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.

Queen Victoria Museum

Traversing the Traverse Way
Queen Victoria Museum
Queen Victoria Museum © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After visiting the small but brilliant Launceston Tramway Museum, I walked virtually next door to visit a much larger museum: the Queen Victoria Museum. This is known, along with its art gallery, as the QVMAG but the art gallery is on a separate site and I didn’t visit it today. One of my relatives in Hobart says that this is the best museum in the state. I must confess that this was my first time viewing the main collection. I am impressed!

 

One of the best things about the Queen Victoria Museum is its location. The museum sits on the banks of the North Esk River and incorporates Launceston’s former railway workshop. The Blacksmith’s shop has been left seemingly as it was when it was closed, with a walkway added to preserve the site and sound effects played to transport you back to the workshop’s heyday. It is both interesting and eerie! Nearby sheds were used by painters, carpenters and so on. My favourite part is the Traverse Way, of course!

The Blacksmith Shop
The Blacksmith Shop © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Nearby the disused industrial sheds is an exhibition space. Currently, you can view Scott Gelston’s Steel Vignettes. These works are stunning! It beggars belief how he and his camera withstood the heat of the forge to produce some of the photographs. Printed on aluminium, the photographs glow like the metal they depict. The exhibitions in this space change regularly so check the QVMAG website to see what’s on when you visit.

Perception Tunnel
Perception Tunnel © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Locals love one aspect of the QVMAG dearly: The Phenomena Factory. This area contains several indoor and outdoor scientific exhibits that are highly interactive and a great deal of fun! Learn about viscosity by pumping air into tubes of liquid. Walk, in a straight line if you can, through the rotating perception tunnel. Transport tennis balls using Archimedes’ screw. Outside, there are whisper dishes, a bridge to build and a weight to move. It doesn’t matter what your age is, you’ll love it! It’s difficult to walk away from the area!

Dinosaurs!
Dinosaurs! © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

When you do manage to leave the Phenomena Factory, you’ll find a well-curated and beautifully displayed collection of artefacts. When we were there, the displays appeared to follow the design principle of less is more, to great effect. Don’t miss the exhibits in the main foyer too, such as the giant wasp’s nest. The model is not quite life-sized, according to a museum attendant, but it is very impressive none-the-less!

Preservation Ale
Preservation Ale © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Inside the main exhibition space of the Queen Victoria Museum, you’ll find a lot of treasures. Look out for the giant wombat-like dinosaur that you can touch, an exhibit on the extinct Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) with a touchable synthetic pelt and, of course, a very famous beer bottle. If you haven’t heard about Tasmania’s new Preservation Ale, birthed from the wreck of the Sydney Cove, you’d better head over to the museum and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.

Memorial Wall
Memorial Wall © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Upstairs, the exhibition space showcases Tasmania’s involvement in the Great War. It looks at many facets of the war. The most compelling parts of the exhibition are, of course, the personal stories of local families. The soundscape (not recommended for those who have served) is quite moving and the collection of banners made to welcome the soldiers home is intriguing. I enjoyed reading the list of applications for exemptions from duty, particularly the magistrate’s responses!

Getting There

Launceston Railway Workshop
Launceston Railway Workshop © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can find the museum part of the QVMAG about a fifteen-minute walk from Launceston’s CBD at the Inveresk precinct. You can park at the precinct for $3 per day. We spent about an hour and a half at the museum itself but there are other things to do at the Inveresk precinct. The museum is open from 10am – 4pm every day (except for Good Friday and Christmas Day).

Cost

Entry to the museum is free! How fabulous! This means you might have a few dollars spare for a cuppa in the carriage at the Railway Café, some Tasmanian goodies from the well-stocked Museum Gift Shop or a visit the museum’s planetarium. It is such an interesting place that you might not have time for all that though! Enjoy your visit!

To read more about my journeys in northern Tasmania, click here.

Launceston Tramway Museum

Traversing the Tramway
Launceston Tramway Museum © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

What do you do on a day when rain is imminent? Easy! You visit the museum. But which one? There are many museums of varying sizes and specialties in Tasmania. I visited two museums this weekend: one of our smallest and one of our biggest. Happily for me, they are actually almost next door to one another at the Inveresk Precinct: The Launceston Tramway Museum and the Queen Victoria Museum.

Imagine a world gone by. A world where your transport options include walking, riding a horse, driving (if you’re lucky), or catching a bus, train or tram. Like several Australian cities, Launceston had its own tram network and you can learn all about it at the tiny, fantastic Launceston Tramway Museum.

Two Trams
Two Trams © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Inside the museum, you can explore the interior of two very different trams, both of which tell the story of Launceston’s trams. You can see the glory of the restored Tram 8. It is a fine piece of craftsmanship, carefully built from local timbers such as Huon pine and blackwood. Sit inside it and imagine yourself back to the early- to mid-1900s. Behind it sits the dilapidated Tram 25. Inside this tram, you’ll learn how some of the trams have spent their retirement. They have been converted into summer houses, shacks or sheds, used as dining booths in restaurants or even turned, temporarily, into a clinic. Tram 25 was most famously a chook shed and is displayed to reflect this part of its history.

Launceston Tramway Museum
Launceston Tramway Museum © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The rest of the museum is dedicated to the stories of the twenty-nine trams. This is a great read for locals; I’ve dined in two of the trams. You can also view displays about the lives of the conductors and about why trams have curved roofs (and how this design was improved over time). Children will be happily entertained in the children’s tram (a purpose-built area). The best is yet to come though!

Your entry to the Launceston Tramway Museum includes a ride on the last of the trams: Tram 29. Beautifully restored, this tram leaves from outside the museum approximately every 45 minutes and takes you on a short journey up the line to the roundhouse (ironically, this can no longer be used as a roundhouse due to the low roof design) and then back down the line to the station (now a State Government building). Note that this grand old tram is a showpiece and it is not the same as riding the tourist tram in Melbourne! This is a whole new experience entirely.

Tram 29
Tram 29 © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Getting There

Station © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

It is easy to find the Inveresk Precinct as the QVMAG is located here too. It is about a fifteen-minute walk from Launceston’s CBD or you can park at the precinct for $3 per day. We spent about three hours at the precinct visiting the two museums and a café. Once you’re at the precinct, look for the tram tracks and follow them to Blue Café. It’s a lovely place for a cuppa and they cater well for food allergies too. Next door to the café, in two sheds, is the Launceston Tramway Museum. They open from 10am – 4pm every day except Sunday and public holidays and the tram runs from Wednesday to Saturday (by prior arrangement, it can also run on the Monday and Tuesday for groups).

Cost

Tram 29 Interior
Tram 29 Interior © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to the museum costs $5 per adult, $4.50 per senior, $2 per child and children under 6-years-old are free! The cost includes entry to the museum and a short ride on Tram 29. What a bargain! Next time you’re in Launceston, particularly if rain is forecast, enjoy a visit to the Launceston Tramway Museum and a journey on a finely crafted tram.

To read more about my journeys in northern Tasmania, click here.

Corinna

Traversing Corinna
Corinna
Corinna © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Who wouldn’t want to stay the night in a ghost town? How about one on the edge of the takayna/Tarkine? What if you could then spend the day traversing ancient rivers, forests and mountains and the evening snuggled up next to a gas heater in a pioneer-style hut? Welcome to Corinna, an ex-mining town on the north bank of the Pieman River on Tasmania’s wild West Coast.

Tarkine Hotel
Tarkine Hotel © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Corinna was established during the gold rush of the late 1800s. Here, 2500 people lived and a 7.5kg gold nugget was discovered. This is still the largest gold nugget found in Tasmania. The town had a substantial two-storey pub, which was later dismantled and moved to the south side of the river before being moved to Zeehan and, unfortunately, burnt down. The area was also logged and the wood taken back to England for use as banisters, masts, and so on. Prior to this, the Tarkiner people (hence the name Tarkine) lived here. There are still giant middens on the coast: remnants of their lives and sacred sites.

Pademelon
Pademelon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

All of the huts at Corinna (some original and some recently constructed) bear the name of a person associated with the town’s history. We stayed in Louise Lovely, named after the lady who produced and starred in the film Jewelled Nights shot partially on Tasmania’s West Coast. The town now has no permanent residents, except for a Tasmanian Devil (in the car park) and a large number of friendly pademelons.

Short Walks
Short Walks © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are plenty of things to do at Corinna. You could easily spend three full days here. I recommend planning your trip around a cruise on the Arcadia II (a longer cruise to the Pieman Heads, which you can read about here) and the Sweetwater (an hour-long cruise to the wreck of the Croydon and to Lovers Falls, which you can read about here). You could do this during a day if you can manage to book a spot on both cruises. Your other two days could be spent walking, or even kayaking. It is possible to walk from Corinna to the summit of Mount Donaldson (yes, we did that too!) or you can take a series of shorter walks around Corinna. Kayaks are available for hire from the Tarkine Hotel.

What to Bring

Kayaks at the Savage River
Kayaks at the Savage River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is untreated rainwater available at Corinna. You will also find complimentary bottled water in your fridge. I wish that I had brought my 20L drum of water with me though as the rain water tastes quite thick (that’s my best description!), even after you’ve boiled it for the required three minutes to treat it. I also wish that I had brought some insect repellent and eucalyptus spray (my preferred insect spray) as we were kept awake by mosquitoes on the second night. Even writing this is making me feel itchy!!

Replica Huts
Replica Huts © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You should also bring food. The Tarkine Hotel serves lunch and dinner (not in winter) but you do pay middle-of-nowhere prices. They can cater for dietary requirements if you book in advance. There are a few (mainly tinned) food supplies available at the “General Store” part of the Tarkine Hotel. However, you will need to provide breakfast and snacks for yourself. I’d also recommend bringing some food for bushwalking. We cooked a meal – a pasta dish – on the four-burner cook-top in our hut and enjoyed staying in to a homely meal. There are ample pans and utensils provided.

Last of all, bring warmth and a good book. You’ll have no mobile reception, so snuggle up in your slippers and travel rug and read. There are some coffee-table books on the takayna/Tarkine and Tasmania supplied. When you’re outdoors, having good shoes, waterproof clothing and appropriate layers is a must. Remember sun protection in summer and don’t forget your camera. The wilderness is breathtaking!

Getting There

Fatman Barge
Fatman Barge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can reach Corinna from several directions. Drive south from the North-West tip of Tasmania, following the unsealed Western Explorer. Alternatively, travel north from Zeehan, crossing the Pieman River via the Fatman Barge ($25 per voyage). This is an excellent way to travel as the barge is cable-driven, the only one of its kind in Tasmanian. Take note of operating hours though: 9am – 5pm during non-daylight savings hours, with hours extended to 7pm during summer.  Lastly, you could drive south from Burnie, via Waratah. This is a sealed road until you reach Savage River. From here, it’s 21kms of unsealed roads until you reach Corinna. Make sure that you fill up with petrol before you make the journey as there is no fuel available in Corinna.

Cost

Accommodation
Accommodation © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Accommodation in one of the recently constructed pioneer-style huts costs $220 per couple per night night. There are bigger huts available and also cheaper options: groups can stay in the original pub and couples can stay in the original Roadman’s Cottage. If you’re really pinching pennies (and it’s not too cold or wet), you can even camp at Corinna. Whatever option you choose, make sure that you book in advance. I happily paid for the luxury of having all the mod cons (an ensuite, lighting, a four-burner gas cook top and a lovely log-style gas heater) in the middle of nowhere. Corinna runs on solar power and a satellite phone link so enjoy your time in blissful isolation!

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.

Sweetwater

Traversing Sweetwater
Stairs
Stairs © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is a wooden staircase on the edge of the Pieman River, accessible only via a kayak or small boat. You’ll pass it on your journey on the Arcadia II and you’ll want to climb it. Well, you can do just that if you board the Sweetwater!

Sweetwater
Sweetwater © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From the dock at Corinna, climb aboard the blue boat with cushioned seats. Sit at the back, near the outboard motor. It’s noisier there, but you won’t have as much spray to contend with. Your guide will give you a brief history of the river (which is now much lower than it used to be… as in, many metres lower). You’ll also learn about the local flora. Our guide backed the boat up to the leatherwood so that we could see and smell the flowers closeup. Unbelievably, I didn’t know before my journey to Corinna that Huon Pine trees have male and female varieties, with distinct appearances. According to our guide, the male is ugly and the female looks like a gorgeous Christmas tree!

Wreck of the SS Croydon
Wreck of the SS Croydon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Eventually, you’ll reach the Savage River. The Arcadia II cruise goes past this river but the extra treat of the Sweetwater is that you are in a boat that’s small enough to enter the river and glide over the wreck of the SS Croydon. We visited the site at high tide on a rainy afternoon so we couldn’t see much. However, what we could see was impressive: the twisted metal hull of a British steamer lying where it sank on 13th May 1919. The ship was supposed to take logs back to England but it never made it.

Lovers Falls
Lovers Falls © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After viewing the wreck, you’ll travel downriver to the beautiful Lover’s Falls. This is the real highlight of the voyage: You get to walk off the back of the boat, up a set of stairs accessibly only by small watercraft, and walk on to view Lover’s Falls. The small falls that you can see from the Pieman River are nothing compared to the plunging falls that you see after a brief five minutes’ walk through the rainforest.

The walk to the falls is via duckboard covered in chicken-wire (so that you don’t slip). There are a few flights of stairs to climb but your guide is in no hurry so you can feel free to take your time. On the way, admire the large man-ferns and the towering myrtle. Once you’re at the top viewing platform, you’ll see the spectacular falls. Take note of the caves behind you.

What to bring

Cave
Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll need warm clothes, sensible shoes, a spray jacket (for if you have no choice but to sit at the front of the boat) and your camera. It’s a short journey, so even if you get a bit wet or cold, it won’t be long until you’re back in the warmth of your hut or the Tarkine Hotel.

Getting There

Rainforest
Rainforest © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Sweetwater cruises need to be booked in advance as they don’t occur every day. This is particularly true in winter. Once you’ve booked your cruise, follow my instructions for getting to Corinna from my post here. When you reach Corinna, head down to the docks (straight ahead, near the Tarkine Hotel) and hop onto the blue boat when prompted to by your friendly guide.

Cost

Myrtle
Myrtle © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

To book tickets, contact Corinna Wilderness Experience. There are only nine places available on the cruise so you’ll need to get in early during the peak tourist season. A cruise on the Sweetwater costs $30 per person. For such a unique experience in such a remote place, it is worth every dollar.

You can read more about my time in Corinna here. You can also read about my adventures on Tasmania’s West Coast here or North West here.