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.
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.
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…
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…