Tasmania week 2 : Exploring the convict past, and smelling the roses…


It’s now 2 months since we were in Tasmania. Christmas has been and gone and it is now 2022. What a change 8 weeks make. November 14 we left for Launceston with no covid cases in either Queensland or Tasmania. November 28 we arrive home.

Two weeks later on December 13 the borders were opened and with a rush omicron arrived with all the tourists and visitors. Within a day 30 cases were reported and now, 4 weeks later, we are up to 18000 new cases a day and rapidly escalating. We feel so grateful that we managed to travel in that small window of relative safety.

So back to my reminiscing about our trip.

When free settlers arrived in the early 1800’s the Tamar River and the area around Launceston was perfect for settlement. A river for transporting goods in and out of the region. Fertile country for farming. But a major shortage of labour to build and develop facilities. So an ideal solution was to assign convict labour to the newly arrived land owners.

A major tourist attraction in Launceston is “Woolmers Estate”. This is now a World Heritage convict site and we had been told about the magnificent rose gardens and new restaurant recently opened. Definitely a must visit. We took the advantage of a conducted tour and it turned out to be a personal, one on one, experience as we were the only visitors that day. Derek our personal, volunteer guide was passionate about the history and shared the stories and history of this beautifully restored convict site. I could visualize the tough life of those early days as Derek took us around and told us the interesting stories of the owners and convicts as they cleared the land, built sheds and houses, grew all their food, and gradually created the estate we walked around today. This is the wool shed. tasmania 795_5184x3888

At one time they farmed 10000 sheep and wool production was the main industry. They built one of the oldest and grandest wool sheds in Australia to process the wool clip. I was so engrossed in the stories of life back then I totally forgot to take many photos, until I was walking away from the shed…

Apples were also a main crop and they were processed into cider. The original crushing, horse powered press was on display and the large fermenting vats that are no longer used but still on display.tasmania 790_4843x3396

These are 2 of the workers cottages.

Woolmers has been owned and run by 6 generations of the Archer family. The first Archers were  known to treat their assigned convicts fairly and many of the convicts remained working for their masters even when they received their ticket of leave and were free to go.

I would’ve loved to look inside this mansion that they built. The back part is the original building built in 1820, then the rather grand, front part was built later in 1838. It has all the original furniture and artifacts, acquired by the family over 180 years, providing a rare insight into six generations of one family, nothing was ever thrown away and everything was used by the family Sadly the 6th Thomas Archer never married and so with no heirs to carry on, he set up the Archer Historical Foundation to ensure the estate would remain as a monument to the past and be open for the public to view. He died in 1994 and in 1996 the estate was opened to the public.

It was fascinating to look back at the bygone lifestyles. After an hour of being transported into the 1800’s with stories and walking through history in the footsteps of a bygone era. It was now time for lunch… tasmania 837_5184x3888

This is the view from the window of the restaurant, across the rose gardens to the convict buildings in the distance. The restaurant was in the modern information and conference centre, with meeting rooms and galleries, and again I didn’t take any photos. Oh dear I am slipping…  The rose gardens are a modern creation opened in 2001 on the site of the original apple orchards. It is an enormous garden maintained by hard working volunteers and contains thousands of roses and November is the peak season for them. We had a delicious, creamy tomato soup for lunch, then, fortified, we wandered around and this time the camera worked over time. Here is a gallery of just some of these beautiful flowers.

Only 2 more days and we go back home…


  1. Woah, your infections have soared! Inevitable once borders are open, but it must be a shock to you. The roses are so beautiful, but it’s a shame that the old orchard has gone. Old apple orchards often have wonderful varieties that can’t be found today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They still did have a few apple trees in the vegetable garden area as a token of what they had in the past. Did you know Tasmania is known as “the apple isle”? renowned for its apples. Amicron is a real and present danger now and Jack and I are self isolating till we get our booster in mid February. How are you? have you had your booster?


  2. What a pretty rose garden! It looks like it is designed to be both pretty, but also to be compliant with the cultural requirements of the roses. It is not so crowded like some of the modern rose gardens. (Good air circulation inhibits transmission of disease.) (Of the two relatively local municipal rose gardens that I am familiar with, one is of traditional design, with turf walkways, and the other is designed for the benefit of the roses, with chips over otherwise bare ground. The modern rose garden, with the chips over the ground, preserves the important collection of Old World Roses, but is not as pretty.) Also, the roses seem to be hybrid tea roses or grandiflora roses, instead of those trendy English roses. I know that they must be modern English roses, but they look pretty anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes the roses did look very healthy Tony. It is an ideal climate for them as it is very much like an English climate with 4 seasons and a cold winter. It had been designed on the elaborate French formal style of the 1600’s, so the brochure told me, with thousands of species from original old varieties to modern cultivars. Very interesting .

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that was the standard for rose gardens until recently. However, many European and Canadian rose gardens of such style incorporate additional perennials that become crowded. Some look like elaborate flower gardens with a few roses mixed in. The climate is likely less humid and perhaps more comfortable to roses than that of England.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for another delightful post. I have now added Woolmers it our “places to visit” list. Your trip was very well times, not just for covid but also those beautiful roses. Keep safe 🙂


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