Posted by Anura Samara, 1 May 2016
A long weekend in Tasmania and the chance to reconnect with some familiar places.
We headed to Tasmania for a long-ish weekend for a 50th birthday party.
It made sense to take advantage of the stay by hiring a car and taking a look around Hobart; in fact, the timing of flights meant we would have to do that anyway. The first thing that struck us – even on the drive from the airport – was how dry everything is. In my mind, Tasmania is cooler and lush, more like England than the dry Australian outback.
I’ve got a great memory for geography so heading back into Hobart felt very familiar despite not having visited for years (decades?). After dropping out bags at the hotel, we headed out on foot for Salamanca Place knowing that the markets would still be on.
The markets are great because it’s a real mixture – food to eat, food to take home, crafts, artworks, clothing and more. Most of the stalls are professional affairs, it’s just the home-based crafts that are being sold here. And with so many people milling about there’s a great atmosphere.
With the time available, we didn’t really explore beyond the waterfront area but instead went further afield.
We were looking for somewhere different to visit that was still close to Hobart, and New Norfolk seemed to have historical significance. In particular, I wanted to track down some of the graves of the original First Fleeters who had settled in the area.
New Norfolk itself is a pretty depressing place. We approached through the old Royal Derwent Hospital which might have historical significance but just seems to be a sprawl of disused buildings in various states of collapse. The outskirts of towns really seem to be waterlogged, struggling plots. We stopped in at the local tourist information place to get directions to the graves.
We found Betty King’s grave along a quiet country road near Magra. There’s a stone, block-shaped building which presumably is the chapel with a scattering of graves around. There’s no sign out the front to tell you the signifance of this place, so we were left to just wondering around until we found it
Richmond always looms large in my imagination as one of the few places in Australia where you get a real sense of history – not just a few ruins or buildings but seemingly the entire village. Of course, Richmond Bridge is a focal point and the golden stone work is beautiful once the sun starts to set.
We also had a look around the old Richmond Gaol but ignored the rest of the village. Sorry Richmond, but there’s a sense that every local business is trying to hitch up to the history bandwagon with their tacky wares.
The real point of being in Tasmania was a party at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed. At night it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere (and driving past the next day, it truly is in the middle of nowhere) but for the party it was packed and noisy. A great venue with both open space for everyone to eat, drink and chat but at the same time lots of different areas to explore. And even though they advertise as a cider house they did have some decent beers to add to my checkins.