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 and tours are self-guided. 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.