Recently we spent a weekend at the historic Woolmers Estate in Longford, staying in one of the converted workers’ cottages.
Woolmers was a large pastoral property which was occupied by the Archer family from the early 1800s to the mid-1990s, a long stretch by Australian standards. In its early days it and neighbouring estate, Brickendon (owned by another branch of the Archer family), were staffed by the second largest number of assigned convicts in the Colony, peaking at 107 convicts between the two estates in 1833.
The property was opened as a museum in 1995, following the death of Thomas William Archer VI the previous year, and in 2010 it and Brickendon were jointly listed as one of the eleven sites that make up the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property.
Having been reduced in size significantly over it’s lifetime, the current estate is spread out over 13 hectares which houses the main homestead, a kitchen and servant’s quarters, a provisions store, bakers cottages, various farm buildings, and a number of former workers’ cottages which have been converted into accomodation. It’s also home to an extensive rose garden which contains examples of all of the recognised rose families, ranging from the earliest European and China roses through to the roses of the twenty first century.
It’s funny to think that at in its heyday, the property would have been a village in itself, housing up to 100 people at any one time.
The Championships are an annual event, attracting riders from all the east coast Australian states and New Zealand. Somehow when we were last here we managed to miss them every year, so we made sure that wouldn’t be the case in 2015.
The event was fabulous, with costumed riders, fast-moving impractical looking bikes, street performers, and a village fair. The weather was much warmer than the typical Tasmanian summer day so we spent a lot of time sheltered in the shade of a lovely old oak tree, enjoying the spectacle of riders flying past on the final corners before the straight.
Last weekend started with a lovely, rainy, Tasmanian summer’s day – perfect weather for exploring. So we pulled out our map, picked a destination, worked out our route, and set off off adventuring.
In the spirit of stopping in rather than passing by, our first stop was based on a sign we spotted for a museum at the Mount Pleasant Observatory, near Cambridge. Sadly the museum is only open by appointment, which we didn’t have, but we were able to peer at the two huge telescopes on site.
After a quick stop at the Wicked Cheese company, where we opted for chocolate over cheese (it was Valentines Day after all…), we headed through the hills and fog-filled valleys of the Southern Midlands, before arriving at our destination for the day, Oatlands.
We started our visit with a very damp exploration of the Callington Mill. Last time we were here this Lancashire tower mill was a beautiful, but inactive relic of Oatlands past. Happily it was restored to working order in 2010, and it’s now the only mill of this type operating in the Southern Hemisphere. It produces artisan flours from locally grown wheat, spelt and rye, which you can buy from the mill, online, or at several fabulous grocers around Tasmania. We then dodged the showers to peer at a wonderful rooftop sculpture of nesting storks, peek through gates at fabulous front doors, and over fences at lovely gardens before heading home.
It was a fun day, and I’m sure we’ll be tempted to return on a day when we can slowly wander the streets with cameras in hand, rather than dashing around in between downpours.
This weekend was a lovely long weekend with perfect weather, just what you want as a visitor to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival. The festival is held every two years, and wandering around it suggests that there are an awful lot of people who agree with the Water Rat…
“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolute nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing—about—in—boats; messing… about in boats—or with boats,” the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. “In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.”
This weekend’s adventure took us to South Hobart’s Waterworks Reserve. The Reserve is at the base of Mount Wellington and features the two main reservoirs of the Hobart Mountain Water Supply System set in beautiful bushland surrounds.
The Mountain Water Supply System was first established in 1866, with further updates in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and still provides about 15% of our water supply. Most of the early structures were made from sandstone and many are still in place, although not necessarily in use.
It’s a beautiful place and a fairly regular haunt for us. The low cloud and constant drizzle of this weekend provided a nice backdrop for some rather atmospheric pictures.
This weekend’s adventure took us to Cape Raoul in the Tasman National Park. There we set off on a 14km return hike, which is considered one of the most spectacular clifftop walks in Australia.
The walk takes you through wet and dry sclerophyll forests, banksia and heathlands. As a special treat for a girl who isn’t great with heights, it also involves wandering along quite a few unfenced cliff edges. But the spectacular views make up for the fear. As well as the towering dolomite pillars of the cape itself, on a clear day you can see south over Storm Bay to Bruny Island and the south coast, and north to Cape Pillar and Tasman Island. It also provides a lovely view of Ship Stern Bluff, which is on our to do list for another day.
The walk is also brimming with wildlife, from the seal colony at the base of the cape, through the range of tiny birds flitting around chasing insects on the heathland, to pademelons in the forests, and lizards everywhere. There were also a few snake sightings (not by me, happily).
It’s a walk I’m very happy to have added to our completed adventure list.
Luckily the wild weather wasn’t constant during our stay at the newly opened Pumphouse Point, and we had the chance to explore a little bit of Lake St Clair.
The lake is situated in the Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park, which is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s Australia’s deepest glacial lake (200m at its deepest point), and is the source of the lovely River Derwent, which we Hobart residents know and love. With an area of around 45 km2 it’s substantial, so we only explored a few tiny pockets. Leaving lots more for our next visit.
It’s also home to the last stretch of the Overland Track, so you can always find weary, but happy walkers celebrating the end of their trek at the Lake St Clair Lodge.
Our resolution to explore continued in style this weekend with a stay at the newly opened Pumphouse Point in Lake St Clair.
The Pumphouse was originally constructed by the Hydro-electric Commission in 1940 to pump water from Lake St Clair to the Tarraleah power station as part of Tasmania’s Hydro Electricity scheme. The beautiful 5-story structure, set 250 metres into the lake, was only used a few times before being decommissioned in 1995.
Now this gorgeous piece of Tasmania’s industrial heritage is a luxury B&B, and I have to say it heads the list of the most amazing places we’ve ever stayed. There are two buildings on the site – the Lakehouse (which also houses the dining room where breakfast is served), and the Pumphouse. We’d booked a room on the top floor of the Pumphouse, and it lived up to all of our expectations.
Being out on the lake was like being in a boat but without all the bobbing and swaying, which was a very good thing given the weather this weekend. As is so often the case in Tasmania, nature decided to ignore the fact that it’s mid-summer here, and hit us with freezing temperatures, gale force winds, heavy rain, and even sleet. None of that mattered though as we sat in our lovely room, sipping hot drinks, and watching it all unfold through our huge windows.
Looking back, 2014 turns out to have been a very full year. We wound up our wedding photography business in January, and I went on to find myself being the new girl in not one, but three different organisations over the course of the year. I met a whole host of new people, and reconnected with some old ones. We continued our travel adventures with four interstate trips and two international ones. And then to top off our year we said goodbye to Queensland and hello to Tasmania.
This is a return to Tasmania for us, so this year will be a year of discovery and rediscovery, which will tie in nicely with my resolutions for 2015 – to create and to explore.
So let’s kick the exploration off with a trip to the Pinnacle of Mt Wellington.