea-tree and a mutton bird (short-tailed shearwater) rookery. Make sure that you stay on the track and take your rubbish with you to protect the birds. When you reach a fork in the path, take the left turn (an arrow made from rocks is on the ground to guide you). This takes you up to the tip of Cape Queen Elizabeth.
There are two main vantage points. The lower one affords stunning views of Adventure Bay and Fluted Cape. The higher vantage point gives you views of the rest of Cape Queen Elizabeth, down into a crevasse (take care), and on to the shadowy forms of what must be the Tasman Peninsula!
What to Bring
As it’s a 3 – 4 Hour walk, you will need to carry at least a litre of water per person, food, sunscreen, a hat, a basic first-aid kit and good walking shoes. From experience, I recommend wearing thick socks and/or bandaging your feet to prevent blisters with newer shoes. I also recommend wearing layers for warmth and taking waterproof gear if rain is forecast. Finally, remember your camera to take some amazing photos! It’s also handy to have your phone with you. I used mine to check tide times and a map of the track on the go.
For directions to Bruny Island, see my instructions at the bottom of my general post about Bruny Island here. Once you’re on Bruny, head south towards The Neck (follow signs from the ferry for Alonnah and Adventure Bay). Before you reach The Neck, you’ll see Bruny Island Honey on the right. Directly opposite this is the car park for the Cape Queen Elizabeth Walking Track. You know you’ve gone too far if you pass the airstrip.
There is no cost to walk the Cape Queen Elizabeth Walking Track. Make sure that you take care of the track by taking any rubbish that you see out with you.
To read more of my posts about Bruny Island, click here. For posts about southern Tasmania, click here.
This week, we camped with a friend on Bruny Island at The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground. We had three days of unseasonably warm weather. The sky was gorgeous, bird-life was plentiful and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore lulled us to sleep.
There’s something wonderful about waking up to bird-calls and sunlight shining through trees. There’s something even more wonderful about strolling down to the beach, watching the sun rise higher and joining the short-tailed shearwaters paddling in the shallows. The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground is right next to Neck Beach, with just the dunes separating the two areas. It is a spectacular piece of coastline.
We arrived at the camp ground at about 2pm. After we had set up camp, we walked back to The Neck Lookout. We dawdled, taking photographs, admiring the birds, and even stopping for a rest, and it took us about an hour and a half to get there. The Neck Lookout is unique as it is a rookery for both mutton birds (short-tailed shearwaters) and penguins. We could hear the penguins but it became too dark to see them (and we had a long walk back to the campsite). Next time, I’ll take a red-light torch (or even just a piece of red cellophane to put over a standard torch) so that I can see them at night! Make sure that you take care of the penguins by staying on the paths, taking all rubbish with you and not shining bright lights (including camera flashes) in their eyes.
The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground has about thirty unpowered sites. When we were there, we shared the camp ground with caravans, campervans, 4WDs with pods on top, and even a cyclist with a tiny tent who was cycling the 60kms to Hobart the next day. It was a nice atmosphere and everyone was very respectful (toilet lid down, quiet at night, sleep-in in the morning… marvellous!).
Two pit toilets are available for use in two different locations. This means that the toilets are within easy reach of most sites. When we arrived, there was no running water but water was available the next day. To drink this untreated water, you’ll need to boil it for three minutes at a rolling boil. We brought our own drinking water and just used the water there for washing up. There are two picnic tables and a fireplace for day use. Camp fires are allowed at your site too, although you’ll need to bring your own firewood. I recommend also bringing your own fold up chairs, table and cooker to make cooking and eating at your site that bit more enjoyable.
For instructions on getting to Bruny Island, read my post about the island here. Once you’re on Bruny, head south towards The Neck. Follow signs from the ferry for Alonnah and Adventure Bay. Once you’ve passed The Neck Lookout, you’re close! A few kilometres down the road, you’ll see blue signs to The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground on the left.
Camping at The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground costs $10 per site (for two adults) and $5 for each extra adult. We paid $30 for two nights which is an absolute bargain considering the scenery! For up to date prices, see Parks and Wildlife’s information here. Sites are not able to be booked in advance and you will need cash (and a pen) in order to pay the fees via the self-registration box at the camp ground.
To read more of my posts about Bruny Island, click here. For posts about southern Tasmania, click here.