Shot Tower

Traversing the Tower
Shot Tower
Shot Tower © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

When my Dad was a boy, his parents took on the role of caretakers for a landmark Hobart building: the Shot Tower. He used to race his three siblings up and down the tower’s steps. Today, I walked those same steps. Located on a winding, tree-lined stretch of the Channel Highway between the suburbs of Taroona and Kingston, the shot tower is an unexpected sight. Built in 1870 by a Scotsman, Joseph Moir, the tower has an unusual history.

Inside the Tower
Inside the Tower © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Shot Tower was constructed in order to make lead shot (ammunition). Molten shot was poured through a colander from varying heights (to create different sizes of shot) into a tub of water below. The largest shot used at the time could be created by pouring molten lead from a height of 150 feet. Joseph Moir, the Shot Tower’s owner-builder, built his tower 149 feet high with landings at various heights. He used stone from a nearby abandoned convict probation station and took on many roles as part of the construction process, with the assistance of two stone masons. The tower took eight months to build. After this, Moir had to experiment with the shot-making process; his unique recipe remains unknown. The Shot Tower operated for 35 years, run by Moir or members of his family, until making shot became unaffordable. A series of caretakers have preserved the history of the tower (including members of my own family) and it is now operated by Parks and Wildlife. Why visit the Shot Tower? Three reasons: history, beauty and mathematics.

Inside the Tower
Inside the Tower © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Shot Tower was Australia’s first shot tower, is the tallest such tower in the southern hemisphere and is the only sandstone shot tower in the world that is still standing. It is well worth a photograph! Once inside the building, take the time to look at the small but intriguing display at the base of the tower. You’ll see three sewing machines for making shot bags, a cabinet containing various sizes of shot recovered from the site, an explanation of the shot-making process and Joseph Moir’s desk, among other things. Inside the tower actual, you can climb the stairs down to the base of the tower and/or climb to the top. The bricks are gorgeous; be sure to admire the structure as you walk, including the tower’s tapering walls and the views through slits in the walls.

View, Storm Bay
View Towards Storm Bay © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At the top of the tower, you’ll find one of the original cauldrons used to melt the lead before you step outside and take in the astonishing view of the Derwent River. A viewing platform allows you to walk around the tower and it’s a view that is well worth the climb! For children and for those who are just plain interested in how many steps high the tower is, count the steps is a must. I missed count on the way up as I stopped to take too many photos and I’m not convinced that I counted correctly on the way down either so you won’t be getting any stair numbers from me!

Counting Down
Counting Down © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Cost

Shot Tower Entry
Shot Tower Entry © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to the Shot Tower costs approximately $8 per adult and $4 per child. Children under 4 are free. Everyone who climbs to the top receives a souvenir sticker and you can purchase more souvenirs from the gift shop located at the base of the tower. There are tea rooms and toilets on site. The tower is open from 9am – 5pm every day of the year except for Christmas Day.

Getting There

View, Derwent River
View, Derwent River © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Drive from Hobart through Sandy Bay (on Sandy Bay Road), past the Alexander Battery, and you’ll wind your way into Taroona. It is a beautiful suburb that has embraced its history, the surrounding bushland and its river views. We stopped at The Picnic Basket, a cafe that has the honour of being the best petrol station conversion that I’ve seen yet! It’s worth a stop just to admire how they’ve zoned and decorated the site. Once you’ve had your cuppa, keep driving on the main road through Taroona and you’ll eventually see the shot tower (you can’t miss it). Enjoy standing at the top of Australia’s first shot tower and seeing one of Australia’s most beautiful views!

Yesterday, I visited the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. For more posts about Tasmania’s south, click here.

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival 2017

Traversing the Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Constitution Dock, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Constitution Dock © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Every two years, Hobart’s waterfront comes alive with tall ships, wooden sail boats, floating musicians, seafood, nautically-themed theatre, boat building displays, model ships and punters wearing hats bearing slogans such as “Ancient Mariner” (my Dad, wearing a hat that I gave him a few years ago!). The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is my favourite event on Tasmania’s festival calendar for several reasons.

The Boats

Young Endeavour, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Young Endeavour © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is something awe-inspiring about stepping aboard a beautifully crafted and lovingly restored boat, especially when she has travelled half-way around the world to be there. Today, I boarded (for free! Thank you!) the Young Endeavour, the Australian Navy’s showpiece sailing boat, and she was magnificent: decks swabbed, ropes coiled, fixtures gleaming, masts soaring into the sky. I highly recommend that you have a look at her tomorrow if you can or, if you are young enough, consider applying to be a volunteer crew member. It really would be an experience of a lifetime!

The Buzz

The Music Shed, Sullivans Cove,
The Music Shed, Sullivans Cove © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is something for everyone at The Australian Wooden Boat Festival. Old-salties sit aboard their ships, sharing stories with the neighbours. Boat builders skillfully demonstrate their craft (check out the perfectly finished boat-like folding tables near the Waterside Pavillion). Students hammer boats together, ready for the “Quick ‘n Dirty Boat Challenge” race on Sunday at Kings Pier (watch it: it is very entertaining, particularly if a boat doesn’t quite pass muster…). Children are treated to a variety of performers on Parliament House Lawns. Best of all, you can wander past the boats with a drink in one hand and an icecream in the other, looking out across the water at boats in full sail (or back through the rigging of the tall ships towards the mountain), listening to the music echoing across the water from whatever watercraft they’ve built for the band. This year, it’s a shed. Last time, it was a dingy with an in-built piano!

The Exhibits

Model Boats, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Model Boats © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I have always been fascinated by model boats, and not just the pretty ones. While there is, sadly, a much smaller model boat display at this year’s festival, my favourites are still there: the huon pine boat baby cradle, the freighter, the tugboats and the model Enterprize. This year, the model boats are located in the Waterside Pavillion. You can also board many of the tall ships (for a fee) or even sail on them (for a larger fee). Another brilliant exhibition is the Water Ways exhibit in Salamanca’s Long Gallery. You’ll find paintings of the tall ships and Tasmanian waterways, as well as sculptural pieces, all by local artists. You can vote for your favourite piece in the People’s Choice Award and can enter a raffle for an atmospheric Roger Imms painting. On the way to the Long Gallery, pop in to Nutpatch Chocolates, the iconic Kettering store with a brand new (opened three days ago!) waterfront location at the Murray Street Pier.

Cost

Tall Ships, Elizabeth St Pier, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Tall Ships, Elizabeth St Pier © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival is FREE. Excellent! You’ll need a bit of cash handy for the food stalls and for entry onto the tall ships (this is only available at certain times of the day). For more information and to download the festival program, see the the Australian Wooden Boat Festival’s website.

Getting There

Young Endeavour, Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Young Endeavour © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Australian Wooden Boat Festival is located in Hobart. The festival stretches from the Princes Wharf around to Victoria Dock and it is well worth seeing everything (wear comfortable shoes!). Parking is tricky as the Hobart Regatta takes place on the same long weekend but you can park for approximately $8 on the Regatta Grounds, for free on the Queens Domain if you don’t mind a walk or you can pay to park in a multistorey car park (if you can remember to get your car out before the car-park closes!). Once you’ve parked,  wander down to the docks and enjoy my favourite Tasmanian festival!

For more posts about Tasmania’s south, click here.

Home Hill

Home Hill Exterior
Home Hill
Home Hill © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Minister Joseph and Dame Enid Lyons were a unique couple. Joseph, the only Tasmanian to become Prime Minister of Australia, wrote a love letter to Enid as his first act as Prime Minister. He also placed all of their property in her name as he believed in equality between men and women. Their love story is told through Home Hill, the homestead built for the couple in 1916 on property that Joseph gifted to Enid.

Reclaimed Doorway, Home Hill
Reclaimed Doorway, Home Hill © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The couple lovingly crafted, adapted and furnished the property, The property is testament to their tenacity and ingenuity. As the family grew (to an eventual eleven children), they expanded the house. Enid found creative ways to block off entries, turning former doorways into display cabinets. Enid’s work decorating the homestead is astonishing.

Bedroom, Home Hill
Bedroom, Home Hill © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

She made lamp-shades, lovingly restored and upholstered furniture, and hung and hand-painted wallpaper, all with her trademark elegant and eccentric style. One of the bedrooms has been hand-painted by Dame Enid with branches to hide cracks in the wall; a tendril from an outside plant had, rather appropriately, wound its way into the room, matching the wall paper beautifully.

 

Joseph Lyons, Home Hill
Joseph Lyons, Home Hill © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Home Hill also houses the political and social memorabilia of the Lyons. Official photographs of members of the royal family, formal invitation plaques, royal crockery, a one-of-a-kind Royal Doulton figurine and the hansard files for both Joseph and Enid, who was the first woman elected to the Australian Parliament, are tastefully displayed throughout the house. It is a fascinating collection and speaks to the popularity of the couple.

Joseph Lyon's Desk, Home Hill
Joseph Lyon’s Desk, Home Hill © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Sadly, Joseph Lyons also has the honour of being the first Australian Prime Minister to die in office. He passed away at the age of 59 on Good Friday, 1939. Dame Enid Lyons’s ongoing care of Home Hill, her meticulous preservation of Joseph’s political memorabilia and her subsequent political career all honour him and speak to the couple’s unshakable love.

Getting There

Home Hill is a mere two minute drive from the centre of Devonport. Located just off the Bass Highway (heading towards Burnie) on busy Middle Road, it is no longer the secluded retreat that the Lyons once thought it. However, as you can see in the photos that you will be shown as part of the tour, it once was a good distance from the town of Devonport and it still has the airs and graces of a stately home.

Cost

Home Hill Entrance
Home Hill Entrance © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Home Hill is open for guided tours at 2pm from Wednesday to Sunday and it is best to book your place, which can be done via the National Trust’s Home Hill webpage. Tours cost $15 for adults, $10 for concession and $40 for families. Upcoming events include the very romantic Valentine’s Day drinks and nibbles, a High Tea, an Easter Egg hunt and a film night; keep an eye on Home Hill Devonport’s Facebook page for more details. Enjoy your visit to a truly one-of-a-kind property, crafted by a remarkable couple.

For more posts about Tasmania’s north-west, click here.

Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory

The Conservatory, Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory
Grand Piano, Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory
Grand Piano, Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Built to house a local gentleman’s beloved grand piano, the conservatory next to the Parramatta Creek Rest Area has always been enigmatic. I have been meaning to stop there for quite some time, on the advice of a friend, to visit what is now The Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory. I’m glad that we did.

The building is spectacular, as is the grand piano inside it. The interior of the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory is generously filled with pot plants, rustic wooden tables and Tasmanian produce. When we arrived, it was also packed full of happy customers.

Mains, Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory
Mains, Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Our meals were sensational. It is clear that using local produce is a priority, as is friendly, efficient service. Although we were pressed for time before heading to Home Hill, we were able to enjoy a main and a drink. I had the pork belly with Vietnamese noodles and I highly recommend it. There are options for those with dietary requirements, including several gluten-free desserts.

Getting There

Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory
Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory is located 15 minutes from Devonport and 50 minutes from Launceston, just off the Bass Highway at Sassafras. Look for blue road signs for Parramatta Creek Rest Area. If you are travelling from Devonport, you’ll see the conservatory but it’s harder to spot when travelling from Launceston due to the trees. The Parramatta Creek Rest Area consists of a car park, amenities block and BBQ area (including sheltered tables)  surrounded by stately trees. There is also further parking at the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory.

Cost

Parramatta Creek Rest Area
Parramatta Creek Rest Area © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Main meals at the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory cost approximately $25+ for lunch and the conservatory is open Tuesday – Sunday from 9am to 4pm. I recommend making a booking; we were very lucky to get a table inside (due to a cancellation). For up to date information about the Tasmanian Food and Wine Conservatory, see their Facebook page. If you don’t want to buy lunch, you could have a picnic at the Parramatta Creek Rest Area before stopping for a drink at the conservatory; it’s well worth seeing the interior of the building (and the piano).

On the same day, I visited Home Hill for the very first time! For other posts about Tasmania’s north-west, click here.

Franklin House

Traversing Tasmania - Franklin House
Franklin House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My Nanna, a former National Trust member, would be proud of me. Today, I visited the place where the National Trust in Tasmania was formed and still has its headquarters today: Franklin House. The National Trust in Tasmania was formed in order to save Franklin House in 1960; redemption is a common theme in the history of the house.

Upstairs, Franklin House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Franklin House was built by convicts in 1838 for a former convict, Britton Jones, who had been sentenced to Tasmania for stealing a large quantity of lead! It is quite incredible that a former convict was able to afford to build such a beautiful house, particularly as it wasn’t his principal residence. Jones planned Franklin House as a “Gentleman’s Residence” (that is, he did not build it for his family). It was rented out for a time and then, in 1842, Franklin House became a renowned school, the Classical and Commercial School, run by Mr. Hawkes, for which the house is most famous.

Charles II’s Chest © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Set to be destroyed in 1960, the house itself was redeemed by the National Trust in Tasmania (which was formed solely to save the property). Franklin House is a double-story house with adjoining school room and kitchens. It has some unique features, such as a folding door (with doors inserted in its panels!) as a partition in the large upstairs room. The National Trust have also furnished Franklin House with a variety of interesting objects. Due to its string of owners, the furniture is not original, however, you will see some stunning pieces such as a curved cupboard for curing bacon, a trunk owned by Charles II and a long case clock made by another former convict, James Oatley (who has a Sydney suburb named after him).

Getting There

Mile Stone, Franklin House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Franklin House is located in Franklin Village (a part of what is today the suburb of Youngtown), about 10 minutes south of Launceston, on Hobart Road, the former highway between Hobart and Launceston. There is ample on-site parking, as well as street parking nearby (if you’re there on a very busy day).

Franklin House is open from 9am – 4pm from Monday to Saturday (except some public holidays) and is open until 5pm in the summer. It is also open on Sunday afternoons from 12noon – 4pm. For up-to-date information on pricing and opening hours, see the National Trust’s website.

Cost

Gardens, Franklin House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to the house (for a self-guided tour and a brief introduction by a National Trust volunteer) is $10 for adults, $8 concession and $5 for children. National Trust members are entitled to free entry. A lot of hard work has been put into restoring the house and grounds and nothing comes free; I also recommend bringing some loose change to donate towards having the fabulous wedding gown displayed upstairs restored. The gift shop has some unique Tasmanian items (such as Huon Pine soap and aftershave) and is well worth a look. There are tearooms and toilets on site and the gardens are just beautiful. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the atmosphere of yesteryear. I take my hat off to you Nanna: history is worth preserving.

For more posts about Tasmania’s north, click here.

Mole Creek Caves

Traversing Tasmania, Mole Creek Caves
King Solomons Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

How do you cool off on a hot summer’s day? Go to a place where the temperature is a cool 9°C year-round, that’s what. A place where straws, stalactites and glow worms are suspended above your head and where calcite crystals have grown in the dark over many, many years. Mole Creek Caves provided a magnificent refuge today, but our visit involved much more than just escaping the sun!

Mole Creek Caves

Both King Solomons Cave and Marakoopa Cave were discovered in 1906, King Solomons by two men chasing an unlucky wallaby and Marakoopa by two boys. A few years later, both caves were open to the public for tours. You can still see the oil burner used to light King Solomons Cave (which has left its inevitable and unfortunate mark on the crystals).

Stalactites, King Solomons Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

King Solomons Cave is a compact gem. When our guide turned on the lights, looking up to see the stalactites pictured was a breathtaking experience! King Solomons Cave contains a variety of magnificent calcite crystal formations, winding passageways and a stunning larger chamber, in which you can see the original entrance to the cave and the oil burner. We were even able to see a Tasmanian Cave Spider (a very intriguing creature!).

Marakoopa Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Marakoopa Cave is a much larger cave and has two tours, both of which include seeing the beautiful glow worms (these are found only in the Eastern states of Australia and in New Zealand). The first Marakoopa Cave tour takes you to its underground rivers and the second takes you up to the “Cathedral” formations. We took the second tour, which requires a higher fitness level due to having to climb a large number of stairs. We passed several magnificent flow stones, a swinging pendulite (perhaps the only one in the world!) and several magnificent shields, all lit up by the brand new lighting system (replaced due to recent flooding). We saw glow worms in almost every chamber of the cave. Five glow worms had even arranged themselves in the shape of the Southern Cross, a very patriotic move on Australia Day!

Getting There

Mole Creek Karst National Park © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The drive to Mole Creek Caves is an amazing experience in and of itself. Driving along the Bass Highway from either Devonport or Launceston takes you past several excellent food establishments and gives you a fabulous view of the Great Western Tiers. This view only improves as you drive along the B12 road to Mole Creek, passing boulder-strewn paddocks that are nestled up against the mountains. Both caves are located in the Mole Creek Karst National Park and both have fern glade walks near their entries (these are short but well worth doing). The turn off to Marapooka Cave and the main ticket office appears first and is clearly signposted. If you follow the B12 a little further, King Solomons Cave is the first turn to the right.

Cost

Marakoopa Cave © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tickets can be purchased from the ticket office near Marakoopa Cave or, via card only, from King Solomons Cave and you do not need a Parks Pass if you purchase a cave tour ticket. The cost for cave tours is currently $19 per adult ($15.50 concession) and $9.50 per child for one cave tour. See Parks and Wildlife for more information about prices. The cost is well worth it. Facilities have recently been updated (note that the toilets at Marakoopa Cave are now located at the ticket office, which is 500m from the cave) and the caves are such a unique experience! Further to this, extensive work has recently been done due to major flooding (Marakoopa Cave was closed for approximately six months). So, escape from the sun in summer and the wind in winter by going underground!

For more posts about Tasmania’s north, click here.