Tour of Tasmania March 2023
October Newsletter No 7.
Welcome to the October Newsletter.
Only 5 months or 150 sleeps to go. Work continues toward what hopefully will be another great National Rally. At this stage we have 139 people in about 57 Rileys attending from VIC, TAS, ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, WA, NZ, UK and Canada. A few inquiries and bookings are still trickling in. There are still fares on the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry and accommodation available, although choice is limited and the cheaper rooms/fares have been sold out. Our dinners have however reached capacity, any new bookings will miss out on these but that’s only 4 out of 10 night we be on the Rally together, so there is still plenty of opportunities to catch up with old Riley friend and make new Riley friends. Events are still open. We have only two newsletters to come after this one. The December and February issues will provide more information including all the final details required for boarding the ferry at Geelong and our arrival in Devonport the next morning. Just a reminder Final Payment for Dinners & Events are due on the 30th November, so you will receive a letter soon with all the details for this payment.
For the three people requiring car & trailer storage you will be contacted with some more details soon. For those flying to Tasmania or going across Bass Strait earlier than the 14th March, we will be in touch to work through arrangements regarding where you will meet up with the main Rally group and how we will get your Rally Pack to you.
Thanks to all who replied to our survey with the August Newsletter.
We are pleased to inform you that Clarendon House will open especially for us on Wednesday 22nd March after our morning visit to Entally House and they have offered a special price of $10 per person (Normally $20/$15 conc). The gardens are lovely for a picnic lunch if you want to pick up something in Evandale on your way to Clarendon House. Patterdale House will also be open.
An update on Don Railway in Devonport, they now have the 30-min Train trips are at 12, 1, 2 and 3 pm. They close at 4pm. The Riley Railcar will be on display for you to view and you receive a discount on Entry fee when you show your Riley Rally Name Badge.
This month’s Newsletter covers our travelling days:
Day 2 Devonport to Hobart,
Day 6 Hobart to Swansea, and
Day 8 Swansea to Launceston.
Wednesday 15th Day 2 Devonport to Hobart. At this stage, unless Spirit of Tasmania change our departure & arrival time again, we will arrive in Devonport at 9.30am Wednesday 15th.
In the February newsletter we will give you details of a meeting point in Devonport for us to gather, get a caffeine fix for those that need it, and then head off in small groups.
Our Journey to Hobart is about 280kms and our Welcome Dinner is that evening.
Our route will take us through the towns of:
Sheffield – The Town of Murals; back in 1985 the aim was to create an “outdoor art gallery of heroic portions” to attract tourist. Well, it has certainly done that. It is worth a stop and exploring the town with around 60 murals of the pioneering history of the district and its people. Mount Roland provide a magnificent backdrop to the town. Sheffield also has a Heritage Museum but there will be plenty of them during our stay in Tasmania.
Railton – a small town that has put itself on the map as the Town of Topiary. It shows how one man’s obsession can grow (excuse the punt) into the town’s major tourist attraction. Neil Hurley started with the planting of the Horse and Farmer, in 1999.
Deloraine – a good place to fuel up and pick supplies for a BYO lunch, if desired.
As you read in your last newsletter, we will pass through Deloraine again on our last day so reserve you sightseeing until then.
From Deloraine a short drive on the river flats before we start our climb up the Great Western Tiers to the Central Highlands and lakes district.
The initial climb is approx. 150m in 8kms/5miles and then approx. 850m in 20kms/
12 miles. There are some fantastic views on the way up and then, the Great Lake Outlook at the top, and hopefully no snow in the middle of March. (Just kidding, we’ll be right!! Although I have driven this road in October and come out with the car covered in 3 inches of snow). If anyone is really concerned about the climb up the Western Tiers let us know as there is obviously an alternative route of the Midland Highway.
Following the shores of the Great Lake we arrive at Miena, where you can have lunch or enjoy your BYO picnic. Miena has a population of around 100. There are only three eating spots, the General Store, the Great Lake Hotel & the Central Highlands Lodge so a BYO lunch might be worthwhile if you want a quick stop.
The next 60kms / 40miles to Bothwell is across the high-country plains or moors. A landscape quite different to the rest of Tasmania, and covered in snow for the whole winter. A quick stop can be at The Steppes Reserve and Sculptures. The Steppes was the home of the Wilson family for a period of 112 years that began in 1863. The Steppes was utilised as a police station, a church, a site of weather observation, a summer school, post office and offered lodging to travellers visiting the lakes district.
James Wilson who was intertwined with the growth of sheep grazing in the highlands, and due to his extensive knowledge of both stock and the Lake Country, was offered the position of Superintendent of Police, a position he held for 30 years.
There is a car park and toilets but the buildings are not always open. There are also 14 bronze sculptures are set on rocks.
A boatload of Scottish pioneers settled the town of Bothwell back in 1822 and it seems a golf course was their top priority. Visit the Australasian Golf Museum, near the lovely Queens Park, to learn about the evolution of the game and Australia’s oldest golf course. Unfortunately, you won’t have time for a round of golf.
Bothwell is on the Clyde River and has more than 50 Heritage-listed buildings, including elegant churches and quaint stone cottages.
Kempton is the next town of interest after our descent of the hill towards Hobart. It can be described as “an early Colonial Village well preserved and largely unspoilt with not a gift shop to be seen”. It is just off the Midland Highway and worth the stop for a short walk of the main street to see the Georgian houses built from 1830’s to 1880’s. In its heyday it boast a flour mill, brewery, numerous hotel and coaching inn.
Our Tasmanian Rally Committee member Richard tells me the whiskey scones at The Old Kempton Distillery are a MUST!
From here it is about a 40km run to your Hobart accommodation to rest and
freshen up before our Welcome dinner as the Royal Yacht Club.
Sunday 19th Day 6 Hobart to Swansea After 3 days of touring and seeing the sights around Hobart, we have a shorter journey of approx. 160km / 100miles to Swansea. Your observation skills will be needed today.
Our Mid-Tour Dinner is at Swansea at the Town Hall. To accommodate everyone, we have split the dinner over the two nights that we are in Swansea. So, half our group will enjoy the Mid-Tour Dinner on Sun 19th and the other half on Mon 20th.
After leaving Hobart, Richmond is the major town we pass through. Other smaller towns include Buckland, Orford, Triabunna and Little Swanport.
There is much to see at Richmond including the well-known and photographed landmark and the oldest bridge in Australia that’s still in use, the Richmond Bridge.
Not far from the bridge is St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church commonly considered the oldest, still-functioning, Catholic Church in Australia (1836).
Richmond Goal Tours $12. This is the oldest intact gaol in Australia. Building commenced in 1825. See the solitary confinement cell, just 2m x 1m, the Flogging yard, chain gangs and convict holding rooms, cookhouse with original oven. Will you enter the haunted 3rd cell in the men’s block?
The Old Hobart Town Model Village is a perfect setting to learn about the life of early settlers in Hobart. It is located in the heart of Richmond and visitors can walk through a miniature replica of Hobart as it was in the 1820s. This incredible piece of art consists of over sixty replica model buildings, five to six hundred period figurines, convicts, gentlemen and even ladies of the night, over one hundred native myrtle bonsai trees and covers approximately two tennis courts. It encapsulates Sullivan’s Cove, Hunter Island, the Hobart Rivulet and main city centre. Adults $17.50 We hope to get a discount for you.
The Richmond area also has a number of Wineries, Berry farms and some great places to grab a snack including the Richmond Bakery, Coal Valley Creamery, The Wicked Cheese Company and don’t forgot “Sweets and Treats”, a traditional-style lolly shop on the main road. Take the time to browse the art and craft galleries in the main street or the antique/vintage shops.
Get lost at Amaze Richmond. Not one maze but two; a hedge maze and a timber maze now reopened after being closed for a few years, also has a café. Adults $22.
While Hobart no longer has a zoo, there are two options. Zoodoo Wildlife Park, just 7km out of Richmond, is more like a safari than a zoo visit. A safari bus will drive you around many of the large, open enclosures to see some of the larger animals such as camels, ostriches and zebras. $29 Concession. $34 Adults. 620 Middle Tea Tree Road, Tea Tree.
The other option Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is probably better done on one of your Hobart days as it is located at Brighton (north west of Hobart). It is home to a wide variety of Tasmania native animals, some of them now endangered in the wild. Bonorong is a sanctuary to help injured animals as well as actively working towards the preservation of many of the endangered species with the aim of returning healthy animals to the wild. On entry visitors are given a bag of food to feed the kangaroos which roam freely throughout the sanctuary. Also included in the entry fee is a 45 minute guided tour to learn about some of the animals and what can be done to protect them. There are various animal encounters also available, from short encounters with a tawny frogmouth or a sugar glider. Entry $32.50 93 Briggs Road, Brighton, TAS
Buckland is farming district; its main attraction in the past being St John the Baptist Church with its beautiful stained glass windows. Unfortunately, the church has now closed and can only be view from the outside.
Orford is on the east coast with several picturesque beaches. Ait also has a 3 ha site consisting of a sandpit within the 4 ha Raspins Beach Conservation Area on the northern side of the river mouth. The area has been identified by Birdlife international as an Important Bird Area supporting a number breeding populations of vulnerable and endangered species.
Triabunna just north of Orford was a timber export port, but now is the gateway to the wildlife sanctuary of Maria Island. Triabunna is surrounded by beautiful beaches, coastal reserves and eucalyptus forest. Originally established as a garrison town for the penal settlement on Maria Island, now it is the gateway and departure point for cruises to Maria Island National Park. This is a town rich in local history.
This part of the coast is a prime fishing area, and Triabunna is well known for its delicious, locally-caught fish and chips.
Information on to Sea cruises from Triabunna were include in the April newsletter.
Little Swanport lies between Triabunna and Swansea. This area has a number of vineyards and keep your eyes open for historic convict-built bridges.
The historic Lisdillon Saltworks site, Saltworks Road, Little Swanport, may be of interest to some. Nestled on a secluded beach, the remains of the Lisdillon Saltworks is a significant part of Tasmania’s industrial heritage.
Established by James Radcliff using convict labour in the late 1830s and although it only operated for a short time, it was were technically advanced and well-constructed – so much so that the site is one of only two remaining early salt manufacture works in eastern Australia where substantial ruins can still be found. Step inside the Saltworks to uncover this significant piece of East Coast history and industrial heritage. A walk along the beach to the old pier gives expansive views over Great Oyster Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula. The rugged headland is where in days gone by a windmill stood used to raise water from the sea to produce the salt.
Tuesday 21st Day 8 Swansea to Launceston.
There are two routes possible the shorter 180km or the longer 270km.
The shorter route goes inland through Lake Leake and Campbell Town to Ross then north to Launceston.
Lake Leake is a small town based around trout fishing. The local lake is regularly stock. A visit to Meetus Fall north of Lake Leake is probably not recommended as it involves 25km return of rough dirt road and a steep and often muddy walking track with steps (about 30 mins return walk.)
Campbell Town. Another historic town with plenty to see. We pass back through Campbell Town after our visit to Ross. Established in 1820’s as one of a number of garrison station between Launceston and Hobart.
The Convict Brick Trail is dedicated to some of the nearly 200,000 convicts who were transported to Australia for almost 100 years from 1788 onwards. The trail is located on the footpath in the main street commencing at the Fox Hunters Return adjacent to the Red Bridge. It extends through the town on both side of the road. The first brick was laid in 2003. It was a privately run project with the details on each brick provided by individuals or descendants of the convict identified on the brick. There are also bricks for the 36 ships that bought convicts to Australia.
Campbell Town’s Red Bridge over the Elizabeth River is not as impressive as the Ross or Richmond Bridge but still a good photo spot with the adjacent chainsaw sculptures. In the centre of town is Valentine Park which includes a huge cut tree, and a statue of Eliza Forlong & the Ram, the founder of the super-fine wool industry from the 1800’s.
Campbell Town has some interesting shops include; The Cellar Bookshop, Antique shops, Galleries.
Ross on the Macquarie Riverwas settled in 1812, and is one of Tasmania’s most original convict- built stone villages. Like Campbell Town is was a garrison town as well as a coach horse exchange and livestock market town. Today it is a tranquil retreat although visited by lots of tourist. The Tasmanian Wool Centre (also the information centre) is at the south end of town and is a wool museum, exhibition room and shop selling woollen garments. The 24- page Ross Information Guide is well worth the gold coin donation. It has a town map, details for 40 buildings/site and local history. Enjoy walking the town streets, take in the atmosphere of the old stores and homes, visit the Bakery, the hotel, or the General Store & Tea Rooms for lunch. View the stone bridge built in 1836, the 3rd oldest in Australia, with it detailed stone carvings.
The four corners of Ross (the main cross roads) have been named to reflect the character of the buildings. TEMPTATION – The Man O’ Ross Hotel, SALVATION – Roman Catholic Church, DAMNATION – The Town Goal, RECREATION – The Town Hall. You will find a range of interesting shop, second hand- vintage goods, handcrafts, food and fine arts.
The longer route: takes us north along the coast through Bicheno and Chain of Lagoons then inland to St Marys, Fingal and Avoca to the Midland Highway, then either a 50km detour south to Ross and Campbell Town or straight to Launceston.
It’s about 270 km with the detour or 220km if you go direct to Launceston.
You may choose this route, if you did not get to Bicheno while at Swansea, or you particularly want to drive Elephant’s Pass. Elephant’s Pass is quite a pretty drive through forested mountain range. The road is narrow, twisty and steep. It is a great motorbike road but probably not the road most Riley owners would want to take.
Bicheno is a lovely town and was featured in your April newsletter.
The other towns of Chain of Lagoons, St Marys, Fingal and Avoca simple country towns with no real tourist attractions.
Chain of Lagoons has some lovely beach walks.
At the top of Elephant’s Pass the Mt Elephant Pancake Parlour appears to be closed at this stage. The Blueberry Cottage craft shop set in lovely gardens appears to be open. There is a short walk to some waterfalls below the shop.
St. Marys is a small town that is a centre for dairying, pastoral, timber harvest and coal mining in the nearby St. Nicholas Range. It is surrounded by hills, trees and majestic lookouts with fantastic views of the coast below.
From St. Marys you travel down St. Mary’s Pass, again a narrow windy road and care should be taken. There are a number of old mining sites in this area but most involve off highway detours and forest walks. Major deposits of black coal were discovered in the Fingal Valley in 1863. The many mines that provided the life blood of these towns are now closed, though some fine old buildings from early times remain. The Cornwall Coal Company is now the only supplier of coal mined in Tasmania. The company currently mines black coal from underground and open cut mines near St Marys. Gold and tin were also mined in this valley.
The tiny settlement of Cornwall, half way down the hillside from St Marys, is home to the Coalminers’ Heritage Wall and Heritage Walk, a monument to the miners who hand-tunnelled a coal mine beneath the Mount Nicholas Range.
Fingal is a small town where the charm lies in simply stopping and walking along the main street. At Fingal Park there is an Information Board which lists no fewer than 19 places of historic interest in the town. There is a map which indicates exactly where each of the historic buildings in located. Similarly, Avoca is a small village nestled between the junction of the St Pauls and South Esk Rivers, and overshadowed by the 1027 metre high St Pauls Dome. The town was officially settled in 1834, and has relied almost continuously upon farming and mining for its economic stability. Some interesting buildings remain.
For some great information many places in Tasmania have a look at this website http://ontheconvicttrail.blogspot.com/