Friday, May 27, 2011

Hobart, New Norfolk, Hamilton, Bothwell, Richmond and Beyond

Recently we had the pleasure of taking our first group of people on a tour they designed themselves.  The group consisted of 6 people, one of whom was a man and their ages ranged from 30 to 70.  Some were from Victoria, some from Queensland.  Of the six, 4 were from the same family and they were all friends.
When the booking first came in and we noted the ground these people wanted to cover in a single day, we were doubtful that they knew much about our island.  Because of our roads and our hilly terrain, it’s difficult in Tassie to relate travel time to distance and that’s exactly what we told the would-be tourers.
“Listen,” we said, “if we travel your requested rout, we’ll be in the bus a lot of the day and there’ll be no time to visit sites connected to your  relies.”
But, no, that’s the tour they wanted, so that’s the tour they got.

We picked up the group at 9.00am in Hobart on a bright crisp Sunday morning, and immediately sharing the first of several blocks of creamy milk chocolate that we’d share that day, we headed out towards the lovely old town of Hamilton on the Clyde River via New Norfolk.
On the way, we detoured slightly, to visitor, the old Back River Cemetery and its quaint historic Uniting chapel, but in particular, the grave of Betty King, the woman who is purported to be the 1st white female to set foot on Australian soil. They were suitably impressed.  Photos were taken, not only of Betty’s grave, but of the cemetery itself and its chapel.  Everyone loved the story of Betty King.  

Next we zipped through the little settlement of Rosegarland and the tiny town of Gretna, took a quick look at St. Mary’s Anglican Church and its surrounding burial ground, where photos were taken of the graves of some of our tour group’s relies, and then on to Hamilton.   All the while, we drew people’s attention to the grand old properties we passed and gave them a potted history of these places.

Hamilton delighted our visitors.  We walked through the town at a leisurely pace, stopping to discuss the fine old Georgian sandstone buildings that still exist in this pretty town for a quick cuppa and snack.  Well worth the stop. Then onto Bothwell.

The trip to Bothwell was pleasant.  We traveled through Hollow Tree, talking again about the old properties and their creators and we discussed dry-land farming and the lives we believed the pioneers must have lived. Our travelers agreed with us, Bothwell is a delight to the eyes. Here we wandered the streets, marveling at its old stone cottages, its lovely churches and discussing its colourful history.  A couple of our group shot into the Australasian Golf Museum for a look, most impressed by the fact that Bothwell was home to the oldest course in Australia and to learn that the course actually remained part of a working farm, just as it had been 165 years ago when it was first came into being. 

Others of us popped into the historic cemetery to read a bit about our heritage on headstones that commemorate our settlers.  Just as is in Hamilton, the Scottish influence of its early settlers is evident in this great old town.
Time, however, was on the wing and we still had miles to make before we stopped for lunch, so off we went, through Melton Mowbray,  through Colebrook which as Jerusalem, was developed by convict labour, and on to that special place called Richmond.  Before we talk about Richmond, though, let me say that all of our tourers deeply regretted that time did not permit us to stop to explore the peaceful old farming settlement of Colebrook and all told us they’d be back to do just that.

Anyway, Richmond in the Cole Valley was our final destination before we returned to our starting point, so we parked the bus across that famous 1823 bridge, close to St, John’s Catholic Church and set off on foot to explore the town, but not before we’d eaten lunch.  This time, according to the wishes of our clients, we’d pre-booked a table at a pleasant eatery and although we arrived 20minutes late, we were welcomed with opened arms.  Of course, being good tour-operators, we had phoned the restaurant just before Colebrook to let them know we were running a bit late but, nevertheless, their warm welcome put smiles on our faces.  As did the food.

With full stomachs and recharged by delicious cups of coffee, we spent the next 2 hours experiencing Richmond’s historic past and the delightful arts and crafts culture of its present. All agreed we could have done with another couple of hours in Richmond.
By the time we dropped off our clients at Hobart early that evening, we were all tired and much to our delight, our clients said they were more than satisfied with their day out. 

They all agreed they knew far more about Tassie’s colonial past than they’d known before and that our island was a fascinating and beautiful part of Australia. As we parted, they assured us they’d be back and when they came back, they’d want a similar tour of Colebrook, Oatlands and Ross.

We look forward to seeing them again.

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St Mary's Gretna

St Mary's Gretna
Visiting the relies at the historic St Mary's Church at Gretna