Convict Farm Walk

Traversing the Convict Farm Walk
Suspension Bridge
Suspension Bridge © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Last weekend, we did the Convict Farm Walk between Woolmers and Brickendon estates in Longford. At 45 minutes one way, it’s a relatively short walk through fields with some interesting sights along the way. Being able to walk between the two estates was a treat as I really like both of them.

View from Woolmers
View from Woolmers © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

We set out from Woolmers, out the back gate of the Main House, following signs for the Convict Farm Walk. Here, you’ll have sweeping views of the plains below and the mountains in the distance. You can see Brickendon Farm Village below as a small cluster of buildings. Even if you don’t have time to do the walk, stand on the hillside and take in the view!

Pump House
Pump House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At the bottom of the hill, you’ll reach and river and the suspension bridge that spans it. This is open from 9am – 5pm daily. You won’t be able to bring prams, wheelchairs, etc. over the bridge as it is very narrow. It was a lot of fun to walk across its two spans, swinging above the water. Look up and down the river as there are some great views to be had of the pump house from the bridge.

Through the fields
Through the fields © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From here, it’s about two and a half kilometres to Brickendon. You’ll pass a clay pit (now grassed over) and interpretive signs about the lives and work of the convicts. Take in the views of the Great Western Tiers to your left and the mountains (Ben Lomond, Mount Barrow, etc.) to your right. Walking through wheat stalks and watching the farm in operation was also intriguing. We passed a field of sheep bleating a constant chorus of “maaaaaa!!!” It is an amusing experience to be under surveillance by sheep!!

Jetty
Jetty © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Take the five-minute detour to the jetty. There’s a lot of serenity with the pump going… watch The Castle if you don’t know what I mean! It is a lovely feeling to be by the water though, watching it flowing past on its way to Longford. From here, it’s a short stroll to Brickendon Farm Village.

Lambs!
Lambs! © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At Brickendon Farm Village, you’ll find photogenic historic buildings and a whole lot of animals! We said hello to a white horse, large cows, turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, a pig and, best of all, Spring lambs!!! They were just gorgeous! It took us a long time to leave! One of the staff members spent some time with us, introducing us to the lambs, which was lovely. From the Farm, you can walk on to the homestead at Brickendon (which is a private residence) and surrounding gardens. We chose to head back to Woolmers.

What to Bring

Woolmers Estate
Woolmers Estate © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll need good walking shoes as, between the two estates and the walk, you’ll spend 3+ hours on your feet. The suspension bridge would also be difficult to cross in inappropriate footwear. Depending on the season, you’ll also need sun protection and/or waterproof clothing. Carry basic first aid supplies, a little bit of food and plenty of water with you. There is a café at Woolmers to relax in and plenty of places to sit down at both ends of the walk.

Getting There

Convict Farm Walk from Brickendon
Convict Farm Walk from Brickendon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You can begin the Convict Farm Walk at either estate. Both are about a two-minute drive out of Longford or you can turn into Woolmers Lane directly from the Midlands Highway. You’ll find ample free, all-day parking at both sites. Ask staff at reception for directions to the start of the track.

Cost

White Horse
White Horse © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you just wanted to do the Convict Farm Walk, and not look at either site, you could probably do the walk for free. I paid for a self-guided tour of the historic sites at both ends as I like to support local enterprises. Both are worth having a good look around, even if you’ve been before, as they are quite different in each season. Make sure that you tell the receptionist at the second site that you have come from the first as you’ll then get a discount. It cost us $24 per adult to visit both sites and do the Convict Farm Walk, which I think is very reasonable!

Enjoy your time at Woolmers and Brickendon! I’ve visited several places in Tasmania’s nearby midlands, north and central highlands if you’re interested in more ideas for your own adventures.

Woolmers Estate

Traversing Woolmers Estate
Verandah
Verandah © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If I could sit all day on the verandah beneath the wisteria at Woolmers Estate, I would. Winter is an excellent time to visit as the purple of the wisteria contrasts beautifully with the house. I thought that I had missed out this year but I managed to see a tiny patch of wisteria on the last weekend in Spring!

National Rose Garden
National Rose Garden © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Also in bloom in Spring are the roses. Woolmers Estate is home to the magnificent National Rose Garden. If you don’t yet know your David Austins from your… well… other roses, you’ll find that a rose has many names and not all smell as sweet! The vast collection deserves a good half-hour stroll through. Old and young alike will also enjoy finding the flash of orange in the pond at the bottom of the garden.

The Wool Shed and the Cider Shed
The Wool Shed and the Cider Shed © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Woolmers Estate is a fabulous place to visit at any time of the year. Even if the flowers aren’t blooming, you could spend many hours exploring the grounds and historic buildings. These include the Blacksmith’s Shop, Stables and Servants’ Kitchen (now a café). You can even stay in some of the historic buildings. My favourite building is the picturesque Wool Shed. Treasures I’ve found around the property are the turret-like smoking room in the garden, a “twin thunder box” in the garden wall, a tiny vintage car and the wine cellar. Soon, Woolmers will also boast a first-rate function centre and restaurant.

Servants' Kitchen
Servants’ Kitchen © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Convict Site, Woolmers was once the home of six generations of Thomas Archer. Established in approximately 1817, the buildings show the fullness of the lives of the Archers. You’ll learn about their innovation, successes (one played golf in the Australian Open) and tragedies. Unlike nearby Brickendon, which was founded by Thomas Archer I’s brother, William, Woolmers is no longer a working farm. This is because Thomas Archer VI was a recluse who had no children, leaving the property as a time-capsule for future generations to enjoy. While I’m very thankful for this, it’s quite a poignant realisation that such an inventive line of the Archer family is no more.

The Main House
The Main House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You must tour the house. This will cost more, and your guide will most likely take you through very slowly (my husband can’t stand this!), but you won’t fully understand the family until you view their private quarters. You’ll notice many points of difference between this house and others like it. Keep an eye out for the crockery set with the family crest (a bear paw holding an arrow), the shutters to protect from bush-rangers, the camera collection, the servants’ bell and the lack of mid-ceiling electric lighting. The latter was so that the aesthetics of the rooms would not be marred by the newfangled invention of electricity. This was a family who paved their own way.

Getting There

Roses
Roses © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Woolmers is located just south of Longford. You can reach it from the Midlands Highway, about five minutes’ drive south of Perth (Woolmers Estate is well signposted). Alternatively, drive through Longford down Wellington Street and Woolmers Lane until you reach the estate. You’ll enjoy driving down the hedged country lanes.

Cost

Function Centre
Function Centre © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Current prices are $14 per adult or $32 for a family for self-guided tours. You’ll pay $20 per adult, $7 per child or $45 for a family. If this is your first visit to Woolmers, do the house tour. It’s well worth it! Opening hours are 9am – 4pm daily. Note that Woolmers Estate is closed on several public holidays (see their website for more details).

Today, we walked between Woomers and Brickendon. Read about our experience here. You can also explore other places in Tasmania’s midlands – it’s a wonderful part of Tasmania!

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement

Traversing the Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck
Eaglehawk Neck © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Prior to my Three Capes Track experience, I visited the tiny isthmus joining the Forestier Peninsula and the Tasman Peninsula. This is the piece of land that protected the rest of Tasmania from Port Arthur’s escapee convicts in the 1800s. Eaglehawk Neck also boasts incredible natural beauty, such as the famous Tessellated Pavement.

Eaglehawk Neck

Dog Line
Dog Line © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

A strip of land that’s about 30m wide (at its narrowest) by 400m long, blink and you’ll miss Eaglehawk Neck! There’s a lovely loop walk that will take you past the 1832 Officers’ Quarters Museum. This is perhaps Australia’s oldest wooden military building. It was closed when we visited. Next, you’ll see a series of outbuildings and a statue of one of the eighteen guard dogs that were posted along the Neck to alert watchmen of escaped convicts trying to cross. Finally, you’ll reach the beach. Parks and Wildlife Tasmania have created an intriguing map of the historical landmarks in the area. The guard dogs were even posted on platforms to prevent convicts escaping by sea!

Tessellated Pavement

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Continue walking north along the beach and you’ll reach a flat, patterned rock shelf. The siltstone forms a beautiful, tile-like pattern. It is known as the Tessellated Pavement. You can view it from a platform above. Alternatively, walk along the rock shelf if the tide isn’t too high. The natural patterns make for stunning photographs.

Getting There

Tessellated Pavement
Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Eaglehawk Neck and the Tessellated Pavement are just over an hour’s drive east of Hobart. Allow extra time for stops on the way and for exploring the Tasman Peninsula. There is ample car-parking at both sites, including additional parking at the Eaglehawk Neck Community Hall.

Cost

Tessellated Pavement
Tessellated Pavement © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’d think that you’d have to pay to visit a place that is so historically significant and such a natural wonder, but you don’t! You can even access the Officers’ Quarters Museum for free when it’s open. Enjoy your visit!

 

Staying for a while? Visit Tasman Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and the Blowhole. About half an hour’s drive away is the fantastic Port Arthur Historic Site. You’ll need to book and prepare beforehand, but I highly recommend the Three Capes Track walk.

Port Arthur Historic Site

Traversing Port Arthur Historic Site
The Penitentiary
The Penitentiary © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Nestled in a bay, between wild capes and raging seas, is a very significant part of Tasmania: Port Arthur Historic Site. The area is home to cultural sites of the Pydairrerme people and is surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Tasman Peninsula. Originally, it was a penal station that played a vital role in the colony. More recently, it was the site of a heart-breaking event that lead to nationwide gun law reforms. Now World Heritage Listed, Port Arthur Historic Site is remarkable.

Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur Historic Site © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The site is extremely picturesque. Ruins stand in sparse, grassed areas: a penitentiary, a hospital and a church. There are also more than thirty restored buildings, giving a glimpse of past elegance and ways of life. Each building and ruin contains information about the lives of individual convicts and workers.

Commandant's House
Commandant’s House © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My favourite building is the Commandant’s House. The wallpaper, the multi-levelled hallway, the wood panelling… It is a very grand place! The restored buildings are opened from 9:30am, with a staff member on hand to answer your questions. Our host gave us an informative and fun insight into the house. Look for the time-travelling Commandant, the trapezium-shaped door and a letter written by a very accomplished five-year-old!

Gardens
Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

I’ve never visited Port Arthur Historic Site during Spring before. I’m very glad that I did this year! The gardens are beautiful. I particularly enjoyed the Commandant’s House garden – a secluded area that gave a hint at what the original garden may have looked like. The site is vastly different from my childhood visits – significant and tasteful landscaping has taken place, adding to the beauty of the site.

The Separate Prison
The Separate Prison © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The beauty of exploring Port Arthur Historic Site is that you can walk through the buildings and see what life was like for the convicts, soldiers, Commandants and other staff for yourself. It’s like being a child again, exploring imagined forts and dungeons… except that these buildings are real. There is a poignancy to walking through each building, to pulling closed the door to your church stall and to standing in the darkness of the solitary cell.

Getting There

View of the Penitentiary
View of the Penitentiary © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Port Arthur is about 1 hour and 45 minutes’ drive east from Hobart. Take your time travelling as there are many beautiful spots to stop at on the way, including Eaglehawk Neck and Tasmans Arch. There is ample parking at the site. Be aware that renovations are taking place; the visitor’s centre will look spectacular when these are completed though. You could easily spend an entire day at Port Arthur. The site is dotted with places to eat, shop and research, including small museums and cafes. The gift shop even sells last-minute supplies for those beginning their Three Capes Track experience. There are short walks to do in the area too.

Cost

Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur Historic Site © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Tickets to the Port Arthur Historic Site cost $39 per adult, $32 per concession and $17 per child. There are optional extras to purchase too, such as a tour of the nearby Point Puer Boy’s Prison. Family tickets are available. Included in your ticket are a complementary 40-minute guided tour and a 20-minute harbour cruise. If you’re running short of time, or If you’ve visited Port Arthur Historic Site before, skip the tour but do the cruise! If you’re heading off to the Three Capes Track, entry to the site is complimentary for two years.

Staying on the Tasman Peninsula for a while? Read about my recent experience on the Three Capes Track or visiting the sea caves at Eaglehawk Neck. Alternatively, read about my adventures in Tasmania’s south.

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.