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.

Longford Show

Traversing Longford Show
Woodchopping
Woodchopping © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are several Tasmanian events that I really look forward to each year. One of them is the Longford Show. Why? Where else will you find woodchopping, show-jumping, alpacas, fairy-floss and a good dose of Australian humour all in the one place? Today, the Longford show did not disappoint, with its green grass, blue skies and stunning display of goodwill and talent.

Animal Nursery
Animal Nursery © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll be met by local Rotarians at the gate. When you enter, turn right for the woodchop. You’ll never want to leave! It’s my favourite sport! From here, work your way around the Showgrounds anticlockwise. The animal nursery and display by Tasmanian Fire Service were highlights for the little ones in our group today. Who doesn’t want to see a baby goat, sit in the driver’s seat of a fire truck or have a go at holding the fire hose?!

Fleeces
Fleeces © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

From here, it seems like the show-bags, merry-go-rounds, junk food stalls and rides have taken over but don’t be fooled! If you look carefully, you’ll find the wool-classing shed, floral arrangements, an art display (of local children’s work) and pony rides. Besides, who doesn’t love a merry-go-round?

Blacksmith
Blacksmith © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

After the exhaustion of side-show alley, grab a bite to eat and sit awhile by the show-jumping. It’s an elegant sport. From here, it’s a short walk to the snake display and the blacksmith’s shop, both of which are strangely fascinating. The craziest thing at the Longford Show, in my opinion, is the dog show. Have you ever seen people in suits prancing around with their pooches? It is hilarious, yet a very serious competition!

What to Bring

Show Jumping
Show Jumping © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Today was absolutely glorious. Blue skies and sunshine made the Longford Show delightful. Don’t forget your hat and sunscreen or you’ll turn into a lobster! Also essential is a bottle of water and sturdy shoes. You’ll do quite a bit of walking so practicality beats fashion. Cash is a must for your entry fee. Today, the line at the local ATM was very long so get cash out before you head to the Show.

Getting There

Fire Fighting
Fire Fighting © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Longford is approximately 20 minutes’ drive south of Launceston, towards Hobart. From Launceston, you can reach Longford via Perth or via a turnoff from the Bass Highway onto Illawarra Road. The latter is a very pretty, country drive. There is ample street parking in Longford but be prepared for a short walk (5 – 10 minutes) to the Showgrounds.

Cost

Alpacas
Alpacas © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

At $12 per adult, I think that entry to the Longford Show is a bargain. You’ll pay $6 for children and $30 for a family (two adults and two children). I’d pay that much just to see the woodchopping, but I am a bit of a woodchop-aholic! Please note that prices may vary from year to year. I was also impressed with the range of food (and food prices) inside.

If you have time, stay in Longford for a while and visit nearby Brickendon and Woolmers, both fabulous attractions! You can also read more about my adventures in Tasmania’s north and midlands.

Harvest Lauceston

Traversing Harvest Launceston
Harvest Launceston
Harvest Launceston © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Harvest Launceston is a gem. The Ancient Mariner tries to make his forays north coincide with a Saturday morning so that he can visit the market. Why? In the words of Lionel Bart, “food, glorious food!” In addition to eating and purchasing beautiful food, you’ll also meet friendly producers, soak up the atmosphere (and weather!) and be a hop, skip and a jump away from some fantastic shops, City Park and Albert Hall.

Steve's Vegies
Steve’s Vegies © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

My favourite thing about Harvest Launceston is the people. There are many local producers who participate in the market. They are proud of their produce and are on-hand to answer any questions you might have. Best of all, buying groceries becomes a social exchange and not a drudgery performed under neon lights in a giant concrete box! If you’re a local, it’s also highly likely that you’ll run into someone that you know. The market is a great place to catch up with friends.

Harvest Launceston
Harvest Launceston © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Another thing that I love about Harvest Launceston is its seasonality. The amount and variety of producers at the market changes over the year. For example, in summer, you’ll find lots of people selling lovely Tasmanian berries. Easter, Christmas and Harvest Launceston’s birthday are special events. Foods like asparagus and avocado are available (and snapped up!) at specific times of the year. In winter, the market slows down a bit but it’s still very much worth visiting.

Mount Direction Olives
Mount Direction Olives © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll find some fantastically unusual goodies at Harvest Launceston. Did you know that olive oil is best served vacuum-packed? Ask the lovely people at Coronea Grove Olives why. Can olives be a dessert? Yes, and a highly moreish one at that! Try the jarred dessert olives from Mount Direction Olives. Finally, ask Wild Spore why some of their oyster mushrooms are pink.

Coronea Grove Olives
Coronea Grove Olives © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

You’ll also find gorgeously fresh staples. Buy seasonal veggies from Steve’s Veggies, Pink Lady apples from Lees Orchard, and a large variety of fish from George Town Seafoods. I also really enjoy beef jerky (trust me, it’s good!) from Kooee! and roasted hazelnuts from Hazelbrae (you can read about my visit to their farm at nearby Hagley here). I have food allergies but there are also lovely bread and butter options too, such as the Tasmanian Butter Co. and Sandy’s Sourdough. There was a queue building at Sandy’s when I arrived at 8:20am!

Tasmanian Butter Co.
Tasmanian Butter Co. © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Harvest Launceston is a communal enterprise. Take a seat on furniture designed and built by UTAS Architecture students. Should you need to use it, there is even a custom built, community-funded shipping container toilet! If you’re offered an advertising pamphlet on your way in, take it. It’s for a local event, which is probably worth going to. The market also showcases local musical talent.

Getting There

Breakfast
Breakfast © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Harvest Launceston takes place in a carpark bordered by Cameron, Tamar and Cimitiere Streets. There is ample street parking nearby and a small portion of parking spaces at the Cameron Street entry to the market. For free parking, park beside the North Esk River or City Park and walk in. The market starts at 8:30am (buying starts when the bell rings) and ends at 12:30pm. Make sure that you’re there nice and early if you are after something specific as some producers do sell out.

Cost

Harvest Launceston
Harvest Launceston © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is no cost to enter Harvest Launceston. Make sure that you have cash though. Some stalls are cash only and others have EFTPOS facilities. As well as delicious food and drink, you can also purchase Harvest Launceston shopping bags and so on if you wish. If you’re pinching pennies, wander around, say hello to the producers and sample their wares. They know that you, like the Ancient Mariner, will be back to buy next time.

For more of my adventures in Tasmania’s north, click here.

Brickendon

Traversing Brickendon
Brickendon Entry
Brickendon Farm Village © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you find yourself in Northern Tasmania, I highly recommend a visit to Brickendon. Run by the Archer family continuously since 1824, this property is a unique place. Parts of the property, such as the Farm Village, seem frozen in time. You can walk into buildings such as the smokehouse, the blacksmiths’ shop or the pillar granary and feel as if you could be right there, back in the 1800s, on a working farm. Brickendon is also a UNESCO World Heritage Listed Convict Site (one of 11 such listings in Australia).

Pillar Granary
Pillar Granary © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Your first stop is the Farm Village. This is both a time capsule and a working farm. If you are there at 10:15am, you will be able to participate in feeding the animals. Even if you’re not there at 10:15am, there are plenty of animals to see. There are sheep in the paddock near the farm village. I was greeted (loudly!) by a turkey upon arrival and found a group of ducks sitting under the pillar granary. There are also geese, chickens and more ducks near the poultry shed (which has been set up as if it were a country kitchen).

Brickendon Farm Village
Brickendon Farm Village © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The buildings have a few concise information panels and this brevity works very well, particularly if you have already seen the introductory DVD. I highly recommend viewing the DVD upon arrival. It is a first-rate production and gives you a lot of insight into the Archer family and Brickendon’s history (and future aspirations). You also get to sit in a Sussex barn while viewing it which is a lovely experience in and of itself!

Shearing Shed
Shearing Shed © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

As the farm is a working farm, some of the displays are actual work sites, such as the shearing shed and stables. Here, you’ll see beautiful timber walls and relics from times past alongside modern shearing machines. It is a privilege to see generations of hard work, progress and innovation preserved in one property.

Brickendon Animals
Brickendon Animals © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The “working” aspect of the farm village extends to more than farming. You can stay at the Farm Village in the Farm Cottage. What an awesome experience that would be! While I was at Brickendon, a wedding was taking place in the gardens of the main house and one of the Sussex barns was set up as a reception venue. I accidentally had a sneak-peek and it looked gorgeous!

Brickendon to Woolmers Walk
Brickendon to Woolmers Walk © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Brickendon and nearby Woolmers Estate are joined via family history and a walking track. Two Archer brothers, Thomas (Woolmers) and William (Brickendon), originally owned and ran the two farms. I plan on doing the walk between them later this year (when it’s not too hot or too muddy!). It is a 2.8km walk via a suspension bridge (closed between 5pm and 9am daily). Your entry fee to Woolmers Estate is reduced if you have come via Brickendon.

Brickendon Homestead
Brickendon Homestead © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The actual Brickendon homestead is across Woolmers Lane and this is where the second part of your visit takes place. Simply drive across the road, up the gravel drive, and park near the homestead. You then have access to stunning gardens and a view of several heritage buildings. These are also used as accommodation so please be mindful of guests. When I was there, the wedding was in full swing in the garden so I took a couple of photos of the house and then left them to it. I think I’ll have to return to view the rest of the garden and to do the walk to Woolmers (which I did in December 2017 – read about it here). I don’t mind; it’s an enchanting place!

Getting There

Brickendon
Brickendon © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There are several ways of reaching Longford. My two preferred approaches are via the B52 with a view of farming countryside or via Woolmers Lane from the Midlands highway. These routes are both picturesque and allow you a glimpse of years gone by in the form of overhanging trees and hedgerows. If you are travelling via Woolmers Lane, Brickendon is clearly signposted with the carpark on the right. From Longford, turn left at the fork, following signs for Brickendon and Woolmers Estate.

Cost

Brickendon Gardens
Brickendon Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Entry to Brickendon currently costs $12.50 per adult, $11.50 per concession, $5 per child and $38 per family. For up-to-date prices, see Brickendon’s website. There is also a small gift shop in the Sussex barn. The Farm Village and Heritage Gardens are open from 9:30am – 4pm year-round except for Mondays and Christmas Day. Opening hours are extended until 5pm in summer. The Main House is the reception during winter. Whenever you visit, you’re sure to be in for a treat as you walk through the lives of the convicts and experience the past and present of the Archer family.

While you’re in the area, explore the Convict Farm Walk and Woolmers Estate or perhaps somewhere further afield in Tasmania’s midlands, central highlands or north.

Hazelbrae Nut Farm

Traversing Hazelbrae
Great Western Tiers
Great Western Tiers © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Have you ever driven between Launceston and Devonport and seen the signs for Hazelbrae Nut Farm? Next time you drive past, exit the highway! You will encounter a working hazelnut farm and a fabulous view. Formerly a dairy farm, the hazelnut orchards were planted by the previous owners. Now 5000 trees strong, the current owners have diversified the farm’s offerings, including opening the Hazelbrae Nut Farm Cafe.

Hazelbrae Nut Farm Cafe
Hazelbrae Nut Farm Cafe © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The best thing about the cafe is undeniably the view. The food is tasty and well-presented, but what could beat the outlook from the deck? While you’re sipping your hazelnut cappuccino, you have the privilege of sitting back and taking in the orchard, the brilliant blue sky and the Great Western Tiers.

The Gardens
The Gardens © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

If you’re like me and you think that $5 for a garden tour is just not worth paying, think again. The homestead dates back to the 1800s and the surrounding gardens are like something from The Secret Garden. The former grandeur of the gardens is apparent despite their current state of overgrowth. Parts of the gardens are very well kept, such as the area around the homestead. In various nooks, you can sit and take in the peaceful atmosphere.

At the end of March, you will be able to collect your own hazelnuts from the orchard, which is quite a unique experience! You’ll pay a discounted rate for the nuts you collect. Keep an eye on Hazelbrae Hazelnut’s Facebook page for more information.

Getting There

The Homestead
The Homestead © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Hazelbrae Nut Farm is located at Hagley, 50 minutes’ drive south from Devonport or 25 minutes’ drive north from Launceston. Take the Hagley exit from the Bass Highway and follow signs for Hagley Station Lane. If you’re driving from Launceston, turn left onto Hagley Station Lane when you exit the highway.

Cost

Hazelnut Affogato
Hazelnut Affogato © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is no cost for the view. At the cafe, food and drinks are reasonably priced and you can buy delicious hazelnut produce, including hazelnut oil, hazelnut meal and chocolate-coated roasted hazelnuts. Take a guided tour and tasting for $15 or you can skip the tour and just do the tasting for $7. An orchard pass or a garden pass cost $5 each. Children under 12 are free. Next time you’re driving between Launceston and Devonport, take the time to relax at Hazelbrae Nut Farm!

For more information about places to visit in Tasmania’s north, click here.

Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze

Traversing Rupertswood Farm
View of Great Western Tiers
View of Great Western Tiers © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

There is something nostalgically delightful about walking through a crop maze. Towering stalks obscure your view and you’re a child again…. until the beating sun and your sore feet prompt you to open the sealed map envelope and complete the rest of Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze as fast as you can!

Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze
Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Each year, Rupertswood Farm in Hagley turns one of their crops into a maze. This year, it’s a field of corn; last year, it was sorghum. Each maze is created using a GPS mapping system. In 2017, the maze is a giant map of Tasmania and your task is to find various Tasmanian locations. Some of the places are featured already featured on the Traversing Tasmania blog, such as Low Head, and other locations will be featured soon!

Signpost
Signpost © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

The maze takes about two hours to complete, unless you use the map right from the start. This means that you’ll need to take water and food into the maze with you (or take an exit out for lunch before finishing the rest of the maze!) as well as wearing a hat and applying plenty of sunscreen. If you have small children with you, it is possible to take prams into the maze but there are many corn stalks on the ground to navigate over. There is a tower scaffold from which you can view the maze, the farm and the stunning Great Western Tiers.

Getting There

Rupertswood Farm
Rupertswood Farm © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

Rupertswood Farm is a 50 minute drive from Devonport and a 25 minute drive from Launceston. Take the exit from the Bass Highway to Hagley and then follow signs for Hagley Station Lane (if you are driving from Launceston, turn right onto Hagley Station Lane when you exit the highway). The entry to Rupertswood Farm Crop Maze is signposted. There is ample parking on site, as well as toilet facilities. The maze is open for three more weekends this year (the remaining weekends in March, including the Monday of the long weekend) from 10am – 4pm.

Cost

Vegetables
Vegetables © emily@traversingtasmania 2017

In 2017, the cost to enter the maze is $15 per adult, $10 per senior or child (children under 4 are free) and $55 per family. This includes a bag of “pick your own” veggies (pumpkins are an extra $5 each), entry to the maze and a maze leaflet to fill out (with a section to enter into the prize draw). There is hot cooked food ($3 – $12, starring Rupertswood lamb) and drinks for sale. This year, the farm has EFTPOS available but it’s still a good idea to bring cash for food (and pumpkins). For $2, you can also buy a map of the maze, sealed in an envelope. Get the map. You’ll need it.

For more posts about places to visit in Tasmania’s north, click here.