Richmond Gaol

Traversing Richmond Gaol
Richmond Gaol
Richmond Gaol © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Shutter Drawings
Shutter Drawings © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Leg Irons
Leg Irons © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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?

Solitary Confinement
Solitary Confinement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Getting There

Airing Yard
Airing Yard © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Cost

Almond Tree
Almond Tree © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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

Traversing Richmond Bridge
Richmond Bridge
Richmond Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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).

Coal River
Coal River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Richmond Bakery
Richmond Bakery © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Richmond Lolly Shop
Richmond Lolly Shop © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Getting There

Richmond
Richmond © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Cost

Richmond Bridge
Richmond Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Cape Queen Elizabeth

Traversing Cape Queen Elizabeth

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!

Big Lagoon
Big Lagoon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Rock Formations at Mars Bluff
Rock Formations at Mars Bluff © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Mars Bluff Cave
Mars Bluff Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017
Arch on Bruny Island
Arch on Bruny Island © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

View from Cape Queen Elizabeth
View from Cape Queen Elizabeth © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Mutton Bird Rookery
Mutton Bird Rookery © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

View from Cape Queen Elizabeth
View from Cape Queen Elizabeth © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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

View of Tasman Peninsula
View of Tasman Peninsula © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Getting There

Cape Queen Elizabeth
Cape Queen Elizabeth © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Cost

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.

The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground

Traversing Neck Beach

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.

Sunrise
Sunrise © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

View from The Neck Lookout to Cape Queen Elizabeth
View from The Neck Lookout to Cape Queen Elizabeth © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Facilities

The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground
The Neck Game Reserve Camp Ground © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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!).

Day Use Area
Day Use Area © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Getting There

View of Neck Beach
View of Neck Beach © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Cost

Paddling with Birds
Paddling with Birds © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

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.

Bruny Island

Traversing Bruny Island

Bruny Island lies off the coast of Southern Tasmania, about half an hour’s drive south of Hobart. It is roughly 100 kilometres long and boasts some of Tasmania’s finest produce, wilderness and attractions.

View from The Neck
View from The Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The island is divided into two halves: North Bruny and South Bruny. The ferry from Kettering (mainland Tasmania) arrives at Roberts Point on North Bruny. There are small settlements at the beautiful Dennes Point and Barnes Bay (follow signs from the ferry terminal). If you keep driving south, you’ll end up at the cheese factory, oyster bar and scenic flight base. Once you’ve passed these places, you will arrive at a thin strip of land joining North and South Bruny: The Neck.

The Neck
The Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It is worth stopping at The Neck, even if you’ve been to Bruny Island before. Climb the wooden stairs and see the ever-changing view of Bruny. You should also read the information about the original inhabitants of Bruny Island such as Truganini. If you are at The Neck at dusk, stop and watch the penguins emerging from the water. Take a red-light torch for optimal viewing without disturbing the penguins too much and make sure that you keep to the paths rather than damaging the penguins’ burrows.

Adventure Bay
Adventure Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Heading south from The Neck, you have choices! You could turn left to Adventure Bay. This is a beautiful, sweeping bay with stellar views, a caravan park and a nice little café (The Penguin). You can also catch a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys’ Bruny Island Cruises tour from Adventure Bay (read about my experience here) or you can walk to the ruins of the whaling station at Grass Point. There is a general store with an ATM at Adventure Bay.

Cloudy Bay Lagoon
Cloudy Bay Lagoon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If, instead, you turn left after The Neck, you’ll find your way to Alonnah and Lunawunna. lunawunna allonnah is the Aboriginal name for Bruny Island. At Alonnah, Hotel Bruny has a lovely view and serves a fine meal, happily catering for dietary requirements upon request. There is also a general store and History Room at Alonnah. After driving through Lunawunna, you have two choices. You can turn left towards Cloudy Bay for excellent camping and surfing, as well as access to South Bruny National Park. Or, you can turn right towards Cape Bruny Lighthouse (you can read about my experiences here), as well as access to another part of South Bruny National Park.

Barnes Bay
Barnes Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Wherever you choose to be on Bruny, you can expect good food, superb scenery and space to relax. Make sure that you check opening hours as some places vary their hours seasonally. Take a good book, a bit of cash, a full tank of petrol and clothes for all seasons and you’ll have a lovely time.

Getting There

Mirambeena
Mirambeena © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you have a car, simply take the vehicle ferry from Kettering. The current timetable is available here; make sure that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled departure and that you bring cash or a payWave capable card (EFTPOS or credit cards requiring pins/signatures cannnot be used). While petrol is available at some locations on Bruny, fill your car up before you venture over for maximum relaxation time. Hire cars can be problematic. Some hire car companies won’t allow you to drive their vehicles on Bruny Island due to the amount of dirt roads and consequent traffic incidents involving inexperienced drivers. Your GPS system may also cut out as phone reception has “black spots” on Bruny Island. Everything is well sign-posted though. If you’d prefer not to take a car onto Bruny, book a tour with one of the local companies.

Cost

Bruny Island's southern tip
Bruny Island’s southern tip © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Getting to Bruny currently costs $33 per car (prices are seasonal and dependent on vehicle size; click here for current rates). Food, supplies, fuel etc. are all reasonably priced, considering that you’re on a small island, but accommodation can be a bit expensive. You’re paying for the privilege of staying on Bruny. It’s a unique, unforgettable island and is well worth a visit… and another visit… and another…

To read more about my travels in Tasmania’s south, click here.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse

Traversing Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Cape Bruny
Cape Bruny © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cape Bruny Lighthouse is a sturdy yet elegant lighthouse. Due to being made from sterner stuff than other historic lighthouses, it now boasts being the second oldest original lighthouse in Australia. It was Australia’s fourth lighthouse at its time of lighting in 1838. Constructed by convicts from local dolerite, the lighthouse took just 18 months to build. The three keepers cottages still sit below it, as does a graveyard, the ruins of a convict vegetable garden and some of the best scenery in the world.

Cape Bruny Lighthouse
Cape Bruny Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cape Bruny Lighthouse is a monument to times gone by. Now replaced by an automated light on the tip of the cape, the old lighthouse was recently restored internally and opened to the public for tours. You can book a tour online or at the base of the lighthouse on the day. Tours go up the tower every half hour. We had a private tour, which was lovely. The guide was friendly and knowledgeable. His boss grew up in various lighthouses around the state as the child of one of Tasmania’s last lighthouse keepers.

Fresnel prism
Fresnel prism © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Inside, you’ll find a beautiful metal spiral staircase, the original Fresnel prism, kerosene vents, the weight system used for keeping the light revolving and a working phone to the keeper’s cottage. You end up circling the lighthouse on its balcony. We saw a wedge-tail eagle from above (they have a stunning pattern on their wings which you can’t see from the ground). It is breathtaking to view the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, the Southern Ocean and the southern tip of Bruny Island from above.

Cape Bruny
Cape Bruny © emily@traversingtasmania 2017
The Lighthouse Station
The Lighthouse Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Once you are on the ground again, enter the museum for a glimpse of the machinery that made it all happen. The museum also houses artefacts found on site (ceramics, name plates, etc.). From the left-hand side of the Number 1 Keepers Cottage, take a walk down to the beach, past a small graveyard and the ruins of a convict garden. The Tasmanian flora in South Bruny National Park is magnificent. Watch out for my least favourite of all Tasmanian fauna: the Tasmanian Tiger snake. If you do come across one, make a decision to run or stand very still and make sure that you commit to your decision 100% as half-doing either option is not worth it!

Getting There

Convict Garden
Convict Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To get to Bruny Island, follow the advice in my Bruny Island post. Drive south from Alonnah, turning right at the T-junction near Lunawanna. Follow signs for Cape Bruny Lighthouse. The road is primarily gravel and is quite rough. There are two scenic lookouts on the way; stop at both. There is parking at the lighthouse although it is only a small carpark so you may have to park alongside the road – don’t block the driveways to the keepers cottages as two of these contain residents (the third is the museum).

Cost

View from the Lighthouse
View from the Lighthouse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tours up the lighthouse (highly recommended!) are $10 per adult, $7.50 per child or $35 per family (not suitable for children under 5 years old).  You can book your tickets online here. This is recommended as tours can book out because they are for only eight people at a time. If you do book online, keep your booking number to quote for the guide. For those who arrive at Cape Bruny Lighthouse without a booking, it is worth the half hour wait. The views from the lighthouse are spectacular.

To read more about my travels in Tasmania’s south, click here.