Leaving Launceston behind, I am on my way back to Hobart for my flight out of Tassie this afternoon. Surprisingly it’s only a couple of hours drive from Launceston straight down to Hobart so I have plenty of time to stop off and see some sights along the way.
The first one that catches my eye is the town of Perth! I am from Perth in Western Australia, so I was not expecting to find another place named Perth in Australia, especially here in Tas – a good photo to send home.
The drive is pretty straight, but there are a number of towns you drive through or past along the way. A lot of the towns seem to be very quiet with buildings seemingly abandoned or closed. I can imagine that economic times have hit these little rural towns very hard.
Further along National Highway 1 is the turnoff to a town called Richmond (not to be confused with Richmond in Melbourne). I had read that Richmond was a great historic town to visit, so I turned off the highway preparing to make a detour. It can’t be far, I thought, looking at the fuel gauge. Probably should have fuelled up in Launceston, but surely there’ll be a station soon.
Well, the winding road to Richmond was long. I kept thinking ‘surely it’ll be around the next bend’. But I’d turn the corner and there would appear another town, a town that wasn’t Richmond. Anyway, eventually I arrived in Richmond, having started to seriously worry about my petrol situation long ago. I breathed a big sigh of relief.
I fuelled up first and then set out to explore the town, which was indeed every bit historic.
After driving around the busy little streets of Richmond, I decided that Richmond Gaol would be my first port of call, mainly because the car park was almost empty.
I paid my $9 entry fee and embarked on my self guided tour of the gaol. Built between 1825 and 1840, it housed not only male and female prisoners, but also the gaolor. Whilst it doesn’t take long to tour the grounds, it’s a really interesting place to visit with lots of information about the prison giving you a real glimpse into the past.
One of the prisoners of Richmond Gaol was Ikey Solomon. He was an English criminal who because a ‘successful receiver of stolen property’. He was tried at London’s Old Bailey in 1830 and was then sent to Richmond Gaol in 1832. It is thought that he was the inspiration for the character Fagin in Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist. He is also the main character of Bryce Courtney’s huge novel ‘The Potato Factory’.
Anyone who’s ever stopped at a country town bakery knows that this is where you best baked treats, so I wasn’t going to pass up a visit to the Richmond Bakery. Good old fashioned cooking. It was hard to choose what to try, but I was glad I went for the apricot tart because it really hit the spot.
After wandering the streets, I decide to visit the Old Hobart Town Model Village before getting back on the road. And I’m so glad I did. What a cute little place. Basically it’s a large scale model of the town of Hobart back in the day, complete with funny little characters doing all sorts of things like spewing over a bridge, taking a leak, getting drunk or working hard. I spent quite a lot of time there taking in all the little details. Little placards give you information about what has changed over the times. I’d highly recommend a stop here.
Leaving Richmond wasn’t such an ordeal as I was able to take a different route out of town rather than going back the way I came and before long, I was back in Hobart with plenty of time to spare. What to do with some time on my hands?
Well, I didn’t manage to get to the Botanic Gardens when I arrived, so up the hill I went, parked and trotted off to inspect this haven on the hillside.
The gardens were established in 1818 overlooking the Derwent River. Today, there are over 6,500 species of plants here and the gardens make a lovely place to sit back and relax, whilst enjoying the views. Beautifully laid out, the gardens are a haven of peace and quiet – perhaps except for wherever groups of children running around playing.
The Japanese Gardens were a treat, as all visits to Japanese gardens inevitably are, with a little red bridge leading between different sections of rockeries and garden.
Glimpses of the Derwent can be seen through the trees where their branches have been shed of their leaves from the winter months. Really a beautiful place to visit and I’m glad to have had time to fit it into my itinerary.
After a week that went just too quickly, it was time to drop off the car, check in for my flight and head home. I was so glad that I had finally made it to Tasmania, and like all trips like this, wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. I would love to make a return visit so I can drive up the west coast next time, perhaps when all the berries are in season, and fill up on some more of that awesome fresh Tasmanian food and wine.
My advice? Stop talking about it and just go.